Aquatic plants: unsung but prime salmon habitat

Photo by Carson Jeffres/UC Davis

A Chinook salmon in Big Springs Creek near Mount Shasta. Photo by Carson Jeffres/UC Davis, 2012

By Robert Lusardi and Ann Willis

For decades, California’s management and restoration of salmon and trout populations have focused on principles rooted in coastal redwood streams, mostly fed by rainfall runoff. These concepts portray ideal salmonid habitat as deep pools, shallow riffles and “large woody debris,” such as fallen trees and limbs.

Recent studies on spring-fed streams challenges this mindset. The findings strongly suggest these streams should play a larger role in the recovery and management of sensitive cold-water species, particularly salmonids.

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Sonoma County Water Coalition Comments on proposed “Waters of the United States” Definition

The Sonoma County Water Coalition (SCWC) comprises 31 organizations, representing more than 24,000 concerned citizens. SCWC is especially concerned about the preservation of a safe, economical and reliable water supply for all living things. SCWC also works to preserve healthy ecosystems, supports watershed restoration and protection and careful oversight of all public trust resources, including surface and groundwater quality and quantity.

SCWC supports the intent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s (ACE) proposed rule for implementation of the United States Clean Water Act (CWA) by redefining “Waters of the United States” to accord with recent court decisions. As we read the proposed rule, the main stem streams traditionally defined as “Waters of the United States” are interstate streams, whether draining to the sea or to interior basins. SCWC also supports the interpretation of “significant nexus” as scientifically demonstrated relationships between tributary streams of mainstream rivers that they feed into, and all connected or adjacent ponds, lakes, and associated wetlands, whether or not intermittently watered, which are critical components for maintaining water quality in the whole system (p 22193, para 2).

Mainstream rivers consist of and depend on water from upstream complexes of tributary streams, commonly interconnected to ponds, lakes, and adjacent or contiguous wetlands, including isolated lakes, vernal pools and potholes. Each component contributes to sustaining the main stem river’s health and the biological diversity of large regions. This knowledge base has been built up over more than a century of increasingly sophisticated investigations.

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Posted in Groundwater Impacts, Lakes and Resevoirs Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts, Watershed Related Concerns | Leave a comment

Wild & Scenic is Coming Up Fast! Get Your Tickets Today!

Rogue Riverkeeper and Southern Oregon University’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership program are proud to host the 2nd Annual Wild & Scenic Film Fest Sunday November 9th at the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall in Ashland. Get your tickets today!

Sunday, November 9th, 2014
Happy Hour from 5 – 6pm
Films from 6 – 9pm with intermission
Music Recital Hall on the SOU campus, 401 S. Mountain St. Ashland

Don’t miss this annual event! Tickets are selling fast! Doors open at 5pm for happy hour with national sponsor Sierra Nevada beer and pizza from locally-owned Martolli’s Pizza. Beer can be purchased for $5 a pint or $15 with aRogue Riverkeeper pint glass and unlimited refills! Pizza will be available for $4 a slice. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be available for $2 a piece.

Considered one of the nation’s premiere environmental and adventure film festivals, the Wild and Scenic films combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future for the next generation.

Come enjoy some beautiful films, get inspired, and win raffle prizes while supporting our work for clean water. Space is limited. Buy your tickets online today or at the Ashland Outdoor Store starting October 1st.

Call (541) 488-9831 or email robyn@rogueriverkeeper.org for more information or to volunteer for the event!

Film Line up includes:
THE HIDDEN RIVERS OF SOUTHERN APPALACHIA – FALL – MOMENTA – UNNATURAL DISASTER
(INTERMISSION)
PARAMOS: WATER FOR LIFE – WALK ON WATER – NORTH OF THE SUN (NORD DE SOLA)

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NMFS Letters on Riparian and Well Issues for Sonoma County

Hi folks:

These letters are important insofar as they are from the National Marine Fisheries Service and speak to the rules the County relies upon to govern development and the impacts of those rules in their land use decisions with respect to riparian vegetation and waterways.   The letters reinforce what is needed in the County – more environmental review to stop adverse cumulative impacts, discretionary review, and more protections for salmon. The letters are written by objective scientists with an eye towards water quality and quantity.

Larry

letter to SoCo re vineyard dev_12-2-13

NMFS comments_RiparinanOrd. 8.27.2014

SoCo well ordinance comment letter_8-26-14

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Environmental Impacts, Groundwater Impacts, Salmonid/Wildlife Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts, Vineyards, Watershed Related Concerns | Comments Off

Modernizing drought water allocations

UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, October 16, 2014

KMG_norcal_aerials_09666

The South Fork of the Feather River feeding Lake Oroville on Sept. 5, 2014. Photo by Kelly M. Grow/California Department of Water Resources

The State Water Resources Control Board recently solicited public comments on how to improve its drought curtailment of water rights. Here is a summary of insights and recommendations from a group of seven California water experts.

By Ellen Hanak, Jeffrey Mount, Jay Lund, Greg Gartrell, Brian Gray, Richard Frank and Peter Moyle 

This past year’s severe drought conditions meant that most users of surface water flows —agricultural, urban and environmental — had significant unmet demands. In May, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered curtailment of water rights for the first time since the drought of 1976-77 – 37 years ago.

The board followed the seniority of water rights, with riparian right-holders having first claim on the available water and appropriative right-holders following by the dates of their appropriations. Many junior appropriators were prohibited from diverting any water. With few exceptions, the board did not factor in other considerations, including the needs of fish and wildlife and public health and safety.

The experience provides valuable lessons for California, which needs to modernize drought water allocations to improve the use of scarce water resources. This will require some urgent actions for the coming year, which also may be dry.

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NMFS Comment Letters on Sonoma County Land Use Practice

To All,

These attached letters are important insofar as they are from the National Marine Fisheries Service and speak to the rules Sonoma County relies upon to govern development and the impacts of those rules in their land use decisions with respect to riparian vegetation and waterways.   The letters reinforce what is needed in the County – more environmental review to stop adverse cumulative impacts, discretionary review, and more protections for salmon. The letters are written by objective scientists with an eye towards water quality and quantity.
Thanks.

Larry

letter to SoCo re vineyard dev_12-2-13

NMFS comments_RiparinanOrd. 8.27.2014

SoCo well ordinance comment letter_8-26-14

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Climate Change Impacts, Environmental Impacts, Groundwater Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts, Vineyards, Watershed Related Concerns | Comments Off

Dunne on Wine: Water used to make wine becomes issue during drought

By Mike Dunne – Special to The Bee
October 10, 2014

photo: Owner Liz Ryan uses water to clean the destemming/crusher machine at Oakstone Winery.

Owner Liz Ryan uses water to clean the destemming/crusher machine at Oakstone Winery recently in Somerset in El Dorado County. Cleaning accounts for much of the water used at wineries. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

If you have one of those “Save Water Drink Wine” bumper stickers on your car, you might want to rip it off.

And not only because the wit is so lame.

The advice is erroneous. In this time of drought, a bumper sticker urging fellow motorists to “Save Water Drink Water” makes more sense.

After all, 29 gallons of water were used to produce that glass of cabernet sauvignon you look forward to drinking with tonight’s dinner.

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Invitation by Interviewee to See Russian River Movie

Come see and support this beautiful movie.

Ok, I’m a bit biased, but this is indeed beautifully produced and filmed – and it is very important and timely.

And, yes, there are a number of fabulous interviews with a wide range of water and river people.

Thanks!
David Keller

Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Environmental Impacts, Salmonid/Wildlife Impacts, Vineyards, Waste Discharge Pollution, Watershed Related Concerns | Comments Off

California’s New Groundwater Law: An Interactive Timeline

Hi  Folks —

This information comes from the Legal Planet website.  They put up an interactive timeline, which I have translated into a table.

CA Groundwater Law Timeline

Jane

legal-planet.org
California’s New Groundwater Law: An Interactive Timeline

What are the major deadlines for local groundwater management agencies, and when can-or must-state agencies act?

Posted on October 8, 2014 12:17 pm by Nell Green Nylen

Many (including Legal Planet’s own http://legal-planet.org/2014/09/13/groundwater-management-lite-for-california/Rick Frank) have examined the pros and cons of California’s new locally-focused groundwater management law.  Such analyses will continue to be critically important as state and local players move forward with the nitty-gritty of actual implementation, and the legislation’s practical, on-the-ground (and under-the-ground) implications become clearer.

In this post, however, my goal is to simply lay out the relationships between the many dates and deadlines embedded in the law.  Together, http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1168 Senate Bill 1168, http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1739&search_keywords= Assembly Bill 1739, and http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1319&search_keywords= Senate Bill 1319 impose mandates for sustainable groundwater management on local agencies in high- and medium-priority groundwater basins.  While the legislation puts most of the burden-and the power-in the hands of locals, it also establishes roles for two state agencies: the Department of Water Resources (<http://water.ca.gov/>DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board (<http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/>SWRCB).

The timeline shows three categories of dates and deadlines displayed in separate, stacked bands: (1) the upper band shows the major deadlines by which DWR must act; (2) the middle band shows the major deadlines that apply to local agencies; and (3) the lower band shows the dates after which SWRCB could potentially intervene to address local management deficiencies.

A brief summary of each of the three categories of dates and deadlines follows.

1.  Major Deadlines for Action by the Department of Water Resources (DWR)

The new groundwater law relies on DWR to jumpstart local groundwater management efforts by laying ground rules and providing information.  First DWR will set the stage by identifying which groundwater basins have to be managed.  By January 31, 2015, it will establish the initial http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/casgem/unmonitored.cfm priority-high, medium, low, or very low-for each groundwater basin in the state.  Only high- and medium-priority basins will be subject to sustainable groundwater management mandates.  If DWR later elevates a low- or very-low-priority basin to
“medium” or “high” priority, that basin will have to establish a groundwater sustainability agency within two years and adopt a groundwater sustainability plan within five. (Water Code § 10722.4).  Although http://water.ca.gov/groundwater/casgem/basin_prioritization.cfm DWR already prioritizes groundwater basins, the legislation adds a new consideration (“adverse impacts on local habitat and local streamflow”) for DWR to take into account.  (Water Code § 10933(b)(8)).

Next, DWR must develop two sets of emergency regulations to govern how DWR and local groundwater agencies interact.  Since the legislation allows local agencies to request basin-boundary revisions, it tasks DWR with adopting regulations that detail the substance and process of boundary review by January 1, 2016.  (Water Code § 10722.2).  Additionally, by June 1, 2016, DWR must adopt regulations for evaluating groundwater sustainability plans, their implementation, and coordination agreements between local agencies for groundwater sustainability planning.  (Water Code § 10733.2).

By December 31, 2016, DWR must publish its best estimate of how much water is available for groundwater replenishment “in the state.”  By the following day, January 1, 2017, DWR has to publish best management practices for sustainable groundwater management.

These deadlines are all front-loaded, with DWR’s actions occurring before deadlines for local agency action come due, but the legislation imposes other deadlines on DWR that are keyed to specific local agency actions instead of to absolute dates.  For example, DWR must evaluate and issue an assessment of each groundwater sustainability plan within 2 years of the date a local agency submits it, then review plans and plan alternatives (see below) at least every five years.  (Water Code §§ 10733.4(d), 10733.8).

2.  Major Deadlines that Apply to Local Agencies

The deadlines for local agencies’ actions begin on the same date DWR’s date-linked deadlines end.

First, if a local agency intends to use an alternative to a groundwater sustainability plan, it must submit that alternative to DWR by January 1, 2017, as well as every five years thereafter.  (Water Code § 10733.6)

Second, if DWR has not approved an alternative (and one is not pending approval), each high- or medium-priority basin must have identified / formed a groundwater sustainability agency by June 30, 2017.  (Water Code §§ 10724, 10735.2(a)(1)).  Any groundwater extractions that take place in parts of basins that lie outside these agencies’  management areas must be reported directly to SWRCB starting on July 1, 2017.  (Water Code §§ 5202, 10724)

The next group of deadlines marks when high- and medium-priority basins must be managed under groundwater sustainability plans.  Basins designated as having critical conditions of overdraft must be managed under groundwater sustainability plans by January 31, 2020.  (Water Code § 10720.7(a)(1)).  For all remaining high- and medium-priority basins, the deadline comes two years later, on January 31, 2022.  (Water Code § 10720.7(a)(2)).  Subsequently, groundwater sustainability agencies have to submit annual reports to DWR.  The reports must include information about groundwater elevation, (aggregated) groundwater extraction, use and availability of surface water for recharge or in-lieu use, total water use, and the change in groundwater storage.  (Water Code § 10728)

Within twenty years of the date a groundwater sustainability plan is implemented, a basin is supposed to achieve sustainability (operating within the basin’s sustainable yield).  (Water Code § 10727.2(b)).  However, DWR can give up to two five-year extensions on meeting this goal.  (Water Code § 10727.2(b)(3)).

3.  Dates After Which the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Could Intervene in Local Groundwater Management

In contrast with the hard deadlines it sets for DWR and local-agency action, the legislation identifies a series of dates and other threshold requirements that must be met before SWRCB may-but is not required to-intervene to address deficiencies in local groundwater management.

There are two main stages of intervention possible: probation and interim planning/management.

First, SWRCB can assign probationary status to a basin that has (1) missed a deadline (e.g., to form a groundwater sustainability agency, submit an alternative, or adopt a groundwater sustainability plan), (2) developed an inadequate groundwater sustainability plan, or (3) implemented a plan inadequately.   The legislation includes different dates/thresholds for different types of probation that generally correspond with the passage of a local agency deadline.  For example, the earliest possible date SWRCB can put a basin on probation is June 30, 2017 (e.g., if the basin lacks a groundwater sustainability agency).  However, SWRCB can’t put a basin in which groundwater extractions result in significant depletions of interconnected surface waters on probation for inadequate planning or implementation until January 3 1, 2025, at the earliest. (Water Code § 10735.2).  Beginning ninety days after SWRCB puts a basin on probation, all groundwater extractions must be reported directly to SWRCB.  (Water Code §§ 5202).

The second stage of intervention occurs if SWRCB decides to develop an interim plan for a basin it has placed on probation, often after a substantial waiting period that allows the applicable groundwater sustainability agency time to address the problem. (Water Code §§ 10735.4, 10735.6, 10735.8).

What do these dates and deadlines tell us?

We can draw many inferences from the above dates and deadlines and how they interact with one another.  Most obviously (and as many others have noted), the legislation is not a quick fix for http://waterinthewest.stanford.edu/groundwater/overview/ California’s groundwater woes.  Even if every high- and medium-priority groundwater basin meets every deadline, every groundwater sustainability plan is adequate, and each is implemented appropriately, we would not expect to achieve sustainable groundwater management (basins operating at sustainable yield) for at least a quarter of a century.  Longer if we factor in DWR’s ability to give up to two five-year extensions on that deadline.

Beyond this straightforward look at the timeline for implementing California’s new groundwater law, there are many other levels on which we can analyze the legislation and its impacts.  We plan to do so.

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Documents Reveal Billions of Gallons of Oil Industry Wastewater Illegally Injected Into Central California Aquifers

Tests Find Elevated Arsenic, Thallium Levels in Nearby Water Wells

SAN FRANCISCO Almost 3 billion gallons of oil industry wastewater have been illegally dumped into central California aquifers that supply drinking water and farming irrigation, according to state documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity. The wastewater entered the aquifers through at least nine injection disposal wells used by the oil industry to dispose of waste contaminated with fracking fluids and other pollutants.

The documents also reveal that Central Valley Water Board testing found high levels of arsenic, thallium and nitrates  contaminants sometimes found in oil industry wastewater  in water-supply wells near these waste-disposal operations.

“Clean water is one of California’s most crucial resources, and these documents make it clear that state regulators have utterly failed to protect our water from oil industry pollution,” said Hollin Kretzmann, a Center attorney. “Much more testing is needed to gauge the full extent of water pollution and the threat to public health. But Governor Brown should move quickly to halt fracking to ward off a surge in oil industry wastewater that California simply isn’t prepared to dispose of safely.”

The state’s Water Board confirmed beyond doubt that at least nine wastewater disposal wells have been injecting waste into aquifers that contain high-quality water that is supposed to be protected under federal and state law.

Thallium is an extremely toxic chemical commonly used in rat poison. Arsenic is a toxic chemical that can cause cancer. Some  studies show that even low-level exposure to arsenic in drinking water can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight illness. “Arsenic and thallium are extremely dangerous chemicals,” said Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands. “The fact that high concentrations are showing up in multiple water wells close to wastewater injection sites raises major concerns about the health and safety of nearby residents.”

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