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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California AG launches environmental justice unit focused on poorer communities

Besides challenging federal deregulation, the Bureau of Environmental Justice will prioritize pollution cases that threaten public health, [California Attorney General Xavier] Becerra said. The attorneys will seek to compel businesses and government agencies to clean contaminated drinking water, reduce exposure to lead and other toxins and prevent illegal waste discharges in communities burdened disproportionately by pollution.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Alarming dry conditions in California setting new records

California is headed to a dry finish to February, historically one of the state’s wettest months. The state has been getting cold storms in recent days, which have been responsible for plunging temperatures, but the systems have been dry because they’ve been coming inland, north from Canada, instead of over the Pacific Ocean, where they can soak up moisture.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Does California’s environment deserve its own water right?

Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Five officials charged with misusing public funds, burying hazardous waste at Central Valley water district

It started a year ago when state investigators uncovered 86 drums holding thousands of gallons of hazardous waste illegally buried in a rural Central Valley water district yard. … Soon, authorities said, they discovered that officials running the Panoche Water District misused more than $100,000 in public funds on various personal items and expenses, including slot machines, concert tickets, home improvements and Porsche upgrades.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Deadline today to appeal state’s assessment of Proposition 1 water storage proposals

Friday is the deadline for agencies seeking water storage money from the Proposition 1 bond measure to respond to the critiques of their proposals by the California Water Commission staff. … At stake is $2.7 billion in bond money dedicated to increasing water storage, which was included in the broader $7.5 billion water bond approved by voters in November 2014.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Editor’s Note: A new era for Western Water

Welcome to the reinvented version of our Western Water magazine! After more than 40 years of churning out a printed magazine, which was a quarterly publication in its last iteration, we turned to the internet this month to launch Western Water in an online format. While it’s not easy for veteran journalists like me [Executive Director Jennifer Bowles] and others at the Water Education Foundation to give up the familiar printed newspaper or magazine, we’ve known for some time that people are changing the way they get information.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

DWR still expects feds to pay bulk of Oroville Dam spillway repair costs

The state Department of Water Resources is still expecting the federal government to pay the bulk of the cost of repairing the Lake Oroville spillways.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California continues cold, but still without much moisture

The National Weather Service says a new freeze warning will go into effect in the San Joaquin Valley early Saturday, and subfreezing temperatures are also expected in some Central Coast counties.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Not much snow, but a full water supply for Stockton

The Sierra snowpack may be next to nothing, but the Stockton area is set to receive another full supply of water from New Melones Lake, and there’s no reason to expect a shortage here this year, officials said. … While the Stockton area is getting its full share from New Melones, other federal water contractors are not as fortunate.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Ex-Panoche Water District officials charged with misspending thousands in public funds

Panoche Water District officials spent more than $100,000 in public money to buy themselves slot machines, car repairs, and kitchen appliances, funded landscaping on at their own homes, and covered interest-free loans, according to the California Department of Justice. … The Panoche Water District is a public agency that facilitates water delivery to landowners for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses in western Merced and Fresno counties.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Invasive swamp rodent has California scrambling to come up with a battle plan

About the size of a beagle, they can quickly turn a lush green marsh to a wasteland. … They are called nutria, and right now they’re starting to spread through the waterways leading into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the ecologically fragile network of sloughs and rivers that functions as the heart of California’s flood-control and water distribution system.

Aquafornia news NPR

New report finds climate change could take a $1 billion bite from winter sports

It’s been a painfully slow start to the ski season in the Western U.S. Some places have seen record warm temperatures and record low snowfall, prompting resorts to open late. … And all this means an economic hit.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Rescue center urges local beachgoers to be alert for stranded seal pups

Humboldt County beachgoers are being asked to be alert for stranded or injured seal and sea lion pups as the seal pupping season kicks off. The North Coast Marine Mammal Center’s Executive Director Karen Helms said their Crescent City-based rescue center is gearing up for its busiest time of year starting with the Pacific harbor seal pupping season.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

What land will be underwater in 20 years? Figuring it out could be lucrative.

In Charleston, S.C., where the ports have been expanding to accommodate larger ships sailing through the newly widened Panama Canal, a real-estate developer named Xebec Realty recently went looking for land to build new warehouses and logistics centers. But first, Xebec had a question: What were the odds that the sites it was considering might be underwater in 10 or 20 years?

Aquafornia news The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

New Colorado River District leader intrigued by Western water law

Coming from water-abundant Ohio, Andy Mueller used to have trouble explaining his line of work to relatives on trips back east. “When I used to say ‘I’m in water law,’ they’re like, what, are you a sewer lawyer?

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought forces painful choices for New Mexico ranchers

Some stretches of New Mexico have gone months without meaningful moisture, leaving farmers and ranchers to make difficult decisions as long-term forecasts call for drought to intensify across the already arid state. … The absence of moisture elsewhere in the West also has become more common since the start of the year.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Jakarta, the world’s fastest-sinking city, also faces rising sea levels and river pollution

Jakarta, Indonesia, is sinking faster than any city in the world–so fast, in fact, that certain coastal areas have descended 14 feet in recent years. One cause is Illegal well-digging, which is endemic in Jakarta where only a third of the city’s 10 million residents have access to piped water.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: How cap-and-trade could help water districts meet conservation goals

Cap-and-trade systems are most notably used for controlling pollution, particularly related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The idea has never yet been implemented when it comes to water conservation. … Four years ago, Newsha Ajami, the director of Urban Water Policy at Stanford University’s Water in the West program, and her lab began exploring how such a system might work for water.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News/East Bay Times

Editorial: Make California farmers do their part to conserve water

The Bay Area should embrace the state’s call Tuesday to make permanent water-wasting rules that were in effect during the last drought. It’s the responsible thing for urban water users to do when the Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at only 20 percent of normal. But farmers should be required to do their part, too.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Commentary: A new structure for the Interior Department takes shape

The Department of Interior employs around 70,000 people and oversees a broad array of federal programs, from land management agencies like the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service to relationships with tribal nations through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In his first address to employees last March, newly minted Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told department workers that a major overhaul of the department was in the works.