DAILY DIGEST, 6/13: CA dams need repairs. but Newsom plans to cut grants in half; Klamath irrigators clash with feds, Tribe over water rights; Bill that would have restricted new wells fails to pass out of committee; Oops! 40,000 acre-feet of water slipped through the cracks at Lake Powell; and more …

Several news sources featured in the Daily Digest may limit the number of articles you can access without a subscription. However, gift articles and open-access links are provided when available. For more open access California water news articles, explore the main page at MavensNotebook.com.

On the calendar today …

  • PUBLIC MEETING: California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout from 10am to 3pm. Agenda items include the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program Peer Review Committee; Steelhead Report Card Committee; Salmon Disaster Relief Update; Shasta/Scott Rivers Restoration Actions; and Status and Future Direction of the CACSST. Click here for the full agenda and Microsoft Teams link.

In California water news today …

These California dams need repairs. But Newsom plans to cut grants in half

Lake Hodges Dam by Matt Topper

“Several dozen dams throughout California could store up to 107 billion more gallons of water if they underwent repairs to fix safety problems. But facing a staggering state deficit, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed cutting funding for a dam repair grant program in half this year, while state legislators want the $50 million restored.  California has an aging network of nearly 1,540 dams — large and small, earthen and concrete — that help store vital water supplies. For 42 of these dams, state officials have restricted the amount of water that can be stored behind them because safety deficiencies would raise the risk to people downstream from earthquakes, storms or other problems.  Owned by cities, counties, utilities, water districts and others, these dams have lost nearly 330,000 acre-feet of storage capacity because of the state’s safety restrictions. That water — equivalent to the amount used by 3.6 million people for a year — could be used to supply communities, farms or hydropower. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters.

Irrigators clash with US government and Yurok Tribe over Klamath water rights at Ninth Circuit

“The Klamath Water Users Association, along with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other plaintiff appellants asked a Ninth Circuit appeals panel Wednesday morning to reverse summary judgment from a case that confirmed the bureau and other actors must comply with the Endangered Species Act when operating the Klamath Irrigation Project. … In a victory for the fish and the tribe, U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled in 2023 that the federal government must follow its own laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, and isn’t obligated to comply with an Oregon order to stop releasing water from the Upper Klamath Lake, which is the source of the Klamath River.  Orrick’s ruling upheld the notion that irrigators’ rights come after the bureau’s obligations to protected fish species and tribal rights in the Klamath Basin.  At the Ninth Circuit hearing on Wednesday, Brittany Johnson, counsel for the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents ranchers as well as water districts in the region, asked the panel for a “clear declaration” that the bureau does not have authority to curtail the delivery of water from the project for irrigation. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

SEE ALSO: 9th Circuit weighs Endangered Species Act pre-emption of Klamath water rights, from the Capital Press

New study supports Delta tunnel

“According to a recent analysis, the benefits will outweigh the costs for a massive water tunnel that will divert water from the Sacramento River into the State Water Project (SWP). The project aims to bolster the state’s water infrastructure in light of longer droughts and earthquake risks, improving the water supply reliability for much of the state, including the Tri-Valley.  But communities in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta remain opposed to the project for its potential damages to delta ecosystems. In addition, they question the accuracy of the cost-benefit analysis.  “This environmentally destructive project would further devastate underserved communities in the Delta, Tribes throughout Northern California, and local ecosystems,” said the Sierra Club in a statement. “This analysis excludes the costs of the project’s impacts to cultural, paleontological, and Tribal resources, which were determined to be ‘significant and unavoidable’ in the Environmental Impact Report.” … ”  Read more from the Livermore Independent.

SEE ALSO: Editorial: Further Analysis of Delta Tunnel Costs Should Be Required, from the Livermore Indendent

California’s largest water agency to consider firing general manager

“The board of the agency that delivers water to nearly half of Californians will consider firing its top leader over claims of retaliation, harassment and cultivating a toxic work environment at a special meeting Thursday morning, according to an agenda and three people with knowledge.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California plans to consider whether to discipline or dismiss its general manager and CEO, Adel Hagekhalil, at a Thursday morning board meeting, according to an agenda posted Tuesday.  Metropolitan’s chief financial officer and assistant general manager, Katano Kaisane, accused Hagekhalil last month of harassing her, retaliating against her for sharing her concerns about the budget process and creating a hostile work environment, in a letter obtained by POLITICO. … ”  Continue reading at Politico.

Western agricultural communities need water conservation strategies to adapt to future shortages

Farm fields outside of Yuma, Arizona.

“The Western U.S. is heavily reliant on mountain snowpacks and their gradual melt for water storage and supply, and climate change is expected to upend the reliability of this natural process. Many agricultural communities in this part of the country are examining ways to adapt to a future with less water, and new research shows that a focus on supplementing water supply by expanding reservoir capacity won’t be enough to avert future water crises.  Led by scientists at the Desert Research Institute (DRI), the study published June 11 in Earth’s Future. By identifying agricultural communities considered at-risk from looming changes in snowfall and snowmelt patterns, the researchers found that water conservation measures like changes in crop type and extent were more stable adaptive strategies than changes to reservoir capacity. By the end of the century, many areas could have less than half the water they have historically relied on to refill their reservoirs, but changing the types and extent of their crops could help by restoring an average of about 20% of reservoir capacity. … ”  Continue reading at Desert Research Institute.

Photos: Yosemite meadow is largest restoration project in park history

“Less than a decade ago, the largest mid-elevation meadow at Yosemite National Park, nestled in foothills near Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, was privately owned rangeland. It was widely trampled on by cattle, dried up and of little or no interest to visitors.  Today, the area is a whole different place.  An $18 million makeover of what’s known as Ackerson Meadow, which was recently acquired by the National Park Service, is transforming this dusty tract on the park’s western edge into a vibrant hub of wildflowers, songbirds and water-loving grasses — an effort billed as the biggest restoration project in Yosemite history. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

SEE ALSOYosemite celebrates phase 1 of restoring Ackerson Meadow, from Your Central Valley

Save California Salmon advocates for the species and clean water rights

“Commercial and recreational salmon fishing off the coast of California was banned for the second year in a row in April due to low numbers of salmon. The Chinook salmon, which enter the Sacramento River system on four runs throughout the year, have been declining for decades due to pollution, water management, dams and drought.  With salmon decreasing and fishing off the California coast banned, Save California Salmon is dedicated to helping restore and protect salmon and rivers.  Save California Salmon is a nonprofit organization built on creating community power around water issues in Northern California while also working to save salmon through advocacy for policy change. The organization is run by Native American people from California and has an entirely Indigenous board. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento News & Review.

Bill that would have banned some new groundwater wells fails to pass out of senate committee

AB 2079 (Bennett), which would have banned local agencies from permitting some new groundwater wells, failed to pass out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on Tuesday, effectively stopping the bill.  ACWA’s State Legislative Committee adopted an oppose-unless-amended position due to concerns over the moratorium on new wells throughout much of the state and the potential legal liability it created for local agencies. … ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News.

Building a climate-resilient and drought-prepared future with Assembly Bill 1272

Climate change is increasing the pressure on California’s water resources, posing concerns for the health of our communities, fish, and wildlife. With extreme weather increasing due to climate change, proactive measures are needed to ensure the sustainability of water supplies and recover native salmon populations. Last year, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) introduced a pivotal piece of legislation to enhance drought preparedness and climate resiliency for North Coast watersheds. Supported by a coalition of organizations and Tribal Nations, and co-sponsored by CalTrout, AB 1272 promises a better future for North Coast communities and the iconic species that live there. North Coast communities are deeply connected to salmon populations and rivers. Declining salmon numbers due to severe droughts and water management challenges have led to the closure of salmon fishing in 2023 and again this year. Drought and climate change also threaten the sustainability of our water sources for both people and agriculture – jeopardizing the California economy and way of life. … ”  Read more from California Trout.

California distributed $880 million to clear unpaid water and wastewater bills for 4 million people

“The State Water Resources Control Board and California Environmental Protection Agency today joined Los Angeles city officials to highlight results from the state’s Water and Wastewater Arrearages Payment Program, which distributed over $880 million to clear water and wastewater bills of over 1.3 million households and businesses — or 4 million people — financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The arrearages program began in 2021, after Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature authorized allocating $1 billion in federal funding from the Biden-Harris Administration’s COVID-19 stimulus package, the “American Rescue Plan,” to provide relief from household and commercial water and wastewater debt. This action followed Gov. Newsom’s April 2020 executive order prohibiting water suppliers from shutting off service to California households and businesses with unpaid bills. … ”  Read more from the State Water Resources Control Board.

Science Spotlight: Ecological effects of drought in the Delta

“The Delta and Suisun Marsh region is rich in biodiversity, offering numerous ecosystem services and significant cultural value for many communities.  However, it has been increasingly impacted by droughts, which are expected to become more frequent.  At the May meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Lead Scientist Dr. Lisamarie Windham-Meyers spotlighted an article titled “Dry Me a River: Ecological Effects of Drought in the Upper San Francisco Estuary,” which was published by the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) Drought Synthesis Team in the San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science journal, which examines the impacts of droughts and explores the mechanisms driving these changes.  The Drought Synthesis Team used 40+ years of historical data and analyzed them with models and regressions to look at patterns during drought events. … ”  Read more from Maven’s Notebook.

Western US faces snow drought as summer heats up

Below-normal water year precipitation in Washington and the northern Rockies, with many locations below the 15th percentile, was one of the underlying causes of this year’s snow drought. Eight stations in Montana and two in Washington saw record low values.

“Another winter without enough snow and rain has left much of the western United States parched for water, according to scientists monitoring a snow drought.  Thanks to below-normal precipitation during the water season, snow drought conditions persist across most of the West, according to a June 12 report from scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  While some regions such as the Sierra Nevada range, improved over the winter, scientists say many places will see further drought development or intensification this summer. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

Water Year 2024 snow drought current conditions summary and impacts in the West

“Snow drought conditions developed over much of the western U.S. in the first few months of Water Year 2024 due to above-normal temperatures and lack of precipitation. Some regions improved throughout the winter season (e.g., Sierra Nevada, Great Basin). Others (e.g., northern Rocky Mountains) saw snow drought persist, and outlooks predict further drought development or intensification this summer.  In Idaho, Montana, and Washington, snow drought developed early in the season and persisted, leading to early melt out of snow and below-normal water supply forecasts. … ”  Read more from NIDIS.

US Fish and Wildlife Service provides over $2.3 million to benefit recreational boaters in California and Nevada

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing more than $2.3 million in Clean Vessel Act grants to improve water quality and increase opportunities for fishing and safe swimming in the waterways of California and Nevada. By helping recreational boaters properly dispose of sewage, this year’s grants will improve conditions for local communities, wildlife and recreational boaters.  Since the inception of CVA in 1993, these grants have allocated more than $359 million to support partner agencies in their efforts to keep waterways clean by ensuring recreational boaters have a safe, convenient and effective way to dispose of on-board sewage. CVA grant funds are administered annually through the Service’s Office of Conservation Investment in support of state, commonwealth, territory and District of Columbia agency efforts.  “Along with supporting the construction and maintenance of essential facilities for boaters, CVA funds play a critical role in fostering clean and safe waterways that support recreation and conservation,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “The Service is pleased to support our partner agencies and the boating community in their efforts to keep our nation’s waterways healthy, safe and accessible for people and wildlife.” … ”  Read more from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

California beach is most polluted seen in new study. People are ‘getting sick left and right’

“California is home to one of the most polluted beaches in the country, according to a new study — a stretch of surf so toxic officials have made repeated calls for a state of emergency.  Last year, the Surfrider Foundation tested thousands of water samples across the nation, as well as in Canada and Costa Rica, and found that 64% of the 567 sites tested had at least one sample with unsafe bacteria levels. Each location was tested multiple times, said Mara Dias, the foundation’s senior manager for the Clean Water Initiative.  “This is a measure of basically safety for swimming or surfing,” Dias told The Times. “Is the water safe for people to be in? Or could it cause them to be sick?” … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

DWR’s roadmap to reaching carbon neutrality by 2035

“California’s changing climate is one of the biggest challenges facing the state, resulting in intense weather extremes that negatively affect public safety and our critical water supply. To rise to this challenge, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has updated its Climate Action Plan to take accelerated steps to reach carbon neutrality by 2035.  Recognizing that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by human activities are one of the main drivers of global climate change, DWR has updated Phase 1 of its Climate Action Plan to incorporate more renewable energy and other measures to eliminate its own carbon footprint. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

Return to top

In commentary today …

Editorial: Further analysis of Delta tunnel costs should be required

The Livermore Independent writes, “A recent benefit-cost analysis of the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) excludes the possibility of cost overruns, among other concerns. Therefore, it adds little to the discussion of whether the megaproject is a prudent solution to the state’s water difficulties.  The project, also known as the Delta Tunnel, plans to divert the Sacramento River from a point about 15 miles south of Sacramento and carry the water through a new 45-mile long underground tunnel to the Bethany Reservoir before integration with the rest of the State Water Project, the system of reservoirs and aqueducts that provides water to some 27 million people in the state.  A May 16 report, prepared by the Berkeley Research Group and released by the Department of Water Resources, estimated the avoided costs of the tunnel  — costs that would otherwise be incurred because of seismic and salt-related damages to urban and agricultural water supplies — to be some 2.2 times the cost to build the tunnel.  But costs for large infrastructure projects tend to balloon as they are built. … ”  Continue reading from the Livermore Independent.

Return to top

In regional water news and commentary today …


Millions flowing to Klamath region to boost community and opportunity

“One of California’s least prosperous regions will get a significant amount money aimed at bolstering community and generating financial stability.  This week, two North Coast community foundations announced the formation of a new fund—with a specific mission to support communities along the Klamath River.  The new Klamath River Fund, with $10 million in seed funding from charitable groups, intends to distribute the money over a decade.  Pimm Tripp-Allen is with the Humboldt Area Foundation, which established the Klamath River Fund with the Wild Rivers Community Foundation. … ”  Read more from NorCal Public Media.


Making a major river corridor more fish-friendly

“The fish travelling the Sacramento River between the upper Sacramento Valley and the Pacific Ocean contend with a variety of perils as they make the journey.  The river’s path has been highly modified and separated from its historical floodplain for more than a century, enabling homes and farms to exist at the very edges of the levee system.  Altered flows, fluctuating water temperatures, diminished food and habitat and losses from predation mean the threatened and endangered Chinook salmon runs face tremendous odds in surviving their life cycle journey.  Scattered along the river are intakes, large and small, that divert water for agricultural use and valley communities. Unscreened, these structures can take their toll by sending fish on a one-way trip out of the river. It’s a problem Reclamation and its local, state and federal partners have been working to solve for 30 years. … ”  Read more from the Bureau of Reclamation.

Exciting updates on the Sites Reservoir Project

“The Sites Reservoir Project is gaining significant momentum with several exciting developments in recent weeks. As Chair of the Sites Project Authority Board of Directors, I am pleased to share three major updates that underscore our progress and the growing support for this critical infrastructure project. These updates highlight our success in securing substantial federal funding, navigating legal challenges, and demonstrating the reservoir’s potential effectiveness in real-time conditions. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association.

Remarkably average water year means better conditions for fish in the Lower American River

“Spring and early summer are a crucial time of year for the American River: It’s when we find out how much Sierra Nevada snowmelt will be available to fill Folsom Reservoir, and what that means for keeping river temperatures cool for imperiled salmon and steelhead.  While many Californians are getting used to the idea that rapidly changing climate conditions have made “extreme” the new normal, this year is unusual in a mundane way:  It’s average! The 2023-2024 winter produced “nearly average” conditions, historically speaking, in the American River watershed, said Ashlee Casey, senior engineer at the Water Forum. That’s unusual because “average” is rare in California weather patterns and will continue to be so in this era of climate change when we are expected to swing dramatically between wet and dry conditions. … ”  Read more from the Water Forum.


Grand jury report faults San Francisco for inadequate climate threat planning

“As climate change unleashes ever-more powerful storms, worsening floods and rising sea levels, San Francisco remains woefully unprepared for inundation, a civil grand jury determined in a report this week.  The critical assessment — written by 19 San Franciscans selected by the Superior Court — found that the city and county lacked a comprehensive funding plan for climate adaptation and that existing sewer systems cannot handle worsening floods. Among other concerns, the report also concluded that efforts toward making improvements have been hampered by agency silos and a lack of transparency.  Members of the volunteer jury serve yearlong terms and are tasked with investigating city and county government by reviewing documents and interviewing public officials, experts and private individuals. … ”  Read more from the LA Times. | Read via Yahoo News.

San Francisco struggles to plan for flooding

“On Tuesday, a civil grand jury released a report on what it calls “San Francisco’s triple threat” — rising sea level, extreme storms, and overly saturated soil.  The report found some issues with the city’s climate resilience effort.  In 2021, the Mayor’s Office created a “Climate Resilience Program” — also known as ClimateSF — to address climate change in the Bay. ClimateSF is a partnership between city and county departments, including the Planning Department and the Port of San Francisco.  But are the departments talking to each other? Apparently not, according to the grand jury report. … ”  Read more from KALW.


Kings County Farm Bureau taking on State Water Board over SGMA probation

“Kings County Farm Bureau (KCFB) is leading an action against the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and its administration of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The legal challenge was filed after the Tulare Lake Sub-basin was placed on probation. However, KCFB Executive Director Dusty Ference explained that it is more than a local concern they are taking on.  “This is not a Kings County issue right now. This is not a Tulare Lake subbasin issue right now. This is a California issue, and we need support to keep this legal fight moving forward as aggressively as we can,” Ference noted. “The Tulare Lake subbasin is one of several subbasins to be considered for probation. There are several probationary hearings scheduled for the rest of this year and next year, where the board will consider placing other subbasins on probation.” … ”  Read more from Ag Net West.

Eastern Tule GSA approves meters for subsidence management area

“In an effort to possibly head off being placed on probation by the state the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency, which covers Southeastern Tulare County, voted to begin using meters to monitor groundwater pumping in the area in which most of the groundwater pumping occurs, SJV Water reported.  The ETGSA board by a 6-0 vote approved the measure to begin using meters in its subsidence management area. It’s a last ditch effort to show the state the agency continues to work to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to reduce the pumping of groundwater. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder.

Petition asks California’s highest court to wade into Kern River legal fracas

“Plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit over the Kern River filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review an order that tossed out an injunction many had anticipated would guarantee a flowing river through Bakersfield.  Specifically, the petition asks the Supreme Court to direct the 5th District Court of Appeal to explain why it stayed the injunction that had required enough water in the river to keep fish in good condition. The Supreme Court petition was filed June 11.  The 5th District issued what’s known as a “writ of supersedeas” May 3 setting aside the injunction and staying all legal actions surrounding the injunction, which had been issued by Kern County Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp last fall. … ”  Read more from SJV Water.


Mojave Pistachios fights for survival, seeks to prevent groundwater pumping shutdown by IWVGA

In a high-stakes battle for its very existence, Mojave Pistachios, a 1,600 acre privately owned pistachio farming operation in eastern Kern County, is asking a California judge to prevent the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) from shutting off the pumps that bring groundwater to its 215,000 pistachio trees. Without this water the trees will die.  On Friday, June 14, the Superior Court of Orange County is expected to rule on whether to grant the IWVGA’s motion for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, will directly cause the death of 1,600 acres of trees and shutter a locally owned, private farming operation. … In a series of ongoing legal battles, agriculture and business groups have argued that the IWVGA’s allocation of zero native groundwater to Mojave Pistachios and the imposition of an exorbitant replenishment fee of $2,130 per acre-foot of water is an intentional move to kill agricultural development in the valley. … ”  Read more from Mojave Pistachios.


Struggling Angelenos get $253M in relief to pay late DWP and garbage bills

“Some $253 million helped Angelenos pay back utility bills from March 2020 through December 2022, city officials announced on Wednesday, June 12.  Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Councilmember Heather Hutt, state Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Yana Garcia, Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel, and officials with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and L.A. Environment and Sanitation celebrated the distribution of federal funding at a news conference.  Officials said the aid was automatically applied to about 204,500 DWP customer accounts. … ”  Read more from the Daily Breeze.

New Report: SoCal water experts identify wastewater recycling as essential

“A new report was released jointly today by the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the existing and potential opportunities related to wastewater recycling in Los Angeles. The report, Making the Most of Landmark Recycled Water Investments in Los Angeles: Technical Advisory Recommendations for the Region, was commissioned by Los Angeles Waterkeeper. The goal of the report is to support ongoing efforts to improve local water security and rely less on expensive, energy-intensive and increasingly unreliable water imports from faraway places, like the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Colorado River.  Experts involved in developing the report agree that expanding the use of recycled wastewater has emerged as a key, scalable water supply strategy that can offer certainty and reliability in the region in light of our new climate reality. … ”  Read more from the LA Waterkeeper.


Study says water transfer deal is raising dust and draining the Salton Sea

“The Salton Sea is a terminal saltwater lake. It’s a flooded basin with no natural outlet, similar to the Great Salt Lake or the Aral Sea. And the Salton Sea is shrinking.  One of the reasons for that is the Imperial Water Transfer deal that has brought hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water to San Diego over the last two decades. The deal, signed 21 years ago, meant the Imperial Valley began transferring excess water from the valley’s farm fields to San Diego’s water taps.  That meant a lot less farm runoff that had been sustaining the Salton Sea.  San Diego State University economics professor Ryan Abman said the biggest effects of that conservation plan were seen about eight years into the agreement.  “So really, after 2011, we see a noticeable increase in the rate of decline of the water level and that leads to an increase in the increased rate of playa exposure. So more of this dust-emitting surface is being exposed every single year,” Abman said. … ”  Read more from KPBS.

$948K in New River Project change orders OK’d amid debate

“The ongoing New River Improvement Project got a renewed critical airing from the new Calexico City Council and members of the public over a list of construction change orders brought to the council for approval that were ultimately approved in the amount of $948,811 — but not without plenty of debate and finger pointing.  As the project sits today, it is nearly 70 to 75 percent complete, Calexico Public Works Director Lilliana Falomir said at the Wednesday, June 5, City Council meeting, but city officials said the project was in a financial limbo once again due to a series of unforeseen problems, including unexpected weather systems and a subsequent sewage spill from Mexicali flowing into the project, as well as a burrowing owl problem that delayed the start of the project by many months. All of the issues have negatively impacted the project’s budget and completion timeline. … ”  Read more from the Holtville Tribune.

Calexico to consider doubling water, sewer rate fees

“The Calexico City Council is expected Wednesday evening to consider almost doubling the city’s water and sewer rates for the next five years.  Interim Finance Director Sandra Fonseca and Public Works Manager Liliana Falomir produced a plan for council consideration to modify water and sewer rates over the next five years.  The proposal reads that for the first dwelling unit in residential rates the water fee would go from $18.66 to $32.38 by 2029, while sewer rates in that same case would increase to $84.12 by the decade’s end from the current $44.23.  The city’s report says other local cities have recently increased their water rates and wastewater rates due to rising costs to purchase, treat, and distribute water, as well as collect and treat wastewater to increasingly stricter State Department of Water Resources regulations. … ” Read more from the Imperial Valley Press.

Return to top

Along the Colorado River …

Rainfall intensification amplifies exposure of American Southwest to conditions that trigger postfire debris flows

“A new paper entitled “Rainfall intensification amplifies exposure of American Southwest to conditions that trigger postfire debris flows” was recently published in Nature’s journal npj Natural Hazards. This work was authored by Matt Thomas (U.S. Geological Survey), Allison Michaelis (Northern Illinois University/CW3E affiliate), Nina Oakley (California Geological Survey/CW3E affiliate), Jason Kean (U.S. Geological Survey), Victor Gensini (Northern Illinois University) and Walker Ashley (Northern Illinois University).  Postfire debris flows pose a threat to life, property, and infrastructure in many mountainous areas of the Southwest. When areas of steep terrain with susceptible geologic and hydrologic characteristics are burned at moderate to high severity, short duration (<1 hour), high-intensity rainfall can trigger postfire debris flows. … ”  Continue reading at the Center for Western Weather & Water Extremes.

Oops! 40,000 acre-feet of water slipped through the cracks at Lake Powell

“As the drought-strapped Colorado River struggled to feed water into Lake Powell to keep its massive storage system and power turbines from crashing in 2021 and 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, its operator, was scrambling to bring in extra water from Flaming Gorge and Blue Mesa reservoirs.  Since the return of healthier flows in 2023, water levels in Flaming Gorge and Blue Mesa have been restored, as required under a 2019 Colorado River Basin drought response plan.  But the subsequent shifting of water in 2023 to balance the contents of Powell and Lake Mead, required under a set of operating guidelines approved in 2007, resulted in an accidental release of 40,000 acre-feet of water that will not be restored to the Upper Basin because it is within the margin of error associated with such balancing releases, according to Alex Pivarnik, supervisory hydrologist with Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Basin Region. … ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun.

Return to top

In national water news today …

‘Time for a reckoning.’ Kansas farmers brace for water cuts to save Ogallala Aquifer.

“An inch or two of corn peeks out of the dirt, just enough to reveal long rows forming over the horizon.  Sprinkler engines roar as they force water from underground to pour life into dusty fields. … As the familiar seasonal rhythm plays out, some farmers are bracing for major changes in how they use the long-depleting Ogallala Aquifer. The nation’s largest underground store of fresh water, the Ogallala transformed this arid region into an agricultural powerhouse.  After 50 years of studies, discussions and hand-wringing about the aquifer’s decline, the state is demanding that local groundwater managers finally enforce conservation. But in this region where water is everything, they’ll have to overcome entrenched attitudes and practices that led to decades of overpumping.  “It scares the hell out of me,” farmer Hugh Brownlee said at a recent public meeting in the district on the changes to come. … ”  Read more from Stateline.

How Biden beat the clock on big environmental regs

“President Joe Biden’s regulators recently finalized a flood of major energy and environmental rules in hopes that they’ll stick even if Donald Trump returns to the White House.  Rule writers across the federal government hustled to complete sweeping new regulations in recent months — including everything from a high-stakes power plant rule on climate pollution to a policy governing conservation of public lands.  The dash to finish some of Biden’s biggest green rules aims to safeguard consequential policies if Republicans take the White House and make gains on Capitol Hill with this year’s elections.  In 2017, former President Donald Trump and his allies used a seldom-invoked law to unwind more than a dozen of the Obama administration’s rules. Biden’s team wants to ensure that doesn’t happen again as Trump has promised on the campaign trail to torpedo recent climate and energy policies, even suggesting he would cut the Interior Department and other environmental agencies, if the White House flips in this election. … ”  Read more from E&E News.

Return to top

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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email