Today Californians face increased risks from flooding, water shortages, unhealthy water quality, ecosystem decline and infrastructure degradation. Many federal and state legislative acts address ways to improve water resource management, ecosystem restoration, as well as water rights settlements and strategies to oversee groundwater and surface water.
Fearing a federal rollback of longstanding protections for air quality, clean water, endangered species and workers’ rights, California Democrats are pursuing legislation that would cement those environmental and labor regulations in state law.
As heavy winter storms continue to hammer California, the Legislature is launching a review of dam and levee safety and bracing for major investments necessary to shore up flood control throughout the state.
The political terrain appears favorable for a mega-million-dollar irrigation drainage deal, with Congress still fully in Republican hands and California’s sprawling Westlands Water District with influential allies. But there are complications.
Governor Brown has released a proposed budget that reaffirms the state’s commitment to boosting drought resiliency and battling climate change. … Although state money represent only a fraction of California’s total water sector spending (13%—the rest is mostly locally funded), it is an important piece of the funding pie.
Overhauling the environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act, is a perennial issue at the Capitol, and the measure benefiting the Warriors arena was one of the most high-profile CEQA reforms in recent years.
The Republican-led House on Thursday approved a bill that would require congressional approval before any major regulation can take effect, a reflection of GOP frustration with what they consider onerous rules from eight years of the Obama administration.
With the stroke of a pen Friday President Barack Obama solidified $415 million in federal funding for projects in and around Lake Tahoe, along with providing funding for drought relief in California and other water projects.
President Barack Obama signed a bill Friday authorizing water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, and $558 million to provide relief to drought-stricken California.
The first winter storm of 2017 to drop welcome rain over the rivers, pumps, pipes and canals that move California’s water north to south likely will open a new era of tension over how much water goes to fish or farms under a new U.S law.
President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed and bequeathed to President-elect Donald Trump a massive infrastructure bill designed to control floods, fund dams and deliver more water to farmers in California’s Central Valley.
Urging her fellow lawmakers to pass a bill that would send more of California’s water to the arid farm fields of the San Joaquin Valley, Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave an impassioned speech Friday about the threat facing family farmers.
California farmers and Southern California cities were aghast last winter when much of the heavy rainfall that fell in Northern California washed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea.
Both California senators took to the floor Friday to take opposite sides in a debate over provisions of a national water resources bill that allows more water to be pumped south to Central Valley agriculture at the expense of the salmon industry.
Congress has approved a wide-ranging bill to authorize water projects across the country, including $170 million to address lead in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water and $558 million to provide relief to drought-stricken California.
The California water bill now ready for the president’s signature dramatically shifts 25 years of federal policy and culminates a long and fractious campaign born in the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley.
Few people expected a California water fight in the final days of a lame-duck Congress, and fewer still expected landmark water legislation to pit the state’s U.S. senators against each other in the last moments of their 24-year partnership.
Senate Democrats introduced a $13 billion package of measures that would provide money for street and bridge repair, urban parks, transit systems, trade corridors, water infrastructure and affordable housing.
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the biggest federal reset of California water use in a generation, setting the stage for easier dam-building, more recycling and potentially happier Central Valley farmers.
The water policy measure overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday to build long-term water infrastructure across the Golden State is headed for a showdown with outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans to mount a filibuster in the Senate on Friday as one of her final acts in Congress.
Also on deck is separate legislation to authorize water projects that has sparked a major battle between environmentalists and agricultural interests over legislation to allow more of California’s limited water resources to flow to Central Valley farmers hurt by the state’s lengthy drought.
Newly passed bills in California are helping turn attention to green infrastructure projects that can help cities take advantage of stormwater to replenish groundwater, increase water supply and decrease water pollution.
House and Senate leaders reached agreement Monday on a bipartisan bill to authorize $170 million for Flint, Michigan, and other cities beleaguered by lead in drinking water, and to provide relief to drought-stricken California.
A controversial California water bill that’s sparked years of fighting has been added to a fast-moving measure, boosting the chance the water measures will pass Congress but sharply dividing the state’s U.S. senators.
House Republican leaders and California’s senior senator announced Monday a new attempt to pass legislation that would increase water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness and Southern California.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, teamed up Monday to slip a legislative rider into a giant end-of-year water infrastructure bill that would override endangered species protections for native California fish for the purpose of sending water to San Joaquin Valley farmers.
California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. … But dairy farmers say the new regulations will drive up costs when they’re already struggling with five years of drought, low milk prices and rising labor costs.
A key House committee on Wednesday approved a big irrigation drainage deal with California’s politically potent Westlands Water District, opening another front in the state’s ongoing conflict over water, money and power.
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.
Prompted by a 2015 state law, the State Water Resources Control Board has begun designing a program to provide state aid to individuals and families who need help paying their water bills. Due to the Legislature by February 1, 2018, California is determined to be the first to use state funds to subsidize water service for poor residents, water rate experts say.
If you live in an apartment in California, you don’t pay for the water you use – not directly, anyway. … On September 26, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 7, a law drafted by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. It requires new apartment buildings constructed after January 1, 2018, to include submeters for every rental unit and to bill of tenants accordingly.
The end of September meant both the end of the 2016 water year and a deadline for signing new legislation. In the past few weeks California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bevy of new bills into law, many of them addressing drought or water issues in the state.
The AB 935 water projects bill by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, authorizes $7 million in state money to build pumps to move water north to about Terra Bella via reverse flow pump-back facilities still to be built.
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.
Democrats opened a last-minute push Tuesday for new talks on must-do legislation to prevent the government from shutting down this weekend, fight the Zika virus and help flood-ravaged Louisiana rebuild.
California’s goal of ensuring universal access to safe drinking water, as mandated in the 2012 Human Right to Water Bill, will come a step closer to being met if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a new measure into law that halts the creation of new small, unsustainable – and in many cases dangerous – water districts in the state.
Two reform bills aimed at the Central Basin Municipal Water District — introduced after a state audit slammed the district for political corruption last year — were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.
The oddest of Senate odd couples – California Democrat Barbara Boxer and Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe – have accomplished something highly unusual in this bitter election year: significant, bipartisan legislation on the environment that has become law.
The Senate approved a $10 billion water projects bill Thursday that includes emergency funding for Flint, Michigan – nearly a year after officials declared a public health emergency because of lead-contaminated water.
California’s Salton Sea and state-straddling Lake Tahoe would receive funding for environmental restoration under a bill set for Senate approval Thursday. More controversial water-related efforts remain stuck in Capitol Hill limbo, however.
The Senate voted to move forward Monday on a $10 billion water projects bill that includes $220 million in emergency funding for Flint, Michigan, and other communities beset by lead-contaminated water.
Prospects for the energy bill have dimmed amid partisan disputes over oil drilling, water for drought-stricken California and potential rollback of protections for the gray wolf and other wildlife, among other issues.
With senators in a standoff over annual spending bills, the chamber is expected as soon as Wednesday to take up a bipartisan, $9 billion measure that would authorize spending on the nation’s water infrastructure.
Locked in a multi-year drought, California’s urban water suppliers have, for the most part, happily enforced rules that prohibit specific wasteful water practices, such as hosing down driveways and over-watering lawns.
The real action, and probably the last chance for myriad California proposals, will come in a post-election session set to start Nov. 14, when the expiring Congress will consider a sprawling omnibus funding package.
A law signed late Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown requires retail urban water suppliers with more than 3,000 customers to put in place rules that define “excessive water use” and impose them during drought emergencies.
In a competing study, a pro-environmental group pushed back at the notion that CEQA is impeding growth and driving up home prices. … Californians have been skirmishing over CEQA reform for over a decade.
A measure to expand public disclosure of commercial, industrial and other institutional water uses in California fell far short of passage in the state Senate on Friday. … Another bill this year also sought more disclosure as part of a “drought-shaming” campaign to discourage excessive water use.
[New York Democratic Sen. Chuck] Schumer’s frustration has sparked an unusual alliance with Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo and Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who for years have sponsored a bill to get Congress to treat wildfires as national disasters.
The study, sponsored by Oakland-based Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, found there’s no evidence that the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, has a retarding effect on the state’s economic prospertity.
If a Water Resources Development Act of 2016 is passed by Congress this year, it will be accompanied by sighs of relief at seeing the infrastructure legislation successfully get back on a two-year schedule.
A divided House is about to pass a $32 billion spending bill for the Interior Department and environmental regulations as Congress prepares to exit Washington for a seven-week recess, but the move seems to do little to advance GOP leaders’ hopes of fixing the Capitol’s shattered budget process.
Whether the temperature management of the runoff of Northern California water reservoirs, including Shasta Dam, results in improved survivability of endangered fish or uncertainty for human water users was debated at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
Framed by a hearing Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will vote this week on whether to retain farmer-friendly California water provisions in an Interior Department funding bill for the fiscal year that begins in October.
Within less than a year, as many as 50,000 marijuana growers in California could be required to obtain state permits for the irrigation water they consume. … This new ability to regulate water for marijuana growing is a result of SB 837, a state law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27.
California water will retake the Capitol Hill stage in coming days, with compromise nowhere in sight. … Underscoring the many complications entangling California water, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water District on Friday sued the federal Bureau of Reclamation over measures intended to protect endangered species.
A bill passed by U.S. House of Representatives seeks to limit predator fish, such as striped bass, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to aid struggling salmon populations. But scientists say the strategy won’t work.
Assembly member Eduardo Garcia’s $3.1 billion bond proposal includes $25 million for air quality mitigation and the creation of wildlife habitat at the Salton Sea. The California Natural Resources Agency, thanks to a previous bill carried by Garcia, includes a list of shovel-ready projects on the lakebed.
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.
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.
Some forest fires should be considered natural disasters and their damage paid for like hurricanes and tornadoes, according to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who laments that 56 percent of his budget is going to suppressing fires. … A bill pending in the House would allow for supplemental appropriations, like those made for natural disasters like hurricanes, as needed.
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.
Farms and golf courses rank among the biggest water users in the Coachella Valley, but detailed information about how much water each of those businesses use is kept secret by the area’s largest water agency. That would change under a bill now before the California Legislature.
California’s drought has revealed that when it comes to water, not every community is equal. … Now, a bill by a Bay Area state lawmaker aims to slow the spread of little “mom and pop” water providers by making it very difficult to create new ones.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area could soon double in size to link a vast chain of hills surrounding the Conejo, Crescenta, San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Simi valleys, according to a federal bill introduced Tuesday.
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.
Drought-stressed Capitol Park will get $1.7 million for a reclaimed water project in the new state budget, even though the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst concluded that the project won’t pencil out for more than a century and a half.
At the first hearing on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s controversial drought legislation, it emerges that the Obama administration supports the bill. But a deeper look shows that many concerns remain, leaving consensus still in doubt.
Congressional efforts to approve the first major energy bill in nearly a decade are in jeopardy amid a partisan dispute over oil drilling, water for drought-stricken California and potential rollback of wildlife protections.
The directors of the Central Basin Municipal Water District, who in a scathing state audit in December were blasted for mismanagement and violating state law, are criticizing two bills in the Legislature that would bring additional reforms to the district.
A bill that would put in place efforts to restore the North Coast’s disappearing oak woodlands made it through the state Assembly unanimously Wednesday and now faces the gauntlet of the state Senate floor and various committees before reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
In an election year, despite the usual suspects rallying against anything that would help Valley agriculture, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources has taken an important step to advance bipartisan legislation codifying a settlement between the federal government and the Westlands Water District.
Wading into a longstanding California water war, the House Wednesday endorsed a Republican plan to shift more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and cut the flow for threatened fish and growers in another part of the state.
A plan gaining support in Congress and backed by the cargo shipping industry would establish a nationwide policy for dumping ballast water into U.S. waterways that environmental groups say would open the door to more invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels, which have wreaked economic havoc from the Great Lakes to the West Coast.
A proposal to solve a long-running San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage dispute between the Westlands Water District and the federal government is roiling a Congress already hung up on other California water fights.
House Republicans are making another push for a bill addressing California’s drought, adding the text of a measure by Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) to two pieces of legislation headed to the Senate. … Here are some highlights from Tuesday’s back and forth among some California lawmakers.
Long considered an ally of Delta advocates, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi introduced legislation this week that appears likely to test that reputation. … The Feinstein-Garamendi bills are pitched as a more moderate alternative to a bill by U.S. Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, that already has passed the House.
Five years into California’s latest drought, a major water bill compromise can seem as far away as ever. The perennial conflict, often summed up as fish vs. farms, subtly surfaced again Tuesday at a key Senate hearing.
A new era of groundwater management began with 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.
California’s tireless water warriors have something fresh to fight over, with the introduction of a bill to resolve an irrigation drainage dispute that affects three modest-sized San Joaquin Valley water districts, as well as the much bigger Westlands Water District.
Federal burdens dampen California’s hydroelectric power potential, PG&E and Turlock Irrigation District officials told lawmakers Tuesday. … In 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law two bills intended to streamline the approval process for small hydroelectric projects.
A major water resources bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to partner with local governments and other agencies – not just California officials – on projects to address the problems of the shrinking Salton Sea.
A still-controversial 1992 law intended to boost California’s striped-bass population can be scaled back, the Obama administration now believes. … Another bill, by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, to revise a water-recycling grant program established in the 1992 law likewise secured administration support Wednesday.
Deep in Gov. Brown’s 2016-17 budget was a big surprise for Lake Tahoe – the lake was cut out of its expected share of a $475 million environmental pie. Two years ago, California voters approved Proposition 1, a complex, $7.12 billion water bond package.
Politicians in Washington could have passed laws four years ago that would be yielding benefits today. These would be things like assistance with groundwater recharge, water conservation on farms, stormwater capture and wastewater recycling. I [Matt Weiser] call these non-nuclear options, because they don’t peg the Geiger counter in many lobbying offices in the land.
Surface water supplies have returned to normal for most rice growers in the Sacramento Valley. … However, now that farmers are ready to fire up their tractors to plant rice, commodity prices have taken a nose-dive.
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.
Building on last year’s declaration of the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region as a National Monument by President Obama, the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water voted 6-2 Tuesday to approve a bill that establishes a state conservancy to protect, preserve and restore the Northern Inner Coast Range.
The politics of California water is becoming three-dimensional chess in Congress as lawmakers balance competing anti-drought ideas with a proposed San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage settlement that’s going to get bigger.
Arizona and California are arguing over Colorado River water again — this time over whether it should be inscribed in law that California can’t take Arizona’s share of river water that’s left in Lake Mead to prop up lake levels.
Congress is about to try again to help ease California’s drought. … Discerning the helpful proposals from the hyperbole can be difficult. So as a guide to the process, Water Deeply offers the following four themes to watch as the bills are debated.
Congress is about to try again to help ease California’s drought. A handful of bills — some new, some held over from last year — will come up for debate in the weeks ahead. The subject is as partisan as the presidential race, and a lot more complicated.
A second state legislator plans to introduce legislation that would add appointed members to the embattled Central Basin Municipal Water District’s now elected Board of Directors that were slammed in a state audit for “poor leadership,” violating state law and spending money inappropriately.
California is the first state to have a law declaring the human right to water, and now it also has a resolution from the Water Board prioritizing it. … In Poplar, California, an unincorporated Central Valley town of low-income, largely Hispanic residents, two of three community wells are contaminated with nitrates. The other one is going dry.
The bill proposed by [Rep. Jackie] Speier and [Rep. Jared] Huffman — the Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2016 — seeks to appropriate about $138 million in disaster funds to fishermen and small businesses, including restaurants, that were banking on the commercial season. Sen. Barbara Boxer is expected to introduce its companion bill on Monday.
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.
Congress is to consider two bills that would allow states to hand over vast tracts of federal land for mining, logging or other commercial activities – just weeks after the arrest of an armed militia that took over a wildlife refuge in Oregon in protest at federal oversight of public land.
Hence Assembly Bill 2496, which would end the [daylight saving time] practice in California, undoing a law that voters approved back in 1949 via Proposition 12. At the time, a ballot statement in favor argued altered summertime hours would bolster “public health and industrial efficiency” by improving worker safety, limiting juvenile delinquency, saving water, preventing car crashes and aiding farmers.
As California enters its fifth year of a historic dry period and residents buckle down to reduce urban water use by one-fourth, a novel strategy adopted by the East Bay water utility has turned the spotlight on the region’s most wasteful consumers – among them the rich and famous – and could become the basis for statewide policy.
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.
The House on Wednesday approved legislation to clarify the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to notify the public about danger from lead in their drinking water – the first action by Congress to respond to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Lawmakers representing the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, the heart of California’s water system, have introduced a bill that would make Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial twin tunnels project subject to statewide voter approval.
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.
The federal government is investing more money this year to help local governments improve their water systems, and about $80 million will go to Michigan next week, President Barack Obama told the nation’s mayors on Thursday.
California’s congressional delegation continued to wrangle over how to respond to the Golden State’s water crisis Thursday when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released what she called a “discussion draft” of proposed legislation.
It turns out “emergency drought relief” can take up to two years to distribute. On Wednesday, California regulators awarded the final pieces of the $680 million drought aid package Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers approved in March 2014.
On Monday, he’ll [Anthony Rendon], be voted into one of the top political posts in California, the speaker of the Assembly. … But early in his first term, he charged into a high-profile and politically thorny issue: water.
The complicated pact, backed by the states of California and Oregon, called for the removal of four hydroelectric dams, settled water rights disputes and spelled out water allocations for irrigators and wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s $122.6 billion budget plan out Thursday contained $80.5 million for the restoration of habitat at the shrinking Salton Sea, the creation of a longterm plan for the lake’s management, and is raising hopes for its restoration, officials said.
Don’t be surprised to see a flurry of new legislative proposals in 2016 that push toilet water recycling, rooftop water tanks and underground systems to filter sewer sludge for field irrigation in California. Call it the Australian plan.
Debate over a plan to address California’s drought continued Friday as the Republicans in the state’s delegation held a news conference blaming Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for not supporting their bid to insert the plan into a must-pass spending bill.
California lawmakers’ repeated failures to agree on legislation to resolve the state’s seemingly endless battle over how to use its water resources raise new questions about whether they’ll ever be able to find a compromise. This year, the climate looked ripe for an agreement.
The utter collapse of negotiations means a California water package that in its latest manifestation spanned 92 pages will not be slipped into a much larger, much-pass omnibus federal spending package needed to keep the federal government open.
California Republicans will continue trying to include language addressing the state’s drought in a must-pass bill to fund the federal government, over objections from the state’s Democratic delegation.
Five years after a high-profile deal was struck to remove four hydroelectric dams and improve conditions on one of the West Coast’s prime salmon rivers, the agreement is on the verge of collapse for lack of action by Congress.
A closed-door attempt to rewrite California water law crashed late last week in a public row between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that could doom drought legislation for yet another year.
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.
A California water bill that skeptics say has been cloaked in excessive secrecy will probably miss its Capitol Hill train this year. … The latest plot turn in California water politics bears a striking resemblance to past Capitol Hill narratives.