California Water Plan eNews – 8/24/16

This week’s California Water Plan eNews includes:

  • Date set for first California Water Plan Update 2018 plenary meeting
  • 2015 UMWP data available for public access on Water Use Efficiency website
  • Program puts spotlight on the impacts of long-term water conservation
  • Water quality symposium highlights posted in a series of 15 videos
  • Technical reference offers methods for quantifying water storage project benefits
  • Outlining the steps to identify and manage climate change refugia

Snowpack ‘double whammy’ may hit western mountain streams – 8/22/16

Benjamin Spillman, 6:04 a.m. PDT August 22, 2016

Research: Changing snowmelt cycles could deprive streams and reservoirs

Changing snowmelt cycles could be more damaging to mountain streams and reservoirs in the Western U.S. than previously thought, according to recently published research.

That’s according to research that shows slow-melting snowpack reduces the amount of water that makes it into streams and reservoirs.

The results have ramifications for everyone from water managers to anglers to kayakers, essentially anyone who values mountain streams.

“This likely means net changes in the amount of water available to reservoirs draining snowmelt area,” said Adrian Harpold, a University of Nevada eco-hydrologist who worked on the research. “That is the big implication.”

What’s interesting about the research is that it shows a slower snowmelt results in less water making it into streams and reservoirs. That’s counterintuitive for many who assume, under a climate change scenario, faster snowmelt would be a bigger problem.

“One misperception is snowmelt runs off the surface,” said Harpold, whose team used computer modeling to simulate snowmelt throughout the Western U.S.

Really, he said, snowmelt seeps into the soil which fills like a sponge before feeding into streams and reservoirs.

When it melts quickly the sponge fills up and the water seeps out. But when there’s a slower melt the water stays in the soil where it gets taken up by vegetation and then goes into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.

“That slower snowmelt is a less efficient generator of streamflow and sort of an unrecognized negative consequence for water supply,” Harpold said.

But with climate change resulting in warmer nighttime lows, fewer freezing days and a higher snowline in the future shouldn’t the snowpack melt faster, not slower?

Not necessarily, Harpold said.

That’s because temperature isn’t the only driver of rate of snowpack depletion. Solar radiation, or sunlight, is an even bigger factor.

Under a warmer winter or drought scenario, snowpack is more likely to be smaller and to start melting sooner.

And that means there will be less snow to melt and some of it will be melting earlier in the year when there is less sunlight, which means it will melt more slowly than a large snowpack that’s melting in mass quantities in April and May when sunlight is abundant.

That’s bad news as the climate warms and even worse news during droughts, Harpold said.

“Drought is going to be kind of a double whammy for us in the future,” he said. “Not only are we getting less precipitation … but that precipitation may be less efficiently generating streamflow.”

Although the research suggests the process for snowpack boosting mountain streams will be less efficient in the future, it’s difficult to say by how much. Harpold said more research is needed.

“How well do we understand our snowpack,” he said. “We don’t really know how sensitive our snowpack is or how sensitive our water supply is to snowpack changes.”

The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters with six researchers as co-authors, showed snowpack and streams in the southern Rocky Mountains were most at risk. But it suggested risk for the Sierra Nevada and across the west, as well. Harpold worked on the project at University of Colorado, before moving to Nevada.

Co-author Noah Molotch, the director of the Center for Water, Earth, Science and Technology at Colorado University in Boulder, Colo., said the findings showed a similar pattern across the west, which means broad ramifications.

“Given that 60 million people in the Western U.S. depend on snowmelt for their water supply, the future decline in snowmelt-derived streamflow may place additional stress on over-allocated water supplies,” Molotch said.

California Water Plan eNews – 8/17/16

This week’s California Water Plan eNews includes:

  • $29.8 million in grants recommended for water use efficiency projects
  • Legislature receiving report on agricultural water management plans
  • Additional facilitation made available to help agencies develop groundwater plans
  • Information fair to provide details on new water measurement regulations
  • Levee investment to be discussed at next Delta Stewardship Council meeting
  • Climate change issues on the agenda for California Adaptation Forum

Draft Upper Feather River IRWM Plan Now Available for Public Review – Comments due September 14, 2016

The Draft Upper Feather River Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Plan is available for a 30-day public review from August 15, 2016 to September 14, 2016.

IRWM is a collaborative effort to identify and implement water management solutions on a regional scale that increase regional self-reliance, support collaborative relationships, and manage water to concurrently achieve social, environmental, and economic objectives. One of the benefits of developing a DWR-compliant IRWM Plan is that it will support local and regional efforts to secure grant funding for projects identified as part of the planning process. A key goal of the IRWM planning process has been to garner public participation and input from residents, Tribes, and stakeholders within the region to create a Plan that reflects the priorities of communities and stakeholders in the region.

The Draft Plan can be accessed from the project website at; copies are available for reading at the offices of Plumas and Sierra counties and the City of Portola.

Three public meetings will be held to present the Draft Plan and receive comments.

Quincy:  August 19, 2016 (regular RWMG meeting); County of Plumas, 555 Main Street, Quincy, CA 95971

Chester:  August 31, 2016, 6:00-8:00pm (public meeting); Almanor Recreation Center, 400 Meadowbrook Loop, Chester, CA 96020

City of Portola:  September 1, 2016, 6:00-8:00pm (public meeting); City Hall, 35 Third Avenue, Portola, CA 96122

Comments on the Draft Plan are encouraged and should be submitted in writing by September 14, 2016 to:

Uma Hinman, Project Coordinator
555 Main Street, Quincy, CA 95971

California Water eNews – 8/10/16

This week’s California Water Plan eNews includes:

  • Resource management strategies meet needs of each region of California
  • 35 people invited to join executive order agricultural advisory group
  • Weather station workshop will show how data can help with planning irrigation cycles
  • Busy month for water commission includes three briefings, meeting
  • Presentation on the economics of groundwater management set for next week
  • USGS study looks at corrosive potential of untreated groundwater
  • Joint meeting will focus on development of Delta Levees Investment Strategy

Sierra CAMP Webinar: California Forest & Climate Policy – 8/29/16

Please join Sierra CAMP for this upcoming public webinar:

California Forest & Climate Policy: 

What it Means for the Sierra

Monday, Aug 29, 2016

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM PDT

Register Here

Sierra Nevada forests are critical to Sierra communities and to the entire state; they supply water, generate power, host millions of plant and animal species, store carbon, produce timber, and offer world class recreation — just to name a few of the countless benefits. And yet, the Sierra is experiencing mass tree mortality with 66 million tree dies offs the last six years alone, leading to greater wildfire risk and other severe vulnerabilities. What can we do to protect the Sierra?

In this webinar, we’ll give you the basics of forest health and what needs to be done on the ground. Then we’ll take a look at California forest policies and their overlap with climate policy, and explore opportunities to increase investment in Sierra forest restoration.


Register Here

The webinar is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Sierra CAMP Director Diana Madson.

California Water Plan eNews – 8/3/16

This week’s California Water Plan eNews includes:

  • IRWM, DAC programs release documents and set workshops for grants and proposals
  • Urban advisory group chosen to help implement water conservation order
  • Deadline extended for survey on groundwater basin management BMPs
  • Newsletter provides updates to Sustainable Groundwater Management Program
  • New report details risk analysis methodology for Delta levees strategy
  • Questions about atmospheric rivers to be discussed at international conference