DAILY DIGEST, 6/8: NOAA declares the arrival of El Nino; DWR and partners experiment with soft release method to improve Delta smelt survival; Valley groundwater will need more than one epic water year for long-term rebound; 1 MAF authorized for groundwater recharge this year; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • LEG HEARING: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water upon adjournment of the session will hold an informational hearing on the Governor’s infrastructure proposal.  Click here for the agenda and remote access instructions.
  • WEBINAR: Clean Water, Complicated Laws: Water Quality Trading and Stormwater In-Lieu Fees from 10am to 10:30am.  Join BB&K’s leading water quality attorneys for a webinar series as presenters provide practical guidance on water quality issues, laws and regulations.  Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: California Water Plan Update 2023 – Precipitation Enhancement Resource Management Strategy from 10am to 11:30am.  The California Water Plan describes and updates a broad set of resource management strategies (RMSs) that help local agencies and governments manage their water and related resources. Every RMS can be a technique, program, or policy that can be used to meet water-related management needs of a region and the state as a whole.  During this workshop, the Water Plan Team will gather comments on the draft Precipitation Enhancement RMS.  Join Teams Meeting
  • WEBINAR: Pathways to 30×30 Webinar: Increasing Voluntary Conservation Easements from 10:30am to 12:00pm.  Please join us for a webinar highlighting successes, challenges, and lessons learned related to Pathway 3: Increase Voluntary Conservation Easements. Learn how partners are: (1) working together to amplify and accelerate the role of voluntary private land conservation to advance the 30×30 goal; (2) pursuing multi-benefit outcomes that benefit agriculture, Tribal heritage, and/or equity and access; and (3) providing new tools and resources to advance our shared work.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Eyes on the Lake Training from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  Join Keep Tahoe Blue for a virtual Eyes on the Lake training! This free training is open to the public, all ages welcome.  Learn how to identify Tahoe’s various native and invasive aquatic plants, and how to report observations that allow the League and our partners to control new populations of aquatic invaders before they do lasting damage to Lake Tahoe.  Tahoe Boat Inspections will be co-hosting the training. They will help attendees identify and understand the impacts of aquatic invasive mussels. They will also provide training to become a certified Tahoe Keeper.  To RSVP for this training, please register here.

In California water news today …

Here comes El Nino: It’s early, likely to be big, sloppy and add even more heat to a warming world

“An early bird El Nino has officially formed, likely to be strong, warp weather worldwide and give an already warming Earth an extra kick of natural heat, meteorologists announced.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday issued an El Nino advisory, announcing the arrival of the climatic condition. It may not quite be like the others.  It formed a month or two earlier than most El Ninos do, which “gives it room to grow,” and there’s a 56% chance it will be considered strong and a 25% chance it reaches supersized levels, said climate scientist Michelle L’Heureux, head of NOAA’s El Nino/La Nina forecast office.  “If this El Nino tips into the largest class of events … it will be the shortest recurrence time in the historical record,” said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at Brown University. … ”  Read more from the Associated Press.


DWR and partners experiment with soft release method to improve Delta smelt survival

DWR Environmental Scientist Trishelle Temple releases Delta smelt into a cage as part of an experimental soft release. The fish acclimate in the cage for 48 hours before being released into the Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel. Photo by DWR.

“Delta smelt are a fish that have gone from vast abundance to the brink of extinction. After seeing some positive results with releasing hatchery-raised Delta smelt into the wild in 2022, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and partners are now experimenting with hard and soft release methods to see if there is a chance for even greater success and improved species survival.  DWR Senior Environmental Scientist Trishelle Tempel explains the difference between the two methods.  “In a hard release we essentially load the fish up and put them directly in the river, but in a soft release we take those same fish and put them in an enclosure and that gives them time to get used to their surroundings, maybe slow down some of their stress levels, and hopefully prepare them for better success when they get out into the water,” Tempel said. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

Improved passage lets threatened sturgeon, salmon and other species return to spawn in Sacramento River

“Dozens of adult sturgeon and hundreds of other large fish including threatened Chinook salmon have moved safely from receding floodwaters within the Yolo Bypass back to the Sacramento River thanks to the coordinated operation of the Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage among the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), NOAA Fisheries and Yolo County.  Over one 48-hour period when the Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage was opened on April 28 and 29, the facility’s fish-counting sonar counted 55 sturgeon passing through the facility to the Sacramento River to migrate upstream and spawn. Sturgeon are large fish that often measure 6 to 7 feet long and certain species can live over a century. They must reach the river to spawn, which they do only every few years.  In another 24-hour window between May 3 and 4, seven more sturgeon passed through the facility. Hundreds of other large fish and Pacific lamprey were also counted moving back to the Sacramento River during the two operational windows in April and May. … ”  Read more from CDFW.

Over 1 million acre-feet of water authorized for groundwater recharge since December

A view from a drone of a groundwater recharge project at Ball Ranch near San Joaquin River in Madera County, California. Photo taken March 30, 2023.
Odin Abbott / DWR

“Seizing the opportunity from an extremely wet winter and spring to boost groundwater levels, the State Water Resources Control Board since late December 2022 has authorized the diversion of 1.2 million acre-feet of water – more than enough to fill the Folsom Reservoir – for underground storage, wildlife refuges and other purposes.  “Planning for future dry conditions is critical to protecting our communities, health, and our environment,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Yana Garcia.  “The state has taken unprecedented action to leverage the benefits of our recent wet weather by replenishing our groundwater resources through recharge, and we look forward to achieving even more progress in the future with partners across the state. This is just one example of how our state is creating a more resilient water supply for all Californians in the face of climate-driven weather extremes.” … ”  Continue reading from the State Water Resources Control Board.

US-German satellites show California water gains after record winter

“After years of intense drought and diminishing groundwater, California just saw its greatest year-over-year water gains in two decades, according to data from the GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On) satellite mission, a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ). This past winter’s bonanza of atmospheric rivers alleviated some of the water deficit that the state incurred during periods of drought over the last 10 years, which included the three driest years on record in California. … ”  Watch short animation below and read more from JPL.

Lake Oroville approaches the top

“The water level at Lake Oroville has approached “the top” at 899 feet elevation for the second day in a row on Wednesday.  The last time the lake approached full capacity in the spring was in 2012, according to an email from DWR information officer Jason Ince.  Ince said there are no plans to test the emergency spillway, but there will be potential for waves to splash over the crest if the weather is particularly windy. He said wave splash will not affect the integrity of the spillway structure or dam.  Employees dressed in yellow safety vests were seen by the spillway Wednesday and were conducting a regularly scheduled inspection that began Monday, Ince said.  The lake’s elevation reached 890 feet on May 13 and has been climbing up to 899 since then. Water will flow over the top of the emergency spillway’s weir at 901 feet elevation, should the lake rise that high. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record.

How indigenous and environmental coalitions pushed for beaver restoration in California’s budget

“It’s taken years of drought and intense wildfires for California officials to recognize that the state’s current water management system is underprepared to meet the needs of its changing climate. For many wetland conservationists, water managers, and especially California Indigenous water protectors, one solution has always been at hand—bring in the beavers.  New state funding is boosting a restoration program to help relocate beavers to areas in need of wetland conservation. This is one of the many efforts legislators and state departments are now focusing on to advance climate resilience—and will reveal how beavers are beneficial, not detrimental, to California’s waters and lands.  “They are the best engineers that we could possibly hire in order to help us with watershed management, and we need them, for many reasons,” says Sherri Norris, the executive director of the California Indian Environmental Alliance, a nonprofit coordinating 34 California tribes working toward environmental action and justice. “[Beavers] are a part of the natural landscape, they align with the governor’s 30×30 plan, and they are a part of nature-based solutions.” … ”  Read more from Non Profit Quarterly.

What are nutria? The invasive species affecting California’s waterways

“In California wetlands, there could be possible sightings of rodents that are considered an invasive species.  The rodents are called nutria, which are large, semi-aquatic creatures that feed on plants that hold wetland soil together, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.  Federal officials said the nutria consume weeds and overabundant vegetation.  They also destroy native aquatic vegetation, crops and wetland areas. … ”  Read more from Channel 5.

Wild horse deaths in California Sierra show a delicate ecosystem off balance

East of Yosemite national park, Mono Lake is an ancient body of water, home to millions of brine shrimp and waterfowl and providing stunning views. It’s also home to a herd of more than 500 wild horses that began arriving in the area around 2015.  This spring, as snow drifts from a record-setting winter storm began to melt, officials were surprised to find the horses turning up dead.  “Visitors should be prepared to come across horse carcasses and manure,” officials with the Inyo national forest posted on Facebook in mid-May, saying there had been reports of “several horse carcasses” around the lake, accompanied by unsettling photos of skeletal remains.  Experts believe the harsh winter conditions are likely behind the deaths, putting a spotlight on the precarious relationship between the horses and this rugged landscape – both in terms of the dangers it poses to them, and the dangers they pose to it. … ”  Read more from the Guardian.

California lawmakers eye new trims to judicial process to sidestep environmental red tape

“A debate in California’s Assembly about whether to fast-track bills looking to trim down the state’s notoriously laborious environmental review process caused some pushback on behalf of public transparency.  State lawmakers convened the last in a series of informational committees serving as the first public hearings on Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed policy and budget package for the coming year.  Newsom released his proposals to improve the speed of infrastructure projects on May 19, saying that his eight-bill package will streamline project approval, maximize California’s federal infrastructure dollars and expedite projects to meet economic and climate goals. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.


New report highlights how to finance green infrastructure establishment costs

“The Environmental Policy Innovation Center and WaterNow Alliance’s new report, Navigating Green Infrastructure Maintenance with Capitalized Establishment Costs, offers a key pathway to scaled investment in green infrastructure. For two decades, local stormwater managers have recognized green infrastructure (GI) as an effective, multi-benefit approach to manage stormwater. GI provides significant benefits for combating the water quality and climate change related challenges that municipalities face. In addition, GI is a centerpiece One Water strategy; it can capture and reuse stormwater to enhance water supply reliability, creating resilience to drought. Beyond these water management benefits, GI generates community and economic co-benefits including local green jobs, among others. Yet, GI has mostly remained on the fringes of stormwater management. A “nice to have” amenity. It makes up only 10% of stormwater management organizations’ expenditures and only 3% of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund’s investments.   To realize its potential and have a substantial impact for communities, GI needs to scale up. … ”  Continue reading at Water Now.

Capture6 and Palmdale Water District to build a first of its kind facility for water recovery and carbon removal

“Capture6, a direct air capture startup, and Palmdale Water District (PWD) announced they plan to build a joint pilot facility to produce freshwater resources and simultaneously increase carbon removal in California. The facility, named Pure Water Antelope Valley Demonstration Facility which includes Capture6’s Project Monarch, will be the first fully integrated water management and carbon dioxide (CO₂) removal facility of its kind. This partnership will provide an opportunity to engage surrounding communities and to deliver additional co-benefits, such as green jobs and economic development, in the future.  “We’re excited to complement PWD’s cutting-edge water treatment project with our technology to help alleviate the impacts of climate change on Palmdale. Our technology can do much more than just remove carbon from the air and this partnership will allow us to bring this synergistic approach to scale and meet the urgency of the climate crisis,” said Dr. Ethan Cohen-Cole, CEO and co-founder of Capture6. … ”  Read more from Cision.

Researchers find why San Andreas fault hasn’t caused a big earthquake in L.A. — yet

“The southern San Andreas fault in California is in a seismic drought, going more than 300 years without a major earthquake.  New research shows the lack of seismic activity may be due to the drying of the nearby Salton Sea and provides clues on future potential earthquake triggers, including projects aimed to refill the body of water.  One of the largest faults in the world, the 800-mile-long San Andreas marks the meeting of the North American and Pacific plates in western California. The fault has three sections, but the southern section from the Salton Sea to Parkfield, Calif., has been historically the quietest — and that’s not a positive. The pent-up energy, when released, could be catastrophic to nearby populated cities.  The new study, published Wednesday in Nature, investigated earthquake activity along the southern San Andreas fault over the last 1,000 years. Collecting field data from rocks near the fault, Hill and his colleagues found earthquakes occurred about every 180 years, give or take 40 years, and coincided with high water levels of the nearby ancient Lake Cahuilla. …  ”  Read more from the Washington Post (gift article).

SEE ALSO: Report: Salton Sea influences earthquake activity, from KPBS

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In commentary today …

Commentary: California needs smart water policy, guided by data

Justin Fredrickson, a water and environmental policy analyst for the California Farm Bureau, writes, “Advocates for California agriculture have had quite a bit to say about the state’s maddening failure to capture more water in wet years when it’s available. We have also expressed related concerns about fixing the burdensome water rights permitting process, which can begin to correct some of this problem.  Despite legislative and administrative attempts to authorize temporary 180-day and five-year permits to allow harvesting floodwater to recharge depleted groundwater supplies, few permits have been secured. The timing of approvals is also often out of sync with the timing of available water.  A March 10 executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the atmospheric storms made it easier for agricultural landowners to divert excess water to recharge aquifers and reduce flooding dangers. It was a major step, yet the long-term process needs to be further streamlined for a durable solution. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert.

The Tulare Basin represents the wrong approach to flood planning

Sacramento Bee opinion writer Tom Philp writes, “When it comes to flood protection in the San Joaquin Valley, it is a tale of two stories. In most of the San Joaquin River watershed, where the state and locals work together year in and year to better protect the region. And then there is where it is now flooding, the Tulare Basin, which has preferred to be left alone. There is an explanation, involving the state’s unofficial king of the Boswell lineage. The Legislature in 2008 declared that for San Joaquin Valley flood planning purposes, the Tulare Basin, which is spans parts of Tulare and Kings counties between Stratford, Corcoran and Kettleman City, is simply not in the San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee.

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Today’s featured article …

FEATURE: Water rights key to San Joaquin Valley aquifer recharge

Written by Robin Meadows

It sounds like such a simple fix for California’s groundwater woes. In phenomenally wet years like this one, when reservoirs are so full water is still being released to make room for snowmelt, just use some of that liquid wealth to inundate agricultural lands above severely overdrafted aquifers.

But nothing is simple in the world of California water. This approach, called managed aquifer recharge, has a host of complications including sorting out who has rights to floodwaters, how to allocate those rights equitably, and whether plans for securing those rights for recharge are realistic.

Click here to read this article.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Thunderstorms remain in Tahoe forecast, trending stronger through weekend

“Thunderstorms have been visiting Lake Tahoe daily this week and officials say they could become stronger Wednesday afternoon and through the weekend with gusty winds, showers, hail and lightning all on the table.  The National Weather Service in Reno updated its special weather statement Wednesday morning calling for winds that could exceed 50 mph and hail greater than a half inch in size along with localized heavy rainfall and frequent lightning.  Winds may also cause areas of blowing dust, especially across the west central Nevada basin and range and deserts of northern Washoe County, the statement said. … ,”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


Bringing the Sacramento Valley to life: Investing in multiple benefits through floodplain reactivation and nature-based solutions

“There are unique opportunities in the Sacramento Valley to reactivate floodplains, mimicking historical natural processes to improve habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife, enhance flood protection and groundwater recharge, and increase California’s resilience to climate change by better preparing the state for future droughts and floods. These nature-based solutions are a new way forward in the Sacramento Valley and are highlighted in the work of leading researchers from the University of California-Davis and proven in the field through collaborative partnerships between scientists, conservation groups, water resources managers, local governments and local landowners. Our history has shown that floodplains are vital in the health and wellness of people, fish and wildlife. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association.

“This is the year”: Local rafting companies take advantage of safe way to travel swelling rivers

“Up near Lotus, a group of rafters passed by on placid American River waters.  “We’ve had a tremendous season,” says Robert Rodgers, a recreational rafter in the area. “[The river is] the highest I’ve ever seen it. First time at these flow levels.”  But that calm will soon give way to class II and III rapids a bit further downstream.  “This is the year,” says raft guide Andrew Ahlberg. “If you’ve never been, you want to come out this year. It’s like having a powder day every day, all summer.”  Since the beginning of the spring, there has been a persistent call for safety along the state’s waterways as record snowpack continues to melt. Rafting company owners like Chad Richards say that the message is being somewhat misconstrued. It’s safe with a guided trip and people that know the river. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento.


The future of the Bay in a warming world

“San Francisco Bay is a fixture in our everyday lives; we surf its waves, stroll its beaches, fish its waters and hike its coastal trails. Many of us also spend long hours commuting over or along this tidal estuary, regularly viewing its waters from the bridges above. It’s easy to take the Bay for granted — but what would it mean to lose it?  The Bay is vulnerable to the accelerating impacts of climate change, but as the world warms, it’s also becoming a looming threat to those who inhabit its low-lying shores. Sea levels are projected to rise, putting many shoreline communities at risk of inundation. Algal blooms are expected to return with greater frequency as temperatures warm. Marine heat waves and ocean acidification are accelerating, posing threats to Bay waters and coastal ecosystems. And invasive species, like the European green crab, are on the rise, boxing out native species and altering the ecosystems that give San Francisco Bay its unique character. … ”  Read more from the Nob Hill Gazette.

Can residents near this Bay Area refinery eat from their gardens? Answers expected Thursday

“Contra Costa County residents exposed to heavy-metal-tainted dust during an accident at the Martinez Refining Company in November are expecting to learn Thursday whether this industrial material still threatens public health, six months later.   Environmental toxicologists hired by the county have analyzed about a dozen soil samples taken from Martinez and nearby places, including the Alhambra Valley and El Sobrante, to determine lasting health risks for thousands of residents living downwind of the oil refining facility on Pacheco Boulevard.  The findings could allay fears and prompt health authorities to lift official warnings against eating food grown in neighborhood gardens. On the other hand, the results could confirm concerns from residents that this industrial mix may have lasting consequences for families living beyond refinery fences. … ”  Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Protecting our water for everyone

Assembly member Diane Papan writes, “Climate change is already harming California — and that means too little and sometimes too much water. Water management has never been simple in California. And it’s not getting easier.   With our varied and now wildly alternating climate, California’s 40 million residents and the largest agricultural economy in the nation face risks on many fronts. Water is our most critical resource for cities and farms. It is also the lifeblood of our rivers and the San Francisco Bay-Delta.   That’s why I have made water — the adequacy of supply, equitable distribution, cleanliness and availability — one of my top legislative priorities.  As such, one of my bills, Assembly Bill 753, will ensure that communities harmed by pollution receive state funding to clean up local waters. … ”  Read more from the San Mateo Daily Journal.


City of Santa Cruz found high levels of a chemical that is lethal to Coho salmon species in a recent study

“Coho salmon, which once thrived in the San Lorenzo River but are now on the endangered species list, may be threatened by this year’s heavy rains.  After particularly heavy rainfalls, in February Santa Cruz city officials with the water department identified concerningly high levels of a tire chemical in waterways around the county.  Chemicals from tires were washed into the river during the months of storms and could kill the fish, which are also called silver salmon. They live most of their lives in saltwater, but are born, spawn and die in freshwater.  The chemical, known as 6PPD-quinone, is so toxic for salmon species it has been paired with an especially lethal term: Urban Runoff Mortality Syndrome. It’s a phenomenon whereby fish are observed mysteriously dying shortly after entering select waterways. … ”  Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz.

Foam legacy: A firefighting substance used at the Santa Maria Public Airport decades ago contaminated its water, soil

“Cleaning chemicals used decades ago seeped into the soil and groundwater at airports across the state, including Santa Maria’s, Santa Barbara County 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson told the Sun.  “We know more than we did 40 years ago. I don’t think anyone intentionally polluted our groundwater, but there is a chemical down in the wells. This is a 50- to 60-year-old pollution,” Nelson said.  Known as “forever chemicals,” per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been used since the 1940s as components in industrial cleaners, firefighting foams, nonstick surfaces, fabric softeners, and for water resistance, according to officials with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. … ”  Read more from the Santa Maria Sun.

San Luis Obispo County allows water district a seat in Paso Robles basin governance

“In a vote that invoked the long-running clash between commercial agriculture and rural residents in Paso Robles, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors relinquished some of its Paso groundwater basin governance authority to a water district on June 6.  The 3-2 vote gave the Estrella-El Pomar-Creston (EPC) Water District a seat and a 29 percent vote share on the Paso Basin Cooperative Committee, the board tasked with implementing the policies and projects to solve the aquifer’s overdraft.  By allowing the EPC Water District to join, the county essentially ceded control over a geographic territory of the basin whose owners have voluntarily joined the EPC district. The move will reduce the county’s vote share on the committee, as well as its funding share, from 62 percent to 32 percent. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO.

Wetlands rise to the challenge

“Our views on sloughs, tidal marshes, estuaries, and wetlands are contradictory — some love the wildness of these ecosystems with their diversity of plants and creatures; others want them drained, seeing opportunities for development. Humans often build seawalls of concrete or boulders to protect coastal communities from encroaching oceans, but they are expensive and require constant maintenance. With sea-level rise and increasingly violent storms, they inevitably fail. Natural coastal systems, on the other hand, sustain themselves, buffer against storm surges, and provide flexible and resilient protection for human communities. Since the 1850s, 90 percent of California’s coastal wetlands have been destroyed for development. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent.


San Joaquin Valley groundwater will need more than one epic water year to rebound in the long term

“With all the flooding, runoff and more snowmelt still to come, everyone’s wondering: How’s the groundwater?  Short answer: Better.  Long answer: It’s going to take more than one good water year to reach sustainability.  After decades of over pumping and two severe, multi-year droughts within five years of each other, San Joaquin Valley aquifers had withered significantly.  So significantly, that even this year’s abundance won’t end what one hydrologist is calling the valley’s “groundwater drought.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

‘It would come back one day.’ The Yokuts and Tulare Lake meet again

“Robert Jeff had only heard of Tulare Lake in stories. But on a recent hot and windy afternoon, he looked out across soft ripples of water that seemed to go on forever.  He was standing on the edge of a flooded farm near Stratford, a town at the northern end of the newly-returned Tulare Lake.  Jeff is vice chairman of the Tachi Yokut Tribe – one of about 50 bands of the Yokuts people that once built their lives around Tulare Lake, known to them as “Pa’ashi” – which means “big water.” … ”  Continue reading at KVPR.


‘Hidden’ no more: Coastal Commission OKs new public path to Malibu beach

“The June gloom hung heavy along the empty shore of Escondido Beach last week, where not a soul was in sight save for a lone surfer skimming the distant waves.  The sandy stretch has long been a haven for intrepid Malibu beachgoers, sandwiched as it is between Geoffrey’s Restaurant to the east and Paradise Cove to the west, with no other entry points nearby.  But after a 40-year battle, the California Coastal Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved an agreement with two homeowners that will restore a long-obscured public access point to Escondido Beach from the Pacific Coast Highway. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition study working to identify stressors responsible for stream biological degradation

“The SMC has begun working to identify the environmental stressors in Southern California modified channels that are major contributors to the degradation of the streams’ biological communities – key insights that could help watershed managers take more informed, effective actions to improve the ecological health of these streams.  The three-year study, expected to be completed in 2025, is evaluating multiple candidate stressors – including eutrophication, salinization, habitat alteration, and water temperature – to understand which stressor(s) are having the biggest influence on the biological integrity of Southern California’s perennially and intermittently flowing modified channels. … ”  Read more from the Stormwater Monitoring Coalition.

A spill of 50,000 gallons of sewage temporarily closes Long Beach beaches to swimmers

“Long Beach officials have temporarily closed coastal swimming areas in the city after about 50,000 gallons of sewage spilled into the Alhambra Wash.  Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis issued the closure on Tuesday, which will affect beaches along 5th and 10th places, Granada and Prospect avenues, and the west side of Belmont Pier among other locations, according to city officials.  Long Beach has approximately seven miles of public beach.  The spill was caused by a blockage that caused a sewer line to overflow, according to a report to the city from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Cows help reduce wildfire risk, restore native habitats in eastern Orange County

“Among climate advocates, beef typically gets a bad rap.  To stock feedlots for factory-farmed cattle, which is how 70% of America’s cows are raised, crews often clear forests and use lots of water to grow grain. And once those cows eat, their burps and flatulence and decomposing manure emit high levels of planet-warming greenhouse gases.  Even grass-fed cattle are sometimes allowed to graze in one area too long, or return to the same area too frequently, turning grasslands into virtual deserts.  But pilot projects underway in eastern Orange County are offering up some promising evidence that suggest carefully planned cattle grazing might actually help restore native plant and animal life while also reducing wildfire risk. … ”  Read more from the OC Register.


Los Angeles steps into San Diego’s water divorce

“In their efforts to break away from the San Diego County Water Authority, two small farming communities have run into a powerful and unexpected foe: The Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  At least, they ran into the man who chairs Metropolitan’s board: Adán Ortega Jr., a water policy consultant and former lobbyist elected in October to lead at Met.  On Monday the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, was set to cast a final vote over whether the water districts of Rainbow and Fallbrook could leave San Diego County Water Authority for Eastern Municipal Water District.  Then the chair of the largest water agency in the country – one that has long been at odds with its San Diego partner – threw the whole discussion into disarray. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego.

Military moves to clean chemicals out of well water on Camp Pendleton

“Officials at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton are bringing two new water filtration facilities online by the end of the year to address so-called “forever chemicals” in base drinking water.  Per- and poly fluoroalkyl substances, or “PFAS,” are a family of man-made compounds used for more than 70 years in all manner of consumer products. Non-stick cookware, stain-wicking clothing and even fast food wrappers are just some of the many items in everyday use worldwide containing the compounds.  They’re also present in the aqueous film forming foam used in firefighting, which has contributed to PFAS contamination at military bases, including Camp Pendleton.  But the source of the PFAS in the base’s drinking water isn’t suspected to be from military activities, according to a base official. … ”  Read more from KPBS.

Imperial Beach seeks federal assistance in ceasing ongoing pollution from Tijuana River sewage spill

“Imperial Beach urgently needs federal funding to put an end to the Tijuana River’s ongoing sewage spill that’s kept portions of the city’s beaches closed, Mayor Paloma Aguirre wrote in a letter to the White House.  Seeking a federal state of emergency status for the continued pollution, Mayor Aguirre called on the Biden administration to declare the emergency for the shoreline of Imperial Beach and the Tijuana River Valley. Such a proclamation would expedite funding and projects across federal agencies to tackle the source of the issue.  “With over 500 consecutive days of beach closures due to the ongoing influx of sewage, industrial discharges, and trash from the Tijuana River, the community of Imperial Beach is bearing the brunt of this environmental disaster,” Aguirre wrote in her request. … ”  Read more from Channel 7.

SEE ALSO: Padilla visits border, urges action to clean trans-border pollution, from the San Diego Union-Tribune

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary: Deal to ‘save’ the Colorado River fails, and puts you on the hook for climate change

Gary Wockner with Save the Colorado writes, “You’d think the Earth shook recently when the three states of California, Arizona and Nevada announced they’d reached a deal with the federal government about how to manage the drought-stricken Colorado River. It felt like a replay of President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech. Because within 24 hours, a more jaundiced — and realistic — picture emerged. For starters, the Colorado River has not been saved. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton told a U.S. Senate subcommittee last year that two to four million acre-feet of water per year had to be permanently conserved in the river to protect the Colorado River system. But this new deal amounts to conserving just one million acre-feet of water per year for the next three years. … ”  Read more from the Idaho Statesman.

Agency now has power to limit residential water use in Las Vegas

“Las Vegas water managers now have the power to pinch the pipes of the valley’s biggest water users should things take a turn for the worse along the drought-stricken Colorado River.  Gov. Joe Lombardo on Tuesday signed Assembly Bill 220, giving the Southern Nevada Water Authority the ability to limit residential water use to as little as 0.5 acre-feet per year per home if the federal government slashes Nevada’s share of the Colorado River below a certain threshold.  Water authority officials have stressed that the restrictions allowed under the new law would not happen immediately, but may be needed if conditions along the Colorado River dramatically worsen and force the federal government to shrink Nevada’s share of the river. … ”  Read more from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Phoenix area can no longer grow on groundwater. What does this mean for Arizona?

Christopher Kuzdas “Last week Governor Hobbs and the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) released a new analysis of groundwater in the Phoenix metro area. News broke around the country with headlines questioning the viability of future development in the region. But, what does this new analysis actually mean for Arizona? Let’s dive in. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Defense Fund.

New report touts effectiveness of Arizona’s water management despite national media naysayers

“Arizona is making significant investments and taking proactive steps to ensure the state can continue to grow and make up for potential shortfalls of groundwater, Governor Katie Hobbs announced in a recent press conference with key business and water stakeholders.  The announcement came in conjunction with the release of a 100-year model by Hobbs and Tom Buschatzke, director of the Department of Water Resources, outlining potential groundwater shortfalls if steps are not taken to bolster Arizona’s water supply.  “Families and businesses from around the world come to Arizona in part because they know we are serious about water management, and that we are the leader in safeguarding groundwater supplies,” Hobbs said. “What the model ultimately shows is that our water future is secure: the Assured Water Supply Program is working. Water supplies for homeowners and businesses are protected. Growth has been planned for and will continue. My message to Arizonans is this: we are not out of water, and we will not be running out of water.” … ”  Read more from the Arizona Chamber Business News.

Could the Central Arizona Project canal be the solution to our water problems?

“Along the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Canal, just beyond the city of Buckeye, is a place being considered for a project that could double the amount of water in the canal.  “It’s a game changer for the state if it works,” said Chuck Podolak with the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona.  On the Gulf of Mexico, an Israeli company wants to build the biggest desalination plant in the world. It would remove salt from seawater and pump water up over Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and let gravity get it to the CAP canal. … ”  Read more from Channel 15.

Boulder County cities and towns pursue solutions to future Colorado River shortages on their own

“This winter dropped a lot of snow on the mountains above Boulder. Our reservoirs are in good shape for now as Boulder Creek babbles. But that’s not our only water source.  Boulder and many other cities along the Front Range rely, at least in part, on water from the strained Colorado River. Younger cities with fewer senior rights for local water sources — like Superior and Erie — rely on it almost entirely.  Because every city is responsible for its own water portfolio, as the Colorado River becomes a potentially unreliable source, wholly dependent cities could be far worse off than others. This isn’t a far-fetched idea. A Colorado State University study shows that for every degree Fahrenheit of global warming, flows of the Colorado River decrease by 4%. And already, the Windy Gap Project — responsible for supplying a portion of Colorado River water to Front Range cities — sometimes doesn’t provide any water at all. … ”  Read more from KUNC.

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In national water news today …

National dam safety practices reviewed in tri-agency report

“The results of a yearlong study by an independent external peer review panel to assess the use of risk-informed dam safety practices is now available to the public. The verdict – the way the nation operates its dams across three federal agencies is appropriate and sound but can benefit from some areas of improvement.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), alongside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Bureau of Reclamation, contracted with a panel of dam experts, all external to their agencies, to review their dam safety practices at the direction of U.S. congress. The review took place following the 2017 spillway failure at California’s Oroville Dam, which triggered broad industry concerns about the safety of dams nationwide. … ”  Read more from the Army Corps of Engineers.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOW AVAILABLE: Harvest Water Program contracts for the administration of public benefits now online

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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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