On December 4, the California Supreme Court ruled that groundwater pumping charges levied to fund a basin-wide conservation and management program were not property-related fees subject to Proposition 218. The decision, City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District (Cal. Supreme Court Case No. S226036), will reverberate through water management and public agency circles for years to come.
The California Supreme Court concluded today [Nov. 4] that a local water agency’s groundwater pumping charges are not property-related charges subject to the substantive and procedural requirements of California Constitution article XIII D, section 6 (commonly referred to as Proposition 218). … In City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District, the City challenged groundwater pumping charges imposed on it by the United Water Conservation District.
In the last rainy season, more rain and snow fell on our valleys and mountains than in any year recorded, this after five years of drought. Eroded by the force of millions of gallons water cascading out of Lake Oroville, the concrete spillway at the massive Oroville Dam crumbled in February, and the Butte County sheriff wisely erred on the side of safety by ordering 188,000 people to evacuate.
On January 17, 2014, California State Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency. On April 2, 2017, Governor Brown lifted the drought emergency, but declared that California must continue water conservation efforts. With the official conclusion of the most recent drought, which spanned water years 2012 through 2016, it is timely to compare it with other historic California droughts and also to consider some of the lingering impacts.
In the coming days, a remarkably persistent weather pattern will begin to develop across North America and adjacent ocean regions. Characterized by strong high pressure near the West Coast and low pressure over the Eastern Seaboard, this “quasi-stationary,” high-amplitude atmospheric wave pattern will essentially become locked in place for at least the next 2 weeks.
These are historic times for groundwater management in California, with the onset of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), and recent extreme drought conditions that were followed by one of the wettest winters on record. Prior to this last winter, a ten year stretch of generally dry conditions existed in the Sacramento Valley, creating many challenges for water managers.
Sun-scorched desert mesa, 140 miles of it, lies between Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, and Utah’s Washington County, one of America’s driest metropolitan regions. … The [Washington County Water Conservancy] district plans to link the reservoir and the county with one of the longest and most expensive water pipelines ever proposed in the West.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced Friday that it won’t require mining companies to prove they have the financial wherewithal to clean up their pollution, despite an industry legacy of abandoned mines that have fouled waterways across the U.S.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke said nearly 80% of the country’s forest system resides in the West. Tooke, who became head of the agency in September, addressed the [Western Governors Association] conference Friday and said that in the years ahead his No. 1 goal is to increase efforts that prevent wildfires and reduce community risks — such as mudslides and contaminated water — from burn areas.
The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water for about 40 million people and farmlands from Wyoming to Mexico. … In the Mexicali Valley, farmers say they’re concerned that as the pressures on the river grow – and as the [United States-based Constellation Brands'] brewery drinks up more of that precious supply – they’re likely to get less water.
Scientists have calculated future scenarios for the coming decades that include sea-level rise, more severe rainfall and an increase in the frequency of heatwaves. Some areas will get drier, others wetter. No matter what the future brings, one thing is clear: Impacts from a warming climate are already being felt across the American West, with changes to ecosystems and water supply.
California’s House members are joining across party lines to call for $4.4 billion for wildfire recovery from Congress, a unified statement that boosts the state’s chances of securing much-needed funds to help rebuild after this fall’s devastating fires.
The Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency got to work on emergency levee repairs following last winter’s high waters and the Oroville Dam evacuation. Seepage, boils, sink holes and water erosion were signs of severe distress. The $28.5 million project, mostly funded by the state, is geared up to complete by Christmas.
Biologists assumed baby winter-run Chinook salmon hung out in the Sacramento River where they hatched until they grew large enough to make the trip downstream to the Pacific Ocean. A recently released scientific study challenges that assumption – and may have implications in how fisheries agencies manage Sacramento Valley waterways to protect the critically endangered fish.
A team of researchers and Marysville rice farmers initiated a study this week in Yuba County to see if introducing fish to a flooded rice field could both reduce methane emissions and allow for a new reliable protein source.
Eileen Sobeck, the new executive director of the California State Water Resources Control Board, has a sense of humor that will serve her well as she deals with the state’s unending water woes and wars. … “This has been a great opportunity to come back to the state as a recovering lawyer and recovering federal bureaucrat,” she told the Mountain Counties Resources Association in Auburn (MCWRA) at a recent water symposium.
“Plastic!” said Dale Huss, gesturing in frustration out the window of his pickup truck at the berry fields sprawling over rolling hills, as strawberry plants peeped out from plastic tarps stretched over raised earthen rows. Strawberries are one of California’s most profitable crops, especially in the Monterey Bay area. But the plastic row covers that protect berries from cold and pests also increase water runoff and erosion on hillside fields.
A host of changes — including a new redwood boardwalk that provides better access — have now been completed at Stinson Beach. … The [National] park service also recently completed a revamp of a wastewater treatment system that serves more than 1 million people annually at various facilities along the beach and adjacent areas.
Extremely high tides expected through Tuesday prompted weather forecasters Sunday to issue a flood warning for coastal regions of the Bay Area. The dramatic tidal fluctuations known as king tides — caused by the full moon being in close proximity to the Earth — were expected to surge as high as 7 feet, said Steve Anderson, a National Weather Service meteorologist.