California’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.
Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.
Unlike those components of California’s surface water storage and delivery system, groundwater is out of sight underground and most people are not familiar with the facilities that provide groundwater – wells.
The state of California is asserting landownership rights along a proposed pipeline’s path that would help carry groundwater from a remote part of the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County to Orange County and other communities.
A state commission is throwing a new hurdle in front of Cadiz Inc.’s plans to turn a remote desert valley into a lucrative water source for Southern California. In a Sept. 20 letter to Cadiz, the State Lands Commission informed the company that its proposed water pipeline crosses a strip of state-owned land and therefore requires a state lease.
If you want a new well in California, you might have to let your neighbors know how much water you plan to pump. That’s if it’s tapping a critically overused aquifer, and if a bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk survives calls for a veto.
Now, a private company wants to use the pits for a $2-billion hydropower project. The plant, proponents say, would help boost renewable energy use in Southern California and lower greenhouse gas emissions. But park officials fear the hydropower project could draw down local groundwater levels and harm wildlife.
California survived its historic drought, in large part by using groundwater. It was a lifeline in the Central Valley, where it was the only source of water for many farmers. California regulators are charged with protecting that groundwater, but for years they failed to do so.
Stanislaus County will try a new groundwater treatment system to keep the former Geer Road landfill from polluting the Tuolumne River and nearby wells. The county will pay a Southern California contractor $1.74 million to build the groundwater extraction and treatment equipment at the old landfill on the north side of the Tuolumne River, about a mile northeast of Hughson.
Groundwater replenishment happens through direct recharge and in-lieu recharge. Water used for direct recharge most often comes from flood flows, water conservation, recycled water, desalination and water transfers, according to DWR.
The battle over plans by a Los Angeles company to sell water pumped from aquifers underneath Mojave Desert conservation areas heated up again this week when state legislation was amended to require a new round of state reviews.
The SGMA [Sustainable Groundwater Management Act] is now kicking into gear as its first major deadline arrives: By June 30, counties and regional water managers must form “groundwater sustainability agencies,” or GSAs – the task forces that will eventually be responsible for developing their own sustainable groundwater use plans. Districts that fail or choose not to create a GSA will be subject to intervention by the State Water Resources Control Board.
A rush-hour delay caused by flooded tracks at the Powell Street Station in San Francisco — in the middle of summer — points up a BART issue that doesn’t get nearly the attention that overcrowded trains, finicky air-conditioning and the seemingly daily “equipment problems” command: a steady supply of subterranean water.
Vickie Mulas, a partner in her family’s Sonoma Valley dairy and vineyard operations, is no friend of regulations. … But Mulas, a member of a prominent local ranching family, relishes her role in California’s newest round of rule-making that will — in an unprecedented departure from past practice — put limits on how much water people can pump out of the ground.
A company’s vision to pump water from the Mojave Desert and sell it to thirsty Southern California cities had looked to some to be a long shot. … But a series of developments has invigorated backers of the project, which involves both federal and state jurisdictions.
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ 4-year-old legal fight to assert rights to groundwater took a step forward on Wednesday as a federal judge agreed to let the lawsuit proceed while water agencies appeal an earlier ruling to the Supreme Court.
Five companies responsible for polluting the groundwater in the San Gabriel Valley have agreed to continue cleanup for another 10 years, sparing 400,000 residents higher water bills, a state agency announced Thursday.
California farmers have long been able to get permits to drill new wells in areas where groundwater levels are falling without publicly saying how much water they intend to pump. That would change under a bill approved this week by the California Senate.
The Trump administration has shown support for the project, which has been opposed by [U.S. Senator Dianne] Feinstein and several environmental groups that argue the water extraction would harm the fragile desert ecosystem.
The massive scale of California’s groundwater pumping is outlined in a study released Wednesday by researchers at UCLA and the University of Houston. The researchers conclude that California’s pending groundwater regulations remain woefully behind what is necessary to bring the state’s groundwater levels back into balance.
Land subsidence caused by groundwater pumping has been a problem for decades in the San Joaquin Valley, but an increased reliance on aquifers during the last decade has resulted in subsidence rates in excess of a foot per year in some parts of the region.
University Business Center
One of the wettest years in California history that ended a record five-year drought has rejuvenated the call for new storage to be built above and below ground.
In a state that depends on large surface water reservoirs to help store water before moving it hundreds of miles to where it is used, a wet year after a long drought has some people yearning for a place to sock away some of those flood flows for when they are needed.
The heavy rain and snow over the past six months in California could reverse the infamous decline of the state’s groundwater stores, but the relief may last only a season or two, according to a hydrologist with University of California, Davis, who says water agencies must find efficient ways to refill depleted aquifers.
The rain has largely stopped after one of the wettest winters in California. But as spring temperatures begin to climb and snow in the Sierra Nevada melts, the threat of flooding has communities across the Central Valley on edge. … The concerns are magnified in some areas by subsidence, a festering problem exacerbated by five years of drought in the Central Valley.
William Alley, director of science and technology at the National Groundwater Association, and Rosemarie Alley, a science writer, are the authors of High and Dry, a book that explores the world’s growing dependence on groundwater. Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton spoke with the Alleys about the role of science in groundwater management and the knowledge that is necessary for sustaining what they call “the neglected child of the water world.”
A new nationwide study has unearthed the huge hidden potential of tapping into salty aquifers as a way to relieve the growing pressure on freshwater supplies across the United States. Digging into data from the country’s 60 major aquifers, the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the amount of brackish — or slightly salty — groundwater is more than 35 times the amount of fresh groundwater used in the United States each year.
Knee-high tufts of grass dot the streets of Hardwick, a rural neighborhood with a few dozen homes hemmed in by vineyards and walnut and almond orchards in California’s agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley.
The water spread into every corner of the fields, beckoning wading ibises and egrets as it bathed long rows of sprouting grapevines. Several inches had covered the vineyard ground for a couple of months. But rather than draining it, Don Cameron was pouring more on.
In the end, it wasn’t very controversial. Nineteen years after San Joaquin County water interests overwhelmingly rejected a water-sharing plan with rival East Bay Municipal Utility District, a similar plan earned the unanimous approval of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
In a key ruling released Monday, a judge slammed the Oakdale Irrigation District for skirting state law in last year’s fallowing proposal. The district should have studied whether shipping river water elsewhere might harm local groundwater levels, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne said in a decision issued nearly 11 weeks after a one-day trial in January.
A long-running political struggle over a company’s plan to sell water from a Mojave Desert aquifer has taken a new turn with the Trump administration announcing a policy change that could facilitate the controversial water project.
It’s a race against time this spring as water roars out of Central California’s dams and rumbles its way to the lowest-lying areas of the western San Joaquin Valley, communities where land is collapsing and water channels are growing more unstable. State engineers are generating new maps to understand where water is stagnating in spots it once flowed freely, and to learn which communities are in the most danger of flooding.
The city of Vacaville is facing pressure to clean up its water supplies after an environmental group sued this week over the amount of chromium-6 in groundwater. … Vacaville is among several California cities that have been wrestling with the carcinogen since 2014, when the state adopted the nation’s first chromium-6 rules.
Mineral rights and royalty owners have filed a new lawsuit against Monterey County, challenging voter-approved Measure Z, which establishes some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on oil and gas operations in the state’s fourth-largest oil-producing county. … Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and wastewater injection into aquifers will still be prohibited during the stay.
A federal appeals court sided with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians on Tuesday in a landmark water case, upholding a ruling that the tribe has federally established rights to groundwater in the Coachella Valley.
San Francisco’s famously pure High Sierra water is about to be served with a twist. Starting next month, city water officials will begin adding local groundwater to the Yosemite supplies that have satiated the area’s thirst since the 1930s and made the clean, crisp water here the envy of the nation.
Unchecked groundwater use is colliding with seesawing weather patterns to produce a new act in California’s long-running tragedy of the commons. According to NASA and European Space Agency data released on February 8, parts of the California aqueduct on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, near Avenal, sank more than two feet between 2013 and 2016 as farmers pumped records amounts of groundwater during the state’s historic drought.
As storms hit California and the Sierra Nevada snowpack keeps building after years of punishing drought, water managers on the San Joaquin Valley floor are replenishing groundwater supplies while the getting is good.
Even as California struggles with surface flooding, the state is going dry underground, triggering sinking in parts of the great San Joaquin Valley, according to a new NASA report released by the Department of Water Resources.
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a letter to the California Department of Conservation expressing their concerns about a proposal to expand the boundaries of an aquifer where oil-production wastewater is being injected.
Until Donald Trump won the presidency, prospects looked bleak for Cadiz, a California company that has struggled for years to secure federal permits to transform Mojave Desert groundwater into liquid gold. With the change of administration, a new day is dawning.
For decades, California oil companies have disposed of wastewater by pumping it into aquifers that were supposed to be protected by federal law. California regulators mistakenly granted permits to do it, through a combination of poor record keeping, miscommunication and permitting errors.
While some farmers lament the release of thousands of acre-feet of water from Friant Dam, others are putting it to good use: recharging groundwater supplies. Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from Millerton Lake to make room for a deluge of storm runoff.
Amid greater scrutiny of oilfield contamination threats to California’s groundwater, state officials will hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposal to expand the aquifer area where a Livermore driller is permitted to dispose of oily wastewater.
Kern County has lost a key round in its decade-long battle with Southern California waste districts over the land application of treated human and industrial waste. Now the Board of Supervisors will have to decide whether to appeal the loss and continue the fight.
Cadiz Inc. has raised more than $9 million in a public stock offering held Thursday, said Andy Moore, president of B. Riley & Co., of Los Angeles, which underwrote the offering on the NASDAQ Global Market.
Three environmental and community-based groups have given their notice of intent to appeal a federal court’s ruling allowing a subsidiary of Nestlé to continue to remove millions of gallons of water annually from the San Bernardino National Forest.
Next year, a new California law will revolutionize how the state manages its groundwater. … There is an entirely different category of California groundwater, however, that is exempt from SGMA [Sustainable Groundwater Management Act]. These are the “adjudicated” groundwater basins, so-called because the rules for managing them has been decided in a court of law.
Dr. Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, is the godfather of research on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. When he says it took John Sutter eight days to wind his way from San Francisco Bay through the Delta to find the narrow Sacramento River in 1839, you can bet that’s the truth. … Now, water agencies have joined together again to launch the River Arc Project.
Four months ago, the Coachella Valley Water District’s managers approved a plan they described as their costliest infrastructure project ever: the construction of small water treatment plants at nearly a third of the district’s 92 wells.
Lawyers for the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians presented their arguments to a federal appeals court in a water rights case that could set a precedent for tribes across the country.
Manteca-area farmers voted this week to oppose a state proposal to permanently allow more water to remain in the Stanislaus River to protect fish. … The State Water Resources Control Board says river flows would increase from roughly 20 percent to perhaps 40 percent on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers combined.
In a move that could have ramifications across the arid West, a government watchdog agency accused federal water regulators of wasting taxpayer funds when they gave Klamath Basin farmers more than $32 million to stop growing crops and to pump groundwater instead of drawing from lakes and rivers.
The Yuba County Water Agency board of directors on Tuesday unanimously voted to reject an initiative to redistribute revenue generated from groundwater substitution transfers — that is the sale of surface water which is then replaced locally by pumped water. … The initiative, known as the Groundwater Fairness Act, was submitted to the agency on Sept. 30.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will investigate groundwater contamination from industrial operations in Orange County’s north basin in a study that is expected to take up to two years and cost $4million, the agency announced Wednesday.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today [Oct. 5] announced it has reached an agreement with the Orange County Water District to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study to address a large area of groundwater contamination in Northern Orange County known as the “North Basin.” The work required by the agreement is expected to take up to two years to complete and is estimated to cost up to $4 million.
Sometime in the next few months, lawyers for the state of Mississippi will stand before a U.S. Supreme Court-appointed legal expert, clear their throats, and argue that Tennessee, a neighbor, is stealing water. … It is the first time the Supreme Court has considered a lawsuit that involves the use and distribution of groundwater reserves that lie beneath multiple state boundaries.
The water that gurgles from a spring on the edge of this Northern California logging town is so pristine that for more than a century it has been piped directly to the wooden homes spread across hills and gullies.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed Senate Bill 1262 into law, representing an initial attempt to incorporate groundwater management requirements under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act into two of California’s water supply planning laws. … SGMA was adopted in 2014 and, for the first time in California, establishes statewide requirements for establishing sustainable groundwater management in all basins designated by the California Department of Water Resources as medium- or high-priority.
Drive through rural Tulare County and you’ll hear it soon enough, a roar from one of the hundreds of agricultural pumps pulling water from beneath the soil to keep the nut and fruit orchards and vast fields of corn and alfalfa lush and green under the scorching San Joaquin Valley sun.
Sinkholes are caused by erosion of rocks beneath soil’s surface. Groundwater dissolves soft rocks such as gypsum, salt and limestone, leaving gaps in the originally solid structure. This is exacerbated when water is acidic from contact with carbon dioxide or acid rain. Even humidity can play a major role in destabilizing water underground.
Irrigation is the artificial supply of water to grow crops or plants. It optimizes agricultural production, obtained from either surface or groundwater, when the natural quantity and distribution of rain is insufficient. Different irrigation systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in practical use are often combined or serve as subcategories of one another.
The United States Geographical Survey (USGS) defines freshwater as containing less than 1,000 milligrams per liter dissolved solids. However, 500 milligrams per liter is usually the cutoff for municipal and commercial use. Most of the Earth’s water is saline, 97.5 percent with only 2.5 percent fresh. Of this water, about 70 percent is confined in glaciers and permanent snow in the Arctic, meaning the remaining available water is accessible after treatment, as potable water.
Springs are where groundwater becomes surface water, acting as openings where subsurface water can discharge onto the ground or directly into other water bodies. They can also be considered the consequence of an overflowing aquifer. As a result, springs often serve as headwaters to streams.
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from opening more than 1 million acres in Central California to oil drilling because the agency did not properly explore the potential dangers of fracking.
Extensometers are among the most valuable devices hydrogeologists use to measure subsidence, but most people – even water professionals – have never seen one. They are sensitive and carefully calibrated, so they are kept under lock and key and are often in remote locations on private property.
During our California Groundwater Tour Oct. 5-6, you will see two types of extensometers used by the California Department of Water Resources to monitor changes in elevation caused by groundwater overdraft.
Flowing into the heart of the Mojave Desert, the Mojave River exists mostly underground. Surface channels are usually dry absent occasional groundwater surfacing and flooding from extreme weather events like El Niño.
As the western United States struggles with chronic water shortages and a changing climate, scientists are warning that if vast underground stores of fresh water that California and other states rely on are not carefully conserved, they too may soon run dry.
With a theme focusing on “Wave of Change: Breaking the Status Quo,” the Water Education Foundation’s 34th annual Executive Briefing will be held March 23 in Sacramento. The event will examine new approaches to water management, tools to extend supplies, plans to prepare for drought, and the intersection between politics and policy.
This premiere water conference will offer you the opportunity to hear from top policymakers and leading stakeholders on key water topics:
Hilton Sacramento Arden West
2200 Harvard Street
Alluvium generally refers to the clay, silt, sand and gravel that are deposited by a stream, creek or other water body. Alluvium is found around deltas and rivers, frequently making soils very fertile. Alternatively, “colluvium” refers to the accumulation at the base of hills, brought there from runoff (as opposed to a water body). The Oxnard Plain in Ventura County is a visible alluvial plain, where floodplains have drifted over time due to gradual deposits of alluvium, a feature also present in Red Rock Canyon State Park in Kern County.
Under the $29-million expansion plan launched Monday, officials said the groundwater recharge facility will double in capacity by 2018, helping ween Angelenos off increasingly expensive and unreliable imported water.
A pollutant that has leached into California aquifers since farmers first began using synthetic fertilizer continues to accumulate and would not be removed from groundwater even if the state’s agriculture businesses abruptly quit using nitrogen-based materials to boost the productivity of their crops.
Regional groundwater leaders took some necessary next steps this week on the road to groundwater management and sustainability. In less than a year, local water leaders need to decide who will oversee state-mandated groundwater plans.
A coalition of environmental groups had worked for more than two years to persuade [Alameda] county leaders to ban fracking and other high intensity oil recovery practices to protect against pollution of local groundwater. The Board of Supervisors approved the ban 5-0.
As California regulators plan to set a legal limit on a cancer-causing chemical found in Valley water systems, clean water advocates are urging residents to attend coming public workshops on the issue.
This 2-day, 1-night tour travels from the Sacramento region to rural Capay Valley to view sites that explore groundwater, a key resource in California.
Examine groundwater monitoring stations where you will learn how this precious resource is measured, tracked and evaluated. Visit local farms and wineries that are mitigating groundwater needs through innovative irrigation techniques. Learn about groundwater contamination and ways to prevent it at a local dairy.
The more scientists study California’s declining supplies of groundwater, the more they’re emphasizing one basic point: We still don’t know nearly enough about the water in our aquifers, and we need a lot more data.
California took a needed and much overdue step in 2014 when it passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to regulate groundwater. The law will take decades to implement, but the first steps of the process are already underway.
The Central Valley has been hit hard by the long-running drought. La Niña has failed to deliver the relief everyone was hoping for, but researchers at Stanford have discovered what could be good news for the region and for the state.
The Central Valley is home to California’s productive farming belt, but the region’s groundwater is so severely overdrafted in some places that the land has been sinking. … Now scientists from Stanford University have found that the region might actually have three times more groundwater than previous estimates, which are decades old.
A new Stanford study indicates California’s groundwater supply is three times greater than previous estimates and could represent a potential “water windfall,” its authors say. … However, water experts not involved in the Stanford study say the newly discovered supply may be too deep and too difficult to recover.
Our [Stanford University] new study published this week in the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences concludes that the Central Valley has almost three times more fresh water underground than the state estimates. … Assembly Bill 1755, scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, establishes a shared water database for surface and groundwater and water diversions.
Promised state funding for the increasingly costly Interlake Tunnel project in legislation backed by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, has been cut by 60 percent to $10 million, potentially risking long-term project financing.
In the past 30 years, perhaps no legislative effort to bolster the state’s water policy has received as much attention as the management of groundwater. This effort lead to the expansion of water district powers, the creation of special act districts with unique powers, the authorization of voluntary plans and finally culminated in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and its trailing legislation.
A ballot initiative created by a group of concerned citizens aims to alter groundwater management in Siskiyou County. Chapter 13 of the Siskiyou County Code governs the withdrawal and transport of groundwater, and section 3-13.301 does not allow the unpermitted transport of water from the county; however, “commercial water-bottling enterprises” are exempt from requiring such a permit.
With this year’s storms helping to refill the Sacramento region’s lakes and reservoirs, local water district officials and state regulators are diverting and percolating stormwater from Cache Creek into the Yolo County canal system to recharge groundwater supplies used by local farmers, city residents and UC Davis.
For anyone who doubts that we’re still in a drought, San Joaquin County’s groundwater “savings account” was even more depleted this spring than last, despite improved rainfall over the course of the winter.
By this time next year a lot of work needs to be done on a regional groundwater sustainability plan. … Every big task needs to start somewhere, and this week the public is being asked to join the conversation.
Chloride and nitrate concentrations are rising and arsenic levels are holding steady or falling. Those are two of the conclusions from a U.S. Geological Survey assessment of changes in the nation’s groundwater quality in the last two decades.
A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.
When fully implemented, SGMA is expected to effectively administer groundwater pumping, though it remains to be seen if some of the damage done to aquifers is irreparable. Without SGMA, however, there is no hope for management.
Cadiz Inc. won a decisive courtroom victory Tuesday for its plans to transfer ancient groundwater in a remote part of San Bernardino County’s Mojave Desert to parts of Orange County and other locations.
The ruling by a three-judge panel in Santa Ana moves urban districts a step closer to getting up to 75,000 acre feet of desert groundwater a year from the Cadiz and Fenner valleys in San Bernardino County — enough to supply about 150,000 homes.
The group Protect Monterey County delivered 16,108 signatures Wednesday to the Monterey County Elections Department in support of putting an initiative on the November ballot to ban fracking and dangerous oil production practices in the county.
The military is checking U.S. bases for potential groundwater contamination from a toxic firefighting foam, but most states so far show little inclination to examine civilian sites for the same threat.
Legislation aimed at creating a centralized online water market platform cleared the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on April 12. … SB 1317 by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), also known as the Aquifer Protection Act, would require cities and counties overlying high and medium priority basins to apply conditions to permits for new wells by July 1, 2017.
Legislation to protect California’s aquifers and groundwater resources from permanent damage due to over-pumping has been approved by the state Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on a 6-2 vote.
Farm water managers said new rules for managing underground supplies are confusing and potentially expensive. … The regulations are slated to go into effect June 1; the state Department of Water Resources is taking public comment about them until April 1.
The film, titled “Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater,” was co-produced by Steve Elfers of USA TODAY and Ian James of The Desert Sun, and was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
The Department of Defense has announced that it is testing military sites nationwide to determine if perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid – both chemicals used in foams that extinguish flammable liquids – are in sediments and groundwater around runway areas.
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, introduced a package of water measures Friday, including legislation halting the proliferation of new wells to slow the depletion of aquifers, and avoid permanent damage to the state’s groundwater resources.
The Department of Water Resources has now released the first draft regulations to manage groundwater sustainably. The plan lays out the steps local public agencies will need to take to prevent chronic groundwater overdraft.
This symposium will focus on three areas related to paying for development and implementation of groundwater projects and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA)-related activities; obtaining outside funding; developing the agency contribution, or “match”, and Generating revenue to implement your Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).
This event is sponsored by the Groundwater Resources Association of California. The Water Education Foundation is a Cooperating Organization.
After suffering another year of historic drought and a State of Emergency declared by Governor Brown, California remains poised in 2016 for the extension of Emergency Drought Regulations promulgated by the State Water Resources Control Board. But will 2016 also be a year of finding and finalizing solutions for long term groundwater sustainability? Join the Groundwater Resources Association for a dialogue on this and other subjects with California’s most influential Legislators and Administration Officials.
The U.S. Geological Survey has begun collecting private well water samples here as part of a $5.4 million study of the area to determine how much of a cancer-causing chemical in the groundwater is man-made and how much was put there by nature.
Nearly three years after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians sued the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts, the two sides remain just as far apart in a case that could force changes in how water is managed locally and set a precedent for similar disputes nationwide.
The state Department of Water Resources on Thursday released a list of 21 groundwater basins and subbasins that are overdrafted, causing land subsidence, chronically lowered groundwater levels and, in the case of the Salinas Valley, seawater intrusion.
In an effort to restore California’s desperately depleted ancient aquifers, scientists are testing an approach that seizes surplus winter rain and delivers it to where it’s most useful: idle farms and fields.
This winter, dozens of water agencies across the state are counting on a drenching El Niño to produce surplus water to stash in the earth and make up for what’s been pumped out at unprecedented rates due to the recent absence of surface supplies.
Water experts in Yolo County are actively monitoring water wells to measure the groundwater supply. … The groundwater supplies about 30 percent of the water in our region, according to the Northern California Water Association, which represents water rights holders in the Sacramento Valley.
Aquifers largely remain unmanaged and unregulated, and water that seeped underground over tens of thousands of years is being gradually used up. … These are stories about people on four continents confronting questions of how to safeguard their aquifers for the future – and in some cases, how to cope as the water runs out.
In Great Oaks Water Company v. Santa Clara Valley Water District, originally issued March 26, the Sixth District Court of Appeal found that the water district’s groundwater pumping fees are property-related fees subject to Proposition 218. … The Great Oaks opinion, however, reached a different conclusion than the Second District Court of Appeal reached in City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District, issued March 17.
A new law regulating groundwater use for the first time in California is decades away from being fully implemented. But already, it is clear how difficult it will be for local water providers to comply.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, set to take effect in 2020, will limit how much groundwater can be extracted over the long haul. While details of what constitutes “sustainable” pumping are still being fleshed out, water policy experts say many farmers will gradually have their water supplies curtailed – and the nation’s leading agricultural state will farm fewer acres.
The tensions in Kings County offer just a taste of what’s expected in cities and towns throughout California’s farm belt over the next few years as local officials work to enact the state’s first-ever groundwater regulations.
By analyzing isotopes of tritium, an atomic variant of hydrogen that accumulated in lands and waters after the dawn of the nuclear age, a group of researchers was able to produce the first global estimate of the age of groundwater. The results show that groundwater, which provides two-fifths of the water used for world agriculture, is not inexhaustible.
When the California Water Commission this year surveyed water agencies about storage proposals that might qualify for funding under Proposition 1, the 2014 water bond approved by state voters, half the responses involved groundwater projects, including one from [Gary] Serrato’s [Fresno Irrigation] district.
Water year 2016 began with the potential for heavy El Niño rains that captured the attention of the public. State and federal officials knew that California’s drought-stricken reservoirs would not recover that quickly.
Hydrologic conditions, precipitation patterns, the need for fishery flows, and forecasts of state and federal water project operations were all discussed at a special FREE briefing held February 23, 2016. Sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources and the Water Education Foundation, the briefing was held at the Sacramento Convention Center, Room 202.
Sacramento Convention Center
1400 J Street, Room 204
Almost 28 years since state regulators learned there was a chromium-6 problem in Hinkley, officials from the same agency approved a comprehensive clean-up order for the world’s largest known plume of this cancer-causing chemical.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an amended water recycling agreement between the county Water Resources Agency and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, the primary backer of the groundwater replenishment project also known as Pure Water Monterey.
In the drought-ravaged Central Valley, scientists are using a new imaging technology to find ancient worlds of trapped water, hidden hundreds of feet underground. … This week, a helicopter swept 60 linear miles of parched fields in the Tulare Irrigation District in one of the most arid regions of California.
The governor should use his emergency powers under the existing drought to ban new wells in areas where groundwater pumping is causing significant economic damage. I [Gerald H. Meral] don’t take this position lightly. I understand it would harm people who need groundwater to keep their farms going.
In an attempt to prevent its oil industry from contaminating groundwater sources that could be used for drinking water, California regulators closed 33 wells last week that were injecting oilfield waste into protected aquifers.
It’s been one year since California Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark law to manage the state’s groundwater. The California Water Commission has approved new groundwater basin boundaries – the first major step in implementing the law.
On October 9, 2015, Governor Brown completed what is probably one of the most remarkable two years in water legislation in California’s history. … In signing SGMA, the Governor pledged that during the 2014/15 legislative session, he would submit a proposal to streamline groundwater adjudications. With the signing of AB 1390 (Alejo) and SB 226 (Pavley), the Governor kept his promise.
A much-anticipated “Godzilla” El Niño this winter may refill California’s drought-diminished reservoirs, but it won’t do much to restock the severely depleted aquifers we rely upon to get by during droughts. One reason for this is the sheer depth of California’s precipitation deficit – the deepest of any drought in 120 years of recordkeeping. The state has been drier than normal for 10 of the past 14 years.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed into law two groundwater bills, AB 1390 (Alejo) and SB 226 (Pavley), that establish an improved process for groundwater adjudication in the state. Both bills take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
The CEO for embattled Cadiz Inc. has a plan to keep alive a controversial project to transfer ancient groundwater in a remote part of San Bernardino County’s Mojave Desert to parts of Orange County and other locations, where it could serve as many as 400,000 people.
California American Water is expected to resume pumping from its stalled Monterey Peninsula desalination project test slant well operation by early November after the Coastal Commission gave its unanimous approval Tuesday.
The Eastside Water District board voted Thursday to ask its farmers for $6 million for a groundwater recharge project. The system would eliminate no more than 10 percent of the overdraft in the 61,000-acre district, which straddles Stanislaus and Merced counties southwest of Turlock Lake, but backers said it would be a worthwhile start.
Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was published in 1946.
The Hinkley plume of cancer-causing chromium-6 may appear to be shrinking in future maps. But ongoing cleanup may not be the only reason. It might be that the methodology for drawing the plume has changed.
On September 16, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown, cheerfully triumphant, signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which many observers assert is the most significant addition to California’s water protection code in a century.
For years, an obscure team of water wonks has met each month in a conference room at the California Water Service Co. offices in downtown Stockton. Their charge: To protect the region’s precious groundwater, an invisible natural resource as little-known as those who guard it.
Eleven local governmental bodies, trade groups, labor groups and others have filed amici “friend of the court” support for the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project in a remote Mojave Desert section of San Bernardino County.
[Derek] Chernow’s declaration, obtained by the Associated Press, was contained in an Aug. 21 court filing in a lawsuit brought by a group of Central Valley farmers who allege that oil production approved by Brown’s administration has contaminated their water wells.
How many domestic wells are having trouble throughout the state? More than 2,500. That’s not an exact figure, but its better than the smattering of reports that had been collected before the most recent statewide summary.
Portions of the San Joaquin Valley floor are sinking at an alarming rate as farmers pump ever more groundwater during California’s extended drought, according to a NASA study released Wednesday. The report, generated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the state Department of Water Resources, sheds new light on the phenomenon known as subsidence.
Vast areas of California’s Central Valley are sinking faster than in the past … Meanwhile, the Department of Water Resources is launching a $10 million program to help counties with stressed groundwater basins to develop or strengthen local ordinances and conservation plans.
Until things are back to normal, some folks in Glenn County want to see a halt to new well drilling. Tuesday, the issue will be before the Glenn County Board of Supervisors, at the request of farmer Sharron Ellis.
Los Angeles-based land and water resources company Cadiz Inc. on Monday announced it has lined up a technology company to help it remove the cancer-causing chemical Chromium-6 from its groundwater in the San Bernardino County desert.
SMUD’s big bet on a system to store energy by pumping water uphill just got a little more complicated. The state wants the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to monitor groundwater at the site, a remote spot near Camino, for an entire year before moving ahead.
The depletion of groundwater stores also is a problem familiar to farmers struggling with drought in California, where pumping for irrigation has put the state’s Central Valley Aquifer under the most strain of any aquifer in the U.S., according to NASA satellite data.
As California implements a landmark law to balance demand for groundwater with available supplies, an Indian tribe’s lawsuit in federal court has the potential to add new layers of complexity to managing a prized resource that is in short supply during California’s worst ever drought.
[Donna] Johnson is known as the water angel. … The 72-year-old is her town’s biggest advocate, sitting in on drought funding meetings with county and state leaders, shepherding reporters from around the globe so no one forgets East Porterville.