DAILY DIGEST, 9/13: State flows plan advances in, out of court; CA moving to ban decorative grass; Why nature’s infrastructure works better than ours; Locals fear a tech utopia could destroy Rio Vista’s ‘dirty Delta feel’; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • WORKSHOP: California Water Plan Update 2023 – Desalination RMS from 9am 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 Desalination RMS.  This will be an online only workshop, please register to receive a copy of the draft RMS and other information. An agenda will be available soon.  Join Teams Meeting
  • WEBINAR: Harmful Algal Blooms in California – A Seminar for Journalists from 2pm to 3pm.  On September 13, 2023, California tribal governments and environmental advocacy organizations will hold an online seminar to explore how Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) impact communities, tribes, and fish species that depend on clean, flowing rivers and healthy estuaries. The seminar will focus on algal impacts throughout the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary. Attend virtually on Zoom:  https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87605419909?pwd=UC84cmVwL01sRG5lM0ZMb3MvOWVsQT09

In California water news today …

State flows plan advances in, out of court

Near Riverbank, this aerial view shows a fish monitoring station on the Stanislaus River, one of three San Joaquin River tributaries subject to a plan that redirects flows of 30% to 50% for fish as part of the state’s water quality control update for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.

“Central Valley water districts subject to a state plan that diverts flows from the San Joaquin River tributaries downstream for fish are working to achieve a more holistic approach for the fishery through voluntary agreements, while also challenging the state’s flows-only approach in court.  Central to the issue is a plan adopted in 2018 by the California State Water Resources Control Board that requires affected water users to leave unimpaired flows of 30% to 50% in three San Joaquin tributaries—the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The work is the first phase of the state’s water quality control plan update for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, known as the Bay-Delta plan.  Districts, farmers and residents of the affected region have protested the plan, saying it would do little to restore salmon and other fish populations while cutting water supplies to the northern San Joaquin Valley. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert.

California is moving to outlaw watering some grass that’s purely decorative

“Outdoor watering accounts for roughly half of total water use in Southern California’s cities and suburbs, and a large portion of that water is sprayed from sprinklers to keep grass green.  Under a bill passed by state legislators this week, California will soon outlaw using drinking water for some of those vast expanses of grass — the purely decorative patches of green that are mowed but never walked on or used for recreation.  Grass covers an estimated 218,000 acres in the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s six-county area. Nearly a quarter of that, or up to 51,000 acres, is categorized as “nonfunctional” turf — the sort of grass that fills spaces along roads and sidewalks, in front of businesses, and around parking lots. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

California ponies up $300 million to prepare groundwater infrastructure for climate change

A drone view of Fresno Irrigation District’s Lambrecht Basin in Fresno, California, which provides groundwater recharge and groundwater banking. Photo by Ken James / DWR

“California will spend about $300 million to prepare a vast groundwater and farming infrastructure system for the growing impacts of climate change.  California Department of Water Resources announced Tuesday that it has awarded $187 million to 32 groundwater sub-basins, which store water for future use that mainly flows from valuable snowmelt, through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program.  Governor Gavin Newsom also announced Tuesday that California’s Department of Food and Agriculture will award more than $106 million in grants to 23 organizations, which will design and implement new carbon sequestration and irrigation efficiency projects.  The funding will support 103 projects to enhance groundwater monitoring and recharge, water use efficiency, recycled water capacity and water quality improvement to support local sustainable groundwater management. More than $160 million will directly benefit tribes and underrepresented communities, the state promised. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.


Why nature’s infrastructure works better than ours

On Thursday, August 10, Butte Creek turned orange. The culprit: a failed PG&E canal that caused orange sediment to flood the creek potentially creating deadly conditions for native fish currently inhabiting the watershed including threatened spring-run Chinook salmon. Salmon are a keystone species, and their health is intricately connected with the rest of the ecosystem.   Native fish across California are consistently vulnerable to safe and responsible operation of hydroelectric infrastructure such as dams and canals. In some cases, basins like Butte Creek are managed by water-moving infrastructure, guiding flows from the nearby Feather River watershed to Butte Creek. When functioning properly, this inter-basin transfer provides cold-water to Butte Creek and actually improves conditions for fish, like spring-run Chinook salmon, that rely on good water quality throughout the summer. Across the state, fish, wildlife, and people are dependent on this infrastructure for habitat, drinking water, and electricity – but at times, as witnessed on August 10, infrastructure fails. … ”  Read more from Cal Trout.

Restoring California wetlands and fighting climate change? Leave it to beavers

“A baby beaver was spotted scurrying near a creek in Palo Alto, marking the first sighting of the species in that area in decades — and possibly signaling a beaver colony’s return to the region after more than a century. Pretty dam exciting.  “After being hunted and harassed for hundreds of years, the North American beaver is poised to make a comeback in the Golden State,” my colleague Grace Toohey reported.  That comeback is welcome news for California ecologists, including Kate Lundquist and Brock Dolman, co-directors of the nonprofit Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s Water Institute. Beavers are “the great wetland creators and managers,” Lundquist said. Their survival instinct also serves to combat drought. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Maintenance work on Oroville main spillway set to begin

“Starting this week, Oroville-area residents will notice construction staging equipment and materials at Oroville Dam’s main spillway. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is performing minor routine concrete and sealant repair work on localized areas of the spillway identified during annual inspections.  While the main spillway continues to perform well and operate as designed, periodic concrete and sealant repairs of the spillway are expected due to seasonal temperature variations, spillway releases, and sun exposure. In 2023, Oroville Dam’s main spillway has passed over 2,370,000 acre-feet of water – approximately 67 percent of the capacity of Lake Oroville – with flows up to 36,000 cubic feet per second this spring. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

Reservoir levels across California remain high as the wet season nears

Reservoirs across the state of California remain elevated as another wet season approaches. Following the record wet winter, lakes and reservoirs were nearly full to the brim as the melting snowpack made its way into them. Following the melt-off period, Lake Shasta — the keystone of the Central Valley Project was at 98% capacity, Oroville was at 100% capacity, and Folsom Lake was nearly full as well at 95% capacity. These bodies of water were quite parched heading into the winter due to the three years of drought preceding the past winter’s deluge and ranged from 25-32% capacity before the atmospheric river events rolled in. … ”  Read more from ABC 10.

Harnessing IoT innovations in intelligent stormwater management systems

“Unforeseen amounts of precipitation in the winter of 2022-2023 replenished parched lakes and reservoirs but unleashed a staggering 78 trillion gallons of water on California alone, leading to extensive flooding and stormwater runoff. California experienced two significant atmospheric river events that pushed the Sacramento River at Red Bluff to within one foot of its highest recorded level. The Sierra Nevada mountains also received substantial snowfall, reaching the third-highest level at the Donner Pass since 1946.  How should communities evolve to handle these types of events, which will likely continue to proliferate? They need innovative stormwater management practices in place to mitigate the effects of such climatic extremes. Internet of Things (IoT) technology offers a promising avenue for developing more efficient tactics for managing stormwater capture and runoff, identifying mechanical malfunctions, and curbing pollution. … ”  Read more from Water Finance & Management.

California Legislature sends ban of ‘forever chemicals’ in artificial turf to Gov. Newsom

“Today, the California Legislature approved a bill to ban the manufacturing and sale in the state of artificial turf containing the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.  Assembly Bill 1423 was introduced by  Assemblymember Pilar Schiavo (D-Santa Clarita), and advances to Gov. Gavin Newsom.  The Environmental Working Group is sponsoring the legislation.  If the bill is signed, the ban would take effect on January 1, 2026.  “There is no reason that California’s athletes or anyone else should be exposed to PFAS while playing on the field, especially when there are safer alternatives to these nonessential chemicals,” said Schiavo. … ”  Read more from the Environmental Working Group.

New bill marks climate transition for California landscapes

“There are big changes coming to the look of public spaces in California – less lawn.  After three severe statewide droughts in just 15 years, state leaders are realizing that resuming irrigation of purely ornamental turf grass in public spaces is unwise.  That’s why in June the State Water Board extended its emergency ban on irrigation of ornamental turf with potable water for another year, even after last winter’s heavy snows brought initial relief from drought conditions. Now, a bill almost ready for the Governor’s signature would make the Water Board’s temporary ban permanent, effective in stages between 2027 and 2031. … ”  Read more from the NRDC.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


The Nature Conservancy: Protecting the Lower Garcia River

“Born in rivers, maturing in the ocean and returning to rivers to mate, salmon are a foundational part of California’s vast coastal ecosystems. But unsustainable land management practices and overfishing have decimated their numbers. Where hundreds of thousands of coho salmon once fought their way upstream to spawn in California each fall, less than 1% of their historic numbers remain. In Mendocino County, the Garcia River harbors one of the last naturally reproducing, wild populations of coho salmon remaining on the southern Pacific Coast. It is also home to Chinook and pink salmon as well as steelhead trout. The Nature Conservancy has a long history of investment in the watershed, helping protect the Stornetta Public Lands at the estuary and the Garcia River Forest, an upstream property that is home to some of the best summer rearing habitat for salmon in the watershed. … ”  Continue reading at The Nature Conservancy.


Lake Tahoe is enjoying its best clarity in 40 years

“While the leaders of the Lake Tahoe region deal with the impact of millions of visitors each year and the trash they leave behind, the lake itself is currently the clearest it has been since the 1980s. Researchers from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center credit the lake’s native zooplankton, which provide a natural clean-up for the famed blue alpine lake.  In the research center’s latest clarity report, released this year, clarity is measured as the depth a 10-inch white disk, called a Secchi disk, remains visible when lowered into the water. In 2022, Lake Tahoe’s average annual clarity was 71.7 feet compared to 61 feet in 2021. The greatest improvement was between August and December, which coincided with the highest numbers of zooplankton Daphnia and Bosmina. … ”  Read more from Comstock’s Magazine.


DWR awards millions to Sutter County, YWA: Grants to fund groundwater recharge projects, data monitoring

“The Department of Water Resources awarded $187 million to 32 groundwater subbasins to improve sustainable groundwater use and storage statewide, the agency announced Tuesday.  Of those grant dollars, $8.5 million was awarded to Sutter County to improve data monitoring and Yuba Water Agency received $4.3 million for groundwater recharge projects. Funding was provided through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program and will support 103 individual projects that enhance groundwater monitoring, water use efficiency, groundwater recharge, recycled water and water quality. In addition, $160 million will directly benefit Native American tribes and underserved communities, officials said. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat.


SF water main break sheds light on aging infrastructure where 20% of water pipes are 100 years old

“Work is still underway on a sinkhole in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood. A section of Fillmore Street remains closed after a water main broke Monday damaging the street and nearby homes and businesses.  Repairs to the water main have been fixed, but that’s just the beginning.  ABC7 News reporter Luz Pena has been covering this story and on Turesday went with one of the crews surveying the damage.  “Between homes and commercial buildings we have surveyed 116 and we are currently working on 68 right now,” said Victor Cervantes with Service Master Restore.  … ”  Read more from KGO.

Locals fear a tech utopia could destroy Rio Vista’s ‘dirty Delta feel’

“Not much happens in Rio Vista that anyone outside the sleepy delta town of 10,000 cares about.Rio Vista folks know the lay of land around them. They won’t drive at certain times of day due to the region’s antiquated drawbridges, which often snarl traffic along Highway 12—their only major road—when stalled in upright positions.  So national headlines buzzing with the news that technocrats are buying swaths of land to build a utopian metropolis on their doorstep feel a bit jarring to locals of the waterlogged delta hamlet that feels in many ways like a time capsule.  Since California Forever recently announced it was the parent company plotting a new metropolis, some in Rio Vista feel their way of life will be forever changed—engulfed by the Bay Area’s urban sprawl. … ”  Read the full story at the San Francisco Standard.

Lawmakers look to expand San Pablo Bay Wildlife Refuge

“Draft legislation that would expand the San Pablo National Wildlife Refuge to include 6,934 acres of adjacent baylands owned by the state of California and the nonprofit organization, Sonoma Land Trust was released for public review and comment Tuesday by U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, alongside U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman and U.S. Rep. Thompson.  The “San Pablo National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Act” would not affect private land ownership or local land use decisions in any way and expressly prohibits the use of eminent domain by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the National Wildlife Refuge, Garamendi’s office said. … ”  Read more from The Patch.

Coastal Commission approves harbor dredging project

The San Mateo County Harbor District cleared a significant permitting hurdle last week after the California Coastal Commission approved a Coastal Development Permit for Pillar Point Harbor’s sand dredging and eelgrass replacement effort.  For several years, the district has been entrenched in plans to dredge up to 100,000 cubic yards of sand from the inner harbor and dump it across 1,000 feet of shoreline at Surfer’s Beach. Because part of the east basin area the district wanted to dredge features eelgrass, staff had to devise a restoration plan to move eelgrass and establish nearly 4 acres of new habitat on the other side of the harbor…. ”  Read more from the Half Moon Bay Review.


Santa Cruz:High and dry:Problems persist for Big Basin Water Company’s customers

“Vito Dettore pulls his car up next to the Boulder Creek Pharmacy on a hot mountain afternoon—but he’s not here to pick up a prescription.  Dettore, like many area residents, has stopped to stock up on clean water from a tank next door to the pharmacy. … Big Basin Water Company (BBWC) customers have relied on this water service for weeks after having their drinking water service interrupted. While some service has been restored, there are ongoing concerns about the water’s quality and of recurring interruptions throughout BBWC’s service area. … ”  Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz.

Salinas Valley agency gets $10.3M grant to fight against future California droughts

“The California Department of Water Resources is granting $10.3 million directly to the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency as part of an initiative to improve water conditions for tribes and underrepresented communities.  In total, the DWR is awarding $187 million to 32 different groundwater subbasins across the state. The funding is intended to support efforts to replenish groundwater, boost the use of recycled water and improve water quality as a defense against future droughts. California has over 515 groundwater basins, according to the DWR, and they remain a critical component of the state’s water supply, particularly during drought years. … ”  Read more from The Californian.


Tule River tribe suffers chronic water problems, even in record wet year

“Despite a record snowpack that has kept the South Fork of the Tule River flowing at a steady clip, residents of the Tule River Reservation – who get 60 percent of their supplies directly from the river – were recently without water for eight days.  The problem, ironically, was too much water. Specifically, from Hurricane Hilary.  When the late summer storm drenched dry, burn-scarred mountainsides, the runoff brought a torrent of muck with it and fouled the reservation’s intake and treatment system.  But Hilary was just the tribe’s most recent go-round with water problems from an outdated system built to serve a fraction of the homes now on the reservation. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

The race to prevent a wildlife disaster at California’s revived Tulare Lake

“Scientists and veterinarians are racing to prevent a wildlife disaster from getting worse in Tulare Lake, where hundreds of birds are dying from avian botulism in its stagnant waters.  The lake that reemerged in the San Joaquin Valley during winter flooding, which was partly brought on by snowmelt, after decades of dormancy has become a warm and stagnant breeding ground for toxins that cause paralysis and death. It’s common for avian botulism to strike water fowl when temperatures rise in summer and fall. But in 1983, the last time Tulare Lake emerged to such a large size after winter flooding, the disease killed more than 30,000 birds. “We’re trying to prevent that this year,” said Steve Gonzalez, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Kern farmers see first decrease in revenue in several years

“Last year proved to be a down year for Kern County farmers with crop sales dropping seven percent from the year before.   The annual Kern County Crop Report shows what could turn into a rough situation for local farmers if last year’s trend does not change course.  The big picture: Kern County’s seven percent drop in 2022 came after a nine percent increase in 2021. Such a drop is reflective of the extremely dry year that California had last year, impacting what farmers were able to produce. … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.


Metropolitan improving water supply reliability for 7 million people

“Millions of Southern Californians who were required to dramatically reduce their water use last year will have increased access to water supplies in the future under two projects advanced today by Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors.  The projects separately work to push water from the Colorado River and Diamond Valley Lake, Southern California’s largest reservoir, into communities that currently have limited access to these diverse and stored supplies. Today these communities, home to nearly 7 million people, heavily depend on water delivered through the State Water Project from Northern California. When SWP supplies were severely limited during the recent state drought, they faced mandatory measures to reduce water use by more than 35%.  “The severity of our recent drought revealed vulnerabilities and inequities in our water supply and delivery system,” Metropolitan board Chairman Adán Ortega, Jr. said. … ”  Read more from the Metropolitan Water District.

For this L.A. meteorologist, Hurricane Hilary makes for a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ day at work

“Southern California may be sunny and temperate most of the time, but monitoring the weather is a full-time job. And then, sometimes, it’s much more.  On a typical day, National Weather Service meteorologist Rose Schoenfeld will work an eight-hour shift, spending her time preparing forecasts for mariners, pilots and airports and fielding some calls from media and the public.  With Hurricane Hilary barreling toward Southern California out of the south, Saturday was anything but a typical day. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

Santa Clarita: City files motion demanding Bermite pay for legal fees

“The city of Santa Clarita has filed a motion demanding that Bermite Recovery LLC and Remediation Financial Inc. pay more than $160,000 to compensate for legal fees the city incurred during a lawsuit between the parties.  Bermite Recovery and Remediation Financial Inc. sued the city for over $750,000 while claiming the city interfered with their plan to develop approximately 1,000 acres of property on the former Whittaker-Bermite site — a tract of land that required a decades-long cleanup of contaminated soil.  Remediation Financial Inc. eventually dropped out of the lawsuit, taking with it the claim over 1,000 acres, but Bermite Recovery stayed in the litigation based on a separately owned 24-acre parcel. … ”  Read more from The Signal.


Bill to require countywide vote on water districts’ divorce passes, but likely too late for San Diego

The San Diego Canal leaving Diamond Valley Lake.

“State lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill that would require voters across broad water authorities to allow individual districts to withdraw before they can legally detach from regional agencies.  But the legislation may be too late to prevent two North County water districts from divorcing from the San Diego County Water Authority.  Even if the bill is signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, it would not go into effect until January. Voters in the Fallbrook Public Utilities District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District are scheduled to vote on the long-planned separation before that, in November. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

San Diego spending $9M on repairs to structurally vulnerable dams — El Capitan, Lake Morena

“The San Diego City Council approved $9 million Tuesday for short-term repairs to two city dams found to have cracks and other structural problems during state-ordered assessments in 2019.  The repairs will be completed by Orion Construction on the Morena Dam, which is 63 miles east of the city near Campo and the Laguna Mountains, and El Capitan Dam, which is 7 miles east of Lakeside.  While the dams are outside city limits, they are part of San Diego’s vast water network that includes nine reservoirs and dams located across the county. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The end of jet skiing on El Capitan reservoir in East County

“Award-winning jet skiing enthusiast Steve Gordenker remembers the good old days at El Capitan reservoir in East County.  “This was a very special place to the San Diego watersports community. We’ve probably been coming here for 35 years,” said Gordenker. The water fun stopped when the City of San Diego closed all water recreation on its reservoirs on March 18, 2020 because of COVID-19. The reservoirs eventually reopened later that year. But jet skiing on El Capitan is still prohibited. Even the hand-painted sign posted at the reservoir’s entrance informing visitors that “jet sking” was not allowed seemed like a misspelled afterthought on the city-run lake. … ”  Read more from Channel 8.

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Along the Colorado River …

Salton Sea obligations cited in letter as government formulates Colorado River plan

Photo by CEB Imagery

“California’s largest lake didn’t even exist 120 years ago, but now it looms large over questions about how to manage the Colorado River.  Depending on who you ask, the Salton Sea is either an important wildlife ecosystem or an environmental disaster that’s ticking like a time bomb — 50% saltier than the Pacific Ocean and a major source of dust as water recedes.  The Salton Sea Authority, an organization created 30 years ago to work with the state of California to oversee comprehensive restoration of the lake, filed an 11-page response to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to lend its voice to decisions about the future of the Colorado River. … ”  Read more from KLAS.

Farming in dry places: Investors continue to speculate on Colorado water

“Private investors seeking to sell groundwater from parched parts of Colorado to a Denver-area water utility are spending tens of thousands of dollars to elect candidates to the water boards that govern the constrained supplies. The investors are behind Renewable Water Resources (RWR), a company that failed a year ago to obtain $10 million in pandemic-relief funds from Douglas County, located south of Denver and one of the nation’s wealthiest counties. RWR sought the funds to kickstart a plan to drill deep wells on a ranch it owns in the San Luis Valley farther south, home to the nation’s second-largest potato crop. RWR is aiming to plumb an aquifer underneath to sell water to the Denver area for a profit, despite significant public backlash from the valley’s farmers and residents, who depend on it. … ”  Read more from Civil Eats.

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In national water news today …

New ‘waters of the U.S.’ rule still problematic for farmers

“After the U.S. Supreme Court set boundaries for what bodies of water the federal government can regulate, some farm groups say they’re disappointed a revised rule meant to conform to the court ruling fails to bring clarity and certainty to agricultural landowners.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a final rule late last month that amends what “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, are covered under the Clean Water Act.  The updated rule, which took effect last week, revises the federal definition of WOTUS so that it’s more in line with the Supreme Court’s decision last May in Sackett v. EPA.  Farm groups praised the ruling, which they said reined in the agencies’ authority and resolved years of uncertainty for farmers, who for years have sought more clarity on what constitutes a WOTUS. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert.

Lithium tech developers eye ways to boost water recycling

“The mining industry is working to boost freshwater recycling while also developing direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies as it races to reinvent how the battery metal is produced for the green energy transition, executives said.  The surging global demand for lithium has sparked widespread interest in DLE technologies, which use less land and can operate far faster than hard rock mining and brine evaporation ponds – the traditional ways to process the white metal.  Some types of DLE technologies, though, require 180 metric tons or more of water to produce a single metric ton of lithium, a usage that has sparked controversy in arid regions seeking to conserve potable water and one that has offset DLE’s purported promise of curbing the mining industry’s large water use.  Now, DLE developers are racing to boost freshwater recycling as they fine tune technology, part of a push to ensure they do not lose community support before their industry has a chance to go fully commercial. … ”  Read more from Reuters.

Summer 2023 was the hottest on record – yes, it’s climate change, but don’t called it ‘the new normal’

“Summer 2023 has been the hottest on record by a huge margin. Hundreds of millions of people suffered as heat waves cooked Europe, Japan, Texas and the Southwestern U.S. Phoenix hit 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) for a record 54 days, including a 31-day streak in July. Large parts of Canada were on fire. Lahaina, Hawaii, burned to the ground. As an atmospheric scientist, I get asked at least once a week if the wild weather we’ve been having is “caused” by climate change. This question reflects a misunderstanding of the difference between weather and climate. … ”  Continue reading at The Conversation.

There is no end to disaster season anymore

“The wave of unusual disasters this summer now includes Hurricane Lee, a storm that swelled from Category 1 to Category 5 in just 24 hours as it barreled toward Canada. It’s a prime example of rapid intensification made worse by warming ocean temperatures.  It will add to what’s already been an exceptional year of extreme weather. The US has set a new record for the number of billion-dollar disasters in a year — 23 so far — in its history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And this doesn’t even include the costs from Tropical Storm Hilary in California or from the ongoing drought in the South and Midwest, because those costs have yet to be fully calculated. … ”  Read more from Vox.

100-year floods could occur yearly by end of 21st century

“Most coastal communities will encounter 100-year floods annually by the end of the century, even under a moderate scenario where carbon dioxide emissions peak by 2040, a new study finds. And as early as 2050, regions worldwide could experience 100-year floods every nine to fifteen years on average.  A 100-year flood is an extreme water level that has a 1% chance of being exceeded in any given year and is based on historical data. Despite the name, 100-year floods can strike the same area multiple years in a row or not at all within a century. But a new study finds that those historical trends will no longer provide an accurate outlook for future floods.  “The threshold that we expect to be exceeded once every hundred years on average is going to be exceeded much more frequently in a warmer climate until they are no longer considered 100-year events,” said Hamed Moftakhari, a civil engineer and professor at the University of Alabama who supervised the project. … ”  Read more from AGU.

Climate change hurting water quality in rivers worldwide, study finds

“Bouts of intense drought and rainfall are hurting water quality in rivers around the globe, according to a sprawling new analysis.  For the study, scientists looked at 965 case studies, tracking how extreme weather impacted rivers on every habitable continent. They found that water quality dropped during 51 percent of floods and rainstorms, as fertilizer runoff poured into rivers and streams.  Water quality also fell during 68 percent of droughts and heat waves. While a drop in flow meant there was less runoff, it also meant there was less water available to dilute contamination, such as pharmaceuticals from urban wastewater. Overheated rivers also had higher levels of salt.  Over the long term, the study found, warming rivers are seeing oxygen levels drop and pollution levels rise. … ”  Read more from Yale E360.

SEE ALSO: Water Quality Expected To Decline As Extreme Weather Becomes More Common, New Study Says, from Forbes

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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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