DAILY DIGEST, 6/9: California ranchers intentionally violated an emergency water order. Now lawmakers want to triple the fines; Ag land values benefit from recharge, runoff; Report on water tunnels called flawed; Domestic wells still going dry in San Joaquin Valley; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WORKSHOP: Central Valley Flood Protection Board beginning at 10:00am. The 2022 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) Update was adopted by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board (Board) through Resolution of Adoption 202229.  Within Resolution of Adoption 202229, the Board defined known and achievable goals that will contribute to the goals of the 2022 CVFPP Update.  The purpose of this workshop is to reach consensus on grouping the Board’s implementation goals detailed in Resolution of Adoption 202229 into themes. A recommended schedule for future Board workshops and Board forums to address implementation of the goals of each theme will be provided for discussionClick here for the agendaPlease click this URL to join. https://us06web.zoom.us/j/89520581083
  • WEBINAR: Capturing and Managing Large Storms and Wet Winters in California—Prospects and Limitations from 12pm to 1pm.  Speaker: Jay R. Lund: Vice-Director, Center for Watershed Sciences.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: Invasive Species Lunchtime Talk – Rapid Spread of Invasive Aquatic Plants in the Changing San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary from 12pm to 1pm.  Biological invasions by alien plant species are a global change factor linked to declines in native species diversity and ecosystem functions. On-going detections of new invasive alien plant species in waterways and wetlands of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary continue to challenge ecological restoration goals. Climate-driven environmental variation can influence the fitness, establishment and invasive spread of alien plants, yet adaptive evolution may support their invasiveness. A broad vision of ecosystem recovery encompassing system-wide integrated weed and restoration management could advance efforts to achieve current and future conservation goals. Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California ranchers intentionally violated an emergency water order. Now lawmakers want to triple the fines

“When ranchers violated an emergency order to stop pumping water from the drought-plagued Shasta River last year, state officials fined them $4,000, or roughly $50 each. Now California legislators are weighing a bill that would triple fines for such infractions — and could allow the penalty to climb higher than a million dollars.  Authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat from San Ramon, the bill cleared the Assembly in a 43 to 20 vote last week and is now awaiting discussion in Senate committees.  The proposed legislation aims to give California’s water enforcers more muscle to act swiftly and levy larger penalties for water agencies, irrigation districts and landowners who violate state orders and policies by pumping from rivers and streams. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

Ag land values benefit from recharge, runoff

Groundwater recharge efforts in Fresno Irrigation District (FID) could be one of the reasons the region tends to command higher farmland values than neighboring areas. The district’s rights to Sierra runoff certainly helps.  The 2023 Trends Report, published by the California Chapter, American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, reported earlier this year that FID permanent cropland values last year climbed to $48,000 per acre for good quality, young tree nut orchards. This compares to a ceiling of $25,000 for non-FID almond property in Fresno and Madera counties. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

Domestic wells still going dry in San Joaquin Valley towns as historically low groundwater levels are slow to rebound

“The small town of Tooleville ran out of water and started receiving water hauled in by truck on June 5.  It’s the first time the town has needed hauled water since October of 2022. Despite the historic snowpack and storms this year, groundwater levels in some areas are still low and wells are still going dry.  Tooleville, in rural Tulare County, has been plagued by water problems for decades. Its two community wells struggled to produce enough water on and off for years as surrounding farms had to pump more groundwater in the recent multi year drought. Residents there are used to relying on hauled water that fills two storage tanks, which were installed by nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises.  The big issue for Tooleville this time around is overuse in combination with slow groundwater recharge. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Winter storms boost Central Valley water supplies, but aquifer levels remain depleted

“The historic winter storms that filled California’s reservoirs and covered the Sierra Nevada with snow have brought a major boost to water supplies across Central Valley watersheds — an increase that measurements from NASA satellites show is the largest year-over-year gain in more than two decades of records.  Satellite data analyzed by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory show that the series of atmospheric river storms this winter alleviated some of California’s water deficit, but that groundwater levels remain depleted from years of drought and chronic overpumping in the Central Valley.  The two satellites, a joint U.S.-German mission called GRACE Follow-On, measure changes in the total volume of water contained in snowpack, soil, rivers, lakes and groundwater. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

El Niño is back – that’s good news or bad news, depending on where you live

“El Niño is officially here, and while it’s still weak right now, federal forecasters expect this global disrupter of worldwide weather patterns to gradually strengthen.  That may sound ominous, but El Niño – Spanish for “the little boy” – is not malevolent, or even automatically bad.  Here’s what forecasters expect, and what it means for the U.S. … On average, El Niño years are warmer globally than La Niña years – El Niño’s opposite. Globally, a strong El Niño can boost temperatures by about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.4 Celsius). But in North America, there is a lot of local variation. … El Niño years tend to be warmer across the northern part of the U.S. and in Canada, and the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley are often drier than usual in the winter and fall. The Southwest, on the other hand, tends to be cooler and wetter than average. … ”  Read more from The Conversation.


California’s historic snowpack is melting. Here’s what that means for the state’s water

““The ‘big melt’ is on the way.”  That was UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain’s warning to Californians in late March, days before officials announced that this year’s Sierra snowpack contained historic volumes of water.  After years of drought and restrictions on water use, a series of atmospheric rivers between January and March brought epic amounts of rain and snow to the parched state. Heavy precipitation and below-average temperatures meant that snow accumulated for months high in the Sierra Nevada mountains along California’s eastern border.  At its peak, the snowpack contained roughly the same amount of water as a full Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Report on water tunnels called flawed

“The Delta Protection Commission has recently discovered that the draft environmental impact statement on the Delta Conveyance Project has failed to adequately describe the potential effects of the planned twin water tunnels.  According to recent comments the Delta Protection Commission sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on March 15, the Commission has recommended that the Corps adopt a “No Action” alternative as opposed to approving permits necessary for the tunnels due to the project’s potential significant and unmitigated damage to cultural and historic resources in its path. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a federal regulator that decides whether to authorize the project. … ”  Read more from The Press.

Application of watershed-scale habitat modeling and decision-support tools for reservoir reoperations in coastal northern California

“Water managers must often balance the needs of both aquatic habitat and human water supply. However, they frequently only have the tools to manage human water delivery alone. Existing modelling tools for habitat contain gaps in providing detailed biological estimates at a watershed scale and in simulating water supply operations and habitat suitability at the same time.  A new modelling platform and calculation framework, Aquatic Habitat Assessment, was applied in a case study to quantify habitat suitability and fish passage at a watershed scale for local species of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.  Aquatic Habitat Assessment was coupled with a suite of tools, including HEC-RAS used for hydraulics, WEAP for water allocations, and Tableau for visualization. The tools ensemble was used to simulate the operations of a water utility system near San Francisco Bay in California to evaluate the effects of reservoir reoperations on both human water supply and aquatic habitat. … ”  Read more from the Stockholm Environmental Institute.

LAO Handout: Governor’s infrastructure proposals: issues for legislative consideration

Handout presented to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water.

Click here to read/download handout.

California announces $288 million for drought and flood projects

“Governor Gavin Newsom has advanced an unprecedented $8.5 billion worth of investments to conserve, store, and deliver more water to California communities. Recent investments have also focused on protecting Californians from historic flooding. Today, California announced over a quarter of a billion dollars for projects throughout the state to continue accomplishing these goals.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR), through the Urban Community Drought Relief Grant program, has awarded over $217 million to 44 projects that will help communities strengthen drought resilience and better prepare for future dry conditions – helping advance efforts outlined in Governor Newsom’s strategy to adapt California’s water supply for a hotter and drier future. … ”  Read more from the Office of the Governor.

Stanford researchers create model to help farmers reduce water usage

“Stanford researchers developed a new tool to optimize irrigation systems to help farmers reduce their water usage. Daniel Tartakovsky, professor of energy science and engineering, and Weiyu Li Ph.D. ’23 devised a method for ‘smart’ irrigation by improving estimates of evapotranspiration rates from soil moisture. Evapotranspiration is when water from irrigation evaporates from the plant and soil surface.  As water becomes a more scarce resource, some farmers are turning to water-smart agriculture to minimize water usage and maximize yield. Water-smart agriculture depends on accurate estimation of how much water plants are taking up and how much is lost to the atmosphere. Accurately measuring these rates can inform farmers of the optimal quantity and frequency of watering of their crops, to avoid overuse of water for irrigation. … ”  Read more from The Stanford Daily.

Surviving a drought may help forests weather future dry spells

“Some forests take one-two punches surprisingly well.  Researchers have shown that certain California forests exposed to two successive droughts weathered the second one much better than forests only hit by the later dry period. Given that the frequency and severity of droughts is increasing with climate change (SN: 3/10/22), the findings suggest that forested regions might fare better than predicted in the future, the research team proposes in the May 17 AGU Advances. That’s important because of the many resources that forests provide, including their ability to sequester about a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans put into the atmosphere every year. … ”  Read more from Science News.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Commentary: The fate of the Klamath Basin: Another case of environmentalist excess

Edward Ring, co-founder of the California Policy Center, writes, “The Klamath River is the biggest river in America that nobody’s ever heard of. Easily the largest river between the mighty Columbia on the Oregon–Washington border and the Sacramento–San Joaquin River, which drains California’s Central Valley, the Klamath watershed covers a whopping 12,000 square miles. … On one side are environmentalists and state bureaucrats, who have brought to the battle unlimited funds for lawfare and punitive regulations. On the other side are farmers and ranchers who have operated for over a century in the region, attempting to survive on thin profit margins in an era of increased costs and the relentless regulatory assault on their ability to subsist. … The farmers, lacking the financial resources of powerful environmentalist NGOs and state bureaucracies, have not been able to fund the army of consultants, academic experts, and litigators that would be necessary to effectively resist the state and federal edicts that redirect upper Klamath runoff downstream. But they nonetheless make a compelling case for themselves. It begins with the volume and quality of water they’re fighting over. … ”  Read the full commentary at the National Law Review.

$1 million awarded to help Clear Lake hitch

“Two Lake County projects that aim to help the threatened Clear Lake hitch have received state funding.  The hitch is the focus of an emergency declaration the Board of Supervisors passed in February.  The Governor’s Office reported that it has dedicated $71 million to address drinking water shortages, species protection and populations particularly impacted by drought.  Those projects include $500,000 to fund stream gages and well transducers for use in Clear Lake to better understand the relationship between streamflow, well pumping and water use.  The second project, for a contract to investigate groundwater/stream water interactions in the Clear Lake region, also will receive $500,000 for a contract to investigate groundwater/stream water interactions in the Clear Lake region. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News.


Half-inch-size hail in Tahoe forecast as storms pound California’s Sierra

“Summer may be just around the corner, but California’s northern Sierra Nevada and the Tahoe Basin continue to experience unsettled weather, with a chance for thunderstorms in the forecast over the next seven days.  “The days we’re keeping an eye on the most are Sunday and Monday,” said Bill Rasch, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. “The biggest threat is brief heavy rain.” There’s a 20% chance for thunderstorms Thursday through Saturday, with the probability increasing to 50% to 60% on Sunday and Monday. The isolated storm cells are most likely to occur in the afternoon and evenings and in terrain 5,000 feet and above. On Sunday and Monday, thunderstorms are also possible in the Central Valley, including the Sacramento and Redding areas. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

Beach space shrinks as Lake Tahoe water levels rise

“After heavy snow this winter, water levels at Lake Tahoe are rising.  “The lake right now is up about four feet from last year,” said Allen Wooldridge, the Tahoe Region Manager for Nevada State Parks.  “That translates into about 20 to 30 feet at Sand Harbor of less beach space.”  Sand Harbor is one of the more popular beaches at Lake Tahoe and that means space this summer will be even more crowded. … ” Read more from KOLO.

Mt. Whitney: A perilous trek to the top of California’s record snowpack

“The final stretch of our climb to the top of California’s historic snowpack was so steep only the front points of our crampons were in contact with the mountain. Beneath our heels was nothing but air.  A fall from there, just below the 14,505-foot summit of Mt. Whitney, could have been fatal. A quick glance over my shoulder showed a tiny patch of baby blue — the first sign of melting — on an icy lake 2,000 feet below.  Don’t look down, I thought, just keep moving. I kicked one toe into the snow as firmly as possible, then the other a little higher, then hammered an ice ax into the snow a little higher still.  After what felt like an eternity, I reached up, wrapped my fingers over bare granite, and hoisted myself onto the summit. Dave Miller, a professional mountain guide who led the climb, snapped a photo and shook my hand. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Tuolumne County commentary: The treasure of the Sierra Nevada: It’s water

“The Board meeting on Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 was an exhaustive exercise in futility. On the agenda was simply keeping OUR County-wide water agency, Tuolumne County Water Agency, alive and functioning. The fact is that this water agency acts on behalf of ALL of the people of this County irrespective of where they live within its boundaries, or what water they use.  Keeping OUR water agency working depended upon about $150,000 in funding out of a total budget of $312M. We needed the renewal of the Tuolumne County’s Water Agency’s contract with John Mills, one of the State’s most premier water experts who happens to live here in Tuolumne County, and approval of the salary for one resource analyst. A $150,000 investment in protecting, managing, and planning for countless millions of dollars in natural resource values. Sounds like a fantastic deal, right? … ”  Read more from My Mother Lode.

Melting snow means Yosemite’s waterfalls are extra spectacular

“The record-setting snowpack over the winter has recharged the waterfalls at Yosemite National Park, which is home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the world.  Yosemite has several waterfalls, most of which have peak runoff in May or June when most of the snowmelt occurs.  The largest waterfall at the park is Yosemite Falls, 2,425 feet above the valley floor. It flows from November through July, with peak flow occurring in May. One of the tallest waterfalls in the world, Yosemite Falls is made up of Upper Yosemite Fall, the middle cascades and Lower Yosemite Fall.  The national park also posted on social media about Vernal and Nevada falls. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.


Most of state’s shores could vanish by 2100 — but Ocean Beach has a plan

“When the King Phillip, an American cargo ship, ran aground on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach in 1878, its bells, whistles, metal fittings and sails were sold on the auction block. The hull was blown up for scrap.  What couldn’t be salvaged was swallowed up by the sea. Now, the last of the vessel, still lodged along the shore, can sometimes be seen during low tides. But not for long: Whatever is left of King Phillip along San Francisco’s shoreline could be lost to rising seas and shrinking beaches.  Results from a recent study by the United States Geological Survey predict that 25% to 70% of California’s coastline will disappear by the year 2100 if global greenhouse-gas emissions aren’t reduced and coasts are left unprotected. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Examiner.

Bay Area refinery fallout does not pose significant health risk, authorities say

“Bay Area public health authorities announced Thursday that heavy metals released by a refinery in November do not pose a significant risk to gardeners or residents in the city of Martinez, according to new laboratory testing.  On Nov. 24 and 25, Martinez Refining Co., an 880-acre refinery on the northern edge of the city, released up to 24 tons of spent catalyst, powdery white dust filled with chemicals used to break crude oil into finished petroleum products. The substance blanketed cars and homes throughout the city’s downtown.  Last month, Contra Costa County hired TRI Companies Inc., a Connecticut engineering firm, to collect soil samples at 14 sites across Contra Costa and Solano counties. Jenny Phillips, a TRI toxicologist, concluded none of the samples contained metals higher than background levels, though testing did find some places with elevated lead and arsenic. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.


Construction starts on $68M pipeline project to improve Pajaro Valley groundwater quality

A multi-million-dollar project to protect Pajaro Valley groundwater from seawater intrusion will break ground Friday after decades of discussion and planning.  When complete, the College Lake Water Supply Project will consist of a new pump station, a water treatment plant and a 6-mile, 30-inch pipeline.  It will deliver water from a seasonal lake northeast of Watsonville to 5,500 acres of coastal farmland in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.  “The College Lake Project is essential for us to reach sustainability in the Pajaro Valley,” said Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency spokesperson Marcus Mendiola. “We need to diversify further from being so groundwater dependent in Pajaro Valley.” … ”  Read more from MSN News.

One way or another, Central Coast Blue water project is coming. But who gets to build it?

“The Central Coast Blue project hopes to be up and running within the next half decade, but one key question is looming: Who will build it? Monday’s joint city council meeting between the city governments of Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande featured a study session aimed at answering that question, as the three councils heard from local construction workers and union advocates. Initially proposed in 2016, Central Coast Blue is a water recycling initiative that would see wastewater from Pismo Beach’s wastewater treatment plant diverted to a new advanced purification facility that would turn out 900 acre-feet per year of clean, drinkable water. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.


Cal Water teams up with Bakersfield HOA to implement water-wise landscaping

“Recent rainfall has caused problems for communities across the state, but it has also had a positive impact, replenishing our water supply and putting an end to the 3-year drought for the vast majority of California. In order to ensure a stable water supply for the future, local homeowner’s association Solera Properties, is getting experimental with their landscaping efforts.  As opposed to areas of greenery, the style of landscaping known as Xeriscaping may not be what people picture when they think of a traditional yard, but it might be the smarter option. Most landscapes need water to thrive, but a Xeriscaped yard with water-wise landscaping could be the key to avoiding future stress. … ”  Read more from Channel 23.


These Southern California water projects received millions in grant funding to combat drought, floods

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced Thursday that 44 statewide drought and flood projects will receive millions of dollars in Department of Water Resources grants.  In total, $217 million will be directed to increase water supply, combat flooding, and expand new water storage and conservation initiatives. An additional $71 million will be used to respond to local drought impacts.  These are the projects in Southern California that received grant funding:  Millions will be directed to flood risk management and groundwater recharge programs, including a $10.5 million grant to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. That grant will be used to reinforce the Santa Anita dam and remove sediment, which will increase capacity at the Santa Anita Spreading Grounds located downstream. … ”  Read more from KTLA.

Malibu Lagoon and surrounding beaches closed due to a six thousand gallon spillage of untreated sewage

“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued beach closures for the following areas due to the release of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of untreated sewage:Malibu Lagoon State Beach, ¼ mile north of Malibu Lagoon State Beach, and ¼ mile south of Malibu Lagoon State Beach. … ”  Read more from the Malibu Times.

Commissioners discuss hikes to Long Beach water rates; vote expected June 22

“Long Beach Utilities commissioners met again Thursday to discuss a potential rate hike for water, which could be as high as 10% next year as the department deals with declining sales due to customer conservation, increasing costs and an expanding capital investment plan that could, in the long term, increase the city’s supply of less expensive groundwater.  A staff-recommended hike of 10% for water rates next year would amount to a $5.69 monthly increase for the average customer, according to the department. However, an alternate increase of 9% that was requested at the commission’s last meeting would add about $5.13 to the monthly bill. … ”  Read more from the Long Beach Post.

Restoration of Prado Dam bicentennial mural completed

“After years of weathered decay, several months of multiple agencies coming together, and 500 gallons of paint, the vibrant red, white and blue hues of the Prado Dam Bicentennial Mural are restored. Supporters celebrated the completed mural with a ribbon-cutting event on June 2.  The groundbreaking event for the mural restoration was held Sept. 8, 2022. Friday marked the completion of the project.  To bring the project to fruition, several government agencies and community organizations came together to return the iconic Inland Empire landmark to a better state. Led by Supervisor Karen Spiegel and the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, months of planning among key partners resulted in a plan for the removal of the lead-based paint from 1976 and to pave the way for the new, non-toxic paint. … ”  Read more from the Record-Gazette.


Design schemes for homes in Disney’s Cotino development earn Rancho Mirage planners OK

“The Walt Disney Company’s proposed Rancho Mirage development sailed through a planning commission review Thursday, with commissioners unanimously endorsing a set of design guidelines for single-family homes in the Cotino project.  “This is actually, I think, the most significant development in the entire Coachella Valley since the mid-1980s,” Commissioner Murray Bryant said, referencing the Marriott Desert Springs construction. It’s “the most significant development, and probably the last, because there is no other land and it couldn’t be in a better place than Rancho Mirage.”  The Cotino project, a partnership with upscale Arizona-based builder DMB Development, is envisioned to include up to 1,932 homes along with a commercial area and a 24-acre water feature Disney is calling the “grand oasis.” Thursday’s decision follows earlier decisions by city leaders to approve the project as a whole and set a specific plan for its development. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun.


Editorial: San Diego beach closures? Sick Border Patrol agents? Make the Tijuana sewage spills stop

The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board writes, “California is the richest, most populous state and a global environmental leader. So how is it possible that a massive environmental crisis here is treated by elected officials in Washington, D.C. — including many from the Golden State — as just one more routine problem that the federal government must eventually address? When will it sink in with those who hold real power at the federal level that the Tijuana sewage spills caused by broken infrastructure that have closed San Diego County beaches at least 100 days a year since 2010 are a genuine emergency? And that this nightmare is now worse than ever, with beaches from Imperial Beach to Coronado closed so far for virtually all of 2023, on top of the sewage discharge causing disruptions for Navy training and illnesses among Border Patrol officers? … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

SEE ALSO: Imperial Beach mayor pens letter to Biden-Harris administration over sewage spills, from Channel 10

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Along the Colorado River …

Water scientist: It will take 21 years of massive runoffs & wet springs like this one to fix Colorado River crisis

“This wet spring has been a blessing for the parched Colorado River, but it would take 21 more like it to fully restore the watershed, an expert on the river said.  “I keep getting asked that same question — is this spring going to be enough?” Brad Udall, a senior scientist and scholar at Colorado State University, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.  It would take at least six more springs like this one just to get the Colorado River Basin out of a water supply vs. demand deficit, and “that’s not going to happen,” he said.  Even further outside the realm of possibility, it would take 21 more springs like this one to completely refill the basin’s entire water infrastructure, including Lake Powell and Lake Mead, he said. … ”  Read more from Cowboy State Daily.

Ahead of new Colorado River talks, governments and tribes weigh in on the future

“Hot on the heels of a short-term agreement to cut back on water use, states are looking ahead to talks about more permanent cuts. The Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency which manages the West’s water, announced that those negotiations will formally begin next week with a notice in the Federal Register.  The announcement came at an environmental law conference in Boulder, Colorado on Thursday, where scientists, state and federal governments, and tribes met at the University of Colorado’s law school.  In late May, the seven states that use the Colorado River agreed on a plan for temporary cutbacks in California, Arizona and Nevada. The deal would send $1.2 billion in federal money to some water users in those states, which could pay farmers to pause growing for portions of the next three years. … ”  Read more from KUNC.

Climate change could devastate life in the west

As summer approaches, the American West has been hit by two visceral reminders of the escalating environmental dangers it faces.  Phoenix, Ariz., one of the country’s most rapidly growing metropolises, has a long-standing policy in place stating that new developers have to prove they have steady water sources for the next century in order to build their subdivisions. Those 100-year numbers have often been fuzzy, however, reliant on largely speculative assertions about groundwater supplies, and geared toward automatically approving greater sprawl in increasingly challenging desert locations. That’s how Phoenix—where temperatures routinely soar toward 120 degrees in the summer and the average amount of rainfall is roughly 11 inches—became America’s sixth-largest city.  Now, however, reality is proving impossible to ignore. … ”  Read more from the Nation.

Trout Unlimited supports efforts to boost Colorado River health

“The group Trout Unlimited has launched a campaign to boost federally funded water conservation projects on the Colorado River.  The effort focuses on the history of the river basin including differing perspectives and the public’s role in preserving the watershed.  Trout Unlimited held an event in Denver this week that highlighted the Southwest’s historic drought and its impacts to Indigenous communities and even manufacturing that relies on the health of the river. … ”  Read more from KNAU.

Tribal-led restoration in the Colorado River Delta

“Our caravan of cars pulled up to a seemingly random stopping point and we all piled out—members of the Cocopah Tribe, Audubon staff, and people with years of restoration experience in this corner of the world. We looked out over the dry, dusty expanse in front of us, nothing but tan earth specked with dying salt cedar and mesquite. We checked out the floodplain of the sizable Colorado River, though you couldn’t quite tell since there was no actual river in sight. We also happened to be looking at an area on the Cocopah Reservation that the Cocopah Tribe wants to restore back into the kind of ecosystem that thrived here when the river still ran. Despite the bleakness of the landscape in front of us you could feel the excitement in the group—we were talking about the Cocopah Tribe’s vision for the river and for this land. … ”  Read more from Audubon.

Can Phoenix grow without groundwater? Only if the price is right.

“Earlier this month, Arizona’s water department published a new report assessing how much water remains in the aquifers below Phoenix. The data was alarming: The state found that it has allocated more groundwater to cities and farms over the next hundred years than is actually present in the aquifers.  In response to these findings, the state government just took the drastic step of limiting new housing construction in Phoenix and its suburbs, telling developers they can no longer rely on groundwater for new subdivisions. In order to build homes in Arizona, developers typically must first show they can have access to a hundred years’ worth of water for those homes. For decades, most of them have met that standard by drilling for groundwater. Now the state is cutting them off.  The announcement sent a shock wave through Arizona’s housing market and raised questions about the future of the sprawling Phoenix metroplex, which is one of the nation’s fastest-growing metro areas with nearly 5 million residents and counting. … ”  Read the full story at Grist.

Commentary: There’s more to saving the Colorado River than cutting the water taken from it

Moira Mcdonald, director of the environment program at the Walton Family Foundation, and Jordana Barrack, executive director of the Mighty Arrow Family Foundation, write, “Colorado River Basin states recently reached a historic agreement to dramatically reduce the amount of water they take from the river over the next three years. While the magnitude of the cuts under this compromise is unprecedented, it is not nearly enough to avert the crisis facing the river and the seven states, 30 tribal nations and 40 million people who depend on it.  Climate change and decades of taking more water from the river than it can give has put water and power supplies for the Basin residents at risk. Even after heavy snowfall this year, the river’s reservoirs are at only around 30 percent of capacity. It will take more than one wet winter or temporary agreements to bring the river back from the brink of disaster. … ”  Read more from Governing.


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In national water news today …

The future of water

“In the face of increased drought, floods, and rapid population growth, combined with the burgeoning water demands from the agriculture, industry, and energy sectors, how can we ensure access to clean water and adequate supplies? Yale School of the Environment Professors Jim Saiers and Shimi Anisfeld offer some thoughts on potential short and long-term solutions. … ”  Read more from Yale School of Environment.

Makers of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ covered up the dangers

“A new paper published May 31, 2023, in Annals of Global Health, examines documents from DuPont and 3M, the largest manufacturers of PFAS, and analyzes the tactics industry used to delay public awareness of PFAS toxicity and, in turn, delay regulations governing their use. PFAS are widely used chemicals in clothing, household goods, and food products, and are highly resistant to breaking down, giving them the name “forever chemicals.” They are now ubiquitous in people and the environment.  “These documents reveal clear evidence that the chemical industry knew about the dangers of PFAS and failed to let the public, regulators, and even their own employees know the risks,” said Tracey J. Woodruff, Ph.D., professor and director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE), a former senior scientist and policy advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and senior author of the paper.  This is the first time these PFAS industry documents have been analyzed by scientists using methods designed to expose tobacco industry tactics. … ”  Read more from the University of California.

Dams damned – is the age of vast hydroelectric plants over?

“The significant damage caused to a major dam in southern Ukraine on Tuesday highlights the great impact that can be caused by these large structures. When damaged, they can unleash huge surges of water, leading to flooding, emergency evacuations and endangering the lives of civilians.  But even when operating normally, dams have been proven to worsen climate change and cause a plethora of issues for the planet and environment. So, the question is: are dams still a necessary source of modern-day renewable energy? … ”  Read more from Geographical.

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.


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About the Daily Digest: The Daily Digest is a collection of selected news articles, commentaries and editorials appearing in the mainstream press. Items are generally selected to follow the focus of the Notebook blog. The Daily Digest is published every weekday with a weekend edition posting on Sundays.


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