Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Regional

Over-pumping during drought can increase nitrate at public-supply wells. Public domain image.


Intensive pumping of aquifers during drought can speed up deterioration of groundwater quality, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The results highlight clean drinking water supply vulnerabilities in California and other western states currently experiencing record drought conditions.

“Water quality problems from legacy groundwater pollution could get worse, faster, when pumping increases during drought,” said Dr. Zeno Levy, a research geologist with the USGS. “This could lead to more public drinking-water wells being shut down if costly treatment or cleaner water sources to mix with are not available.”

Researchers examined 30 years of data from California’s Central Valley to find increasing nitrate concentrations at public drinking-water wells were more prevalent in areas where groundwater levels dropped rapidly during drought.

Nitrate is a contaminant from fertilizer typically present at elevated concentrations in shallow groundwater throughout the Central Valley due to decades of agricultural land use.

Scientists found that increased pumping from wells during drought can pull shallow, contaminated groundwater down to depths commonly tapped for public drinking-water supply.

Previous groundwater research has focused on the risk of wells being overdrawn and running dry during drought. The new study provides a major advancement to understanding the related consequences to water quality caused by over pumping.

The study is unique in that it looked at regional linkages between groundwater use and quality, rather than local patterns at the scale of individual wells. This research was undertaken as part of a cooperative effort between the USGS and the California State Water Resources Control Board’s Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Program.

The study "Critical aquifer overdraft accelerates degradation of groundwater quality in California’s Central Valley during drought" is published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The State Highway 99/Live Oak Boulevard intersection in Live Oak, California. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

LIVE OAK, Calif. — Caltrans is alerting motorists and pedestrians that Pennington Road will be closed to cross traffic at State Highway 99/Live Oak Boulevard next week for construction activity.

Crews are scheduled to begin closing the west side of the intersection at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, as they prepare to rebuild the roadway. The intersection will be closed to cross traffic through the end of November.

Motorists and pedestrians should use either Elm Street or Kola Street for State Highway 99 access, where flaggers will be temporarily stationed during daytime hours to conduct traffic control and allow for a safe crossing. Four-way stop signs will control traffic during overnight hours.

Crews are expected to install permanent traffic signals at the two intersections by Sept. 14.

During work on the west side of the intersection, northbound Highway 99 travelers will be permitted to make right turns onto east Pennington. However, left turns onto east Pennington will be prohibited for southbound motorists.

The contractor will maintain access to businesses during construction. Caltrans reminds motorists to be alert for trucks entering and exiting the roadway, and crews working along the highway.

Visit www.LiveOak99.com for the latest news and updates as well as maps showing access to businesses in the construction area, business deals for consumers, photo simulations of the boulevard including traffic lane striping for the five-lane roadway after construction, and other information. You also may connect with the Live Oak 99 social media campaign: Facebook and Twitter.

Weather or unexpected events may delay or postpone work. Other construction updates in the region are posted Twitter @CaltransDist3 and on Facebook at CaltransDistrict3. For real-time traffic, click on Caltrans’ QuickMap quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ or download the QuickMap app from the App Store or Google Play.

On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that, within hours of California’s request, the White House approved a Presidential Emergency Declaration for direct federal assistance to bolster the response to the Caldor fire in El Dorado, Amador, Alpine and Placer counties.

“We thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for their steadfast support to California as we battle these challenging fires,” said Gov. Newsom. “Our continued partnership with the federal government is critical to protecting communities and ensuring impacted Californians have the supports they need to get back on their feet.”

The Presidential Emergency Declaration for the Caldor fire will supplement state, local and tribal government emergency services for the protection of lives, property, public health and safety.

As the Caldor fire burns, Gov. Newsom has directed state agencies to rapidly and thoroughly document the extent of the damage to ensure the state is able to pursue further federal support for individuals and communities impacted by the fire, which to date has burned more than 207,000 acres and ranks as the 15th largest fire in state history.

Gov. Newsom on Monday proclaimed a state of emergency in Alpine, Amador and Placer counties due to the Caldor fire, following the emergency proclamation issued for El Dorado County earlier this month.

The state has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant, or FMAG, from FEMA to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress this rapidly spreading fire.

The White House last week approved California’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, including supports available to wildfire-impacted residents and assistance for state, tribal and local governments with ongoing emergency response and recovery costs.

California recently secured FMAGs to support the state’s response to the Dixie fire in Lassen, Butte and Plumas counties and the response to the French, Caldor, Monument, River and Lava fires.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — State Sen. Mike McGuire is raising the alarm about what he said is one of the largest environmental threats to face the North Coast in decades.

A secret, clandestine operation — hiding behind an anonymous LLC out of Wyoming — wants to ship millions and millions of tons of coal from Montana, Utah and Wyoming through the Northern California counties of Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt, McGuire said.

McGuire said the shadowy rail operation would utilize a portion of the now defunct North Coast rail route, which runs approximately 320 miles between Marin and Humboldt counties. The coal would then be loaded onto ships in Humboldt Bay, sold overseas, and burned.

“This toxic coal train would run through the heart of so many thriving communities and along the Russian and Eel Rivers, which are the main source of drinking water for nearly one million residents,” McGuire said. “These mighty waterways are also home to some of the most sensitive ecosystems on Earth, which include numerous endangered species.”

The secrecy behind the toxic coal train is completely offensive, as well as the fact these bad actors have met behind closed doors with some local officials to try and make this toxic dream a reality, McGuire said.

He said this anonymous group has also filed a request to kill the build out of the Great Redwood Trail.

The trail, which will be the longest contiguous rail-trail in America, would stretch from the bustling waters of San Francisco Bay to the fog-shrouded redwood shores of Humboldt Bay.

Sen. McGuire has made significant progress on the Great Redwood Trail over the past several years.

The trail system would meander through ancient redwoods, state and national wildlands, oak-studded golden hills and along our incredible rivers. The trail will also be an economic driver for the dozens of rural communities it runs through.

“California banned coal-fired power plants for good reason,” McGuire said. ”Coal is the dirtiest and most damaging source of energy out there. It’s the number one cause of global warming and it’s the number one contributor to our climate crisis. The people of the North Coast won’t stand for this. We rallied against Big Oil to protect our coast from offshore drilling — and won. And we will win this fight against Big Coal.”

He added, “I’m here to promise that, no matter how many billions of dollars these coal barons throw at this project, we’re going to stop this dangerous proposal and put a nail in the coffin of coal, and we will continue to move the Great Redwood Trail forward.”

Sen. McGuire is expected to make an announcement in the coming days about new legislation he’ll be carrying to help stop Big Coal in their tracks.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday honored Correctional Lieutenant Robert “Bobby” Travelstead of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, who died this week.

“It is with great sadness that Jennifer and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and members of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on this devastating loss. Lt. Travelstead dedicated his life to service, working to ensure the safety of his community and our nation, and we are forever grateful,” Newsom said.

Travelstead, 40, died on Sept. 1, 2021, due to complications from COVID-19.

He joined the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office in 2007 as a correctional deputy and served in several roles in the Detention Division.

He promoted to sergeant in 2014 and worked as a supervisor at the Main Adult Detention Facility, North County Detention Facility and Pretrial Services.

In 2019, he promoted to Lieutenant and was assigned to the Main Adult Detention Facility as the Watch Commander.

Lt. Travelstead’s commitment to service began in 2001 as a member of the U.S. Navy.

In 2006, he was honorably discharged as a decorated veteran, having served as a Field Medical Corpsman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and Naval Service in Southwest Asia during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lt. Travelstead is survived by his two daughters, Kaylie and Kiana, and three siblings.

In honor of Lt. Travelstead, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed 34 properties that lie within or immediately adjacent to U.S. Forest Service boundaries due to extreme fire conditions.

Effective immediately, these properties are closed to the public through Friday, Sept. 17.

All closures are CDFW wildlife areas or ecological reserves, and they cover many parts of the state.

They were closed following the USFS announcement of the temporary closure of all national forests in California.

Fire danger is extreme in California currently. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip. The following links show up-to-date closures:

CDFW acknowledges that hunting opportunities will be impacted and is working with the Fish and Game Commission to consider regulations that would allow for return of certain tags and preference points similar to 2020.

Upcoming Calendar

30Jun
06.30.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
1Jul
07.01.2022 5:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Essential workers mural dedication
2Jul
2Jul
07.02.2022 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Junior Ranger Program: Lake ecology
2Jul
07.02.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
64th annual Redbud Parade and Festival
4Jul
07.04.2022
Independence Day
5Jul
07.05.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
5Jul
07.05.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake

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