DAILY DIGEST, 9/14: Lawmakers move to ban decorative lawns; How might small farms fare under SGMA?; Evaluating the multiple benefits of increasing floodplain inundation; Could intense storms push America’s failing dams to the brink?; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Delta Independent Science Board from 9am to 3pm. Agenda items include Delta Lead Scientist Report, Draft Pyrethroid Research Plan Review, Food-webs Review, Subsidence Review, Decision-making under Deep Uncertainty Review, Delta ISB Postdoctoral Scholar Update, “How mountains can inspire science in the Delta: Lessons learned from social-ecological system models” by Dr. Xoco Shinbrot; and an update on Delta Lead Scientist RecruitmentAt ~12:00 PM, the Delta ISB will continue its seminar series on decision-making under deep uncertainty. Brett Milligan, associate professor at the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology, will present on scenario development methods specific to the Delta region. The seminar will explore the various drivers of scenarios, and Milligan will provide examples from his work, such as Franks Tract Futures, to explain how scenarios can be developed with stakeholder participation. Click here for the full meeting notice and remote access instructions.
  • WEBINAR: Clean Water, Complicated Laws: Infrastructure and Federal Partnerships from 10am to 10:30am.  Join BB&K’s leading water quality attorneys for a webinar series as presenters provide practical guidance on water quality issues, laws and regulations. Once a month, we will explore the major concerns wastewater, stormwater, and recycled water managers face, and dive into the many complicated issues that arise regarding water quality.  Click here to register.
  • PUBLIC MEETING: Salton Sea Management Program Community Engagement Committee beginning at 2pm.  Join us for a quick overview of the Community Needs Strategy document. Additionally, we will workshop the Outreach Plan and Engagement Schedule ahead of the 60-day public comment period. Join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82069914652
  • WEBINAR: Fish 101 (Scott and Shasta Watershed) from 4pm to 5pm. At this webinar, CDFW staff will present information on key species, basic habitat needs, and the status of fish populations in the watersheds.  Join Zoom meeting online: https://waterboards.zoom.us/j/94332453084

In California water news today …

California lawmakers move to ban irrigation of some decorative lawns

“California businesses and institutions will have to stop irrigating decorative grassy areas with drinkable water under legislation approved by state lawmakers.  The bill now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature. Newsom’s office declined to comment today, but he previously called for an irrigation ban that led to a similar emergency measure that’s in effect until next June.  Authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman, a Democrat from Burbank, the legislation would ban use of potable water — water that is safe to drink — to irrigate ornamental lawns or grasses at businesses, institutions, industrial facilities and certain developments. The grass could only be irrigated with recycled water.  The aim of the legislation is to force businesses to tear out their lawns and replace them with landscapes that use much less water. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

How might small farms fare under SGMA?

“Change is coming to the heavily agricultural San Joaquin Valley. We know that a combination of climate change, new environmental regulations, and especially the implementation of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are leading to a decline in water available for irrigation. (By 2040, overall farm supplies in the valley could drop by as much as 20%—and irrigated cropland by nearly 900,000 acres.) But what we haven’t known is how these changes could impact farms of different sizes in the valley—and there is understandable concern about how the shift will play out, particularly for smaller farms that have fewer resources and capacity to adapt. … ”  Read more from the PPIC.

Story map:  Floodplain restoration and recharge pilot Studies: Evaluating the multiple benefits of increasing floodplain inundation

“Recent cycles of extreme drought and flood, and the passage of the  Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)  provide an enhanced opportunity to strengthen the nexus between flood and groundwater management. The need for using floodwaters for managed aquifer recharge, also known as  Flood-MAR , is urgent and must be considered as a crucial part of California’s portfolio of sustainable and resilient water resource management strategies. This approach can be utilized on floodplains and flood bypasses to reduce flood risk and increase groundwater recharge potential, as well as provide ecosystem benefits through restored and reconnected floodplains. … ”  View Story Map from DWR.

Final state grants announced for groundwater agencies; four in the San Joaquin Valley

“On Tuesday, the state announced $187 million in funding for its final round of groundwater agency funding for the time being. The money will fund 103 groundwater projects throughout the state including four in the San Joaquin Valley.  The Oakdale Irrigation District in Stanislaus County will receive $14.3 million to expand a groundwater recharge facility and increase storage by 600%.  The Merced Irrigation-Urban Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) in Merced County will receive $3.4 million for two projects which will fallow more than 1,300 acres of farmland. The project aims to increase groundwater storage, improve habitat and decrease flood risks for nearby communities. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

DWR installs illuminated bubble barrier to help young salmon migrate safely through Delta

“To help young salmon survive their perilous migration through the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has begun installing a bioacoustic fish fence at the junction of the Sacramento River and Georgiana Slough. Once fully installed, the fence will help sensitive fish species safely traverse through the Delta, including winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon.  Bioacoustics is a cross-disciplinary science that combines biology and acoustics in the investigation of sound production, dispersion, and reception in animals. The fence uses a combination of bubbles, light, and sound to discourage migrating salmon from entering Georgiana Slough where their chances of survival decrease. As they travel downstream through the Delta, they disperse among its complex network of channels where they are subject to a variety of conditions that affect their rate of migration; vulnerability to predation; feeding success; growth rates; and ultimately, survival. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

DELTA SCIENCE SPOTLIGHT: Fall X2 Action, Delta collaborative modeling project funded

“At the August meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Lead Scientist Dr. Laurel Larsen discussed a recent study on the Fall X2 action.  She also announced funding for a Delta collaborative modeling project.The article for the August spotlight was recently published in the San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science.  The article, Flow Augmentations Modify an Estuarine Prey Field, addresses how endangered fish populations respond to Delta inflow, an important issue for many processes, such as voluntary agreements and water project operations in the Delta. … ”  Continue reading from Maven’s Notebook.

Harmful algal blooms in California waters – seminar examines impact on Tribes, communities, and the environment

“On September 13, 2023, California tribal governments and environmental advocacy organizations held 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. Participants in the seminar included: Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, Restore the Delta, San Francisco Baykeeper, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The seminar focused on harmful algal bloom impacts throughout the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary.  This seminar presented data and findings on HABs outbreaks throughout the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary since 2020. Experts highlighted the difference between freshwater HABs and saltwater HABs, and discussed the importance of San Francisco Bay nutrient discharge and Delta freshwater flows via a new data analysis. … ”  Read more from Restore the Delta.

NASA scientists using new tool to track harmful algal blooms

“It was the largest algal bloom on record and it took place in June off the California coast.  The planktonic algae made the water look green while producing a toxin. Seals, sea lions and dolphins eat fish that have eaten these algae, therefore hundreds died as a result.  “These harmful algal blooms are getting worse,” said Michelle Gierach, the deputy chief for Earth Science and Technology at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “They’re getting more intense, more frequent, longer in duration.”  Using satellite data, Gierach and other scientists created new ways to study the changes in the ocean. … ”  Read more from KABC.

Good news for fish: Clean Water Act Holds for PG&E hydropower projects on Yuba and Bear Rivers

“The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) is pleased to report that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Order on September 5, 2023 that upholds the California State Water Board’s authority to require a “water quality certification” for new hydropower licenses for the Upper Drum-Spaulding, Lower Drum, and Deer Creek hydroelectric projects.  The Order ends a multiyear effort by PG&E to avoid regulation of these projects under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.  … ”  Continue reading from the CSPA.

Resilient Sacramento perch released in SoCal to widen fish’s range

“A batch of 37 juvenile Sacramento perch were released in Lindo Lake in eastern San Diego County by Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists to increase the numbers of the native species, broaden their range and provide a sustainable target for anglers.  Historically, they were found in various freshwater habitats throughout California, including rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They were particularly prominent in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries, as well as in some Southern California waters.  However, Sacramento perch – not true perch, but the only sunfish native to California – populations have significantly declined due to habitat loss, water diversions and competition from introduced species and are currently listed as endangered. As a result, they are now considered a threatened species and are no longer found in many of their historical habitats. … ”  Read more from The Log.

Making a difference with clean water careers

“Environmentalism is more than a trend these days. It’s an imperative. You won’t come across many people in this part of California who are not at least somewhat concerned about our environment. But how many can say that they are literally on the front lines, working directly to protect the environment and improve water quality every day? A career in the clean water industry offers the opportunity to do just that.  For clarity, wastewater agencies everywhere have rebranded themselves to reflect the fact that water is not a waste. At least not anymore.  Other clean water agencies are producing electricity and harnessing valuable resources from byproducts that had, in the past, been considered waste.  As exciting as that sounds, undoubtedly the biggest challenge facing water and wastewater agencies over the next decade will be finding and developing qualified professional staff to operate and maintain increasingly complex treatment systems. … ”  Read more from the Coastal View.

Climate change making summer hotter despite mild season in California

“It wasn’t too bad of a summer season here in Northern California and really, when it comes to temperature, the entire state of California had a pretty mild summer. Perhaps Kaitlyn Trudeau, a meteorologist with Climate Central, summed it up best: “Well, it wasn’t as hot as it’s been in recent years.” We had 44 days with a high temperature of at least 100° in Sacramento in 2022. Stockton wasn’t far behind with 40 triple-digit days. By comparison, Sacramento had 23 triple-digit days in 2023 and Stockton had 20. The average number of 100°+ days in Sacramento and Stockton are 24 and 20, respectively. It means this summer was just about as average as you can get.  “You know, not every single year is hot,” said Trudeau. “But we did have some hot days and that’s kind of what we’re seeing is not necessarily that every day is really hot, but that the extremes are getting warmer and hotter, and that those are happening more frequently.” … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

Wildfires knocked out power to an entire county. A microgrid of generators brought it back

“After an onslaught of about 150 lightning strikes hit one of California’s most drought-stricken regions last month, sparking more than two dozen fires, the flames spread quickly across the rugged wilderness of the state’s northwest corner.  Over the ensuing days, the fires, growing dangerously close to rural communities and a major thoroughfare, also threatened a piece of crucial infrastructure: the only transmission lines that provide power to Del Norte County’s 27,000 residents. … For more than three weeks, Pacific Power remained unable to re-energize its two transmission lines that link Crescent City and Del Norte County to the power grid, as flames raged along the lone power line corridor, jeopardizing safety and damaging infrastructure.  However, a backup plan was in the works. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Judge finds Reclamation violated ESA with Klamath Project water deliveries

“A federal judge has determined the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation erred when it delivered water for Klamath Project irrigators in 2022 at the expense of critically endangered sucker fish in Upper Klamath Lake.  The Klamath Tribes sued the agency for violating the Endangered Species Act by allocating 62,000 acre-feet of water from the lake for agriculture, despite knowing there would not be enough water in the system to meet minimum protections for shortnose and Lost River suckers due to drought. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke issued his ruling on Sept. 11 in favor of the tribes. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press.

SEE ALSOMagistrate Judge issues ruling on Klamath Drainage District water rights, from the Klamath Falls News

Editorial: Good news is always relative on the Klamath Project

“Klamath Basin irrigators received a welcome reprieve last week from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which rescinded a previous warning that it would likely shut down the Klamath Project early because of a projected water shortfall.  That’s good news to the region’s farmers, who over the last decade have been the recipients of little good news.  Had the bureau closed the taps as it had threatened, farmers would have suffered millions of dollars of damage to row crops, including potatoes, onions and garlic. … ”  Read more from the Capital Press.

The Nature Conservancy: Protecting the North Coast

“The estuaries, rivers and forests of California’s North Coast are known worldwide for their beauty, importance to conservation and recreational value. But a long history of human activity has dramatically altered these delicate ecosystems, threatening the plants, animals and human communities that rely on them. The impacts of a changing climate have only made matters worse. But now, we have the unique opportunity to address these problems and rapidly protect and restore these ecosystems in the next ten years.  … ”  Read more from The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy: Protecting the Ten Mile River

“The Ten Mile River flows from open grasslands, through towering redwood forests, rich coastal wetlands and ultimately empties into the Pacific Ocean on the picturesque Mendocino coast. This watershed is of particular importance because it is home to one of California’s strongest remaining wild populations of endangered coho salmon. In fact, in some years it accounts for nearly a quarter of the coho salmon that return to spawn in Mendocino County. While California used to be home to hundreds of thousands of spawning coho salmon each fall, less than one percent of their historic numbers now remain. … ”  Read more from The Nature Conservancy.


Celebrating a bountiful year in the Sacramento Valley

“With each passing day we get closer to the official start to Fall, which is a busy time in the Sacramento Valley as stone fruit, tomato, walnut, and almond harvest give way to rice harvest.  It is the culmination of a year, unlike the past three, in which water has been available to work together with sun and soil to yield a bountiful harvest worthy of celebration. The Sacramento Valley faces challenges with commodity prices and recovery from three years of drought, yet the one thing that has been a hallmark of the Sacramento Valley for many generations is the fortitude and undaunted spirit to bring the region to life. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association.

Lake Oroville’s new Loafer Point boat ramps bring improved access

“Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s largest reservoir, reached full capacity this spring for the first time since 2019 and recreational boaters, paddlers and campers have been heading to the lake in full force to find relief from the summer heat.  However, during the previous three years of drought as the lake level continued to drop and the exposed lakebed grew wider, many mariners and houseboat owners found it increasingly difficult to access the water and their boats from paved launch facilities.  While disappointed boaters were left high and dry, DWR took advantage of the low lake level to improve lake access by extending a boat ramp facility within the Loafer Creek Recreation Area. … ”  Read more from DWR.

$3.5 million in state grant funding awarded to Sacramento region for groundwater recharge, monitoring & scientific studies

“The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced the award of over $3.5 million in grant funding to support projects to recharge the groundwater basin and monitor conditions in the Sacramento region’s North American Subbasin.  The grant, awarded to the Sacramento Groundwater Authority (SGA) on behalf of five Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in Sacramento, Placer and Sutter counties, will fund, among other things: seven new wells that will provide important insight into groundwater levels throughout the greater Sacramento region; a unique groundwater well that will allow both monitoring of groundwater conditions and provide an emergency water supply, if needed, within a severely disadvantaged community in Western Placer County; and a new study to determine the potential for recharging groundwater in Western Placer County. … ”  Continue reading at the Regional Water Authority.


In San Francisco Bay, ecologists work to protect sevengill sharks

“Meghan Holst studies the broadnose sevengill shark, so she was naturally concerned when record-setting rain this year altered the shark’s nursery grounds in San Francisco Bay.  But the species appears to have withstood the challenge, based on initial observations from a recent outing on the water by Holst, a 31-year-old doctoral student in conservation ecology at the University of California, Davis.  Next, perhaps, will come California Fish and Game Commission protections for the sharks in San Francisco Bay, which she considers a nursing and pupping ground for a species believed to be in decline. Research like hers can help support such a designation. … ”  Read more from Reuters.

San Francisco considers lifting the Ferry Building by 7 feet to save it from the sea

“San Francisco’s waterfront is on the National Register of Historic Places for good reason. Its picturesque old landmarks, like the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge, have been featured in many vintage books, TV shows and movies — from the stories and novels of Jack London to the 1970s TV series The Streets of San Francisco.  The future of San Francisco’s waterfront, however, isn’t secure.  In 2016, the National Trust for Historic Preservation put part of the city’s urban shoreline on its list of the U.S.’s most endangered historic places, in part because of the threat of sea level rise. Now, San Francisco is considering drastic measures to save its historic shoreline. … ”  Read more from NPR.

Officials hold ribbon-cutting for new advanced groundwater treatment facility

“Standing on top of the largest groundwater well in eastern Alameda County, and flanked by twenty-foot cream-colored water vessels, five board members of the Zone 7 Water Agency, a water wholesaler for the tri-valley, cut the ribbon on an advanced groundwater treatment facility Wednesday in Pleasanton. The new technology is called Ion Exchange, which uses positive and negative particles to remove PFAS from ground water. … According to Zone 7, the new system at the Stoneridge Well in Pleasanton is the first of its kind in Northern California, but it will not be the last. … ”  Read more from SF Gate.

Pleasanton residents protest water rate hikes

“A petition that has garnered more than 1,800 signatures on change.org is challenging the accuracy of the data that the City of Pleasanton has presented about proposed water rate increases. The Pleasanton City Council meets next Tuesday to consider raising water rates starting in November. The city says residents would be charged an average of $33 more every two months to start, but rates could go up as much as $75 for that same time period by 2026. However, some residents opposed to the water rate hike aren’t sure the city is telling the truth about proposed increases.  “I am enraged. I live on a fixed income and it’s very unclear how much the rate is going to be,” said Pleasanton resident Kelly Ceglio. “Why aren’t we given alternatives? Why is this the only proposal? And why do we have to pay within this certain amount of time?” … ”  Read more from the Independent.

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.


Water, sewer bills in this SLO County city could rise by nearly 20% due to deficit

“Water and sewer bills in Grover Beach could increase by nearly 20% to make up for a $2 million deficit in revenue, the city announced Wednesday in a news release. At its Sept. 5 meeting, the Grover Beach City Council learned about the findings from a recent utility rate study, heard recommendations and unanimously instructed the city staff to start the Proposition 218 process, a step in notifying the public about proposed rate changes, the release said. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

The State Water Board seeks to weaken regulation on fertilizer application. Lives are at risk.

“In 2021, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board issued an order, after years of public hearings and review, calling for a limitation on runoff from agricultural fields.  It instantly became a matter of controversy. Agricultural groups filed a petition to the State Water Resources Control Board urging them to find the order too stringent. Environmental and public health groups also petitioned, arguing it was too weak.  Now, two years later, the State Water Board is scheduled to weigh in on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at a meeting in Sacramento. In a proposed order released on Sept. 8, staff are asking the board to amend the order, weakening in significant ways.  At the heart of the matter is regulating how much nitrogen growers can apply to fields, and that can run off into waterways. Excessive application of nitrogen – i.e. fertilizer that is not absorbed by crops – percolates in the soil and eventually reaches groundwater and is toxic to humans. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly.

Ventura County: Water options improve for thousands as treatment facility goes online at El Rio wellfield

“Iron be gone. Manganese, away.  A $14.2 million groundwater treatment facility that scrubs iron and manganese from supplies at a wellfield in El Rio has switched on. The plant will improve drinking supplies for thousands of Ventura County residents, including families living at Naval Base Ventura County.  On Wednesday morning, officials and dignitaries celebrated the United Water Conservation District project at its El Rio facility at 3561 N. Rose Ave., north of Oxnard.  “This is going to be a project that will be very helpful in those drought times.” said Mauricio Guardado Jr., United’s general manager, during the event. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star.


Lodi neighborhood hit hard by winter storms concerned about debris pile in Mokelumne River

“Residents living by the Mokelumne River in Lodi say they are still dealing with the aftermath of winter storms from earlier this year.  Many living at Casa de Lodi mobile estates say several trees and even parts of their properties have fallen over into the river after heavy rainstorms that raised the water levels in this area.  Jacque Graham-Doane said much of her property was damaged due to downed trees, and that parts of the land on her property eroded after water levels began to come down.  “I’ve lost 25 feet that was out that much further before,” Graham-Doane said. … ”  Read more from KCRA.


Bill passes forcing county vote on water district exits, but won’t affect Fallbrook, Rainbow

The San Diego Canal leaving Diamond Valley Lake.

“A bill requiring a countywide vote before individual water districts can detach from an agency passed the Assembly on Tuesday, but it won’t prevent residents of Fallbrook and Rainbow from voting on Nov. 7.  Assembly Bill 399 passed on a vote of 47 to 8, with 25 members, including Assemblymember Marie Waldron from North County, not voting. It now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom, but if he signs it into law, it won’t take effect until Jan. 1.  The two rural districts are seeking to join the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, which draws primarily from the Colorado River and the State Water Project, to secure lower-cost water for farmers. … ”  Read more from the Times of San Diego.

Late addition to energy bill may help develop a pumped storage facility at San Vicente Reservoir

“A wide-ranging bill at the State Capitol aimed at boosting renewable energy sources includes a provision that could help develop a proposed pumped hydroelectric facility at the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside.  Assembly Bill 1373 aims to make the state a centralized buyer for renewable energy sources such as offshore wind power and geothermal facilities. And in a late addition to the bill, it allows the state’s Department of Water Resources to procure funding for a pumped hydro project that “does not exceed 500 megawatts and has been directly appropriated funding by the state before January 1, 2023.” … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The City of San Diego is proposing changes that will affect your water bill

“A forum was held in Pacific Beach Tuesday evening to discuss a possible water rate hike for the city of San Diego.  As proposed by the city’s Public Utilities Department, water rates will increase 10.2% beginning on Dec. 1, 2023, and up to 8.7% on Jan. 1, 2025.  “The agencies that provide water to the city of San Diego are raising the rates so unfortunately, we will likely have to increase our operating cost, the cost of getting water and the cost of buying chemicals,” explained Ramon Galindo, a public information officer with the City of San Diego. … ”  Read more from Fox 5.

Plans for urgent South Bay wastewater plant repairs revealed

“As calls to fix the sewage crisis in the South Bay continue to intensify, there were some heated moments inside Wednesday morning’s Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting. “We continue to be woken up by the smell of chemicals and sewage in the middle of the night,” said Paloma Aguirre, Imperial Beach’s mayor, as she read an emotional letter from one of her constituents to the board.  “When is a date when I can go to my beach and swim with my grandchildren?” asked Laura Wilkinson Sinton, a Coronado resident with Stop the Sewage. … ”  Read more from Channel 10.

No reprieve in sight for sewage flow from Mexico as repair costs continue to climb

“Sewage from Tijuana will continue to foul South County beaches unchecked for at least a year before repairs can be made to an aging federal wastewater treatment plant at the U.S.-Mexico border, officials with the binational agency that operates the facility said Wednesday.  And the cost to complete full repairs and expand the entire system has ballooned from $600 million to $900 million, the International Boundary and Water Commission told members of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead’s rise levels off after 5-month climb — 34% full as an incredible water year nears its end

“Leveling off after steady increases since early April, Lake Mead appears to have reached its peak for the year — more than 22 feet above last year.  That remarkable climb marks the end of a dizzying year and a half that brought us a body in a barrel, a speedboat sticking out of the lake bottom and at least 23 deaths just this year.  And who knows, we might see it all happen again.  Average daily levels computed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation show the surface of Lake Mead at 1,066.32 feet above sea level on Thursday, Sept. 7. Since then, it has hovered around the same level and come down slightly, now at 1,066.25 feet as of midday Wednesday. … ”  Read more from KLAS.

Proposal to fill Lake Mead by draining Lake Powell gets growing support and opposition

“There is growing support as well as growing opposition for a radical proposal to conserve water along the Colorado River: Filling Lake Mead and draining Lake Powell.  The Bureau of Reclamation accepted public comment on measures for the future of the Colorado River past 2026. In addition to more than 20,000 comments, there are hundreds of letters from government agencies, non-profits and other entities weighing in on various solutions.  Las Vegas Water Defender was one of nine organizations that signed a joint letter to urge the following action or review: “bypass or decommissioning of Glen Canyon Dam.” “Reclamation can no longer pan as taboo or radical a reservoir management system that entirely abandons reservoir storage in Lake Powell. It is in the mainstream channels of academic research, scholarship and discourse,” the letter states. … ”  Read more from Channel 5.

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In national water news today …

Measuring water from space

“The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite is a collaboration between NASA and the French space agency. It will produce the first global survey of Earth’s surface water — and Pavelsky, a UNC-Chapel Hill researcher, is the freshwater science lead on the team. Surface water is essential for drinking and household use, agriculture, thermoelectric power, and numerous other industries. And SWOT can measure the height of all surface water to within 10 centimeters.  Using radar technology, the satellite sends a slew of pulses to Earth to create high-resolution images. It circumnavigates the planet every 21 days, drastically expanding our ability to collect data for large geographic regions and through poor weather like clouds and storms.  The data SWOT collects can measure how floodplains and wetlands change over time and the coastal processes related to fisheries, ship navigation, shoreline erosion, and pollutants. More simply, it will track changes in water movement and volume across the planet — critical information for areas hit hard by drought or flooding — and will help improve how we manage our water resources. … ”  Read more from the University of North Carolina.

Could intense storms push America’s failing dams to the brink?

“Thousands are dead and at least 10,000 more are missing in eastern Libya after a storm this week caused two dams in the area to collapse. Climate change is increasing the severity of storms and stressing aging infrastructure that’s meant to hold back catastrophe.  In the U.S., dams are rapidly aging, with more than 70% of them turning at least half a century old by 2030, says Hiba Baroud, a professor of civil engineering at Vanderbilt University.  Many of these dams serve critical purposes, such as protecting nearby communities from floods. But due to age and lack of maintenance, Baroud says more than 2000 of them are considered “high-hazard potential” dams. That means if they fail, they could cause death and/or serious property damage. … ”  Read more from KCRW.

As climate change warms rivers, they are running out of breath – and so could the plants and animals they harbor

“As climate change warms rivers, they are losing dissolved oxygen from their water. This process, which is called deoxygenation, was already known to be occurring in large bodies of water, like oceans and lakes. A study that colleagues and I just published in Nature Climate Change shows that it is happening in rivers as well.  We documented this change using a type of artificial intelligence called a deep learning model – specifically, a long short-term memory model – to predict water temperature and oxygen levels. The data that we fed the model included past records of water temperature and oxygen concentrations in rivers, along with past weather data and the features of adjoining land – for example, whether it held cities, farms or forests. … ”  Read more from The Conversation.

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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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