Mirror Lake, Yosemite by Sathish J

DAILY DIGEST, holiday weekend edition: SJV groundwater agencies scrambling to comply with SGMA, leaving some landowners in the lurch; How this year ranks among the all-time biggest rainfall years; Delta communities relieved after Newsom ditches enviro run-around for Delta tunnel; Is seawater desalination right for California?; and more …

In California water news this weekend …

Facing possible state action, SJV groundwater agencies are scrambling to comply with SGMA, leaving some landowners in the lurch

“Growers in a chunk of land sandwiched between Highway 43 and Earlimart in the south valley learned earlier this week they are being booted out of the groundwater sustainability agency they had hoped would help solve their overdraft issues.  The Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) board voted to terminate its oversight of what’s known as the “western management area,” about 7,500 acres just west of its boundaries. That area has no surface water and is almost totally reliant on groundwater, making it a challenge to bring into compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. “The continued inclusion of the Management Area in the DEID GSA is no longer consistent with the successful sustainable management of other lands within the DEID GSA,” read a statement by the Delano-Earlimart GSA on June 28. “As such, the DEID GSA is terminating its (memorandum of understanding.)”  … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

California weather: How this year ranks among the all-time biggest rainfall years

“Propelled by big storms in January and March, the past 12 months ended up ranking as the wettest in 17 years in the Bay Area, and wetter than 92% of years back to the Gold Rush.  That was the final tally on Friday, as the official “rainfall season” used by many meteorologists came to an end.  With downtown San Francisco as a marker for Bay Area weather because it has the oldest continuous daily records in California, the year that began last July 1 and ended Friday was the 14th wettest over the past 174 years, with 34.19 inches of rain falling.  That’s well above the historical average of 21.78 inches back to 1849, and it was more than enough to smash the state’s three-year drought, as a parade of atmospheric river storms dumped huge amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada, filled reservoirs and caused flooding in some areas. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News (gift article).

‘It’s a disaster’: California farmer faces ordeal as pistachio farm sits underwater

“A few years ago, Makram Hanna took his savings from years of work in real estate and decided to make a big investment together with relatives and two other families. They bought 1,270 acres of farmland in Kings County, and in 2021 they planted pistachio trees.  Many of those trees, which have yet to produce a crop, now sit under 2 feet of water.  “It’s a disaster,” Hanna said, standing with arms crossed beside rows of inundated pistachio trees. “Huge losses.”  The floodwaters cover hundreds of acres on the farm. Hanna fears that many of the trees will not survive.  The return of Tulare Lake after this year’s major storms has left Hanna and his family with a costly ordeal — and many questions about how they might be able to recover from the loss. … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

Capital Region communities relieved after lawmakers get Newsom to ditch his environmental run-around for Delta tunnel in budget deal

“Towns from Freeport to Isleton are resting a little easier after Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon reached an agreement on the 2023-24 state budget without including trailer bill language for the 45 mile-long Delta Tunnel project.  “In the face of continued global economic uncertainty, this budget increases our fiscal discipline by growing our budget reserves to a record $38 billion, while preserving historic investments in public education, health care, climate, and public safety,” Newsom said in a statement at the end of June. “We’ve attached new accountability measures for transit and homelessness investments. And we are accelerating our global leadership on climate by fast-tracking the clean energy projects that will create cleaner air for generations to come.”  Atkins also sounded an optimistic note. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review.

Is seawater desalination right for California?

Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant in Santa Barbara, California, plays a key role in improving water reliability and resiliency for the City during the drought years. Photo by Florence Low / DWR

“Support for desalination in California is growing.  Currently, California has 12 seawater desalination facilities, but only two are of a significant size. Although a key state agency has recently approved plans for two more moderate size facilities, the perception of seawater desalination in the state is quite poor and project proposals face a steep uphill battle. The approval process is lengthy, expensive, difficult, and oftentimes has little public support.  Recently, the California Coastal Commission rejected Poseidon Water’s controversial bid for a 50 million gallon per day desalination facility in Huntington Beach, the end of a process that cost the company 20 years and $100 million.  However, with projections that climate change could bring even more extreme droughts in the future, desalination is a topic that comes up often in public and private discourse. … ”  Read more from Water World.

Efforts to limit ‘forever chemicals’ are underway. What does this mean for cities?

“No suite of chemicals has garnered more attention in recent years than PFAS, frequently referred to as “forever chemicals.” Rarely mentioned a decade ago, these chemicals have prompted multiple major lawsuits, state and federal legislative action, and even a 2019 legal thriller. But how much attention is this issue getting from the public? And should cities be concerned? … State and federal efforts to address PFAS have significantly impacted local water and wastewater agencies and will continue to drive local agency action for years to come. However, the sheer number of PFAS chemicals — both past and present — makes it technically and financially prohibitive to treat our way out of this problem. Moreover, public utilities often have little control over what enters their systems.  Local agencies that provide water and wastewater service to millions of Californians are now being asked to measure how many PFAS are present in their systems, and in some cases, take action to shut down sources with higher concentrations. … ”  Read more from Western City.

Vast stretches of water that have refilled sections of the old Tulare Lake are actually changing nearby weather

“The partially refilled Tulare Lake is so large, with so much water spread over so much land, that it’s changing nearby weather.  The lake stretches across the horizon as far as the eye can see in many places and is now about the size of Lake Tahoe.  The vast amount of water has started to change the weather nearby. Once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, Tulare Lake was drained more than 100 years ago for agriculture.  But it’s still the lowest spot in the San Joaquin Valley. So, when snow and rain slam the state as happened this year, the region’s typically placid rivers roar to life and seek their ancient terminus.  That’s what happened in March this year. And though levees have kept the lake refilled in patches, the sheer amount of water is amazing. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Drones to the rescue: California uses flying robots to battle mosquitoes

“In a bid to tackle the surging mosquito population and prevent the spread of diseases in Southern California, the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District has unleashed an innovative weapon: drones armed with bacteria-filled spore pellets.  These high-tech drones are revolutionizing mosquito control by targeting mosquito development in marshes, large ponds, and parks. An unprecedented increase in mosquitoes following a winter that saw exceptional levels of rainfall forced the district into drastic measures to combat this buzzing menace.  “There’s quite a bit more mosquitoes due to the rain,” John Savage, who recently operated the drone at San Joaquin Marsh Reserve, told Associated Press. “You can see out here almost every single marsh pond is full of water.”  Read more from Interesting Engineering.


Hydrologist Robert Shibatani writes, “As basins across California continue to drain, this year’s hydrology has reminded us of just how plentiful water can be in the State.  But proper water management requires concerted acknowledgment of spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall/snowmelt, its storage, and ultimate management allocation.  June saw rapid declines of this year’s record-setting snow accumulations.  Statewide SWE as of today has all but disappeared, estimates are 3-inches on average throughout the high Sierras.  Recall that average regional SWE for the north, central, and southern Sierra Nevada snow regions only a month ago were 19.8, 25.5 and 20.8 inches, respectively.  And before that, at the beginning of the snowmelt period, regional averages exceeded 60-inches in many locales (e.g., representing some 5-feet of latent water equivalency!). … ”  Continue reading the reservoir report at Maven’s Notebook.

Whitewater rafters exultant as Sierra snow melt yields exceptional season

“While there are safety warnings for rivers across California, whitewater fans are now enjoying a dream season. Some rivers are actually too high to raft but others are running at peak conditions for exceptional rafting. It’s the kind of year that’s making things exciting even for the river guides themselves.  Racing through a canyon on the surging Tuolumne River, guide Joe Espenshade, with All-Outdoors Rafting, is stoked.  “OK, when we drop into this one down here we’re going to focus up and get full commitment,” Espenshade said at a bend in the river.  After 15 years on the Tuolumne, he knows a big year when he sees one. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area.

Harder pushes for heavy snowpack strategy

“Congressman Josh Harder Thursday stood near ground zero of where the fluctuating snowpack in the Sierra can cause serious problems when it is too little and when it is too much.  Harder was at the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge that extends to the Stanislaus River just 10 miles south of Manteca.  He was there to get an update on efforts to eradicate large invasive swap rodents known as nutrias that can seriously damage vegetation and levees. As such, they pose serious flooding and environmental threats. Harder is leading the push to keep critical federal funding levels of the eradication effort in place. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin.

Here’s why wildfire risk in California remains high going into 4th of July, even after a wet winter

“California’s extraordinarily wet winter, followed by a cool spring, has kept the state from sliding precipitously into high fire danger, a welcome change after so many summers with ready-to-burn hills and devastating blazes.  With snow still lingering in the mountains, and valleys moist with runoff, this year’s peak fire season is on track to begin much later than usual, particularly at higher elevations. A best-case scenario is that the window for widespread burning doesn’t open until August or later and ends with early autumn rains. Fire experts, however, caution that anything can happen. A single bout of extreme heat could quickly dry out the new, pervasive growth that hatched with the soggy winter. Also, fall could be hot and windy. In either case, it wouldn’t take much for a fire to start and the season to spiral — again. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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In commentary this weekend …

Editorial: Kill the Delta tunnel boondoggle before it’s too late

“Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to concede defeat in fast-tracking the Delta tunnel raised hopes that the $16 billion boondoggle was, at long last, dead.  Californians should be so lucky.  This a project that has never penciled out, wouldn’t add a drop of new water to California’s supply and would be an environmental disaster for the largest estuary west of the Mississippi. Yet Newsom, like former governors Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger before him, keeps seeking ways to keep it alive. It’s the zombie water project that state officials won’t let die. Be very afraid. … ”  Continue reading from the San Jose Mercury News.

Rather than going with the flow, DWR needs a course correction on water supply modeling

State Senator Melissa Hurtado writes, ““We can’t continue this. It’s not sustainable for our community,” Coalinga City Councilman Adam Adkisson told CNN in November 2022 when drought forced his community to confront unprecedented water scarcity, and market forces all too ready to capitalize on that hardship. The city eventually paid $1.1 million to a public irrigation district on the open market for an amount of water previously costing $114,000. Water scarcity, driven by extreme weather patterns and swings, is making a necessity of life unaffordable, with repercussions for not only our communities’ livelihoods, but also our economy and food security. To respond, we need forecasting models utilizing the most updated data available. Despite the corresponding hardships to many vulnerable communities, the state imposes water restrictions across California, and they demand the utmost water efficiency practices from businesses to reduce our aggregate water consumption. In fairness, we must also command this same level of discipline of our state agencies tasked with managing the allotments and delivery of water. … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian.

Looking for the next California tech boom? You’ll find it in our farmlands

Joel Kotkin, the presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, and Marshall Toplansky, a clinical assistant professor of management science at the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University, writes, “The world may see California largely as home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood, but it’s agriculture technology where we can most clearly outshine our competitors. In a new study, “Nurturing California Industries,” we identified it as among the six industries most critical to the state’s economic future.  In many ways, advances in agricultural technology will have as much to do for California’s future as AI, streaming movies and electric vehicles. Agriculture is, by far, California’s strongest sector in terms of employment. In the latest 2022 Census of Wages and Employment, agriculture employs 419,582 people in this state, more than four times the number in the next-largest state, Washington.  While tech businesses and corporate headquarters head elsewhere, California’s agricultural supremacy remains unchallenged. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

California’s environmental decisions show a legacy of failure

Jeff Geraci, environmental scientist, writes, “It’s quite fitting that California, a state masquerading as the pinnacle of environmental achievement, displays upon its flag an animal that was driven to extinction by the state’s own failed environmental policies.Democrats have had total control of California for almost half a century and with the help of some swamp-dwelling Republicans, they’ve trashed our quality of life. Whether it’s their fanatical and divisive social and economic ideology, or their disdain for the constitutional rights of the citizenry, it’s their environmental policy failures that truly stand out. … ”  Read more from the Desert Sun.

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In people news this weekend …

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

San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl retires

“San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl retired June 29, after more than 40 years of public service. Deputy General Manager Dan Denham is acting GM until the Water Authority Board of Directors permanently fills the position.  Kerl’s tenure at the Water Authority included 10 years as deputy general manager and four years as the agency’s top staff member during a period of unprecedented uncertainty regionally and nationally. Following her retirement announcement in April, Kerl was praised by state and local leaders for her steady hand and tireless efforts on behalf of San Diego County and the water industry.  “Sandy’s vision and management skills have been crucial in successfully navigating the challenges of an extreme drought while ensuring stability through the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mel Katz, chair of the Water Authority Board. “Her deep experience with water issues, collaborative management style, and can-do spirit guided the agency through an unprecedented period of change. Sandy’s dedication and work ethic on behalf of San Diego region will be missed. We are grateful for her service and wish her nothing but the best in retirement.” … ”  Read more from the Water News Network.

A forest service hydrologist talks water

“National forests provide an estimated 20% of the nation’s water, and 60% in California. Hydrologists on those national forests know its importance. It’s meaningful work, and those that care for water on those public lands will tell you.  “Water is vital to every part of our daily life,” said Kaci Spooner, a forest hydrology technician for the Modoc National Forest. “Water and the study of water — hydrology — impact our food, what we drink, wildlife, and our recreation opportunities. Working to maintain the function of water in our ecosystem is my job and I love it.”  Spooner considers herself more of a “field” person than a “meeting” person. Her projects take her all across the landscape in the northeast corner of California. She monitors every aspect of water across the plateau, though there doesn’t always seem to be a lot to monitor.  “When you come out to an area like the Modoc National Forest, water doesn’t come immediately to mind. It’s a dry, semi-arid sage steppe landscape. The amount of water varies a lot throughout the year,” said Spooner. “It’s part of what makes these water resources all the more important because we don’t always have a lot.” … ”  Read more from the USFS.

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Podcasts …

WATER & POWER LEADERSHIP: A deep, deep dive on water rights legislation in California

Water rights is a hot topic that state policymakers are considering in Sacramento during the 2023 legislative session. Andrea Abergel, the California Municipal Utilities Association’s manager of water policy, goes in-depth on two bills that originated in the Assembly, what the negative impacts could be if the legislation becomes law, and how CMUA is engaging in advocacy and education as part of a broader coalition opposing the bills. Note: This episode was recorded before recent activity that likely will make Assembly Bill 460 a two-year bill, meaning it would be considered no sooner than 2024.

ECONEWS REPORT: Increasing water levels in the South For Eel River

How do you improve the flow of a river? Just ask our friends at Salmonid Restoration Federation. On this week’s episode of the EcoNews Report host Alicia Hamann of Friends of the Eel River is joined by Dana Stolzman and Katrina Nystrom from Salmonid Restoration Federation, and Joel Monschke from Stillwater Sciences for a discussion of flow monitoring and enhancement projects on the South Fork Eel River. Tune in to learn more about SRF’s decade of flow monitoring on Redwood Creek, the Marshall Ranch Flow Enhancement Project, and more.

VIC BEDOIAN: Mono Lake Rises Following The Big Melt

Public Trust level of 6,392 feet elevation. They contend that has not happened because Los Angeles is diverting too much water. The massive snowpack that blanketed the Mono Basin this winter will go a long way toward raising the lake by a remarkable 30 percent toward that goal. The lake is expected to rise by five and a half feet. But that short term gain will not last. Now, the committee and its allies are asking the state to halt water diversions from the watershed, and let the lake rise to a healthy level. And public support for that proposal is growing. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.

PARCHED: Desert farming, differently

Crops like alfalfa that feed cows are the biggest user of the Colorado River, to satisfy our cravings for nachos and burgers. Cutting back on farms’ water use is the biggest way we can live in a drier West. One Indigenous farm manager is trying to do it — to grow food with much less water. His story reveals how to get other farms to be more efficient, too, in part by changing what and how they grow.

RIPPLE EFFECT: Innovative Co-funding to enhance corporate water stewardship impact in the Colorado River Basin

On this episode we have three special guests – Davíd Pilz and Amy McCoy of AMP Insights, and Cora Snyder of Pacific Institute. Join us as we discuss the Pacific Institute’s recent report aptly nicknamed “Joining Forces”. We go in depth about their efforts to improve the water world by leading Corporations to fund innovative projects. A great discussion with some of my favorites.

WHAT MATTERS: Peter Gleick, Author, Three Ages of Water

Would you like to know some fascinating facts about water? Then you won’t want to miss this – in episode #12 our host Charley Wilson talks with renowned climatologist and hydrologist, Peter Gleick, author of the new book The Three Ages of Water.  Water, to paraphrase Dr. Gleick, is special. It’s a basic natural resource that we depend on as much as our ancestors did, but it’s also a part of our biology and evolutionary history, shaping human civilization’s religions and art and cultures while nurturing the environment. Water made us, long before we tried to control and manage it. Peter Gleick has spent years researching and writing about the crucial links between water, energy, food and health and the ramifications of climate change. His new book is an epic recounting of water’s history and management through time. And it’s a wake-up call as well, as he believes if we don’t fix our water management issues, a dystopian future awaits us.

FISH WATER PEOPLE: A year of fishing in California with George Revel

Fish Water People podcast host and CalTrout Executive Director Curtis Knight talks about all the great fishing to be had every month in California with George Revel, owner of Lost Coast Outfitters and long-time CalTrout Board of Directors member. George is a three-time National Fly Fishing Champion, rod designer, FFF Master Certified Fly Casting Instructor, and Past President of the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Company. Plus, Fly Fishing Ambassador and renown Trout Camp caretaker Craig Ballenger shares stories about CalTrout’s Trout Camp from the very beginning to current day. Did you know there just might be buried treasure amidst the trees, beauty and fishing spots there?

WEST COAST WATER JUSTICE: Big oil and fracking, part 2: Fox in the hen house

This is part 2 of a 2-part interview with Food and Water Watch (FWW) and the second in our Fossil Fuels Series. In this episode, we interview (FWW) National Policy Director, Jim Walsh, and Tomás Morales Rebecchi, California’s Central Coast Organizing Manager. They continue to discuss current issues with the oil and gas industry and its impacts on our clean water and environment. We learn more about the fossil fuel industry’s practices that pollute our water, food, and communities and the industry’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations throughout California.  Food and Water Watch fights for safe food, clean water, and a livable climate for all of us, protecting people from corporations and other destructive economic interests that put profit ahead of everything else.


British biologist discovered a beetle in the Nubian Desert of southwest Africa. They can survive the arid environment by catching moisture from the dense morning fog that rolls in from the Atlantic Ocean. The body of this beetle is sculpted in a particular way that makes it highly efficient in trapping moisture. Can we learn from this small beetle the magic of pulling water out of thin air?   Water is a Many Splendor ’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.   Produced by Steven Baker, Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, water@operationunite.co 530-205-6388

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In regional water news this weekend …


Tahoe’s beach-cleaning robot is back in action with expanded role

“The League to Save Lake Tahoe and ECO-CLEAN solutions are kicking off the 2023 summer season by expanding their robot-powered, beach-cleaning initiative to cover entire beaches in Lake Tahoe.  The BEBOT-an all-electric, solar, and battery-powered, sand-sifting robot-completed it’s first ever full cleanup of a private beach in Lake Tahoe, combing through Tahoe Beach Club’s shoreline at Stateline, Nev.  More full beach cleanings at sites around the lake are on tap for the coming months, and a second machine will be added to the robot fleet. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune.


Rising groundwater raises threat of Bay Area soils’ toxins, study finds

“Rising groundwater on thousands of contaminated sites in the Bay Area has the potential to cause serious health problems, according to a new UC Berkeley study. A disproportionate number of the at-risk sites are in low-income communities and communities of color such as San Francisco’s Hunters Point or Treasure Island, which already bear a heavy burden of environmental hazards. Twice as much land area could be under threat from rising groundwater as is from coastal flooding, the report found. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Examiner.

Contra Costa County judge blocks 125-home Tassajara Valley project over water supply concerns

“A Contra Costa County judge has halted a controversial housing development planned for open space just east of Danville over concerns there’s not enough water for the 125-home subdivision.  Judge Danielle Douglas ruled this week that the project’s required environmental review lacked “reasoned analysis regarding water supply issues” and ordered county officials to rescind their approval of the project.  The decision is a win for neighbors and environmental advocates who contend the 30-acre development, first proposed over a decade ago, exemplifies the worst of urban sprawl and would harm the ecology of the oak-dotted Tassajara Valley. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.

Federal otter tour comes to East Bay to “smash myths” and seek repopulation sites

“Tens of thousands of sea otters once roamed the California coast, but fur traders hunting their pelts decimated nearly all populations north of the Golden Gate by the early 20th century.  But what would it mean to try to bring these fuzzy, frolicking semi-aquatic mammals, which have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1977, back to local waters?  Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a report about the feasibility of reintegrating otters along the West Coast in the hopes that their return will help preserve kelp forests, curb overpopulation of sea urchins and keep the Bay’s ecosystem healthy.  On their quest to pinpoint ideal sites from the northern tip of Oregon to the San Francisco Bay, the federal government’s otter dreamers came to Emeryville on Thursday, the final stop of a 16-city tour gathering public input regarding the potential impact of the plan on fishing, industry and other socio-economic factors. … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News.


California American Water Aquifer Storage and Recovery Program captures near historic levels of winter rain

“California American Water‘s Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) program captured excess winter rainwater from the Carmel River and injected 1,656.42 acre feet of water into the Seaside Basin this winter. The stored water will help alleviate water needs during future dry periods without rain and will reduce future reliance on the Carmel River and Seaside Basin.  Of the 182-day Aquifer Storage and Recovery season, California American Water successfully injected water 157 days when river triggers were met, making this the 2nd highest ASR injection season since the ASR program began. Flows on the Carmel River must reach certain thresholds to activate the ability to capture excess flows during the ASR season which runs from December 1st through May 31st. … ”  Read more from Business Wire.

Visitors to Lake San Antonio in Monterey County urged to stay out of water due to toxic algae

“A Monterey County lake that is a popular destination for recreational activities is being deemed unsafe due to the presence of blue-green algae toxins.  A Monterey County public works director said Thursday that county public works crews will begin posting “danger” level warning signs along the shore of Lake San Antonio.  Prior to every major summer holiday weekend, water testing is performed at the lake by the California Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, according to Randell Ishii, the county’s public works director. … ”  Read more from CBS Bay Area.


Commentary: If water issues don’t kill the Northern San Joaquin Valley then air quality will

Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, writes, “The lazy hazy days of summer — San Joaquin Valley style — are upon us. We are in a signature Central Valley heat wave. That means the Delta breezes, for all practical purposes, have gone AWOL.  The incessant humming of valley air conditioners is to the ears of PG&E hedge fund investors.   The accompanying low humidity has firefighters on edge as illegal fireworks burst in air.  Speaking of air, the skies have abandoned the natural array of blue in exchange for the gray scale.  The gray skies you see now has air pollution slowly shrinking visibility with every passing day until the breezes kick back up.  Go back 25 years or so, and this is what summer skies in the Northern San Joaquín Valley looked like day in and day out. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin.

Modesto water bills could rise about 20% over five years. How do nearby cities compare?

“The city of Modesto has kicked off the process of raising water rates by 4.5% annually over five years. An average home’s monthly bill would go from $67.13 now to $83.66 in 2028 if the proposal goes through, a staff report said. Businesses would have roughly similar hikes. Under state law, the proposal would die if a majority of customers file protests at or before an Aug. 22 hearing before the City Council. … ” Read more from the Modesto Bee.

Water officials: No cause for alarm as Pine Flat water released

“Local water officials are assuring residents that new releases from Pine Flat Dam over the next few days are “no cause for any alarm.” According to a joint statement from the Kings River Water Association and Kings River Conservation District, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will begin releasing water through Pine Flat Dam’s spillway gates over the next few days as a result of recent snowmelt. The gates are used when the reservoir reaches about 85 percent of its gross pool capacity. “Such spillway use is merely another means of safely releasing water to the river,” said Kings River Watermaster Steve Haugen. “Pine Flat Dam has never exceeded gross pool. That would occur only if the amount of water being stored exceeds Pine Flat’s capacity of 1 million acre-feet. The spillway gates are built of thick steel and are strong enough to hold stored water, but can be raised as much as necessary.” … ” Read more from the Hanford Sentinel.


Public Health urges against eating shellfish amid toxic algae bloom affecting sea life

“Health officials are urging residents to stay away from certain shellfish as a toxic algae bloom has contaminated the waters off the Southern California coast.  “The public should take precautions to stay safe as California and Los Angeles County experience a bloom of toxic algae that is impacting marine life,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Public Health Director.  According to health officials, the bloom contains a neurotoxin called domoic acid. At first, it only affected plankton feasting on the algae. However, it moved up the food chain as animals such as sea lions and dolphins began to eat contaminated fish like sardines. … ”  Read more from CBS News.

Some Marina del Rey residents want fireworks show cancelled out of concern for sick sea lions

“Some residents of Marina Del Rey are asking for this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show to be cancelled as more sick sea lions are washing up on the shore.  A toxic algae bloom that sprouted throughout the Southern California coast is responsible for the deaths and illness of many sea mammals. Sea lions that are currently sick are being assessed by a veterinarian in a resting pen just yards away from the barge where fireworks are set to be launched this Independence Day.  Resident Claire Cianca worries that the amount of people making their way to the beach this holiday may be overwhelming for the sea creatures.  “It’s pretty devastating, having things like seizures, not being able to swim very well and even resulting in death” said Cianca about the state of the sea lions. … ”  Read more from NBC 4.

Scientists provide update on algae bloom impacting marine life

“Marine mammals and algae bloom experts gave an update Friday on a plankton that is harming hundreds of sea lions and dolphins.   Scientists said they want to let people know what is happening and to be aware of their surroundings in and around the water.  The algae is nothing new, according to scientists, but it is becoming more toxic over the years and they are still unsure why, but they are taking note of its impact.  ”We are used to seeing these animals on the beach displaying these sypmtoms what we are not used to is the numbers they are coming in right now, we are seeing so many,” said Justin Viezbicke, the Mammal Stranding Coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). … ”  Read more from Channel 5.


Imperial Irrigation District opens new conservation and operational reservoir

“The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors saluted the district’s completion of its newest water conservation and operational reservoir located just east of the city, which will conserve 400 acre-feet of water annually and provide water operational flexibility to growers in the valley’s Northend.  The new operational reservoir, recently dedicated by the IID Board as the Lloyd Allen Water Conservation Operational Reservoir, is the first mid-lateral canal reservoir constructed through IID’s System Conservation Program. It has a total storage capacity of 40 acre-feet and is located along the district’s E Lateral Canal — the longest in the district’s delivery system at 13 miles in length.  In addition to conserving water, the new reservoir supports the district’s On-Farm Efficiency Conservation Program, providing improved water delivery service to growers. … ”  Read more from the Desert Review.


House to consider resolution pushing for emergency declaration amid Tijuana sewage

“San Diego congressional leaders are upping the pressure on officials to declare the ongoing sewage spill from Tijuana into the region’s southernmost beaches a federal state of emergency with a new amendment introduced Friday.  Rep. Scott Peters introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act — an appropriations bill for the military, including construction — that would call on federal officials to declare the wastewater contamination a federal emergency.  The resolution, co-sponsored by Representatives Sara Jacobs and Juan Vargas, would also codify the federal government’s commitment to abide by a 2022 agreement with Mexico — known as Minute 328 — to reduce wastewater contamination through infrastructure projects on both sides of the border. … ”  Read more from Channel 5.

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Along the Colorado River …

Commentary: With Colorado River negotiations settled, it’s time to focus on water conservation plans

Brian Strahm, a farmer who grows carrots, cantaloupes, alfalfa and wheat in the Imperial Valley, writes, “The agreement reached in May by California, Arizona and Nevada to conserve 3 million acre-feet of Colorado River water is reassuring news for all who rely on it — farms, cities, rural communities, tribes and the environment. It benefits American consumers in general who depend on the region’s farms for much of our safe, healthy, affordable food supply, and Southern California residents who receive farm-to-urban water transfers from the Imperial Valley specifically, helping protect them from drought-related water shortages.  Everyone involved understands there is still much hard work ahead of us. This near-term plan provides a critical bridge to a sustainable long-term future, sparing us years of fighting in court, which would have done nothing to preserve the Colorado River nor the communities that rely on it. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Committee reviews state of groundwater supply, management in rural Arizona

“Gov. Katie Hobbs has appointed a council to study rural groundwater, which is largely unregulated in Arizona.  The committee met Thursday to talk about its mission and outline what steps it will take moving forward.  Members of the Department of Water Resources briefed committee members on the current state of groundwater regulation in rural communities, which in some cases is practically nonexistent.  The state does not even have the ability to measure water use on a number of wells in rural areas, which makes data collection difficult.  The lack of oversight has led to falling water tables and calls for policy makers to take action. … ”  Read more from KJZZ.

Colorado’s prolonged drought brings additional fears of arsenic in dwindling water supply: ‘A problem that a lot of people are not aware of’

“Prolonged drought in Colorado is doing more than just drying rivers. It’s also ruining the quality of drinking water, Inside Climate News reported.  Decades of little rain have brought water levels dangerously low, which is increasing the amount of heavy metals in the water people and animals rely on for hydration.  Human industrial activities have spewed an excess of planet-warming gases into the atmosphere over decades, causing our planet to heat up. This has also brought about an increase in floods and droughts in certain parts of the world.  As a result, the American West has been suffering from a powerful drought for over 20 years, a contributing factor in the drying up of important water sources, like the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from Yahoo News.

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In national water news this weekend …

New study predicts concerning impending change for America’s heartland: ‘Few understand the implications this will have’

“The United States’ 100th meridian, which marks the divide between the drier West and the more humid East, is slowly moving eastward due to the planet’s changing temperatures.  This shift could have serious impacts on how food systems work and could cause water shortages for millions of Americans.  The line has moved about 140 miles since 1980, researchers say. Climate scientist Richard Seager, who led two 2018 studies appearing in the journal “Earth Interactions,” predicted that as this drying trend continues, farms further east will need to combine and grow to survive. Farmers would need to adapt or use irrigation, or change crops. … ”  Read more from Yahoo News.

Is the West’s water crisis spreading? Drought blankets Midwest, America’s Breadbasket

“Heavy winter snows have temporarily eased the well-documented water crisis in western states including Colorado and California, but now Midwestern farmers in America’s Breadbasket are worrying more about their crops as drought worsens across Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Ohio.  While Midwestern dry spells aren’t unusual, the current lack of rain is compounding existing problems with dry soils and streams, experts say, potentially raising the cost of cattle feed and ultimately the price Americans pay for beef.  “These are fairly serious drought conditions we’re seeing right now,” said Dennis Todey, the director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames in Iowa. “It’s not a major national issue yet, but it can become a larger issue if things don’t turn around soon.” … ”  Read more from the USA Today.

Feds move forward on introducing imperiled species outside historic habitat

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will launch its plan to introduce experimental populations of endangered and threatened species in suitable habitats outside their historic range to help them survive as climate change and invasive species make their original territories unlivable.  The service said Friday it has finalized a revision, proposed a year ago, to its regulations for introducing experimental populations, which will give it more flexibility to help with the recovery of imperiled species.  “The impacts of climate change on species habitat are forcing some wildlife to new areas to survive, while squeezing other species closer to extinction,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “The Interior Department is committed to using all of the tools available to help halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk.” … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service via Maven’s Notebook.

Supreme Court axes debt relief, threatens climate regs

“The Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday blocking student loan relief and in the process inserted more uncertainty into the Biden administration’s ability to tackle climate change.  In a 6-3 decision penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, the high court ruled the Department of Education did not have the authority to forgive between $10,000 to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for eligible borrowers.  Legal experts say the ruling in Biden v. Nebraska — which cites a newly articulated legal theory known as the “major questions” doctrine — could also spell trouble for federal agencies seeking to carry out expensive regulations with economywide effects.  “This ruling doesn’t solve the riddle of what does and what does not constitute a major question, and why,” said Michael Burger, executive director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. … ”  Read more from E&E News.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook this weekend …

UPCOMING PUBLIC WORKSHOPS: How the State Can Prepare for Drought in a Non-Drought Year

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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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