DAILY DIGEST, 11/16: A look at CA’s water storage problem; Sites Reservoir sparking mixed feelings in the Northstate; Lawsuit chugs on as Sonoma County’s groundwater wells keep pumping; Lake Mead dropping to new low in 2025, projections show; and more …

On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Delta Stewardship Council beginning at 9am. Agenda items include State Water Resources Control Board Presentation on Proposed Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan Updates; Delta Lead Scientist Report; Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) South Delta Regional Strategy; Delta Conveyance Update; and DWR Reduced Reliance and Water Management Plan Update.  Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • WEBINAR: State Agency Panel Discussion: Open Data for Water Resilience in CA from 12pm to 1pm.  Join the California Water Data Consortium who, in partnership with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is hosting a discussion with some of the state agencies implementing the Open and Transparent Water Data Act on the role of data in water resilience in California. The panelists will explore water data’s long-term impact on water stewardship outcomes and opportunities to improve those outcomes for everyone living and working in California.  Click here to register.
  • WEBINAR: eDNA for Species Surveillance from 11:30am to 12:30pm.  This webinar will focus on the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) in monitoring for species surveillance. We will discuss recent advances to apply molecular methods, including quantitative PCR (qPCR) and CRISPR based assays, to detect invasive and endangered species. We will highlight work by the Department of Water Resources and the University of California at Davis to develop novel tools to survey for protected species in California waterways.  Click here to join the meeting
  • MEETING: Delta Protection Commission beginning at 5:30pm in Sacramento. Agenda items include National Heritage Area Management Plan, proposed greenwaste facility, and Delta as Place report.  Click here for the full agenda.

In California water news today …

Where’s our water? A look at California’s storage problem

“In 2014, California voters passed a proposition using $7.5 billion dollars in state funds to expand water storage capacity. Nearly 10 years later, people say not much has come from the vote. The main focus on their minds is the failure to expand Shasta Dam.  Kern County Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) has authored legislation that makes it easier for Shasta to receive federal funding.  “The goal is to make as much capacity as we possibly can and in those very, very wet years [and] capture as much water as we possibly can,” Valadao said. “Then, help sustain our communities, our farms and our state through those dry periods.” … ”  Continue reading at Bakersfield Now.

California’s Sites Reservoir project: sparking mixed feelings in the Northstate

Sites, Colusa County. Photo by Tom Hilton.

“The Sites Reservoir project has been in the planning process for several years and if ultimately approved, would change the way California utilizes its water.  The site’s project aims to help California maintain a successful water supply in the face of climate change, weather extremes and water scarcity. Along with meeting California’s goal of expanding above and below-ground water storage capacity by 4 million acre-feet.  “This project, and other projects like it, need to happen so we can have a secure water supply for future generations,” said Brown. … ”  Read more from KRCR.

Environmentalists blast Newsom again, this time for ‘streamlining’ Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley

“Despite strong opposition from indigenous tribes, fishing groups and conservation organizations, Governor Gavin Newsom took action in early November to fast-track the Sites Reservoir project, utilizing “new tools” from the controversial infrastructure streamlining package to “build more faster.”  “We’re cutting red tape to build more faster,” proclaimed Newsom. “These are projects that will address our state’s biggest challenges faster, and the Sites Reservoir is fully representative of that goal – making sure Californians have access to clean drinking water and making sure we’re more resilient against future droughts.”  The Sites Reservoir Project, an off stream water storage facility being promoted by the California Department of Water Resources, would be located on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, approximately 10 miles west of Maxwell in Glenn and Colusa Counties. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review.

SEE ALSO: Sites Reservoir: Fast-Tracking and Greenwashing a Huge Water Development, from the CSPA

State Water Board to hold three-day hearing on staff report evaluating potential Bay-Delta Plan updates

“As part of the process required to update and implement the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan, the State Water Resources Control Board will begin a three-day public hearing on Friday, Nov. 17, to receive oral comments on the draft staff report that evaluates potential benefits and environmental impacts of possible revisions to the Sacramento/Delta components of the Bay-Delta Plan.  The report assesses a range of alternatives for updating the plan, including those based on regulatory instream flow requirements and voluntary agreements, and proposes incorporating tribal and subsistence fishing beneficial uses based on input from tribes and Delta communities.  State Water Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel will provide opening remarks, but no board action will be taken and the hearing will not include sworn testimony or cross-examination of participants. … ”  Continue reading this news release from the State Water Board.


Flood-MAR: A water wave for orchards

Call it super drainage, deep percolation, or simply groundwater recharge. It’s a simple hydrologic process where water at ground level moves downward from surface water to groundwater — the primary method through which water enters an aquifer.  “Farmers have considered it a sort of side benefit growing crops via flood irrigation with a recharge of the aquifer by not pumping groundwater,” said Jesse Roseman, Almond Board of California principal analyst for environmental and regulatory affairs.  “That part of recharging isn’t new,” Roseman said. “What is more current is the idea of over-applying water for the purpose of recharge in working land where crops are being grown and that has come about out of necessity with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act limiting pumping.” … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press.

Science spotlight: Pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and contaminants of emerging concern in wastewater discharges to San Francisco Bay

“The issue of water quality in the Delta has become increasingly important in recent years. The drought has made the water quality conditions worse, leading to several harmful algal bloom events. While we have regulations in place for certain aspects of water quality, such as salinity and mercury, there is a growing interest in developing new regulations to address the occurrence of harmful algal blooms and other unregulated chemicals that we have limited knowledge about. These chemicals, called contaminants of emerging concern or CECs, include pharmaceuticals that end up in our wastewater treatment system, pesticides and herbicides with constantly evolving formulations, and even personal care products like sunscreens. Research is actively being conducted to understand how these contaminants of emerging concern may impact both aquatic life and humans. … ”  Continue reading from Maven’s Notebook.

This Silicon Valley company says it’s bringing back “the California dream.” Others think it’s a sketchy land grab.

“Since 2018, Flannery Associates LLC, a subsidiary of a mysterious entity known as California Forever, has been engaged in a secretive and prolonged campaign to buy more than 50,000 acres of land, totaling $800 million, in Solano County, CA.  California Forever’s backers say they’re trying to build a new, walkable city of the future in a remote region northeast of San Francisco, but they’ve faced resistance from residents, politicians, and local agencies who believe the project might actually have more nefarious motives.  One of the initiative’s most prominent skeptics is Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), who represents the area in Congress. He said the proposed town will be too close to Travis Air Force Base, which could affect the base’s ability to “operate in a moment of national emergency” and leave it vulnerable to “spy operations.” He said that he has “reason to be concerned” that China is financially backing the project, since, last year, China was connected to the purchase of land around an Air Force base in North Dakota. … ”  Read more from Now This.

Climate change narrows the window for prescribed fires

“Firefighters light and carefully monitor prescribed burns with the aim of preventing large wildfires. But climate change may narrow the window of opportunity for these prevention efforts, according to a new study published in Communications Earth and Environment.  The study’s authors used historical and projected trends to forecast future weather conditions in the western United States, then compared the results to burn plans that outline suitable conditions for prescribed fires. Their findings suggested that the number of days per year on which prescribed fires can be used safely may decrease by 17% in the coming decades. … ”  Read more from EOS.

Reforms needed to expand prescribed burns

“Prescribed fire, which mimics natural fire regimes, can help improve forest health and reduce the likelihood of catastrophic wildfire. But this management tool is underused in the fire-prone U.S. West and Baja California, Mexico, due to several barriers.  A paper from the University of California, Davis, pinpoints those obstacles and suggests four key strategies that policymakers and land managers can take to get more “good fire” on the ground in North America’s fire-adapted ecosystems. The paper also provides examples of how people are surmounting some of these obstacles.  “Prescribed fire is one of the most important tools we have for restoring natural fire regimes and undoing the effects of a century of fire suppression,” said lead author John Williams, a project scientist with the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy. “But there are a number top-down barriers at the upper levels of management that keep us from growing the workforce and getting burns done at the scale and extent needed. … ”  Read more from UC Davis.

California state scientists strike, demand equal pay

“Hundreds of scientists working for the state of California to protect water supplies, respond to oil spills, study wildlife and track foodborne outbreaks marched in Sacramento today in what’s being called the first-ever strike by state civil servants.  Today was the first day of a three-day “Defiance for Science” rolling strike by more than 4,000 rank-and-file state scientists, who are seeking to close pay gaps with their counterparts in local, federal and other parts of state government.  “This is something that needed to happen. And it’s unfortunate that the state put us in this position,” recently-elected union president Jacqueline Tcak, 29, a state scientist who works on water quality in the Central Coast, said over the din of chants and rattles. “We want equal pay for equal work.” … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

SEE ALSO: California scientists make history as the first state civil service union to go on strike, from the Sacramento Bee

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In commentary today …

Our water is polluted with ‘forever chemicals.’ Here’s how some agencies are stepping in.

Mike DiGiannantonio, an attorney with Environmental Law Group, writes, “While tap water in California is considered safe by most standards, specific contaminants are finding their way into the drinking water supply. Take per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”) for example, which have been shown to have serious adverse effects on human health, including cancer, thyroid disorders, ulcerative colitis, infertility. The list goes on. In fact, tap water in urban areas in Southern and Central California appears to be a hot spot for contamination by these chemicals, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research.  Pollution involving “forever chemicals” is widespread. These man-made chemicals have been used in industry and consumer products for decades and today can be found in nearly half of the tap water in the U.S. In California, out of the 248 active public water systems tested, 65 percent had these contaminants in their drinking water. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Without water, it is just dirt!

Andy Caldwell, COLAB Executive Director and a local radio talk show host, writes, “The largest sector of our local economy is agriculture, which grosses some $2 billion per year. For those of you who are not aware, gross receipts are not the same thing as profit. Some farmers may get paid millions in gross value for their crops and still lose money. It happens more often than you think. It all has to do with market conditions (including foreign competition), labor costs, fertilizer and pesticide costs, and the most unpredictable variation of all, the weather, including floods, droughts, and extreme variations in heat and cold. Last year, strawberry growers alone incurred $200 million in storm damages.  The most notorious variant that eliminates profit for our farmers is government regulations. That is, a myriad of state and federal agencies abetted by certain activists who are continuously making it more difficult to grow food. … ”  Read more from the Lompoc Record.

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In regional water news and commentary today …


Audio: The long run of the Winnemem Wintu to restore salmon runs

“The salmon can no longer run, so the people do it for them. The Winnemen Wintu Tribe, native to the lower reaches of the McCloud River, lost access to many of their ancestral lands when Shasta Dam created a lake that flooded the old valley.
And salmon have no way to run up or down the Sacramento River past the dam. So every year the tribe hosts the Run4Salmon, a journey by several modes of transportation, to symbolically accomplish what the fish physically cannot. Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu returns with news of this year’s run in July and August, and the continued efforts to bring salmon back to areas they used to inhabit.”  Listen at Jefferson Public Radio.

Thompson presents $750,000 check to Lake County officials for Middle Creek Flood Restoration Project

“The long-running effort to improve Clear Lake’s water quality and reduce flood risk in the Middle Creek area has taken another step forward.  The county of Lake has received $750,000 in federal funding to support the Middle Creek Flood Restoration Project.  Congressman Mike Thompson visited with Lake County officials on Oct. 30, when he formally presented the check.  “Cleaning up the environment and protection from flooding is crucial to the health and safety of our community,” said Thompson. “This restoration is critical to preserving Clear Lake, reducing the cost of treating our drinking water, and preventing severe flooding. Proud to have secured this funding for Lake County.” … ”  Read more from the Lake County News.


Tiny mud snail could threaten Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem and economy

“On a cool, fall evening on Lake Tahoe, researcher Sudeep Chandra stands at the back of a small boat anchored in the south end of the clear blue lake. He’s holding a device called a dredge, which looks like a large metal clamshell.  “So, we’re basically going to drop this in the water,” Chandra says as he lightly tosses the dredge into the glassy lake and watches it sink to the bottom.  A few seconds later, after the device snaps shut and scoops up a sample of the lakebed, Chandra reels it in and cracks it open into a shallow bucket.  “We first see, of course, invasive Asian clams,” Chandra says, plucking a small shell from a pile of sediment. “These things can live two to four years old, and they can reproduce hundreds of thousands to millions of little villagers or tiny clams that go spread around the lake.” … ”  Read more from KUNR.

Two of Tahoe’s biggest ski resorts are no longer opening this Friday. Here’s why

“Two of Tahoe’s premier ski resorts announced Wednesday, two days before they were slated to open for the winter season, that they will be delayed without a timetable due to warmer than expected temperatures in the region.  Heavenly, in South Lake Tahoe, and Northstar, in Truckee — both owned by Colorado ski area giant Vail Resorts, and both on the Epic Pass — had planned to start spinning chairlifts and accepting skiers and riders on Friday. But after Tahoe got a nice dusting of snow earlier this month, temperatures around the basin this week have hovered in the high 40s and 50s during the day, which is too warm to hold snow. Both resorts have robust snowmaking systems. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.


Hallwood habitat restoration project complete

“After five years of work, the Hallwood side channel and floodplain restoration project is complete, effectively restoring the habitat, spawning and rearing grounds for native salmonids. This multi-benefit, multi-partner project transformed 157 acres of floodplain habitat in the lower Yuba River, including two miles of restored side channels and alcoves and nearly six miles of seasonally flooded side channels. This nearly $12-million project broke ground in August 2019. All major work for the project is now complete. According to the Yuba Water Agency, some minor vegetation planting will be carried out this month. … ”  Read more from the Appeal Democrat.


Lawsuit chugs on as Sonoma County’s groundwater wells keep pumping

“The county of Sonoma has already been sued once, accused of harming local rivers and streams by not keeping tabs on water wells. That suit was settled out of court. Now, environmental groups are suing the county again.  The plaintiffs aren’t exactly calling the county’s actions since the settlement ‘bait-and-switch’, but the groups, led by the California Coastkeeper Alliance, have refiled against the county, accusing it of not going far enough. The suit, like lots of litigation in California, is over water, said local environmentalist Rue Furch.  “Basically, we have one glass of water and multiplying straws,” Furch said. … ”  Read more from NorCal Public Media.

This weed killer is one of Wine Country’s biggest controversies. Can a Napa group phase it out?

“A first-of-its-kind winegrower sustainability certification program in Napa Valley is changing its rules to require that vineyards eliminate the use of synthetic herbicides.  Napa Green, a nonprofit established in 2004, announced Tuesday it will require members to phase out their use of Monsanto-made weed killer Roundup by 2026, and all other synthetic herbicides by 2028. The program currently has around 90 participating wineries. “It’s not enough to just ban Roundup, or glyphosate, because alternatives exist,” said Anne Brittain, Napa Green’s executive director. The move makes Napa Green the first of about 20 sustainable winegrowing certification programs worldwide to phase out synthetic herbicides. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.


Offshore storm to bring a chance of thunderstorms to these parts of Bay Area

“The storm system responsible for this week’s gloomy skies and light pockets of rain across Northern California is set to raise more unsettled weather in the Bay Area. Showery and drizzly conditions are expected during the last days of APEC, along with a few lightning strikes.  Like a conductor drawing out the full potential of their orchestra, this week’s storm is slated to gather moisture from an atmospheric river. Still, impacts will be nowhere near as widespread and intense relative to storms California experienced last winter. As the system balances the dynamics of the winds and humidity overhead, there will be a growing chance of locally increased rainfall rates and rumbles of thunder Thursday and Friday. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Cache Slough rec plan offers few, if any, new public activities

“The Solano County supervisors this week accepted the Cache Slough Public Access Recreation Action Plan – a document that offers few options to expand public access opportunities. The board action on Tuesday was part of the consent calendar so there was no comment from the supervisors. An agreement was reached in 2021 between Solano County and the state Department of Water Resources and other state agencies with the goal of enhancing public recreation opportunities – and particularly more land access to the waterways – in the Cache Slough region. “The availability of compatible public lands, and other limiting factors, result in few recommendations at this time. Many of the potential recreation features were ranked low and not recommended for further study at this time,” the executive summary of the plan states. … ”  Read more from the Daily Republic.


Receiver appointed again at Big Basin Water Co.

“The owners of Big Basin Water Co. have been stripped of even more operational responsibility and oversight of their business as state authorities seek to stabilize its services and avoid a public health crisis.  Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann passed down a ruling last week that appointed Irvine-based law firm Silver & Wright LLP as receiver for Big Basin’s wastewater system. The firm, also appointed last month as the receiver for the company’s drinking water system, is now tasked with keeping the waste system operational and bringing it back into compliance with regional standards after years of disrepair and devolvement into a public nuisance. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

State awards $10M to Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency for groundwater monitoring, outreach

“California Department of Water Resources has awarded more than $10 million in funding to the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (SVBGSA) through the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program to support implementation of SVBGSA’s state-mandated groundwater sustainability plans in four subbasins in the region.  This award is part of a $187 million program that funds 103 activities in 32 groundwater basins across California. These efforts support and advance local sustainable groundwater management.  The $10,393,900 grant will fund various regulatory activities, such as groundwater data collection, groundwater model enhancement and community engagement and outreach within four of the six subbasins the SVBGSA manages … ”  Continue reading from the Salinas Valley Tribune.

What will climate change mean for steelhead trout? It depends.

“David Schmalz here. I’ve long known that roadways are unusually slick during the first real rain of the season, as accumulated oily residue on roadways dilutes until it eventually runs off into local waterways or, oftentimes, into the soils alongside the road.   But only last week I learned that some of that residue contains a chemical I’d never heard of—6PPD—that, when exposed to air, becomes 6PPD-quinone (qui-KNOWN), more commonly referred to as 6PPD-q, which is among the most toxic chemicals to aquatic life.   I came to learn of it due to litigation. On Nov. 8, attorneys from nonprofit Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in federal court (on behalf of the Institute for Fisheries Resources, and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations) against 13 of the largest tire manufacturers in the U.S. because their tires contain this toxic chemical, which sloughs off tires and onto roads during the normal wear and tear of rubber meets road. … ”  Continue reading from Monterey Weekly.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an airborne electromagnetic device!

“San Luis Obispo County residents may see an unusual aircraft flying overhead this weekend.  County officials say a helicopter with Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) surveying equipment used by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will be gathering information about the state’s groundwater to support drought response, groundwater recharge, and the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … ”  Read more from KSBY.

Estimated groundwater extraction in the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin

“Many of our agricultural customers have received letters discussing the Carpinteria Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s (CGSA’s) crop-based groundwater extraction estimates. We have received many follow-up letters and phone calls in response to the estimations with questions regarding the restructured fees. It is important to note that the CGSA fee is not a new fee; the methodology is being revised from a parcel acreage-based fee to a pumping-based fee.  All properties overlying the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin (CGB) have been charged an acreage-based CGSA fee on their property tax statements for Fiscal Year 2023 (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) and Fiscal Year 2024 (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024). This includes all single-family residences, condos, townhomes, commercial and industrial facilities and local businesses, in addition to agricultural properties above the basin. … ”  Read more from Coastal View.


Turlock and Ceres residents finally get treated river water, after 30-plus years of talk

“Turlock and Ceres residents finally are drinking treated water from the Tuolumne River. Officials gathered Tuesday at the plant, which reduces the cities’ reliance on wells. Hefty rate increases starting in 2018 are covering most of the $220 million cost. The ribbon-cutting came after 30-plus years of off-and-on discussion about the project. “High-quality drinking water is now flowing to our communities that are so much in need of a long-term solution to the declining groundwater levels and increasingly stringent water-quality regulations,” Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez said. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee.

New state-funded surface water treatment facility will reduce dependence on groundwater for Turlock and Ceres

“The State Water Resources Control Board joined the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority (SRWA) today to celebrate the completion of the Regional Surface Water Supply Project, a facility that treats surface water from the Tuolumne River to produce 15 million gallons per day of drinking water for the cities of Ceres and Turlock, reducing the reliance on groundwater for about 121,000 people.  “This project is an example of how we can reduce stress on groundwater basins in the Central Valley by diversifying the sources available to meet drinking water needs,” said Dorene D’Adamo, vice chair of the State Water Board. “We at the board are proud to support projects that further the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act by helping to bring our groundwater basins into balance.” … ”  Read more from the State Water Resources Control Board.

Ceres: Council orders well modifications to water park’s forthcoming grass

“The Ceres City Council awarded a construction contract to Rolfe Construction of Atwater to build the infrastructure for the watering of Ochoa Park.  Specifically the $289,298 contract is to modify Well 38 at the northwest corner of Ochoa Park to discharge untreated water to the Ceres Main Canal on Hatch Road for the water offset and to irrigate the newly constructed park.  Designing and building a new irrigation well would have been too costly for the city, said Public Works Director Sam Royal. City staff members designed the modifications. … ”  Read more from the Ceres Courier.

MEETING NOTES: Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District directors frustrated by state’s “miscalculation” of carry over water

Districts that contract for State Water Project water are only allowed to hold a certain amount of water in San Luis Reservoir each winter by the Department of Water Resources, which operates the state project. Water that’s allowed to remain in San Luis through winter is known as “carry over” water.  Determining how much each contractor can carry over is a complicated calculation.  DWR must keep enough room in the lake for anticipated winter precipitation as well as provide enough freshwater flow through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to maintain water quality.  It’s also complicated for water districts that want to keep enough carry over water in San Luis to hedge against a dry season but not so much that they run the risk of having their water “spill.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

‘To find the right balance’: New updates in lawsuit to keep the Kern River flowing

“The latest court decision in a legal effort to keep the Kern River flowing has both advocates and the City of Bakersfield hopeful.  Attorneys on both sides told 17 News they now have a temporary framework on distributing water to Bakersfield residents, river wildlife and the local agriculture scene. But the city’s water needs will come first, they explained.  “It’s for an interim flow regime to basically set up what the river flows are going to be between now and whenever the lawsuit ends,” said Adam Keats, an attorney for some of the river and wildlife advocates. He noted on the side, “There was surprisingly very little disagreement [with the City attorneys] about the plan.” … ”  Read more from Channel 17.


‘I have PTSD’: Snow, death, isolation bring scary new climate reality in San Bernardino Mountains

“As the snow piled up in late February, Teri Ostlie did her best to continue shoveling.  The 71-year-old tried to keep her deck clear and maintain a route to the road — what she started to call a “gurney path” — as she worried about keeping up with the task of heaving shovelfuls of snow over shoulder-high banks.  She held strong. But her Crestline home did not.  Under the weight of almost 10 feet of snow from back-to-back, unprecedented winter storms, her walls started buckling, pulling off beams and granite countertops. Cracks grew across her ceiling, the house creaking loudly as it fractured.  San Bernardino Mountain residents are used to snow, but the magnitude of those late-season storms was unlike anything the region has seen in recent history. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.


Salton Sea Authority commemorates 30 years of commitment and collaboration

“The Salton Sea Authority announced on November 15 the commemoration of its 30th anniversary, a milestone in the ongoing mission to preserve and restore the Salton Sea and address impacts to the region from its historical use. The event is scheduled to take place at the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Tameka Gymnasium at 66725 Martinez Road, Thermal, CA 92274 on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. This event will be held in conjunction with regularly scheduled meetings of the Authority.   Over the past three decades, the Authority has worked to address the environmental challenges and to foster collaborative efforts with various stakeholders, elected officials, governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and the community. The anniversary event will not only honor the Authority’s achievements but also recognize the essential role played by individuals and organizations whose contributions have advanced the Authority’s objectives. … ”  Read more from the Desert Review.


Coastal Commission to ask Biden to declare border sewage crisis an emergency

“The binational agency that operates the aging federal wastewater treatment plant at the U.S.-Mexico border said declaring the sewage crisis an emergency to expedite the facility’s expansion may no longer be effective.  But the California Coastal Commission said Wednesday that all steps are needed to remedy the uncontrolled discharge of raw sewage and other pollutants as soon as possible.  Commissioners approved sending President Joe Biden a letter urging him to do whatever it takes to accelerate projects aimed at improving the plant, which has allowed Tijuana sewage to foul South County shorelines. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead dropping to new low in 2025, projections show

“A month ago, predictions for Lake Mead’s future were reassuring. Now, the federal government is forecasting the lake will drop to a new low in less than two years.  A “most probable” report released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts the lake will be down to 1,040.77 feet in September 2025. That’s nearly a foot lower than Lake Mead was on July 27, 2022 — and the lowest the lake has been since it was filled in the 1930s.  It’s a difference of about 20 feet. Last month, Lake Mead was expected to get to 1,060.23 feet in September 2025. Now that number is 1,040.77 feet. … ”  Read more from KLAS.

Farmers and ranchers in the Southwestern U.S. face challenges due to human-induced atmospheric warming

“The American Southwest has always been a dry place — cue the romantic visions of hot, rugged, sun-bleached, seemingly infinite landscapes and star-filled night skies. And yet, the plants, animals and people of the Four Corners region (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona) have managed to adapt to and even flourish in the land of low rainfall and high temperatures. For centuries, Indigenous Puebloan communities practiced agriculture that is uniquely suited to and thus thrived in this dry environment. Then, when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s and introduced cattle, available forage was found suitable and abundant enough for grazing cattle and other livestock, leading to a dominance of ranching in the region.  However, the rising temperatures brought on by human-driven atmospheric warming are bringing big changes to agricultural life in the Southwest. According to a recent paper by researchers at UC Santa Barbara and UC Merced, “increased temperatures from human-caused climate change are having persistent and damaging impacts on vegetation productivity, with significant implications for ranchers and other land users in the region.” … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara.

At Colorado River’s headwaters, questions about whether there’s enough water for lawns

“If you’ve ever slipped and spun your way across Vail Pass through a wet, heavy snowstorm, you can be excused for wondering how Eagle River Valley communities could ever have too little water.  Vail and its neighbors do have that problem, though. It has become evident in the growing frequency of drought years in the 21st century.  First came 2002. Water officials, verging on panic, restricted outdoor water use. The drought was believed to be the most severe in 500 years. Fine, thought water officials as rain and snow resumed, we’re off the hook for at least our lifetimes.  In 2012 came another drought, one nearly identical in severity. More bad years followed in 2018 and 2021. The Eagle River normally chatters its way down the valley through Avon and to a confluence with the Colorado River near Glenwood Canyon. In those bad drought years, it sulked. The shallow water was hot enough to endanger fish.  Colorado River flows have declined 20% since 2000. Having water rights is not enough. … ”  Read more from Aspen Journalism.

As a Western Slope coalition pursues historic Colorado River water rights, users and state weigh in

“A Western Slope coalition is making a play to buy the water rights of a small hydropower plant with a big role in how water moves across Colorado. If the group succeeds, farmers, water providers, anglers and rafters say they could sleep more easily for years into the future.  “Any kind of an agreement that would take the unknown out of the situation is a relief and allows me to sleep at night,” said Ken Murphy, who owns the rafting company Glenwood Adventure Company. “Recreation is only one aspect to this, and we’re just a small aspect of this, but a very important aspect in our local community.”  The Shoshone Power Plant, owned by Xcel Energy, is small compared with some of the company’s other power plants, but its right to water on the Colorado River is one of the oldest and largest within state lines. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun.

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In national water news today …

Microplastics could trigger cloud formation and affect the weather, new study suggests

“Microplastics are turning up in unusual places increasingly often as they filter into nearly every facet of life on Earth. They’ve been discovered in drinking water, food, air and even in blood. Now, scientists have found that these tiny particles might even be able to influence the weather.  Researchers reported Wednesday they detected microplastics in a majority of cloud samples taken from a mountaintop in China, in a study published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology Letters.  The study traced how the microplastics ended up at their final location and discovered that they could play a role in cloud formation. … ”  Read more from CNN.

A river is clogged with plastic bags and bottles. Officials blame Pepsi.

“The state of New York sued PepsiCo on Wednesday, accusing the snack and soda giant of choking a river running through the city of Buffalo with Gatorade bottles, Cheetos bags and other single-use plastic packaging from the company’s products.  New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is arguing that so much plastic from Pepsi products has accumulated in the Buffalo River that it’s causing a public nuisance, threatening both human health and wildlife. Her office is claiming the company misled the public about the effectiveness of its plastic recycling efforts and failed to warn consumers about the health and environmental risks of plastic packaging. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post.

Greenhouse gases soared to another record and there’s ‘no end in sight’

“Global greenhouse gas levels set a record in 2022, keeping the planet’s temperatures on a rising path set to blow past the world’s climate goals, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said in a report Wednesday.  There is “no end in sight” for growth in greenhouse gas emissions, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned, reporting that global concentrations for carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide climbed to new highs last year. The emissions of these heat-trapping gases broke records as the planet continued on a trajectory that scientists have said will probably lead to major and irreversible damage to ecosystems and communities. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post.

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE: Sacramento/Delta Draft Staff Report: Comment Deadline Extended & Revised Public Hearing Information

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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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