DAILY DIGEST, 4/22: California Senate OKs lower standard for indoor water use; Central Valley Flood Protection Plan update released; Policy Brief: Drought and California’s agriculture; Colorado finds “forever chemicals” PFAS in 100% of fish sampled; and more … – MAVEN'S NOTEBOOK | Water news

DAILY DIGEST, 4/22: California Senate OKs lower standard for indoor water use; Central Valley Flood Protection Plan update released; Policy Brief: Drought and California’s agriculture; Colorado finds “forever chemicals” PFAS in 100% of fish sampled; and more …


On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: Central Valley Flood Protection Board will meet beginning at 9am. Agenda items include the Mormon Slough Levee Systems inspection report and DWR Maintenance Area Budget Hearing for Fiscal Year. Click here for the full agenda.
  • MEETING: Central Valley Regional Water Board will meet beginning at 9:30am. Agenda items include an update on Central Valley harmful algal bloom efforts. Click here for the full agenda.
  • EVENT: SoCal Water Coalition Quarterly Luncheon from 12pm to 2pm in Temecula. Join the Southern California Water Coalition for our Quarterly Luncheon all about how agriculture and business are using less water during the drought.  Learn from some of the best in the industry how to apply solutions-based action to help Southern California thrive during these tough times.  Hear from local farmers, water leaders, and business people on what they’re doing to conserve water and stay afloat. Be part of the conversation and help drive us toward solution-based action.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

California Senate OKs lower standard for indoor water use

Mired in an extreme drought, California lawmakers on Thursday took the first step toward lowering the standard for how much water people use in their homes — a move that won’t be enforced on individual customers but could lead to higher rates even as consumption declines.  California’s current standard for residential indoor water use is 55 gallons (208 liters) per person per day. The rule doesn’t apply to customers, meaning regulators don’t write tickets to people for using more water than they are allowed. Instead, the state requires water agencies to meet that standard across all of its customers. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here: California Senate OKs lower standard for indoor water use

Press release: Central Valley Flood Protection Plan update released

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released the public draft of the 2022 Update to the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP). The plan is California’s strategic framework for reducing flood risk in the Central Valley, which has among the highest flood risk in the nation.  California’s rapidly changing climate is increasing flood risk across the state. More intense swings from record dry to record wet conditions mean flooding can happen at any time. The increased frequency and magnitude of wildfires in California also heighten the risk for dangerous flood conditions. The Central Valley is home to millions of people and billions of dollars in infrastructure, property and farms, all at risk of catastrophic flooding. … ”  Read more from the Department of Water Resources here: Press release: Central Valley Flood Protection Plan update released

California hikes costs for flood protections in farm country

Climate change is worsening the already significant threat of flooding in California’s farm country, and state officials said Thursday that as much as $30 billion may be needed over three decades to protect the region, an increase from five years ago.  Every five years, flood protection plans are updated for the Central Valley, where about 1.3 million people live at risk in floodplains. State officials released a draft of the latest update that calls for investing in levees, maintenance and multi-benefit projects that recharge aquifers and support wildlife while enhancing flood protection. ... ”  Read more from ABC News here: California hikes costs for flood protections in farm country

Late-season storm may be last gasp for California’s wet season

A storm in the process of unloading feet of snow in the mountains of California could be Mother Nature’s last hurrah in what has been a lackluster wet season that has featured expanding drought across the parched state.  The late-season storm, which arrived in Northern California late Wednesday, will spread rain across the lower elevations and bury the Sierra Nevada with feet of snow into Friday afternoon. Precipitation will fail to reach the Desert Southwest, but the storm will make its presence felt there with strong winds that will threaten to fan ongoing blazes and ignite new ones.  “The amount of rain will increase water levels a small amount but will fall well short of what is needed to replenish them to the typical levels for late April,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said about the rain sweeping through California to close out the week and its impact on the state’s reservoir levels. … ”  Read more from AccuWeather here:  Late-season storm may be last gasp for California’s wet season

Plenty of rain, snow in Northern California. But nothing close to a drought buster

Northern California is getting a nice spell of wet weather, the latest in a series of storms in what’s turning into a fairly wet April. But a drought-buster? Forget it. “Any water is good water at this point,” said Benjamin Hatchett, a climatologist at the Desert Research Institute in Reno.. “It’s very beneficial, but probably isn’t going to make much of a dent in the long-term situation.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Plenty of rain, snow in Northern California. But nothing close to a drought buster

Can you solve drought by piping water across the country?

The idea of taking water from one community and giving it to another has some basis in American history. In 1913, Los Angeles opened an aqueduct to carry water from Owens Valley, 230 miles north of the city, to sustain its growth. … Today, there are some enormous water projects in the United States, though building a pipeline that spanned a significant stretch of the country would be astronomically more difficult. The distance between Albuquerque, for example, and the Mississippi River — perhaps the closest hypothetical starting point for such a pipeline — is about 1,000 miles, crossing at least three states along the way. Moving that water all the way to Los Angeles would mean piping it at least 1,800 miles across five states. … ”  Read more from the New York Times here: Can you solve drought by piping water across the country?

Policy Brief: Drought and California’s agriculture

California’s agricultural sector is the nation’s largest, but water is a concern.  The industry employs over 420,000 people and generates more than $50 billion in annual revenue. Farmers have steadily improved productivity, shifting to crops that generate more profit and jobs per unit of water—like fruits, nuts, and vegetables—while maintaining a sizeable share of the nation’s dairy and beef cattle production.  However, California farms rely heavily on irrigation, and water availability is an enduring concern despite ongoing improvements in irrigation efficiency. Climatic and regulatory constraints have limited surface water in recent decades. Chronic overpumping of groundwater has dried up wells and damaged infrastructure, prompting the enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Policy Brief: Drought and California’s agriculture

Farmer experiments with new crops as mountain runoff dwindles early

To see the trickle-down effect of the drought, you don’t have to look much further than farms.  Agriculture accounts for about 80% of the water used in California.   Weirdly enough, it’s looking a little too green for farmer Vince Bernard, owner of Bernard Ranches. This time of year, during the orange harvest, there would normally be more flowers on the trees.  “There’s 50, 60,000 blooms on these trees like this,” he said. “They should be absolutely covered. The ground should be covered in white. They should look white, not green.”  After decades of owning 50 acres of citrus groves in San Diego and Riverside counties, Bernard knows a bad sign when he sees one. ... ”  Read more from Spectrum 1 here: Farmer experiments with new crops as mountain runoff dwindles early

NASA is watching California’s groundwater crisis from space

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the land around the Tulare Basin has unique dips and rises. The culprit of these strange divots isn’t the earthquakes that plague the West Coast. They are from the human-made wells used to unearth the area’s groundwater—the water held in the area’s soil.  The San Joaquin Valley is one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the US, providing nearly half the nation’s food. The Tulare Basin, a historic watershed in the Central Valley Aquifer system, collects most of its water from the snowmelt runoff from nearby mountains, with some also imported from other aqueducts and canals. The entire aquifer system provides drinking water for about 6.5 million residents. But between California’s recurrent droughts, water shortages, and the increased risk of wildfires, humans have been pushing underground water resources to their limit. … ”  Read more from Popular Science here:  NASA is watching California’s groundwater crisis from space

Are you overdue on your water bill in California? This program can credit up to $2,000

New guidelines were released in early April for a federally funded program meant to help low income families pay their outstanding water bills. The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is part of an emergency effort to respond to the economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In California, the Department of Community Services and Development is the designated agency responsible for overseeing the program. The finalized state plan defines the scope of the program and how it will be implemented. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Are you overdue on your water bill in California? This program can credit up to $2,000

RELATED: ATTN: WATER & WASTEWATER SYSTEMS: Enroll for California Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

US Forest Service recommends keeping cattle out of Sierra Nevada mountains

The U.S. Forest Service handed wildlife advocates a win Thursday when it declined to make four grazing allotments in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California available for cattle.  The Humboldt-Toiyobe National Forest encompasses a significant swath of the Eastern Sierra, the steep escarpment straddling the California-Nevada border, and has been considering whether four large grazing allotments outside the town of Bridgeport, California, should be restored to cattle grazing as part of the the Bridgeport Southwest Rangeland Project.  The allotments, located in Mono County, were formerly dedicated to sheep but were retired after the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep was recognized as a distinct subspecies and put on the endangered species list in 2000. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service here:  US Forest Service recommends keeping cattle out of Sierra Nevada mountains

California cements ban on controversial hydraulic clam pumps

Clam diggers in Tomales Bay and throughout California have been banned from using water pumps that state officials say put clam stocks at risk and fuel black market sales.  The California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to indefinitely extend the emergency ban it adopted in early 2021 on the use of hydraulic pumps for clam harvesting. The hand-powered pumps, often operated by two people, essentially work to liquify the sand, allowing people to harvest clams found at greater depths and collect them faster compared to using a shovel. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: California cements ban on controversial hydraulic clam pumps

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In commentary today …

Commentary: LaMalfa is inaccurate with his water crisis solutions

Ralph Hitchcock, a retired civil engineer, writes, “This concerns Rep. Doug LaMalfa’s March 16 “Other Voices” column. Because of their position, the opinions of members of Congress are influential, regardless of inaccuracies, incompleteness or personal ideas. Regarding the water crisis, LaMalfa has vastly oversimplified a very complex problem.  LaMalfa states that instead of conserving water for beneficial use, “our state is continuing large unneeded releases of fresh water out to sea unused.” That statement is inaccurate. … ”  Read more from The Union here:  LaMalfa is inaccurate with his water crisis solutions

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

Largest dam removal project in us history gets nod from federal agencies

The Klamath River Renewal Corp.—the nonprofit corporation overseeing removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Oregon and California—is optimistic the undertaking will finally go forward after the U.S. Interior Dept. indicated its support for the approximately $445-million project on April 18. The approval follows a similar okay from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  The Klamath dams project, in planning for more than a decade and considered a proof-of-concept for similar large projects in the U.S., would be historic for its magnitude and complexity. “Never before have so many large dams been removed from a single river at one time in the U.S.,” the Congressional Research Service said March 3, adding that the project could be a model for transferring private dams to states or nonprofits for removal in exchange for liability protection. … ”  Read more from ENR here: Largest dam removal project in us history gets nod from federal agencies

Press release: In a win for Winnemum Wintu Tribe and W.A.T.E.R., the Third District Court of Appeal Rejects Crystal Geyser Project EIR approval

In a victory for a community effort led by the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (W.A.T.E.R., a grassroots, community nonprofit organization based in Mt. Shasta), California’s Third District Court of Appeal ruled in the groups’ favor in a longrunning fight against approvals by Siskiyou County and the City of Mt. Shasta for the Crystal Geyser Water Company (CGWC) bottling plant project. The ruling capped an 8.5 year effort by community members to ensure the proposed project would not harm the environment and community. …

Click here to read the full press release.

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Storms drops about 2 feet of snow on Tahoe resorts

The multi-day storm has delivered more than two feet of snow to the Sierra.  Palisades Tahoe is reporting 28 inches of new snowfall and Kirkwood Mountain Resort is reporting 2 feet.  Chains are still required over mountain passes and many highways at Lake Tahoe.  In South Lake Tahoe, through Stateline and along the East Shore on U.S. Highway 50, there are no travel restrictions. ... ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Storms drops about 2 feet of snow on Tahoe resorts

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Salmon recovery project to implement voluntary agreements being implemented on the Sacramento River

The Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are currently implementing another project on the Sacramento River just downstream from Keswick Reservoir that will contribute to the habitat targets established by the recently signed Voluntary Agreements Memorandum of Understanding.  The 2022 Keswick Gravel Injection Project will provide much needed spawning habitat in the upper Sacramento River for endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The project, which is being led by Reclamation District 108, in coordination with Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will add 20,000 tons of suitable gravel, which combined with managed flows over these gravels, provide important spawning habitat for salmon. … ”  Read more from the Northern California Water Association here: Salmon recovery project to implement voluntary agreements being implemented on the Sacramento River

Tehama County prepares to adopt new water conservation tactics

Deputy County Counsel Daniel Klausner and Deputy Director of Public Works-Water Resources Justin Jenson addressed the Tehama County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to conduct an informational presentation on Executive Order N-7-22 implemented by Gov. Gavin Newsom March 28.  Through this new order, Newsom reiterates prior drought executive orders, signed April 21, 2021, May 10, 2021, June 8, 2021 and Oct. 19, 2021, to further specify and expand on water conservation provisions and response actions.  Jenson introduced the 15 clauses laid out in the order, giving a brief example of each in layman terms while explaining what each item would mean for Tehama County. … ”  Read more from the Red Bluff Daily News here: Tehama County prepares to adopt new water conservation tactics

9 arrests made after investigation into Sacramento River sturgeon poaching

A total of nine people have been arrested after an investigation into a large suspected sturgeon poaching operation along Sacramento Valley waterways.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the investigation started as two separate cases, but a connection between the suspects led them to uncovering the larger operation.  Wildlife officers started investigating back in May 2021. Two men – 31-year-old Andrew Chao and 35-year-old Ay Pou Saechao – were suspected of catching sturgeon, them selling them to another group, four members of the Petryanik family. That incident has already led to poaching charges against Chao and the Petryanik family. … ”  Read more from CBS Sacramento here: 9 arrests made after investigation into Sacramento River sturgeon poaching

On-site meetings scheduled for Putah Creek Wetlands Proposal

UC Davis and the city of Davis are looking for early community input on a possible joint habitat enhancement and public access project called Putah Creek Wetlands on university-owned land between Levee Road and the Davis campus’s southern boundary.  The 32-acre project site lies along the south fork of Putah Creek near the Old Davis Road Bridge.  Members of the public have three opportunities to visit the site with university and city officials. No reservations are necessary. ... ”  Read more from UC Davis here: On-site meetings scheduled for Putah Creek Wetlands Proposal

NAPA/SONOMA

Sonoma County unveils first-ever proposed well water fees under pioneering California groundwater law

In a dramatic shift from California’s history of allowing landowners to freely pump and consume water from their own wells, Sonoma County’s rural residents and many others will soon begin paying for the water drawn from beneath their feet.  In the sprawling 81,284-acre Santa Rosa Plain groundwater basin, the proposed regulatory fee for a rural resident is $18 to $25 a year, much lower than the rates in the more sparsely populated Petaluma and Sonoma valleys.  In the 44,846-acre Sonoma Valley basin, the fee would be $48 to $80 a year, and in the 46,661-acre Petaluma Valley basin, it would be $115 to $200 a year. … ”  Read more from the Sonoma Index here: Sonoma County unveils first-ever proposed well water fees under pioneering California groundwater law

Proposed well water fee for rural residents in Santa Rosa groundwater basin is $20 a year

Rural residents using well water in the sprawling Santa Rosa Plain would pay about $20 a year under a state-mandated program aimed at protecting groundwater for the next 50 years.  The 10-member board that governs the agency overseeing Sonoma County’s largest groundwater basin favors a regulatory fee structure based on the estimated amount of water well owners pump from the ground, officials reported at a virtual community meeting Wednesday night.  “The board’s preferred option is a fee based on groundwater use,” said Susan Harvey, vice chair of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency and vice mayor of Cotati. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Proposed well water fee for rural residents in Santa Rosa groundwater basin is $20 a year

BAY AREA

Drought rules tightening in more Bay Area cities

Three weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered increased water conservation due to the state’s worsening drought, a growing number of water agencies around the Bay Area are putting in place new rules that haven’t been seen since the middle of California’s last drought six years ago.  On Thursday, the Contra Costa Water District, which serves 500,000 people in central and eastern Contra Costa County, voted to ask residents to cut water use 15% from 2020 levels. The district also announced that it will put in place a 15% drought surcharge starting July 1, which it said is needed to boost conservation and recoup reduced revenue from lower water sales.  The surcharge will amount to about $8 a month for the average home. ... ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Drought rules tightening in more Bay Area cities

Bay Area’s biggest water agency may start capping household water use

As California enters a third dry year, the Bay Area’s biggest water agency, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, may soon push forward with strict caps on customer water use, and fines for those who exceed the limit.  The agency, like most water suppliers in the region, has been relying only on modest outdoor watering restrictions, and voluntary conservation, to reduce consumption. But with lackluster savings and a continuing water shortage, the district’s governing board is scheduled to decide next week whether more aggressive rules are necessary. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Bay Area’s biggest water agency may start capping household water use

Contra Costa Water District calls for 15% conservation, mulls surcharge

As California faces a third summer under drought conditions, the Contra Costa Water District called for customers to conserve 15% compared to 2020 levels.  In a meeting on Wednesday, the district board adopted a new Drought Management Program in the wake of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order ordering water suppliers to move to Stage 2 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans. The program comes as the first few months of 2022 were among the driest on record. ... ”  Read more from CBS San Francisco here: Contra Costa Water District calls for 15% conservation, mulls surcharge

A defense against drought: District eyes water-purification plant as key to recycling increasingly scarce water

California’s faced the same problem for three straight years, and it seems to be growing worse. The state’s snowpack level on April 1 was just 38% of average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.  What if the rains don’t return for a long time?  Water agencies such as Santa Clara Valley Regional Water District, known as Valley Water, have sounded the alarm for more than a year. Cutbacks in water usage, which they say will be necessary, are likely to become a reality by this summer, staff said during a San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) meeting last month. But Valley Water is looking for ways to not only conserve but also reclaim the precious crystal-clear liquid. In December, the agency’s board of directors approved an agreement to work with the city of Palo Alto to build an advanced water-purification facility in Palo Alto. … ”  Continue reading at Palo Alto Online here:  A defense against drought: District eyes water-purification plant as key to recycling increasingly scarce water

CENTRAL COAST

‘I’m afraid to use water’: Rural Paso Robles residents drill new wells as older ones dry up

When Lloyd “Ed” Rickard moved to Paso Robles in 1986, he thought he lived on an oasis in the Mediterranean-like area of the Central Coast. As his house was built, Rickard, now 63, had a potable water well drilled on his property — the norm for residents in the rural areas of San Luis Obispo County. At the time, his house and his well together were worth roughly $80,000, he said.  “The guy told me: ‘You live in one of the best areas in the county for water. You’ll never have to drill a new well,’” Rickard said, finishing the sentence with a bitter laugh. Five or six years later, however, the well pump didn’t reach water any more, so he had to pay to lower it deeper. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: ‘I’m afraid to use water’: Rural Paso Robles residents drill new wells as older ones dry up

Can the Paso Robles wine industry continue to thrive as groundwater levels fall?

Around the city of Paso Robles, the hills are alive with the growing of wine grapes. When vintners first began to put down roots in the area, they were welcomed by what was once considered arguably one of the best areas in California for water, serviced by the Paso Robles subarea groundwater basin. And for many years, the aquifer deep underground kept giving more water, even as droughts plagued the region. The seemingly never-ending water source fed a burgeoning wine industry that grew from just a few hundred acres in the 1970s to more than 40,000 acres in the Paso Robles region. But the good times couldn’t last forever, and the basin soon began to show its limits. ... ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Can the Paso Robles wine industry continue to thrive as groundwater levels fall?

Ventura Harbor Commission hears Ventura Water Pure presentation

In their April 6 meeting, the Ventura Board of Port Commissioners heard a presentation from civil engineer Adam Bugielski about the Ventura City Council project, the VenturaWaterPure program.  The proposed project plans to recover, treat, and reuse the city’s potable water, which is currently being discharged to the Santa Clara River Estuary.  The plan is to create a drought-resilient water supply in light of the recent drought conditions.  The project’s preferred option would run a pipeline through port district property, temporarily affecting traffic conditions, boat storage, and operation of businesses through temporary and permanent easements. … ”  Read more from The Log here: Ventura Harbor Commission hears Ventura Water Pure presentation

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Lindsay potentially facing a water state of emergency

Like much of the Central Valley, Lindsay is in a precarious spot in terms of water. In February, the city submitted a request for a Health & Safety water allocation to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in order to meet this summer’s water demands. If it is denied, it’s likely the city will need to begin utilizing highly contaminated well water, leaving residents without drinkable water for several months.  “If we don’t get the emergency allocation, then it really puts us in a bad spot,” said Joe Tanner, city manager. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Lindsay potentially facing a water state of emergency

EASTERN SIERRA

New bacterial outbreak confirmed at two Eastern Sierra fish hatcheries

Two California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fish hatchery facilities in the eastern Sierra have recently detected an outbreak of Lactococcus petauri, a naturally occurring bacteria that sickens fish. CDFW fishery managers are working to implement strategies that will help the facilities get the disease under control, without cancelling all trout plants prior to the traditional season opener on April 30.  The affected facilities – Black Rock Hatchery and Fish Springs Hatchery – usually provide fish for stocking waterways in CDFW’s Inland Deserts Region. Both facilities experienced a similar outbreak of Lactococcus garvieae in 2020, which led to the euthanization of approximately 3.2 million fish in order to stop the spread of disease (L. petauri is molecularly very similar to L. garvieae; the general abbreviation for both strains is Lactococcus spp.). … ”  Read more from the Department of Fish & Wildlife here: New bacterial outbreak confirmed at two Eastern Sierra fish hatcheries

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Drought boon or boondoggle? Critics blast Poseidon desalination plan as crucial vote looms

Among the many complex arguments over water in California, one particularly heated debate centers on whether the state should seek more drinking water from a plentiful but expensive source: the Pacific Ocean.  The debate has reached a critical stage in Huntington Beach, where Poseidon Water has been trying for more than two decades to build one of the country’s largest desalination plants. … At the heart of the debate, there are fundamental arguments about whether Orange County really needs the water, how the area should adapt to worsening droughts with climate change, and whether the costs would be a reasonable investment to secure reliable water or an exorbitant megaproject that would mean higher water rates for decades to come. … ”  Read more from the LA Times here: Drought boon or boondoggle? Critics blast Poseidon desalination plan as crucial vote looms | Read article at Yahoo News

State audit slams powerful water agency for workplace discrimination, harassment and more

A powerful agency that is a vital source of water for millions of Californians has left its employees exposed to harassment, engaged in unfair hiring practices and allowed employee housing in blistering desert outposts to deteriorate, a state audit found.  Auditors launched their review after a Times investigation last year found a pattern of complaints alleging harassment and bullying of women at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which operates the sprawling 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct system that delivers drinking water to households and businesses in Southern California. … ”  Continue reading at the LA Times here: State audit slams powerful water agency for workplace discrimination, harassment and more

Thousand Oaks: City crews get first glimpse inside damaged reservoir

It will be months before Thousand Oaks has full access to its normal water supply, but the city is one step closer after raising the roof last week.  A 50-year-old reservoir, which held 3.4 million gallons, or roughly 10% of the city’s water storage capacity, was examined last week for structural soundness.  While members of the city’s public works department await a final analysis, public works Director Cliff Finley said things look promising. … ”  Read more from The Acorn here: Thousand Oaks: City crews get first glimpse inside damaged reservoir

San Bernardino Valley has reliable water supply despite reduced state water

Despite 23 years of local drought, three years of drought in Northern California, and a reduction in this year’s allocation of imported water from the State Water Project, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District) and the cities and retail water providers that it serves continue to provide a reliable water supply for the 710,000 people in its region.  Valley District is among 27 State Water Contractors who recently learned that rainfall in Northern California will only provide 5 percent of their supplies from the State Water Project this year. On March 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order for the state to take certain actions due to the dry conditions this year. ... ”  Read more from the Highland Community News here: San Bernardino Valley has reliable water supply despite reduced state water

IMPERIAL/COACHELLA VALLEYS

Lithium Valley: Near the Salton Sea, residents want the federal government to address health concerns

Residents living near the Salton Sea say they understand the much-hyped potential of the area for lithium extraction, but they want the federal government to understand the existing health concerns plaguing the community caused by the receding sea, and want to make sure the new industry doesn’t exacerbate those issues.   “I’m concerned primarily for the health of our kids because I’m a mom, and my kid suffers from asthma and nosebleeds for no apparent reason,” Elizabeth Jaime, a North Shore resident and member of Líderes Campesinas, said in Spanish through a translator. “We know about the opportunities coming with lithium, but we have a lot of concern, especially for the public health of our kids… What assurance do we have as parents that this industry won’t generate more pollution?” ... ”  Read more from the Desert Sun here: Lithium Valley: Near the Salton Sea, residents want the federal government to address health concerns

SAN DIEGO

Video: Southern California wetlands may help slow climate change

A hand-held shovel is jammed into the dirt at the edge of one of San Diego’s coastal wetlands. The goal is separating a fully grown cattail from its home.  “You can see how hard it is to dig out,” said Joseph Noel, a researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. “That’s why it holds the sediment extremely well. And so there’s very little erosion.”  Joseph Noel watches his colleague Todd Michael lift up the plant.  “Oh, here’s a nice shoot coming up,” Noel said.  The pair of San Diego researchers are working with cattails as part of the Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plants Initiative, a far-reaching effort to tap the potential of plants to help stave off the worst impacts of global warming.”  Watch video at KPBS here: Video: Southern California wetlands may help slow climate change

San Elijo Lagoon thrives as restoration project enters final phase

The San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project is set to complete its fourth and final phase, which involves removal of accumulated sand from the lagoon channel under the new Interstate 5 bridge, and project officials will continue to monitor progress over the next 10 years.  “The San Elijo Lagoon Restoration Project that began in late 2017 will be complete by mid-April 2022,” said Doug Gibson, executive director and principal scientist of the Nature Collective. “One of the project’s goals was to increase tidal circulation in San Elijo Lagoon by widening and straightening the channels, removing years of sand and high-nutrient sediment build-up.” ... ”  Read more from Oside News here: San Elijo Lagoon thrives as restoration project enters final phase

Vallecitos board declares Level 2 drought alert

To comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order N-7-22, the Vallecitos Water District Board of Directors voted to move to a Level 2 Drought Alert April 21. The new drought level will prompt mandatory water-use restrictions for all Vallecitos customers starting April 21 and into the foreseeable future.  California’s drought, which seemed to be retreating after soaking storms in both October and December, is now all but certain to continue into a third year after the driest January and February in recorded history. … ”  Read more from The Coast News Group here:  Vallecitos board declares Level 2 drought alert

Here’s how pine needles from Torrey Pines State Reserve could solve the water crisis

Emily Tianshi has loved coming to Torrey Pines State Preserve since she was young.   The beach and preserve is one of the very few places where its namesake grows. As a curious middle schooler with an interest in biology, she became fascinated with the rarely studied tree. “Because the pine is so rare, nobody had studied its mechanisms before,” she says. “I would observe that the Torrey Pine needles are able to condense water from the marine layer that comes through the State Park and use that to water itself in the midst of drought.” ... ”  Read more from Channel 8 here: Here’s how pine needles from Torrey Pines State Reserve could solve the water crisis

Climate change brings the more droughts, more floods and sea-level rise to San Diego

Earth Day has made more and more people aware of climate change. We like to think San Diego is always 70 degrees and sunny, but even that is changing. I met with National Weather Service Meteorologist Alex Tardy at Torrey Pines to talk about the small changes we’re seeing each year that are now adding up.  Every ten years new climate normals are released and the latest normals released in 2021 show that San Diego is trending warmer and drier. “Everywhere in the United States except a small portion of the northern plains was warmer than their prior thirty-year averages,” explains Alex Tardy. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Climate change brings the more droughts, more floods and sea-level rise to San Diego

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Along the Colorado River …

Cox orders another emergency drought declaration; Lake Powell to receive more water

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox made a public plea last summer, calling on Utahns to pray for rain as the state began to experience some of its worst drought conditions on record.  The seasonal monsoon did come back in late July and August, and snow collection levels may end up closer to average thanks to a pair of April storms; however, he said Thursday that prayers aren’t enough to fix the projected drought situation as the irrigation season begins.  It’s why Cox issued a state of emergency regarding the state’s drought, effective immediately.  “We’re certainly not relying solely on deity to solve our problems,” the governor said, speaking at his monthly press briefing. … ”  Read more from the Deseret News here:  Cox orders another emergency drought declaration; Lake Powell to receive more water

SEE ALSO: Utah declares new drought emergency, from E&E News

Lake Powell will receive water from Flaming Gorge

Drought conditions have continued to plague Utah and many other states.  Lake Powell water levels are at a historic low so states such as Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico have come together to allocate water from different locations and direct the water toward Lake Powell.  The 2022 Drought Response Operations has authorized a release of 500,000 acre-feet from Flaming Gorge Dam, as well as possible releases from Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado and a Navajo reservoir in New Mexico if needed later in the year.  The release of water from Flaming Gorge is anticipated to begin May 1, 2022, and run through April 30, 2023. … ”  Read more from KRON here: Lake Powell will receive water from Flaming Gorge

Upper Colorado River Commission approves drought response operations plan for 2022

The Upper Colorado River Commission approved the 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan, which calls for 500,000 acre-feet of water to be released from Flaming Gorge Reservoir between May 2022 and April 2023 to protect critical elevations at Lake Powell. The Plan will now go to the Secretary of the Interior for final approval.  “Developing the 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan is an unprecedented and significant action by the Upper Colorado River Basin states to protect the Colorado River System for all who rely on it. The 500,000 acre-feet to be released from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in the coming year is in addition to the 161,000 acre-feet of water previously released from Blue Mesa and Flaming Gorge Reservoirs,” said Colorado River Commissioner Becky Mitchell. “In total, the Upper Basin has contributed 661,000 acre-feet of water to protect critical elevations at Lake Powell. The Upper Basin States are doing our part to protect the Colorado River System.” … ”  Read more from the Colorado River Conservation Board here: Upper Colorado River Commission approves drought response operations plan for 2022

Colorado finds “forever chemicals” PFAS in 100% of fish sampled in three big counties

A new Colorado study found toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in 100% of the fish it sampled from previously known contaminated waterbodies in El Paso, Jefferson and Adams counties, adding to a growing series of reports on damage from the waterproofing materials’ spread in the environment.  Staff from the Colorado health department, the Colorado School of Mines, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife collected 49 fish across 10 species in the summer and fall of 2020, according to a new summary of the study. They sampled fish from Willow Springs Pond in Fountain, in El Paso County; Mann-Nyholt Lake in Henderson, in Adams County; and Tabor Lake in Wheatridge, in Jefferson County.  The sites were chosen in part because they are popular fishing spots where anglers often eat their catch. ... ”  Read more from the Colorado Sun here: Colorado finds “forever chemicals” PFAS in 100% of fish sampled in three big counties

Salt River reservoirs resist drought

The Salt River Project’s reservoirs on the Salt and Verde River remain 72% full, although an early White Mountains snowmelt has caused the Salt River to dwindle to half of normal. The condition of the reservoirs on the Salt and Verde contrast sharply with the giant reservoirs on the Colorado River, which have fallen to historic lows. Continued declines may soon shut down the hydropower generators deep in Hoover and Glen Canyon dams and trigger painful water rationing for much of Arizona.  What a difference a watershed makes. ... ”  Read more from the White Mountain Independent here: Salt River reservoirs resist drought

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In national water news today …

Study shows everyday plastic products release trillions of microscopic particles into water

Plastics surround us, whether it’s the grocery bags we use at the supermarket or household items such as shampoo and detergent bottles. Plastics don’t exist only as large objects, but also as microscopic particles that are released from these larger products. These microscopic plastics can end up in the environment, and they can be ingested into our bodies.  Now, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have analyzed a couple of widely used consumer products to better understand these microscopic plastics. They found that when the plastic products are exposed to hot water, they release trillions of nanoparticles per liter into the water. … ”  Read more from Phys Org here: Study shows everyday plastic products release trillions of microscopic particles into water

Study finds PFAS at higher levels after wastewater treatment

A new study has underscored the complexity of treating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), one of the country’s most prolific and widespread water contaminants, while highlighting the futility in attempting to address the problem at wastewater treatment facilities.  “PFAS compounds … are found in greater quantities in the treated water leaving Michigan wastewater treatment plants — the water returning to streams, rivers and lakes — than in the not-yet-treated water entering the plant, a new Western Michigan University study found,” according to the Detroit Free Press. “Detailed study of 10 wastewater treatment plants in Michigan with industrial pretreatment programs — efforts to remove PFAS compounds from their industrial sources before the water reaches the plant — found PFAS concentrations as much as 19 times higher in the plant’s effluent, or outflow, than its influent.” ... ”  Read more from Water Online here: Study finds PFAS at higher levels after wastewater treatment

ASCE manual of practice streamlines process for purifying water

The Clean Water Act of 1972 established total maximum daily loads – or TMDLs – for bodies of water that do not meet water quality requirements.  In this way, the amount of acceptable pollutant in water was codified.  However, the most effective methods for developing and implementing such TMDLs have remained less structured.  Until now.  ASCE has published Manual of Practice 150, Total Maximum Daily Load Development and Implementation: Models, Methods, and Resources, a major step forward for water resource professionals tasked with developing and implementing TMDLs. … ”  Read more from Civil Engineering Source here: ASCE manual of practice streamlines process for purifying water

Phase 1 NEPA revisions met with criticism from farm groups

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has finalized adjustments to portions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Several ag groups have raised concern about the Phase 1 NEPA revisions and the negative impact it will have on agriculture. The latest revisions would effectively reverse the amendments made in 2020, which was the first comprehensive update in more than 40 years. ... ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Phase 1 NEPA revisions met with criticism from farm groups

SCOTUS restores Trump-era water rule, for now

In a close 5–4 decision, on April 6, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) reinstated a Trump-era Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation that limited state and tribal authority in the permitting process for projects in their territory. … The district court’s vacatur was appealed in the 9th Circuit Court of appeals by Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, West Virginia, Wyoming, Texas, and various trade associations. The 9th Circuit consolidated the appeals into Louisiana et al. Applicants v. American Rivers et al. and denied the appeal in February 2022, leaving Alsup’s vacatur in place.  Appellants then sought a stay via SCOTUS’s emergency docket—a process sometimes referred to as the court’s “shadow docket” because decisions are quickly provided without the benefit of hearing a full briefing and arguments.  The conservative justices in the majority who reinstated the Trump-era regulation did not explain their reasoning for granting the stay, as is typical in shadow docket rulings. … ”  Read more from EHS Daily Advisor here: SCOTUS restores Trump-era water rule, for now

Coastal wetlands have an important role to play in addressing climate change

Coastal wetlands, long recognized for their importance to local livelihoods and biodiversity, are also important natural carbon sinks. Mangroves, salt marsh, and seagrass beds, known collectively as “blue carbon” ecosystems, are especially efficient at removing carbon dioxide from the air and surrounding waters. Despite occupying less than 2% of the ocean, coastal wetlands store roughly 50% of all carbon known to be buried in global ocean sediments. These habitats also provide myriad other benefits, including protecting coastal communities against the full impact of storm surges, floods, sea level rise, and other climate change-related threats. … ”  Read more from the Pew Charitable Trust here: Coastal wetlands have an important role to play in addressing climate change

NRDC report: Pathways to regenerative agriculture

Our food and farming system is facing a reckoning—a global pandemic that upended supply chains and unearthed the horrific consequences of a consolidated meatpacking industry, climate change threatening food production across the country, fertilizer shortages, rising prices at the grocery store, and a sector that accounts for 10 percent of the United State’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Our current agricultural system is failing us. It’s high time we build toward a stronger, healthier, more equitable, and more resilient one. NRDC’s report Regenerative Agriculture: Farm Policy for the 21st Century details an alternative vision of what agriculture can be—one that can respond better to external shocks (like a pandemic), combat climate change by embracing Indigenous growing principles, protect biodiversity by managing farms and ranches as ecosystems, and support competition while putting decision-making power back into the hands of independent farmers and ranchers. ... ”  Read more from the NRDC here: NRDC report: Pathways to regenerative agriculture

Biden to issue Earth Day order to safeguard old-growth forests

President Biden will sign an executive order on Friday in Seattle laying the groundwork for protecting some of the biggest and oldest trees in America’s forests, according to five individuals briefed on the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was not yet finalized. Biden will direct the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to define and inventory mature and old-growth forests nationwide within a year, three of the individuals said. He will also require the agencies to identify threats to these trees, such as wildfire and climate change, and to use that information to craft policies that protect them. The president’s order, however, will not ban logging of mature and old-growth trees, they added, and the administration is not considering a nationwide prohibition. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post here: Biden to issue Earth Day order to safeguard old-growth forests

SEE ALSO: White House preps Earth Day order to take stock of big trees, from E&E News

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National water and climate update …

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

dmrpt-20220421

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

BULLETIN 120: Forecast Update – April 19, 2022

 

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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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