Western Water Gary Pitzer Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Could the Arizona Desert Offer California and the West a Guide to Solving Groundwater Problems?
SPOTLIGHT: Environmental Defense Fund report highlights strategies from Phoenix and elsewhere for managing demands on groundwater

Skyline of Phoenix, ArizonaAs California embarks on its unprecedented mission to harness groundwater pumping, the Arizona desert may provide one guide that local managers can look to as they seek to arrest years of overdraft.

Groundwater is stressed by a demand that often outpaces natural and artificial recharge. In California, awareness of groundwater’s importance resulted in the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 that aims to have the most severely depleted basins in a state of balance in about 20 years.

Headwaters Tour participants take a hike to a mountain meadow.

Explore the Sierra’s Upper Watershed on Headwaters Tour June 28-29
Early-bird tickets for two-day event end May 28th; tour overnights at Lake Tahoe

Lake TahoeWater supply for California’s cities and farms is largely dependent on snowmelt from the upper watershed in the Sierra Nevada. But that paradigm is being challenged by wildfires, climate change and widespread tree mortality.

Join us for a two-day tour as we head into the Sierra foothills and up into the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream, but have dramatic impacts on water supply and quality downstream and throughout the state.

Water News You Need to Know

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: ‘Time for action’ on Colorado River, federal official says

The Colorado River has for years been locked in a pattern of chronic overuse, with much more water doled out to cities and farmlands than what’s flowing into its reservoirs. The river basin, which stretches from Wyoming to Mexico, has been drying out during what scientists say is one of the driest 19-year periods in the past 1,200 years.

Aquafornia news Herald and News, Klamath Falls

Water on the way to Klamath Project

Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office announced late Wednesday afternoon that up to 3,500 acre feet is available for delivery to Klamath Project irrigators starting today and running through May 31 before deliveries start on June 1.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Tribal nations hold some of the best water rights in the West

Tens of thousands of people on the Navajo Nation lack running water in their homes. But that could change in the coming years, as the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project goes into effect. It’s expected to deliver water to the reservation and nearby areas by 2024, as part of a Navajo Nation water rights settlement with New Mexico, confirmed by Congress in 2009.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Headwaters Tour looks at tree mortality, bark beetle epidemic & visits forest lab

The Sierra Nevada mountains, which are key to California’s water supply through snowmelt, are dotted with nearly 130 million dead trees weakened by drought and insect infestations. … On our Headwaters Tour, June 28-29, guests will hear from leading forest managers and entomologists about the extent of this epidemic, how it is altering forests and impacting upper watersheds, and what can be done to mitigate the damages. Early-bird price ends May 28.

Online Water Encyclopedia

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Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world. They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of water, reduce flooding and erosion, recharge groundwater and provide a diverse range of recreational opportunities from fishing and hunting to photography. They also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered species list.

Salton Sea
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Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 232 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

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Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a fact of life in California and the West, with water resources following boom and-bust patterns.

No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the West than in any other regions of the country.


Important People in California Water History

Read about the history people who played a significant role in the water history of California.