DAILY DIGEST, 6/6: How Sierra Nevada snowpack confounds Central Valley groundwater readings; New legislation seeks changes to water rights; Beyond the yuck factor: Cities turn to ‘extreme’ water recycling; Bay Area groundwater back to pre-drought levels; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • LEG HEARING: Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife beginning at 9am.  Four bills will be heard, followed by an informational hearing on the  Administration’s Policy Package: Water Resources Infrastructure.  Click here for the agenda and remote access instructions.
  • MEETING: State Water Resources Control Board beginning at 9:30am.  Agenda items include current hydrologic conditions and response, and an informational item on the drought and conservation reporting to the SAFER Clearinghouse. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • MEETING: Department of Food and Agriculture from 10am to 2pm. Agenda items include a presentation, panels, and discussion on USDA Resilient Food System Infrastructure Program and a presentation on the USDA regional food business center. Click here for the complete agenda and remote access instructions.
  • VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING: North Fork Feather Above Lake Almanor Fish Passage Feasibility Study from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  This meeting will include a short presentation outlining the study objectives and approach, current activities, and the study timeline followed by a question and answer session. DWR welcomes your ideas and input on the feasibility study as it moves through the planning process.  Join via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86110326283
  • WEBINAR: Q&A with Keep Tahoe Blue from 6pm to 6:45pm. With summer just around the corner, Lake Tahoe is climbing its way to the top of your mind. To feed your excitement, the League to Save Lake Tahoe is hosting an opportunity for you to hear directly from the organization’s leaders and get your Tahoe questions answered. Presenters: Dr. Darcie Goodman Collins, Chief Executive Officer & Jesse Patterson, Chief Strategy Officer. Darcie and Jesse will briefly share a few of the exciting things the League is working on, and then open up the floor to your questions. Submit your questions live during the June 6 webinar.  Click here for more information and to register.

In California water news today …

How Sierra Nevada snowpack confounds Central Valley groundwater readings

Snow in the Sierra. Photo taken March 31, 2023. Kate Cohee / Office of the Governor

“Billions of tons of snow piled atop the Sierra Nevada Mountains can cause parts of the Central Valley, just west of the range, to sink – muddling groundwater assessments that take sinking as a sign of depleted aquifers. A recent Stanford University study is now offering a way to account for this heavy mountain snowpack and more accurately gauge groundwater levels.  Analyzing satellite-based measures of surface changes over time has emerged as a promising method for monitoring groundwater in places such as the agriculturally rich Central Valley, where farmers rely heavily on groundwater to irrigate crops in dry years. But the method requires a clear understanding of the true mechanisms behind any observed elevation changes.  The new study, published April 28 in Geophysical Review Letters, shows how heaped-up snow and ice in the Sierra during California’s wet season depresses the valley floor, accounting for the majority of the detected elevation change in 60% of the valley. … ”  Read more from Stanford News.

Rights to California’s most important resource are built on injustice. New legislation seeks to change that

“Who gets California’s water, and how much, is a high-stakes affair, and it’s based on a system of water rights born long ago, when the West was wild — and often unfair.  The first-come, first-served pecking order established during European settlement gave the new and dominant landowners first dibs on pumping rivers and creeks. The beneficiaries, which include the likes of San Francisco and its pristine supplies in Yosemite, continue to enjoy tremendous advantage, consuming water with little constraint while others sometimes go without. Amid growing water shortages and focus on equity, the system has begun drawing increased scrutiny. Last week the state Legislature weighed in with the unusual step of advancing measures that would help regulators rein in the most privileged and profligate water users. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle (gift article).

Sites closer to a reality with State Water Board decision

“Sites Reservoir, which could provide 1.5 million acre-feet of additional water storage capacity, received a significant boost late last week when the Sites Project Authority was notified by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) that the reservoir’s water right application was deemed complete. Because of this action, the Sites Reservoir project is now able to move forward to the next step in the process of getting a new water right permit for the project. The project, which has been in the works for more than 60 years, hopes to turn the Sites Valley, located 10 miles west of Maxwell where Colusa and Glenn counties meet, into a state-of-the-art off-stream water storage facility that captures and stores stormwater flows in the Sacramento River – after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met – for release in dry and critical years for environmental use and for communities, farms and businesses statewide to utilize when needed, the Appeal previously reported. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat.

Press release: “Reject the Sites Reservoir boondoggle,” Friends of the River urges State Water Resources Control Board during water rights protest period

“Today, Friends of the River (FOR), one of California’s most respected conservation organizations, announced that they will urge the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) to reject the Sites Reservoir boondoggle. This announcement comes at the start of an opportunity to for the public to intervene in the Sites water rights proceeding, which is facilitated by the Board. On Friday, June 2, the Board published a notice of this opportunity finding the Sites Water Authority’s water rights application to be “substantially complete.”  “Sites Reservoir is a waste of time, money, and resources. It will not improve water security for California. We urge California to reject the Sites Reservoir boondoggle,” said Jann Dorman, Executive Director of Friends of the River. … “

Click here to continue reading this press release.

Western US faces opposite extremes from the weather this week

“Just about everything possible in the realm of weather will be happening in the West this week, except perhaps snow.  June gloom will keep it cool in coastal Southern California as drenching thunderstorms erupt from interior California to the Rockies. Meanwhile, early-season heat will build in the Northwest, AccuWeather meteorologists say. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather.

SEE ALSOUnusually unsettled June pattern this week, and relatively cool pattern to continue through mid-month, from Dr. Daniel Swain at Weather West

Every drop counts: experts encourage continued water conservation

“Regions and communities across California are still grappling with water supply shortages, despite the relief brought by this past winter’s storms. While the precipitation offers some hope, it provides little consolation to communities reliant on depleted groundwater sources.  “It could be raining and flooding outside but when they turn on the faucet, nothing comes out,” said Laura Ramos, interim director of the California Water Institute’s Research and Education Division at Fresno State.   There are still thousands of Californians living in rural and disadvantaged areas who face the distressing reality of dry wells. …. ”  Read more from Fresno State.

Restoring rivers, restoring community

“Healthy ecosystems are good for everyone in California—they provide us with abundant wildlife and fisheries, clean drinking water, and needed space in nature for recreation, among other benefits. Here at the PPIC Water Policy Center, we’ve studied restoration issues in the past—including the importance of restoring more natural flow patterns,  improving permitting, and storing water for the environment. This year we brought in three CalTrout Ecosystem Fellows to look at another major challenge in river restoration: community engagement.  There is a lot of literature on the importance of stakeholder engagement in restoration work. Studies in the US and internationally have shown that robust engagement can improve restoration outcomes. Yet project proponents frequently make erroneous assumptions when trying to engage community stakeholders, as a recent study of urban stream restoration illuminated. … ”  Continue reading from the PPIC.

Quantifying restoration opportunities at Elk Slough

Marcus Kahn writes, “Transforming California’s Central Valley will take a village. The effects of climate change on temperature and precipitation intersect with declining regional biodiversity and a long history of racial inequity that has increased flood risk for socially vulnerable communities. To do this work effectively, we need data-driven approaches that maximize our impact. American Rivers’ data collection and analysis at Elk Slough is a prime example of how we calibrate and implement successful restoration, and I was excited to leave the city and see habitat restoration in its early stages.  I departed the Bay Area and drove through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta before heading north on Highway 160, a meandering road atop the levees that gird the Sacramento River. The East Bay’s suburban sprawl quickly turns to riverside towns separated from the farm fields that extend across the Delta by tree-lined banks that provide shade, cover, and habitat for salmon that forge upstream to spawn each year. Today, I’ll be meeting my colleague, Kristan Culbert, Associate Director of California River Conservation, at the Elk Slough Fish Passage and Flood Improvement, a 9.5-mile slough that empties into the Sacramento River. … ”  Read more from American Rivers.

Winter atmospheric rivers gave pathogens, diseases path to infect crops

“The wave of atmospheric rivers that swept across the state this winter has created the right conditions for plant pathogens that haven’t been seen for decades in California.  UC Davis plant pathologist Florent “Flo” Trouillas is getting more calls from growers and farm advisors concerned about potential crop damage.  “Generally, whenever you have rain events, you’re going to have problems,” said Trouillas, a Cooperative Extension specialist who is based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier. “In wet years we get really busy because most pathogens need and like water.” … ”  Read more from the Woodland Daily Democrat.

Beyond the yuck factor: Cities turn to ‘extreme’ water recycling

“In downtown San Francisco, in a cavernous garage that was once a Honda dealership, a gleaming white-and-blue appliance about the size of a commercial refrigerator is being prepared for transport to a hotel in Los Angeles. There, this unit, called a OneWater System, will be installed in the basement, where its collection of pipes will take in much of the hotel’s graywater — from sinks, showers, and laundry. The system will clean the water with membrane filtration, ultraviolet light, and chlorine, and then send it back upstairs to be used again for nonpotable uses. And again. And again. “There is no reason to only use water once,” said Peter Fiske, the executive director of the National Alliance for Water Innovation, a division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Berkeley. Just as natural systems use and reuse water repeatedly in a cycle driven by the sun, he said, “we now have technologies to enable us to process and reuse water over and over, at the scale of a city, a campus, and even an individual home.” … ”  Continue reading at Yale e360.

Multiple states overrun by 20-pound, orange-toothed invasive rodent: ‘This is a real issue, and we have to act quickly’

“Over the last few decades, a new invasive species has moved into the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported.  Populations of nutria are spreading across a growing portion of the U.S. Many states are taking steps to eliminate the animal before it destroys local wetlands, but some, like Louisiana, are already overrun.  The nutria is a large, semi-aquatic rodent with orange teeth native to South America that was brought to the United States in 1889 for its fur, according to the National Invasive Species Information Center. It is also referred to as a coypu, coypu rat, nutria rat, or swamp beaver. … Since nutria are partly aquatic, they like to live in marshes, swamps, and bayous, according to the Wall Street Journal and the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. When allowed to breed and become established in these areas, nutria can strip the environment bare of marsh plants, leaving only water and wreaking havoc on the larger ecosystem. … ”  Read more from MSN News.

Climate, business groups clash over Newsom’s proposed environmental law reforms

“The debate over reforming California’s trademark environmental review law has raged for decades. But if legislators approve a sweeping set of reforms Gov. Gavin Newsom is pitching as part of the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, that law and related policies could be streamlined by the end of the month.  Business groups say reforming the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, will allow infrastructure and housing projects to advance more quickly, which in turn could help California move closer to its goals for more clean energy and affordable housing.  “We strongly support this plan that will speed up construction, expedite court review, smooth permitting and address the abuse of the CEQA process that has halted key projects,” a coalition of 88 business organizations — including the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Inland Empire Economic Partnership and Orange County Business Council — wrote in a letter Monday, June 5, urging state legislators to approve Newsom’s plan. … ”  Read more from the OC Register (gift article).

Boiling point: Where’s the urgency?

Sammy Roth writes, “Americans are worried about climate change, and they want political leaders to do something about it.  So many polls have reached that same conclusion I’m almost tired of reading about them. The latest version comes from UC Berkeley and was co-sponsored by the L.A. Times. It found two-thirds of California registered voters expect volatile fluctuations between dry and wet weather to become more common due to climate change, as my colleague Hayley Smith reports.  I wrote about similar poll results last year, noting strong support among Angelenos in particular for expanding public transit, removing water-wasting grass and banning gas hookups in new housing. National surveys have shown that a large majority of Americans are concerned about climate and want to see government support clean energy at the expense of fossil fuels.  It’s not hard to figure out why people feel that way. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Of course home insurers are fleeing California

“After decades of packing into areas that are increasingly disaster-prone as the planet heats up, Americans will sooner or later be forced to retreat. Insurance companies are already leading the way. We should heed the message they’re sending, that insuring and inhabiting vulnerable parts of the country will just keep getting more expensive.  Allstate last week told the San Francisco Chronicle it had stopped writing new home policies in California after years of taking wildfire losses, citing an inability to raise premiums enough to cover costs. The news came just days after State Farm, California’s largest insurer, announced a similar decision. Though there are still many insurers working in California, Allstate and State Farm lead a growing list of big competitors heading for the exits. … ”  Read more from Bloomberg (gift article).

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Fight over Oregon’s Klamath water can stay in federal court, Ninth Circuit rules

“A lawsuit seeking to stop the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from releasing water from Oregon’s Lake Klamath for the benefit of Native American tribes in California and protected coho salmon can remain in federal court, a split Ninth Circuit panel said Monday.  In a 2-1 opinion, the three-judge panel rejected the Klamath Irrigation District’s argument that an Oregon state court has the exclusive right to decide the issue as part of the Klamath Basin Adjudication that is pending before it. The two-judge said the Bureau of Reclamation’s obligations under the Endangered Species Act and the tribes’ senior rights had not been part of the state court’s adjudication of water rights. … ”  Continue reading at the Courthouse News Service.


Team effort to spread awareness about Tahoe’s aquatic invasive species

“With summer arriving in Tahoe, residents and visitors are looking forward to spending time on the lake’s sparkling blue waters. To protect that treasured experience and the lake’s water quality, public, private and nonprofit partners have come together to inform recreators about the threat of aquatic invasive species – harmful, non-native plants and animals. Without a watchful eye and preventative action, invasive species could proliferate, turning those blue waters a murky green.  Before the boating season gets into full swing, the League to Save Lake Tahoe (or Keep Tahoe Blue) hosted an all-encompassing training course for the people working where the public meets the lake – at marinas and boat ramps – so key information about aquatic invasive species can be shared. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Clovis man’s record time on ‘classic’ Sierra ski route reveals summer hiking hazards

“What happens when you combine an epic winter, a classic Sierra Nevada ski tour and one fit, determined individual? The result is a new speed record (fastest known time) on the 43-mile Sierra High Route crossing of Sequoia National Park by Clovis resident Ryan Soares: 17 hours and 18 minutes. Hiking and skiing alone while never stopping to rest, Soares departed the Shepherd Pass trailhead above Owens Valley late in the evening of May 24 and arrived at the Wolverton Snowplay Area the following afternoon. Pioneered in the 1930s and guided since the 1970s, the Sierra High Route is a true wilderness ski tour linking several passes and long traverses around snow-filled bowls. Most parties spend a week in the backcountry, packing tents, sleeping bags and cooking equipment. … ” Continue reading at the Sacramento Bee.


‘Pretty dang close to full’: Bay Area groundwater back to pre-drought levels after massive winter storms

“Anyone driving around the Bay Area can see how the drenching storms that soaked California this winter filled local reservoirs after three brutal years of drought.  But the wet winter also refilled an equally — if not more important — source of water: underground aquifers. Across the Bay Area, communities that rely on groundwater, from Silicon Valley to the East Bay suburbs, have measured big increases in recent months in their subterranean supplies to some of the highest levels on record.  The unseen bounty is dramatic, and rebuts a common misperception among many Californians that groundwater always takes years to recover, or is all so hopelessly overdrawn it can never be restored. While that is true in some heavily pumped farm areas in the Central Valley, experts say, water agencies in the Bay Area that have carefully managed groundwater supplies for decades saw the payoff this winter. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.

Bay Area weather: Here’s when rain and thunderstorms will arrive

“Thunderstorms are likely to drift into parts of the Bay Area Monday evening and into Tuesday morning as the rollercoaster of June weather continues this week.  Weather models expect small hail, brief downbursts and lightning out of these thunderstorms as they scatter across the Bay Area. This unusual pattern will persist for most of Tuesday, though a few areas will clear out as the afternoon goes on. A low-pressure system that began in Southern California kicked off a branch of thunderstorms around Big Sur on Monday afternoon. This same system will drive the next cluster of storms into the Bay Area on Monday night and Tuesday morning. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Drakes Bay study seeks to revive kelp forests

“Alarmed by the rapid loss of the bull kelp forests along the northern California coast in the past decade, researchers are hoping to unlock the key to reviving the vibrant underwater ecosystems along the coast of Marin and Sonoma counties.  Nearly 90% of bull kelp forests on the coasts from Marin to Mendocino County are estimated to have been lost since 2014, according to the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The losses all occurred within the 3,300-square-mile sanctuary.  The significant decline has been attributed to a combination of factors in the 2010s. A marine heat wave coupled with El Nino weather patterns resulted in unusually warm water, preventing the growth and nutrient availability for the kelp. At the same time, a wasting disease decimated sea stars, allowing sea urchin populations to explode unchecked and devour kelp forests, converting them into urchin barrens. … ”  Read more from the Marin Independent Journal.

How sea level rise is posing a looming threat to San Leandro’s underground infrastructure

“On an unseasonably hot day on the edge of the San Leandro neighborhood of Mulford Gardens, David O’Donnell uses a heavy metal bar to lift a thick steel cover off a utility hole, exposing an echoey chamber runnings several hundred feet to the bay.  “Oh, we got a crab in there. It crawled all the way through,” said O’Donnell, a maintenance supervisor for the city.  Below ground, tidal water pushes through the city’s pipes that were built to pump stormwater in the opposite direction.  “We’re fighting the tide and fighting nature,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a bit of an uphill battle. There’s no pump we can install underground to hold the bay back at high tide.”  These pipes — and other below-ground infrastructure — which already periodically flood during high tides could become more routinely inundated as the bay continues to rise because of human-caused climate change. … ”  Read more from KQED.

Commentary: Clean and safe water low priority for Pleasanton city officials

Resident Anne Fox writes, “In spite of proposed Federal regulations limiting the maximum allowable PFOS/PFOA amount in drinking water to the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 4 ng/L, the Pleasanton mayor and city council last week voted 4-1 (Balch opposed) to re-open up previously shuttered Pleasanton-operated Wells 5 and 6 during the summer on an as-needed basis. Back on Dec. 6, 2022, Zone 7’s groundwater resource manager Ken Minn clearly warned the Pleasanton elected officials that new EPA regulations would be set around the “Notification level which is very low.” So what did Pleasanton just do? Even though Wells 5 and 6 have PFOS concentrations of 12 ng/L and 18 ng/L, far exceeding the proposed Federal Maximum Contaminant Level by a factor of 3 to 4 1/2 times, Pleasanton officials decided to re-open these wells up, in spite of the high levels of PFOS present. … ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent.


Brighter water outlook in Salinas

Richard Smoley writes, “The California water picture has gotten enormous amounts of attention from both the agricultural press and the general media, but most of this has focused on the San Joaquin Valley and the Yuma Valley on the Arizona border.  The Salinas Valley, the “nation’s salad bowl,” has water issues of its own, but they are very different.  I thought I would check in with Christopher Valadez, president of the Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association BB #:162651, about the situation in his region. … ”  Read more from Produce Blue Book.


Grand jury calls for changes in water district practices

“The Kern County grand jury has recommended changes in certain practices of the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District. It’s also called on the district’s board to “adhere to rules and policies” in an agreement it signed with the city of Tehachapi in 2020 — and to provide training and briefings for board members prior to the elected officials taking action on agenda items. The recommendations are part of an 11-page report released by the grand jury on June 1. The report notes that the grand jury made inquiries about the water district to follow up on three areas discussed in its report about the district in 2018-19. … ”  Continue reading from Tehachapi News.


Newport dredging project and confined aquatic disposal (CAD) facility put on hold as environmental impact is reconsidered

“The United States Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) has halted the dredging of Lower Newport Bay and construction authorization for the City of Newport Beach’s (the City’s) Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) facility. The Corps put these actions on hold after Orange County Coastkeeper (Coastkeeper) filed a lawsuit challenging the Corps’ failure to fully analyze these actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Initially, the Corps was required to respond to the lawsuit by June 16, 2023. However, to allow the Corps additional time to consider revisiting its NEPA and ESA compliance, the parties agreed to extend that deadline to July 12, 2023, with the Corps agreeing to temporarily halt dredging activities and authorization to construct the CAD facility. The parties filed the stipulation memorializing their agreement in the United States District Court on May 31, 2023. … ”

Click here to continue reading this press release.


North County communities wait for permission to part ways with County Water Authority

“A county commission will meet again in August to decide whether to allow two North County communities to switch water providers.  “We cannot afford to buy items, such as water, at the super-high rates for our farm to be sustainable,” said Kendall Farms CEO Jason Kendall, during Monday’s meeting at the County Administration Center.  The San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission is considering a proposal to allow the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District to switch water service to Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County and cut ties with the San Diego County Water Authority. … ”  Read more from Fox 5.

More recreation, fewer wetlands: Backlash prompts San Diego to compromise on plans to transform northeastern Mission Bay

“Backlash against San Diego’s plan to transform much of northeast Mission Bay into marshland has prompted significant revisions, including a 10% boost in land devoted to golf, tennis, youth sports and other recreation.  City officials have also added language to the plan promising to minimize disruptions if fields are relocated. It also requires replacement recreation sites to be created before existing recreation sites are turned into marshland.  Although the revised plan stops short of giving recreation supporters long-sought assurances they won’t lose their sites to new marshland, it is generally being embraced by community leaders as an encouraging step toward compromise. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Padilla: $300 million allocated in U.S. budget to keep sewage from Mexico out of California

“Democratic U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, of California, on Monday visited the Tijuana River Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant on the U.S. side of the border to announce that $300 million has been budgeted to stem the flow of raw sewage from Mexico into California.  The money is part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which set aside money to clean up the environment along the southern border.  During heavy storms or when facilities in Tijuana break down, millions of gallons of raw sewage flow downhill into the U.S. side of the border in the Tijuana River Valley and out to sea, contaminating miles of Southern California beaches. … ”  Read more from Fox 5.

Padilla visits border, urges action to clean cross-border pollution

“San Diego has suffered long enough from the impacts of trans-border sewage flow, and sanitation efforts must move forward, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, said Monday during a visit to a border wastewater treatment plant.  The U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission treatment plant sits on the border between Mexico and the United States in San Diego.  “For far too long, toxic waste and raw sewage have flowed across the border into Southern California, bringing health hazards and environmental threats into our own backyards,” Padilla said. “This pollution continues to contaminate Southern California’s air and water, depriving communities of outdoor recreation and economic opportunities. … ”  Read more from KPBS.

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary: Colorado River deal forever changes the price of water in the West

Grayson Zulauf, CEO of Resonant Link, writes, “For the first time in this drought-stricken century, a new price for water in the West has been set – and it’s 25 times higher than what farmers have paid for the last 75 years.  Arizona, Nevada and California recently agreed to reduce their water consumption from the Colorado River by 13% through 2026. The federal government will pay their irrigation districts, Native American tribes and cities $521 for each acre-foot of water they don’t use.  This agreement is the start of the end of agriculture as we know it in the West, but not just agriculture. For every drop of water used, industries – from farms and ranches to data centers and power plants to ski resorts and golf courses – must determine whether it pays more to use the water, or to avoid using it.  And the price of using it will only increase.  Some businesses will become more water-efficient. Some will move. Some will close. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

Lake Mead water level rises – but shortages are still on the way

“Lake Mead’s water levels have risen slightly as the record snowpack in the southwest continues to melt.  As of June 5, the Colorado River reservoir in Nevada stood at 1,054.42 feet.  The lake has risen sharply since the end of April when the Bureau of Reclamation released a vast amount of water from Lake Powell. The water ran through the Grand Canyon and eventually into Lake Mead, replenishing sandbars and beaches. … ”  Read more from Newsweek.

Facing water shortages, Arizona will curtail some new development around Phoenix

“A new report from the state of Arizona predicts severe groundwater shortages in the Phoenix area. Water regulators say that will lead to the curtailment of some new development permits.  The new assessment shows there will be a major shortage of groundwater in the next century — a deficit on the order of 4.6 million acre feet of water over the next 100 years. One acre foot is generally thought of as the amount of water a typical household uses in a year. Regulators went on to indicate that means no new development approvals in the sprawling Phoenix metropolitan area — home to 4.6 million people — unless they can provide water from elsewhere. … ”  Read more from Nevada Public Radio.

A company is pumping ‘unlimited’ water in drought-stricken Arizona to grow crops for Saudi Arabia: ‘It is a scandal’

Much of Arizona is experiencing long-term drought, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. But despite the water shortage, one Saudi Arabian company is allowed to pump unlimited amounts of Arizona’s precious groundwater to grow crops for its home country, CBS News reported.  Like California, Arizona’s water situation is concerning. Even after a wet winter, the state has not recovered from what many have called a “megadrought.”According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, there are no statewide restrictions on water usage other than a rule that “water should only be used for beneficial purposes.”  However, local governments are expected to determine what kind of water conservation measures are needed in their areas.  This may explain why Fondomonte Arizona, the Saudi Arabian company operating in Arizona, has not yet faced any restrictions. … ”  Read more from MSN News.

Southwest states struck a deal on Colorado River water cuts. So how does, and doesn’t, it affect Coloradans?

“Arizona, California and Nevada made waves when, after tense disagreement, they finally agreed on a plan to cut Colorado River Basin water use in response to the ongoing megadrought.  Colorado officials would like one thing to be clear: They haven’t agreed to the plan, but they do want to see what an upcoming federal review from the Bureau of Reclamation turns up.  “We have not agreed to anything,” said Amy Ostdiek with the state’s top water agency, the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “What we have agreed to is that Reclamation should analyze this proposal. … At that time, we can better understand it and our positions on it.” … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun.

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In national water news today …

Species on the move: How climate change is re-making ecosystems

Adam Markham, Deputy Director of Climate and Energy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes, “Human-caused climate change is redistributing species across the globe, re-ordering ecological communities, and even driving genetic changes in some populations. We need to better understand these changes, and to adapt biodiversity conservation strategies to take them into consideration. To address these issues, the third international Species on the Move conference convened in Bonita Springs, Florida, in May 2023. Key ideas discussed at the meeting included increasing connectivity between protected areas, the need for anticipatory legal and regulatory planning for biodiversity conservation, and reinstituting and protecting Indigenous land and wildlife management practices. … ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Study: recycling plants produce millions of pounds of microplastics, even with filtering

“New research suggests that one of the most pervasive drinking water contaminants can come in startling numbers from a decidedly environmental practice.  “Research out of Scotland suggests that the chopping, shredding and washing of plastic in recycling facilities may turn as much as six to 13 percent of incoming waste into microplastics — tiny, toxic particles that are an emerging and ubiquitous environmental health concern for the planet and people,” Inside Climate News reported. “If the team’s calculations are ultimately found to be representative of the recycling industry as a whole, the scale of microplastics created during recycling processes would be shocking — perhaps as much as 400,000 tons per year in the United States alone, or the equivalent of about 29,000 dump trucks of microplastics.” … ”  Read more from Water Online.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOW AVAILABLE: Conservation and Mitigation Banking Property Assessment and Warranty (PAW) Updated and Published

NOTICE: Approval To Use Voluntary Agreement on Unnamed Tributary to Buck Creek and Kendall Creek Tributary

PUBLIC COMMENTS WANTED: Draft Delta Research Proposal Solicitation

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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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