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Opinion: California Parties, Trump Administration Must Work Together on Grand Water Plan

It shouldn’t have come to this.

California has seen wars over water waged across time eternal it seems. Grand deals negotiated by the likes of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have been hailed as long-dreamed-for solutions to the complicated battles waged by the competing interests of agriculture, environmentalists and thirsty urban areas, only to fail to live up to their hype.

In recent months, however, it seemed that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration was breaking the logjam, working on a compromise that would help realign the state’s water paradigm to something all sides could accept.

“I’m trying to put together a peace plan in the delta,” Wade Crowfoot, Newsom’s secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, is quoted in a column this week by the Los Angeles Times’ George Skelton. “I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but there’s beginning to be a sea change in many of these water users. They’re just tired of fighting.”

Farmers Review Impact of Federal, State Water Actions

After a week that saw President Donald Trump visit Bakersfield to pledge more water for Central Valley farmers and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration respond with a lawsuit, farmers and water agencies looked for ways to continue work on voluntary agreements intended to ease California’s water disputes.

Trump announced his administration had finalized new federal rules to guide operations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. The lawsuit filed by the state the next day asserts that new biological opinions prepared by federal agencies lack safeguards for protected species and their habitat.

California’s New Plan to Deal With Climate Change, Sea-Level Rise OKd

A bold new plan to protect California’s ocean ecosystem from climate change and prepare for sea-level rise was approved Wednesday, setting the stage for sweeping coastal restoration, trash cleanup, research and rule-making involving numerous state agencies.

The strategic plan, adopted unanimously by the state’s Ocean Protection Council, is a blueprint for how state agencies should collaborate over the next five years with tribal groups, research organizations and underserved communities to prepare for ocean warming, acidification, rising seas and plastic pollution.

Researchers Blast ‘Forever Chemicals” into Oblivion With Plasma

Christopher Sales is an environmental microbiologist, and until recently, his world was about harnessing the power of microorganisms to break down contaminants in the environment. But a resilient intruder that does not succumb to the same old tricks has shaken up the remediation community and led Sales to look outside of his field for a solution. It’s a chemical that’s been found in water, soil, and food all over the planet: PFAS.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of chemical compounds used in carpet, waterproof clothing, nonstick pans, and many other common products, that have gone unregulated and been dumped into the environment for decades.

Rural Utilities Sue 3M, DuPont Over PFAS Well Contamination

Rural water utilities are accusing 3M Co., E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. and other companies of potentially contaminating groundwater wells with firefighting foam containing chemicals that take forever to degrade.

The city of Millington, Tenn., joined by the National Rural Water Association, alleged in a complaint Tuesday that the companies developed, marketed, and sold chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, despite knowing about the environmental and health risks they posed.

Earthquake Risk Prompts Order to Drain California Dam

Worried that an earthquake could collapse a big dam south of San Francisco, officials have ordered its reservoir to be completely drained by October to reduce the risk of floodwaters spilling into Silicon Valley.

The 240-foot (73-meter) high earthen Anderson Dam, built in 1950 between San Jose and the community of Morgan Hill, poses too great a risk of collapse and must be fully drained by Oct. 1, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates dams, the Mercury News reported.

Tree Nut Growers More Likely to use Drought Assistance

Tree nut growers are 23% more likely than other farmers to take advantage of drought assistance, even if it costs them more money in the short term, according to a university study.

Growers of nuts – particularly almonds – place a higher dollar value on USDA monetary and technical aid and are willing to take an over $7,000 loss in a season or two to protect their long-term investments, according to research from California State University, Fresno.

Whereas a row crop grower can limit planting in years when he or she can’t get much water, a tree farmer must still keep the trees alive and productive, noted Todd Lone, a professor in Fresno State’s Department of Agricultural Business.

California Water Debate Heads to Court After Trump Joins Discussion

Last week, President Trump inserted himself directly in a decades-long internal water battle between Northern and Southern California.

Now, the debate is heading to court.

“I’m very disappointed the Governor decided to sue. We’ve been working very closely with the State of California,” Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said.

After years on the sidelines, the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says new federal plans to divert water from the delta region in Northern California to farms in the southern part of the state will bring water where it’s needed most.

Dozens of High-Risk Bay Area Dams Lack Required Emergency Plans

The Bay Area is dotted with at least 145 dams where failure or misoperation could result in death or property destruction, yet many lack required emergency plans, according to an analysis of state data.

Most of these “high-hazard” dams were built before 1960. While not at a higher risk of failure, they could endanger countless homes and businesses that rest below the aging facilities, making emergency planning and maintenance increasingly important, experts said.

California Fails to Test 1.4 Million Children for Potential Lead Poisoning

A recent report by the California State Auditor revealed lead poisoning remains a big threat to children. It said California is failing when it comes to testing children who are most at risk.

Lead poisoning is known as the silent epidemic. There are typically no symptoms and it can cause irreversible damage to a child’s developing brain.

A startling number of kids are slipping through the cracks when it comes to testing, according to statistics released in the report.