Fly Fishing news

DAILY DIGEST, 3/15: Climate scientists reconsider the meaning and implications of drought in light of a changing world; Forestland management benefits salmon and steelhead in NorCal; PG&E, the Mountain Maidu, and a very powerful river; SGMA adaption coming early in Westlands Water District; and more …



On the calendar today …

  • MEETING: State Water Resources Control Board beginning at 9am. Agenda items include an update on monthly water production and conservation data reported by urban retail water suppliers; A workshop for the Proposed Statewide Sanitary Sewer Systems General Waste Discharge Requirements Order; Consideration of a proposed Resolution to adopt Implementation Plans for administering the Drinking Water and Wastewater Allocations from the Budget Act of 2021; and an update on California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program. Click here for the full agenda and remote access instructions.
  • EVENT: Office Hours with Stantec’s SGMA Facilitation Team from 12pm to 1pm.  This session of Office Hours features Lisa Beutler, Craig Moyle, Emily Finnegan, and Christy Clark with Stantec’s DWR SGMA Facilitation Support Services team. Bring your questions about GSA implementation, engagement with varied beneficial users, and managing conversations with people that have different opinions.  Click here to register.
  • WORKSHOP: Delta Island Adaptations beginning at 4pm.  This workshop will discuss ways to improve the resilience and sustainability of islands in Delta owned by Metropolitan Water District (MWD).  These four islands face adaptation challenges similar to many other subsided lands in the Central Delta.  Through a collaborative and transparent co-design process, a team of experts are developing a comprehensive analysis of land use opportunities for subsidence reversal, sustainable agricultural practices, carbon sequestration, water quality, recreation, indigenous land stewardship and habitat restoration.  Click here to register.
  • SCOPING MEETING: EIS for analyzing potential modifications to the Long-Term Operation of the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP) – Los Banos from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Reclamation is seeking suggestions and information on the alternatives and topics to be addressed and other important issues related to multi-year operations of the CVP and SWP.  Here are the meeting materialsClick here to join the meeting
  • WEBINAR: GRA SoCal: Los Angeles Regional Water Board Groundwater Cleanup Program Annual Update from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.  Join us for an interactive dialogue with staff at the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LA Water Board). Water Board regulators will give an update on the various initiatives and programs related to groundwater cleanup. The presentation will update the following significant LA Water Board activities in the Groundwater Cleanup Programs.  Click here to register.

In California water news today …

The longest drought: Climate scientists reconsider the meaning and implications of drought in light of a changing world

Maps of the American West have featured ever darker shades of red over the past two decades. The colors illustrate the unprecedented drought blighting the region. In some areas, conditions have blown past severe and extreme drought into exceptional drought. But rather than add more superlatives to our descriptions, one group of scientists believes it’s time to reconsider the very definition of drought.  Researchers from half a dozen universities investigated what the future might hold in terms of rainfall and soil moisture, two measurements of drought. The team, led by UC Santa Barbara’s Samantha Stevenson, found that many regions of the world will enter permanent dry or wet conditions in the coming decades, under modern definitions. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal the importance of rethinking how we classify these events as well as how we respond to them. … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara here: The longest drought:Climate scientists reconsider the meaning and implications of drought in light of a changing world

California Water Supply: A debate between Scott Slater and Michael Hiltzik

Scott Slater is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Cadiz Inc., appointed to the role of President in April 2011 and Chief Executive Officer effective February 1, 2013 with the purposed of fulfilling the company’s California water supply project plans.  Mr. Slater has been a member of the company’s board of directors since February 2012. Mr. Slater is an accomplished water rights transactional attorney and litigator and, in addition to his role at the company, is a shareholder in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, the nation’s leading water law firm.  For nearly 40 years, Mr. Slater has focused on negotiation of agreements and enacting policy related to the acquisition, distribution, and treatment of water. … In this exclusive 5,399 word interview with the Wall Street Transcript, Scott Slater details his company’s quest to develop a water supply project in California. ”  Read more from Wall Street Transcript here: California Water Supply: A debate between Scott Slater and Michael Hiltzik

Forestland management benefits salmon and steelhead in Northern California

Boulder Creek, a tributary to the upper Sacramento River. Photo by Sierra Pacific Industries.

Sierra Pacific Industries is the largest private forest landowner in the state of California, with about 1.8 million acres of timberland throughout the northern and central portions of the state. Rivers and streams on the company’s land in the Trinity River and Sacramento River basins provide habitat for salmon and steelhead species listed under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA Fisheries understands the significant conservation value of the watersheds on these lands. [NOAA Fisheries has] partnered with SPI and approved a Habitat Conservation Plan and Safe Harbor Agreement associated with SPI’s forest management program. ... ”  Read more from NOAA Fisheries here: Forestland management benefits salmon and steelhead in Northern California

Drought has already cost close to $2 billion and 14,000 jobs, and it’s likely not over yet

In 2021 alone, researchers estimate that drought conditions resulted in $1.7 billion in direct and indirect costs, more than 14,000 lost jobs and nearly 400,000 acres of fallowed farmland.  A new report estimates that in 2021, drought conditions cost agriculture $1.2 billion and another half a billion dollars in other sectors. The report, written by researchers at both UC Merced and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), blames these economic impacts on one of the driest water years on record, which resulted in huge water losses even after tapping into millions of acre feet of groundwater. … ”  Read more from KVPR here:  Drought has already cost close to $2 billion and 14,000 jobs, and it’s likely not over yet

Northern California gets light rain and snow

A weak storm system moved through Northern California on Tuesday and a stronger system was expected in the drought-stricken state during the weekend, the National Weather Service said. Minimal snow impacts were expected, but chain requirements were in effect early in the morning on Interstate 80 through the Sierra Nevada, according to Caltrans. Light rain fell in the San Francisco Bay Area and by early morning downtown Sacramento got the first precipitation in a long time. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: Northern California gets light rain and snow

Newsom announces $22.5 million to address drought emergency

To increase water conservation amid California’s drought emergency, Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced $22.5 million in spending to bolster the state’s response.  According to Newsom’s office, the additional allocation will increase funding for the Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. About $8.25 million will be used to bolster outreach efforts to promote water conservation.  “These investments continue to provide crucial drought support to communities impacted around the state,” wrote Chief Deputy Finance Director Erika Li in a letter to Legislative budget and appropriations leaders. … ”  Read more from the Center Square here: Newsom announces $22.5 million to address drought emergency

State water officials track groundwater by air

As the California drought continues, water officials are using flight technology to monitor groundwater information in basins across the state, including those in the Central Valley.  The California Department of Water Resources is conducting helicopter flyovers to track the state’s groundwater from the air.  Low-flying helicopters use equipment to send signals to the ground that bounce back up, kind of like taking an MRI of the Earth’s surface. … ”  Read more from KTXL here: State water officials track groundwater by air

“When you know better, do better”: A water agency’s journey through the pandemic

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) general manager Clifford Chan took over the utility in June of 2020, just months into the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked him about how the pandemic affected his work at a large urban water agency—and what changes it wrought.  What challenges did you face walking onto the job in the early days of the pandemic?You can’t talk about the last two years without talking about COVID. There was so much we didn’t know—we were all scared. And it affected us both at work and home: we had to keep our employees and our families safe. At the same time, we had to supply water to the community uninterrupted. Some people were genuinely scared to come to work, so initially it was challenging to ensure we had enough staff. It’s remarkable how far we’ve come. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here:  “When you know better, do better”: A water agency’s journey through the pandemic

Notice of Hearing on Pre-Condemnation Entry Petitions

The State of California, by and through the Department of Water Resources, has petitioned the court for an order seeking pre-condemnation entries on various parcels of real property in the County of San Joaquin for the purpose of conducting geotechnical drilling activities, soil borings and Cone Penetrometer Tests, pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1245.010 et seq. … ”  Continue reading at the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Notice of Hearing on Pre-Condemnation Entry Petitions

California and the world move toward cleaning up microplastics: What you need to know now

In the 1967 film The Graduate, Mr. Maguire says to Benjamin: “There is a great future in cleaning up microplastics.” That’s not exactly correct, but if the movie were remade today, it might be.  The State of California and the United Nations certainly envision that future. Late last month, California adopted a first-in-the-nation strategy to address microplastics in the environment. Shortly thereafter, on March 2, 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted a resolution setting up a path to a global treaty to end plastic pollution. And, after adopting the world’s first regulatory definition of “microplastics in drinking water” in 2020, California anticipates additional action addressing microplastics in drinking water as early as this month.  With California often leading the way in environmental regulation, interested parties throughout the country (and the world) may want to follow these developments closely. … ”  Read more from Hunton Andrews Kurth here: California and the world move toward cleaning up microplastics: What you need to know now

Study: Cover crops offset water use with improved soil moisture retention

Cover crop research conducted by a team of university researchers is now helping to inform and shape policy to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in several San Joaquin Valley counties.  “The Madera County Regional Water Management Group appreciates continued scientific discussions on SGMA-related issues, and especially enjoyed hearing from researchers on cover crops,” said Tom Wheeler, chair of the Regional Water Management Group for Madera County and a Madera County supervisor. “This is work that should be helpful to growers as they evaluate cover crops as part of their sustainable future.” … ”  Read more from No Till Farmer here:  Study: Cover crops offset water use with improved soil moisture retention

A look inside Gotham Greens’s new high-tech indoor farming operation in Northern California

As world population increases, so does the need to find more efficient ways to increase the food supply, not to mention having to cope with extreme and unpredictable weather, drought and groundwater depletion, wildfires and a gradual decline in per capita arable land available for agriculture.  To meet a new indoor farming era began to emerge a few decades ago as a better way to manage vegetable growth using methods and optimized hydroponic plant feeding techniques that increase the number of annual growing cycles, according to Viraj Puri, CEO of Gotham Greens, a privately held certified B-corporation based in New York City known for its sustainable and environmentally conscious brands.  The company’s newest indoor farming greenhouse near Davis in Yolo County was completed in November 2021 and officially opened on Dec. 8. … ”  Read more from the North Bay Business Journal here: A look inside Gotham Greens’s new high-tech indoor farming operation in Northern California

How wildfires have worsened in recent years

A series of lightning storms in mid-August 2020 hit Northern California, a region already experiencing a severe drought season, igniting what would become the August Complex fire. Over the course of almost three months, it burned through national forests, destroying 935 buildings and forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. By the time it was fully contained, its total range was over twice the size of California’s previous record and among the largest fires in U.S. history.  Less than a year later, the August Complex’s record was nearly broken when the Dixie fires broke out in Northern California, burning more than 963,000 acres and destroying more than 1,300 structures in the region. … ”  Read more from KTLA here: How wildfires have worsened in recent years

Huge forest fires don’t cause living trees to release much carbon, OSU research shows

Research on the ground following two large wildfires in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range showed the vast majority of carbon stored in trees before the blazes was still there after the fires.  Published in the journal Forests, the findings are an important step toward understanding the connection between wildfires and climate-change-inducing carbon emissions, according to a scientific collaboration that included Mark Harmon of Oregon State University.  Carbon dioxide, a product of combustion, is a major greenhouse gas and one of the primary causes of climate change.  Knowing how much carbon is released during fires can help inform decisions about the carbon storage and emissions implications of forest management decisions, say the scientists. … ”  Read more from Oregon State University here: Huge forest fires don’t cause living trees to release much carbon, OSU research shows

Wildfires are ‘the curse of our century’, but this expert knows how to prevent them

Fire has always been with us. According to Greek myth, Prometheus first stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to humans.  He was punished for it, but to us, it’s been a gift, not only celebrated on religious holidays, but without fire human development would have been curtailed some 1.8 million years ago as it was through the ability to cook food, that humankind was then able to leave the cave.  But rather than a cause for celebration, fires today are emerging as a major threat. A recent UN report projects that wildfires will become more frequent and intense throughout the coming decades. The long-term prospects are terrifying: a likely increase of 30 per cent of global extreme fires by the middle of this century. … ”  Read more from EuroNews here: Wildfires are ‘the curse of our century’, but this expert knows how to prevent them

San Andreas Fault’s creeping section could unleash large earthquakes

The middle section of the San Andreas Fault may have the capacity to host larger earthquakes than previously believed.  Between the towns of Parkfield and Hollister, the famous California fault undergoes something called aseismic creep. Instead of building up strain and then slipping in one earth-rattling moment, the two sections of fault move imperceptibly, releasing stress without causing large quakes. But looking back millions of years in time, researchers have found that this section of fault may have experienced earthquakes of magnitude 7 and higher. That is larger than the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta temblor that killed 63 people in the Bay Area in 1989. … ”  Continue reading at Live Science here: San Andreas Fault’s creeping section could unleash large earthquakes

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In commentary today …

Are curtailments a balanced water use?

Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, writes, “California’s water supply continues to face serious challenges and nowhere is the evidence clearer than on the farms that grow our food. Some of the most critical shortages expected this year extend from the Klamath Basin and Scott Valley, near the Oregon border, to Bakersfield at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. This 450-mile stretch includes some of the most productive farmland on the planet, where the ongoing drought threatens thousands of farms.  And it’s not just farmers who will suffer the consequences of vanishing water supplies. Consumers also face uncertainties when it comes to the food they buy. It’s hard to imagine empty shelves at the grocery store but the evidence of food shortages is already here in the form of higher prices. In the Scott Valley an unprecedented water curtailment by the State Water Resources Control Board is aimed at reducing the use of irrigation water from both the Scott River and the area’s groundwater basin. … ”  Continue reading at the California Farm Water Coalition here: Are curtailments a balanced water use?

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Today’s featured article …

BLOG ROUND-UP: Are curtailments a balanced water use?; Learning about CA’s water rights is the first step to reform; Saving California’s salmon is now up to Governor Newsom; A brief history of the water wars; and more …

Click here to read the blog round-up.

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In regional water news and commentary today …

NORTH COAST

Great Redwood Trail, stretching from S.F. Bay to Humboldt Bay along rail lines, moves forward

A proposed 320-mile trail that would stretch between Marin and Humboldt counties, and is being touted as the country’s longest rail trail, came one step closer to fruition on Monday.  The Great Redwood Trail, as the concept is known, has been floated for years: It would convert a rail corridor between San Francisco Bay and Humboldt Bay into a recreational trail for pedestrians, hikers and bicyclists. The route passes through classic Northern California scenery like old-growth redwood forests and rolling golden hills, and it skirts the edges of both the Russian and Eel rivers. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Great Redwood Trail, stretching from S.F. Bay to Humboldt Bay along rail lines, moves forward

MOUNTAIN COUNTIES

Tuesday morning Snowfall at Tahoe may affect travel over passes

There won’t be enough snow for a good Lake Tahoe powder day but a few inches in the forecast Monday into Tuesday could disrupt travel over mountain passes.  The National Weather Service in Reno on Monday afternoon issued a special statement due to expected gusty winds and possible snowfall above 7,000 feet.  Gusty west to southwest winds of about 25-30 mph will occur Monday night into Tuesday which will make for rough conditions on area lakes. … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here: Tuesday morning Snowfall at Tahoe may affect travel over passes

Comments sought on plan to remove trees from Caldor burn area in Tahoe Basin

Monday is the final day to submit comments on a USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit proposal to remove hazardous trees from the Caldor Fire burn area.  The Tahoe Basin Caldor Hazard Tree and Fuels Reduction Project would improve safety and reduce fuel loading by removing fire-killed trees or those likely to die because of fire damage as well as other trees that pose a hazard to roads, trails, private property boundaries and developed recreation sites impacted by the Caldor Fire.  “Improving public safety by reducing the amount of hazard trees within the popular trail network damaged by the Caldor Fire is a top priority,” said Forest Supervisor Erick Walker in a news release. “The project is also an important step toward helping our community heal and re-engage with the land they love.” … ”  Read more from the Tahoe Daily Tribune here:  Comments sought on plan to remove trees from Caldor burn area in Tahoe Basin

Column: NID directors need to answer questions

Columnist Bruce Herring writes, “This November three seats will be up for grabs on the NID board, smack dab in the middle of the Plan for Water process. Once again it is important to point out that residents of Nevada City and Grass Valley are prohibited from voting for members of the NID Board of Directors. But do they drink, bathe, and wash with NID treated water? Do they sprinkle their lawns and flower beds and mini gardens with NID treated water? Of course – but in a mega structural flaw they purchase that water directly from their respective cities – who purchased it wholesale from NID – and are therefore “out of district.” No recent board has made any attempt to reach out to the cities to change this. So thousands of citizens as always simply have no say in important water issues. … ”  Read more from YubaNet here: Column: NID directors need to answer questions

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

PG&E, the Mountain Maidu, and a very powerful river

In the spring of 2021, a crew of nine workers arrived at Tásmam Koyóm, at the headwaters of Northern California’s Feather River. They began to cut down saplings, dragging them over a fast-moving creek that ran through a meadow, then bending them into a tangled weave of trunks and branches that held strong in the current.  The landscape around them was an artifact of decades of cattle grazing—the utility that once owned this land, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), had leased it to ranchers. The cattle had compacted the soil and dried out the meadow’s outer reaches, transforming what had been a wetland into a field of dry grass. As the work progressed, and the sapling dams blocked the current, areas of the parched meadow began to fill with slow-moving channels of water. … ”  Read more from the Sierra Club here: PG&E, the Mountain Maidu, and a very powerful river

CSPA & allies file lawsuits on groundwater management in Butte, Colusa & Vina Subbasins

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), along with AquAlliance and the California Water Impact Network, filed three separate lawsuits in February 2022 against the Butte, Colusa, and Vina subbasins’ Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).  The lawsuits argue that all three GSPs will continue to threaten groundwater users and the environment by accepting domestic well failures and not preventing additional groundwater loss. … ”  Read more from the CSPA here: CSPA & allies file lawsuits on groundwater management in Butte, Colusa & Vina Subbasins

Water Forum announces 2022 Habitat Restoration Projects

Today is the 25th anniversary of the International Day of Action for Rivers, and we thought it especially fitting to announce that the Water Forum in 2022 will undertake—not one, but TWO—habitat restoration projects on the Lower American River.  “The Water Forum’s habitat restoration program is a hallmark of this region’s efforts to work together to protect the Lower American River,” said Water Forum Executive Director Jessica Law. “This work would not be possible without the dedicated team of Water Forum staff, consultants and the crew from the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities, as well as funding and support from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California Natural Resources Agency and Department of Water Resources.” … ”  Read more from the Water Forum here: Water Forum announces 2022 Habitat Restoration Projects

With rain in forecast, Sacramento stormwater drain vote deadline also approaching

With measurable rain in the forecast for Sacramento for the first time in 66 days, a deadline to vote in a special stormwater system election is also fast approaching.  “To continue protecting clean, local water, the City of Sacramento is considering a potential ballot measure to fund repairs, maintenance and improvements to its aging stormwater system, which protects homes, businesses, local rivers and water sources,” reads a post on the city’s website.  The city’s stormwater system is nearly 100 years old. … ”  Read more from KCRA Channel 3 here: With rain in forecast, Sacramento stormwater drain vote deadline also approaching

NAPA/SONOMA

Sonoma growers face a changeable future

Grapegrowers in the Russian River Valley learned last week that they are likely to have their water rights curtailed by the state as soon as next month.  The bad news from the California State Water Resources Control Board came during a virtual drought town hall hosted by Sonoma Water, the agency that distributes drinking water around Sonoma County. Sonoma growers had their water rights curtailed last year in August, fairly late in the season, but this year could see a full growing season without river water. … ”  Continue reading at Wine Searcher here: Sonoma growers face a changeable future

Despite significant early season rainfall, Russian River watershed diversion curtailments likely to resume in April

Curtailments on Russian River watershed diversions will likely resume this April as the outlook for a “miracle March” in rainfall looks grim.  Curtailments for certain water right holders were suspended in October after Sonoma County received significant rainfall, however, flows from the October and December storms are starting to taper off, according to Sam Boland-Brien, a supervising engineer with the California State Water Resource Control Board, Division of Water Rights.  “It’s going to be a really dry summer,” Boland-Brien said. … ”  Read more from SoCo News here: Despite significant early season rainfall, Russian River watershed diversion curtailments likely to resume in April

BAY AREA

Bay Area salmon fishing will be shorter this year to protect Northern California fish

California commercial and sports salmon fishers will get even fewer days on the water than last year and the Bay Area commercial season will start two months later than usual to protect stocks of fish in Northern California.  That’s according to different possible scenarios for the upcoming seasons from the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the federal agency that manages fishing seasons on the West Coast. After the public has time to weigh in, the council will announce the final dates of the sports and commercial fishing seasons on April 14. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Bay Area salmon fishing will be shorter this year to protect Northern California fish

Pleasanton council to consider implementing Stage 2 water drought rates

The Pleasanton City Council is set Tuesday to debate whether to activate new drought rates for all city water customers amid the ongoing supply shortage locally and statewide.  The Stage 2 water drought rates would add an extra charge of 65 cents per unit (centum cubic feet, or CCF) of water for single-family residential and irrigation customers, and 62 cents per unit for commercial and multifamily customers. If approved, the rates would take effect on May 1.  “The purpose of the Drought Rates is to help keep the City’s utility financially sustainable during a drought or water shortage emergency. … ”  Read more from Pleasanton Weekly here: Pleasanton council to consider implementing Stage 2 water drought rates

CENTRAL COAST

Beach hazards warning hits Santa Cruz County coast

Ocean visitors should be on alert for big waves and strong currents, warned the National Weather Service on Monday.  A beach hazards warning for the Santa Cruz County coastline will go in effect beginning Monday at 7 p.m. and extend through Tuesday evening. The agency warned of rip currents and unexpectedly large or strong waves, otherwise known as “sneaker waves”.  During spring the number of ocean rescues emergency responders perform often increases, said CZU Cal Fire San Mateo Santa Cruz Division Chief David Cosgrave.  “This time of year we get good weather and closer to school being out. People go out there thinking it’s a nice summer day but the energy of the ocean still has winter currents,” Cosgrave said. “They’re not aware of the influences of the ocean, they overestimate their swimming ability and it’s tragic.” … ”  Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: Beach hazards warning hits Santa Cruz County coast

FDA won’t do broad sampling of Salinas Valley greens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not conduct broad sampling of leafy greens grown in the Salinas Valley region of California for the 2022 growing season.  The decision was made based on data from Western Growers, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture inspection activities. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: FDA won’t do broad sampling of Salinas Valley greens

Montecito Water, Sanitary District boards approve funding for consolidation feasibility study

The Montecito sanitary and water district boards recently approved funding for a consolidation feasibility study. The Montecito Water District serves the Montecito and Summerland communities, and the Montecito Sanitary District provides wastewater collection and treatment services to Montecito-area customers, while the Summerland Sanitary District serves Summerland. The joint strategic planning committee with water and sanitary district board members directed staff to reach out to qualified firms that do these types of studies, said Brad Rahner, the general manager of the Montecito Sanitary District, at the board’s Feb. 24 meeting. … ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Montecito Water, Sanitary District boards approve funding for consolidation feasibility study

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Listen: SGMA adaption coming early in Westlands Water District

Stuart Woolf is President and CEO of Woolf Farming & Processing. Woolf Farming & Processing is a family owned operation whose primary business is the production and processing of agricultural commodities including almonds and processing tomatoes. He noted that SGMA is being tested early in Westlands.”  Listen at Ag Info here: Listen: SGMA adaption coming early in Westlands Water District

You might see a low-flying helicopter in rural Stanislaus County. Here’s what it’s doing

A helicopter soon will fly low over much of the San Joaquin Valley in a high-tech effort to map groundwater. The flights will happen between Tuesday, March 15, and April 15, said a news release from the California Department of Water Resources. The specific dates for Stanislaus County will be announced on the project website. The helicopter will be about 200 feet off the ground as it covers an area from Stanislaus to Kings counties. It will avoid cities and other concentrations of buildings, including farms where cattle or poultry are confined in large numbers. … ”  Read more from the Modesto Bee here: You might see a low-flying helicopter in rural Stanislaus County. Here’s what it’s doing

Kaweah Subbasin GSAs hosting workshops focused on evapotranspiration data

Evapotranspiration (ET) data collection is a key step in achieving sustainability under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Kaweah Subbasin landowners and interested stakeholders are invited to attend one of three workshops in March 2022 that will discuss how the Kaweah Subbasin is harnessing the technology of LandIQ to accurately measure ET at the farm level, and how landowners can view, understand and manage their own ET data.  The workshops, co-hosted by the Mid-Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), Greater Kaweah GSA, and East Kaweah GSA, will offer landowners both in-person and online options for attendance. … ”  Read more from Valley Voice here:  Kaweah Subbasin GSAs hosting workshops focused on evapotranspiration data

Ripon stepping up water waste patrols as groundwater drops

The City of Ripon is stepping up its patrol on water wasters.  “The (three-day-a-week) summer watering schedule started this week,” said Director of Public Works James Pease at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.  He added: “There will be extra patrols over the next few weeks to help remind people to only water during their allowed days and times.” … ”  Continue reading from the Manteca Bulletin here: Ripon stepping up water waste patrols as groundwater drops

How the drought in California is affecting Kern County farmers

Groundwater and surface water serve as lifelines to communities, agriculture, and ecosystems here in California.  That is why it’s important that our local farmers and ranchers have sufficient water supply as drought concerns continue to linger.  However, some are concerned that too much focus is being put on the conservation of water instead of other solutions that can help. … ”  Continue reading at KERO here: How the drought in California is affecting Kern County farmers

EASTERN SIERRA

Keep Long Valley Green organization to launch virtual premiere of film “Without Water” March 22

On World Water Day, March 22 at 6:30 PM, the Keep Long Valley Green (KLVG) will launch the virtual premiere of our film Without Water.  Without Water documents the ongoing dispute between the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) and various stakeholders in Long Valley, California. Filmed by acclaimed director Jonathan Hyla, Without Water dives into DWP’s plan to reduce or eliminate irrigation allotments on leased lands in Long and Little Round Valleys – Mono County lands that have been irrigated for hundreds of years. Today, these lands, as well as the ranchers and community members that rely on them, are facing an uncertain future due to the scarcity of water created by climate change and Los Angeles County’s water demand. ... ”  Continue reading at the Sierra Wave here: Keep Long Valley Green organization to launch virtual premiere of film “Without Water” March 22

Mono Lake: Setting stream restoration into motion

This winter Mono Lake Committee staff were even busier than usual, working to set Order 21-86 into motion to initiate an exciting new phase of restoration for Mono Basin streams. The order, issued last October by the California State Water Resources Control Board, amended the Mono Basin water rights of the City of Los Angeles to incorporate extensive new requirements to maximize the restoration of 20 miles of stream habitat damaged by past excessive water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP).  Since the order was issued, Committee staff have been in near-daily communication with California Trout, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW), and DWP to set up the new systems that will result in real improvements for Mono Lake’s tributary streams. … ”  Read more from the Mono Lake Committee here: Mono Lake: Setting stream restoration into motion

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Monrovia requiring residents to cut water usage by 10%

Monrovia will require its residents to cut their water usage or face fines, as California continues to dry out amid this historic drought.  Beginning this March, the city of Monrovia voted to require every resident to reduce their water usage by 10% or face fines averaging at $10 a month or more for extreme water wasters. The city will compare a household’s usage in Feb. 2022 to Feb. 2020.  “There was one customer who was well over 120 units of their base allocation so $400 on their monthly water bill,” said Monrovia city manager Dylan Feik. … ”  Read more from KRDO here:  California city requiring residents to cut water usage by 10%

SAN DIEGO

Decades of flooding in Leucadia raise drainage, legal questions

Jeff, a Leucadia resident who lives on Basil Street, said it was in 2001 when his home first flooded.   “It was two weeks after I moved in, and I had just painted the house and put in new carpeting, so it really wasn’t good timing,” Jeff recalled with a laugh, noting his home would flood again four years later.   But for Jeff and his neighbors who live along North Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia, the issue of flooding in Leucadia has been no laughing matter. For nearly three decades now, Leucadia residents in an area spanning from roughly Basil Street to further north at Ponto Beach have lived with the distinct possibility of flooding during storm seasons. … ”  Read more from the Coast News here:  Decades of flooding in Leucadia raise drainage, legal questions

Commentary: PFAs are highly toxic chemicals, and they’re common near airports in San Diego

George Jiracek, professor emeritus of geophysics at San Diego State University, and Gary Butterfield, past president of San Diego Veterans for Peace, write, “If you’ve been warned recently that there’s a class of forever toxic chemicals that you want to avoid at all costs, you’re not alone. We’re all finding out that a single chemical, man-made in 1938 (eventually called Teflon), has led to over 9,000 hazardous man-made chemicals called Per- and PolyFluoroAlkylSubstances (PFAS).  … A major source of PFAS contamination is in soil and groundwater of public and military airports where firefighting foam containing PFAS is or was used to train for and fight aviation fires.  A prime example locally is at the San Diego International Airport. ... ”  Continue reading at the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Commentary: PFAs are highly toxic chemicals, and they’re common near airports in San Diego

San Diego can’t spend the $300 million it won to fight Tijuana sewage border spills

Even though the federal government gave San Diego $300 million to alleviate the decades-long problem of Tijuana sewage spilling over the U.S.-Mexico border, and even though everyone seems to generally agree it should be spent on a bigger border wastewater treatment plant, and even though all the necessary parties seem to be working harmoniously on the plan, the money can’t be spent.  That’s due to some sticky bureaucratic red tape: Congress needs to pass, and the president needs to sign legislation allowing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to give that $300 million check (secured under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement) to the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission. … ”  Read more from the Voice of San Diego here: San Diego can’t spend the $300 million it won to fight Tijuana sewage border spills

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Along the Colorado River …

Lake Mead and Colorado River Basin water shortage: Causes, effects, and policy solutions

The Colorado River Basin is one of the primary sources of water supply in the American Southwest. Comprising parts of seven US and Mexican states and 29 federally recognised tribes, it currently delivers water to 40 million people and has supported the region’s economic growth since the early 1900s. Beginning at La Poudre Pass Lake in the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River flows southwest, eventually discharging its waters into the Gulf of California. Lake Mead, formed by the famed Hoover Dam along the Colorado River, is the largest reservoir by volume in the United States. The reservoir is significant because more than half of the population in the Colorado River Basin relies on it. The growing threat of Colorado River water shortage, as well as in Lake Mead, could have devastating impacts on the environment and millions of people at depend on it. ... ”  Read more from Earth.org here: Lake Mead and Colorado River Basin water shortage: Causes, effects, and policy solutions

At peak of its wealth and influence, Arizona’s desert civilization confronts a reckoning over water

Tales of personal anguish are the typical start of serious articles about Arizona’s conspicuous confrontation with scarce water. The distraught Chino Valley homeowner buying water out of a truck because her well dried up. The Pinal farmer losing income because his water-starved fields lie fallow. The Phoenix golf course operator, burdened by high irrigation costs and declining revenue, selling out to a home developer.  This report, the first of three on how Arizona copes with a drought more serious than any in 1,200 years doesn’t start there. Instead it begins with this: A brief on how adept engineering for dams and aqueducts, government subsidy, technological development for pumps and water recycling, surpassing marketing, and an advantageous assemblage of natural resources – sun, warmth, blue sky, and open spaces – produced one of the greatest desert civilizations in human history. … ”  Read more from the Circle of Blue here: At peak of its wealth and influence, Arizona’s desert civilization confronts a reckoning over water

Climate change: Low water levels at key U.S. reservoir ‘putting us in uncharted territory,’ expert says

Water managers are tracking the elevations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, two of the largest reservoirs in the U.S., as a historic megadrought made worse by climate change grips Western states.  Lake Powell currently sits just over 3,525 feet above sea level. And 35 feet below that threshold, the Glen Canyon Dam, which created Lake Powell, is at increased risk of damage and being unable to produce electricity for the 5 million people it serves.  “We’re talking about the second-largest reservoir ever constructed by the United States,” Justin Mankin, an NOAA Drought Task Force co-lead and assistant professor at Dartmouth, told Yahoo Finance. … ”  Read more from Yahoo Finance here: Climate change: Low water levels at key U.S. reservoir ‘putting us in uncharted territory,’ expert says

Commentary:  A dangerous game of chicken on the Colorado River

Kyle Roerink, a contributor to Writers on the Range and executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, writes, “Seven Western states and their leaders — all depending on water from the Colorado River — remain divided.  Split into basins by an imaginary border at Lees Ferry, Arizona, each state can share blame for the rapid depletion of reservoirs that once held over four years’ flow of the Colorado River. But now, Lake Powell and Lake Mead edge closer to empty. With water savings gone, the Lower Basin has been trying to cope, though the Upper Basin carries on business as usual. Meanwhile, 40 millions Americans depend on flows from this over-diverted river. … ”  Read more from the Salt Lake Tribune here:  A dangerous game of chicken on the Colorado River

Colorado’s snowpack is near normal after more mountain snow overnight

With just 25 days to go until snowpack reaches the average maximum in Colorado, most of the eight river basins in the state are very close to normal. More snow Sunday night didn’t hurt.  Almost all ski areas in Colorado reported at least a couple inches of snow Sunday night into early Monday morning. Snowmass reported the most with 9 inches of snow.  As of Monday morning, statewide snowpack was 98% of normal for March 14. Three river basins in the state are over 100% including the Gunnison, Upper Colorado, and San Miguel/Dolores/Animas/San Juan basin in the southwest corner. Only the Yampa/White River basin in northwest Colorado is significantly below normal (89% compared to normal in mid-March. … ”  Read more from Denver Channel 4 here: Colorado’s snowpack is near normal after more mountain snow overnight

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In national water news today …

To revive a river, restore its hidden gut

Salmon are so elemental to Indigenous peoples who live along North America’s northwestern coast that for generations several nations have called themselves the “Salmon People.” But when settlers came, their forms of agricultural and urban development devastated the mighty fish. … The cumulative impact of these injuries led to flash floods, unstable banks, heavy pollution and waning life. The hallowed salmon all but disappeared.  Across North America and the world, cities have bulldozed their waterways into submission. Seattle was as guilty as any until 1999, when the U.S. Department of the Interior listed Chinook salmon as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. That legally obligated the city to help the salmon when undertaking any new capital project that would affect the fish. … ”  Continue reading at Scientific American here: To revive a river, restore its hidden gut

U.S. Rivers need more protection, and Congress can help now

Healthy free-flowing rivers and riverine wetlands provide myriad benefits to nature and people, including helping to drive local economies throughout the U.S. These waterways sustain aquatic and terrestrial wildlife and ecosystems, provide clean drinking water for communities, and offer places for cultural and recreational experiences.  On March 14, International Day of Action for Rivers, The Pew Charitable Trusts is reminding lawmakers of these benefits and encouraging them to increase safeguards for rivers nationwide.  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, boating, fishing, and other river activities accounted for more than $30 billion in U.S. annual gross output in 2020. Further, rivers are the source of drinking water for more than two-thirds of Americans. … ”  Read more from the Pew Charitable Trust here: U.S. Rivers need more protection, and Congress can help now

Here’s where biodiversity is disappearing the quickest in the US

Biodiversity makes the world go round—from tiny freshwater creatures to giant trees, the living things on planet earth are what makes it flourish. But in recent years, humans haven’t been all too good at preserving biodiversity—research has shown that nature is declining in unprecedented ways. As of 2019, one in four species on earth are at risk of extinction, and rates of extinction now compared to the times before human activity are about a thousand times higher (with higher rates predicted in the future). Humans are directly impacted by biodiversity loss when it comes to things like water availability and agriculture, which can become stressed as species die out or suffer. … ”  Read more from Popular Science here: Here’s where biodiversity is disappearing the quickest in the US

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The week ahead forecast …

Dr. Michael Anderson, California’s State Climatologist, releases forecast updates during the wet season providing a brief overview of the most recent storm impacts, upcoming precipitation forecasts, and outlooks for the coming month.

20220314_WeekAheadForecast

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Also on Maven’s Notebook today …

NOTICE OF NEPA DOCS: Paired Sample Study of Managed Flow and Food Subsidies on the Availability and Quality of Delta Smelt Habitat and Prey (2022-2026)

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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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