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.
Alarmed that some cities have fined residents for allowing their lawns to turn brown during the drought, the state Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would prohibit penalties for failing to water grass.
California lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the installation of water meters in each unit of newly constructed apartments. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk is author of the proposed legislation.
Adam Gray on Wednesday was booted off the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, one day after an unlikely victory when the committee narrowly approved his legislation aimed at protecting communities near the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.
The $1 billion emergency drought aid package announced by Governor Jerry Brown last week has cleared the California Legislature. But a late addition to one of the measures has Republicans and farmers upset.
Not only will the $1-billion spending plan approved by lawmakers Thursday provide little immediate relief to drought-stricken Californians, state leaders are missing an opportunity to take more decisive action to restrict water use, conservation advocates said.
Senators approved Assembly bills 91 and 92 on votes of 35-1 and 24-14, respectively, after Republicans deliberated in a lengthy caucus meeting and then castigated the bill for broadening government powers over water. The Assembly expects to take up the measures Thursday, after which the package would go to Gov. Jerry Brown if passed.
Sen. Bob Hertzberg proposed a Water Seismic Safety (SB664) bill on Tuesday requiring local water agencies to evaluate their earthquake risks and suggest ways to keep the water flowing in the event of a disaster.
Sonoma County this week unveiled its first formal response to a wave of queries over the past six months about how California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which establishes the first rules for pumping groundwater in the Golden State, would affect property owners and agriculture.
State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas – author of two of three historic groundwater laws passed by the Legislature last year – has introduced a new bill to make well logs public. A hearing is scheduled for today.
At the close of another dry winter, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced a $1 billion package of bills Thursday to expedite money for people and cities hit hard by the drought and prepare the state for the flip side of extreme weather patterns — flooding.
Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers from both parties unveiled a plan that would invest more than $1 billion to improve the state’s water infrastructure, provide emergency assistance to struggling communities and protect wildlife.
With California entering its fourth year of drought, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders will propose more than $1 billion in emergency legislation Thursday for flood protection and water supply projects and to alleviate impacts of the drought.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released for public review and comment a draft strategic plan (Strategic Plan) describing its roles and responsibilities under the State’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The Strategic Plan documents DWR’s strategy to implement the SGMA and the efforts it will take to develop and share information with those affected by, or tasked with, implementation of the SGMA.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman on Friday reiterated his desire to see marijuana legalized nationally, saying it would help bring rational management to pot cultivation and thus reduce damage to the environment.
Frank Bigelow stood at the bottom of a gully that a few years ago was stocked with largemouth bass, and, more importantly, supplied water for a herd of cattle that numbered 600 head. … This year, eight of 17 bills he has introduced deal with water in one form or another.
Among the most intractable debates of California politics is what to do about the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, the 1970 law regulating the environmental impacts of development projects.
[Glen] Lewis, the open space ranger for the Muir Heritage Land Trust, wondered what John Muir would think if he could look out today at the panorama of modernity around Martinez, which, back in the famous naturalist’s day, consisted of fruit orchards almost as far as the eye could see.
Senate Bill 385, introduced by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, would extend the July 1 deadline for complying with the new chromium 6 standard until 2020 while requiring water suppliers to show progress toward implementation.
Just a few months ago the state announced that new local groundwater sustainability plans will be required throughout California. … About 85 people gathered in Orland Thursday night for the first of what will be many meetings on groundwater.
On Tuesday, California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer launched a third effort by introducing legislation in the Senate. U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, also introduced a bill in the House.
Initial efforts implementing the state’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act must focus on getting local and state agencies organized and able to communicate with each other. Having common expectations for the contents of the law’s required “Groundwater Sustainability Plans” will save the agencies and stakeholders considerable grief and confusion.
A new bill from Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia would hasten efforts to clean up the New River, which flows from Mexico into the Salton Sea and has long been known as one of America’s most polluted waterways.
California lawmakers led by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, and Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced legislation last week to double the amount of federal grants to restore the bay, the largest estuary on the West Coast, to $10 million a year.
Opponents of a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores have qualified a referendum on the law, delaying its July 1 effective date until voters act on the measure in November 2016, the California secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.
Assembly Bill 434, introduced this week by state Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, would authorize point-of-use filtration systems as a way to help solve the elevated levels of arsenic in the Coachella Valley.
Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Nicolaus, introduced Assembly Bill 311 on Thursday to streamline the environmental review process for water storage projects funded through the 2014 Proposition 1 water bond.
Exactly six months ago, the Capitol’s politicians were hailing a new era of bipartisan comity and cooperation with the overwhelming passage of $7.5 billion in bonds to improve the state’s water supply.
This handbook provides crucial background information on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The handbook also includes a section on options for new governance.
State lawmakers are preparing a sweeping package of bills that would fulfill several of Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change objectives by increasing California’s reliance on renewable energy and alternative transportation fuels.
There’s money for restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, likely to survive congressional winnowing. Proposed upgrades at places like Yosemite National Park will probably find Capitol Hill favor, as well, along with funding for Central Valley flood control and dam improvements.
In his inaugural speech, Gov. Jerry Brown promised to be a national leader on environmental issues. If California wants to pass big environmental policies, legislators need to look to people of color to lead the way.
California took enormous steps to address our water future by passing a water bond and landmark groundwater laws last year, but there’s more to be done. Lawmakers should look to reform the California Environmental Quality Act to ensure we are using water efficiently and sustainably.
Deadlines for meeting a new state mandate to balance the overdrafted Salinas Valley groundwater basin are years away, but Monterey County water and agricultural industry leaders are calling for the local process to begin immediately.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, a self-described Brooklyn street fighter, took a swing Wednesday at House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield over water, saying she told the Republican, “Don’t threaten me.”
In his State of the State and inaugural address, Gov. Jerry Brown reflected on the “eerie resemblance” between the challenges his father faced and those we grapple with today. Gov. Pat Brown’s California responded to the water crisis of his day with a massive undertaking, building the State Water Project.
A number of conversations are occurring in the U.S. House of Representatives, and between the House and the U.S. Senate (particularly Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford, Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.)) to reintroduce a version of last year’s drought legislation (H.R. 5781).
A state scientific review of what’s known about fracking in California finds the controversial oil and gas production technique is used in nearly half of all new wells, particularly in four Kern county oil fields in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley.
California has shallow, vertical fracking wells that require about 140,000 gallons of water per well to extract oil. That’s millions of gallons less than other states. But the fluids contain more concentrated chemicals.
The saga of the California drought — possibly the most severe in 1,200 years — may not be enough on its own to cause the 114th Congress to fork over billions in federal dollars for new water projects that benefit the Golden State.
About 20 percent of California’s oil and natural-gas production uses hydraulic fracturing — with almost all of it happening in one corner of the San Joaquin Valley — according to the most authoritative survey yet released of fracking in the Golden State.
Hydraulic fracturing unlocked oil at about half of the new wells launched in California over the last decade, and the practice will likely expand in a chunk of the San Joaquin Valley, according to a new study required by the 2013 law to regulate the practice.
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, noted at a Sacramento gathering of water policy experts and elected officials on Monday that water oversight begins with figuring out how much water is needed for cities, agriculture, industry and the environment.
In Solomon-like fashion, President Barack Obama split the heavily used Angeles National Forest in two, placing one half inside a brand-new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument while leaving out the other half.
Two months ago, in the grip of a historic drought, California voters overwhelmingly approved a $7.5 billion water bond to fund everything from new storage projects to modernizing drinking water treatment plants.
A staggering economic and environmental problem festering for three decades in the southern San Joaquin Valley would be addressed by a secret deal reached between the Obama administration and farmers — one that is sounding alarms for Bay Area lawmakers. … Details of the deal between Westlands and the federal Bureau of Reclamation have not been revealed to members of Congress, who would have to approve it.
Rampant speculation yesterday over who might replace I’m-not-retiring-I’m-just-not-running-again U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer momentarily threatened to overshadow all else in California politics. But the announcement that political observers have been waiting for since November is Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, which will finally drop at 10 a.m. in Room 1190 in the Capitol.
The first time Barbara Boxer’s name showed up in a Los Angeles Times editorial, it was May of 1984 and she was a first-term U.S. representative from the Bay Area pushing legislation that would force utilities – including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Metropolitan Water District – to pay market rates for power generated by the Hoover Dam.
California’s knack for spotting problems and producing answers on topics both grand and puny is on display in 930 laws taking effect this month. … Local water agencies will now have to account for groundwater pumping, an unregulated practice that is siphoning off last-ditch water supplies in a drought.
The heads of the 13 major [Senate] committees and Veterans’ Affairs are some of the most senior members of the Senate. … Only one new leader will be a woman; Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is in line to take over the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Forty-five years ago, in December 1969, President Richard Nixon signed a unique Bi-State Compact approving California and Nevada’s plan to create the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. It was the first such undertaking of its kind, uniting two states, six local jurisdictions, and the federal government in a shared mission to protect Lake Tahoe’s sensitive environment from overdevelopment.
During his tenure President Barack Obama has designated 13 national monuments, and the next one on his list should be California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain. Berryessa Snow Mountain is a national treasure — the region’s natural beauty, cultural history and economic significance place it among the most special places in the country — and it should be permanently protected.
Sen. Ricardo Lara has landed one of the most powerful committee chair assignments in the California Legislature, overseeing the Senate Appropriations Committee that decides the fate of hundreds of bills each year.
The Antelope Valley groundwater adjudication case is the current poster child for how painfully long and expensive groundwater adjudications can be. … On November 20, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water held an informational hearing on groundwater adjudications titled, “Resolving Disputes Regarding Groundwater Rights: Why Does It Take So Long and What Might Be Done to Accelerate the Process?” …
On November 20, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water held an informational hearing on groundwater adjudications titled, “Resolving Disputes Regarding Groundwater Rights: Why Does It Take So Long and What Might Be Done to Accelerate the Process?” … This hearing will be covered in three parts: In part 1, The Honorable Ronald B. Robie, Associate Justice with the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, begins with an overview of the groundwater adjudication process.
As the most severe winter storm in at least a half-decade bore down on California on Tuesday, 3,000 miles away in Washington, the House voted, largely along party lines, for a California drought relief bill.
For years, the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown squabbled over what should be in a multibillion-dollar water bond. Finally, this summer, they agreed on a $7.5 billion measure that won landslide approval in November. … Now Congress needs the same epiphany on water legislation meant to help California.
Just days after promising to bring highly controversial water legislation to the Senate through “regular order” in January, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., appears poised to ram through a bill in the last days of the session without public hearings and widespread debate.
California homeowner associations would be required to allow artificial turf in front yards under a bill recently proposed by the San Diego County Water Authority. … Citing the growing need to conserve water, the San Diego agency sponsored similar legislation in 2010 and 2011.
House Republicans who have scrambled all year to complete a California water bill throw a Hail Mary pass Tuesday, with legislation that’s drawn a presidential veto threat and resistance from the state’s two senators.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will announce Monday a proposal to prohibit single-use plastic bags at stores in the city in the event that opponents of a newly adopted statewide ban are able to force a public vote on that legislation.
The draft Safe Drinking Water Plan for California acknowledges that contaminated water sources, the high costs of treatment, and the large numbers of small water systems “will continue to challenge progress in addressing the Human Right to Water.”
House Republicans intend to jam through a California drought-relief bill early next week that would suspend some state water rights and environmental law to maximize water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
This video clip comes to us from a late-night session of the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, a fascinating display of how one might try to explain the intricacies of California water law to an outsider, in this case panel chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.
When it comes to state politics, few issues are as contentious as water and parks. North Coast Assemblyman Marc Levine will be navigating those treacherous waters next year after he assumes the chair of the state Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.
Brown lawns might seem like an extreme form of water conservation, but now comes the first bill of the new legislative session — from an assembly member named Brown — that seeks to make brown lawns off-limits to local fines.
A last-ditch effort by Central Valley Republicans to push an overhaul of federal water policy through Congress during this session met with opposition Wednesday from at least one California senator, all but ensuring that the bill will die until next year.
The noticing requirements special districts must follow to terminate delinquent residential light, heat, water or power service accounts were substantially modified by the passage of omnibus bill AB 2747 by the state Legislature.
Still staggering under $24 billion in debt, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will increase flood-insurance rates up to 18 percent next year for those living in high-risk flood zones, including the Smith Canal area of Stockton.
More than two-thirds of California voters authorized the state to borrow more than $7 billion to improve a water system strained by more than three years of drought. Now the difficult job of smartly targeting problems and effectively implementing projects is beginning.
For California water managers, 2014 has been one for the record books. Reservoirs have dropped to near-record lows, surface water deliveries have been slashed and some communities are rationing water to keep supplies in reserve for next year. But amid these challenging conditions, California voters opened the door for long-term solutions when they passed Proposition 1 on Nov. 4.
When Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the deal he had helped broker between Japanese light-rail manufacturer Kinkisharyo International and the electrical workers union, it was a win for the economy in Los Angeles County. But for environmentalists?
Whether Prop. 1 delivers on its promise, however, depends on what happens next. One danger is that Prop. 1 will lull Californians into believing that we have solved our water troubles. We haven’t. Nothing that Prop. 1 can do will redress the current drought.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s abrupt decision to yank a water bill she had spent more than four months negotiating came just as the California Democrat and Central Valley Republicans appeared on the brink of a deal.
Late Thursday morning, while the Capitol Hill spotlight was pointed elsewhere, three Northern California congressmen paid a quiet call on the state’s junior Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer. They wanted to talk water.
With the continuation of California’s historic drought and the recent passage of Proposition 1, the potential value of additional water storage in the state is an area of vigorous discussion. In a new study released today, we look at the different roles of storage in California’s integrated water system and evaluate storage capacity expansion from what we call a “system analysis approach.”
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Thursday pulled the plug on secret, high-stakes negotiations over a water bill for her drought-plagued state, saying she and fellow lawmakers will try again next year.
Already missing out on state money to address the drought, San Joaquin County officials will soon ask property owners if they’re willing to disclose to the state what some feel are sensitive details about their wells.
Under the new groundwater legislation, the California Department of Water Resources must establish the initial priority for each groundwater basin in the state no later than Jan. 31. Those basins that are ultimately designated as high or medium priority will be subject to groundwater sustainability plans to be adopted no later than Jan. 31, 2020, in some cases, or Jan. 31, 2022 in others.
The headline on Thursday’s front page spoke volumes: “Californians approve $7.5 billion water bond; now what?” … After billions are spent on pork projects designed to garner votes (it worked), there’s $2.75 billion set aside for “water storage.”
A day after passage of bond measure Proposition 1, water experts said it was too soon to say exactly how the gusher of tax dollars will be spent — but they envisioned new pipelines in Bay Area neighborhoods, groundwater cleanup in the San Fernando Valley, clean tap water in East Porterville, creek protections in the Sierra and a new dam on the San Joaquin River.
California’s passage of a $7.5 billion water bond is not an end, but a beginning. … Joining us to explain what Californians need to know about the future of these water funds is Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation.
California’s aging water infrastructure and collection of ecosystems will receive a $7.5 billion injection of taxpayer dollars, as voters on Tuesday approved a sizable bond that had become a priority for lawmakers and the governor.
Under recently enacted legislation, local agencies in California are required for the first time to manage groundwater pumping and recharge sustainably. … Within the next six to eight years, agencies in groundwater basins subject to critical overdraft must adopt plans that put these areas on a path to sustainability by 2040. A major factor complicating such long-term water planning is climate change.
If you are a water manager, your “fear list” may include earthquakes, climate change, having your water use made public and not least of all, new laws and regulations. California has a law that is new and complex – the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … The key element of the new legislation is the development of “groundwater sustainability plans” by groundwater sustainability agencies.
Sometimes, people take identical facts and reach opposite conclusions. I don’t dispute the facts that Dr. Rob Santos, the veterinarian and Turlock Irrigation District board member, used when he wrote “Here’s why I can’t vote for Brown’s water bond” (Oct. 19, Issues & Ideas).
When Californians close the musty drapes of the voting booth on Tuesday, they will face a $US 7.5 billion question: Should the perpetually water-worried state, in the midst of a record drought, use its taxing authority to pay for another set of state-funded water projects? If the voters say yes – as the polls suggest is likely – Proposition 1 will be the seventh and most expensive water-related bond passed in California since 2000.
California voters have turned against two health-related measures on Tuesday’s ballot while majorities continue to support a water infrastructure bond and a criminal sentencing initiative, according to a new Field Poll.
The environmentalists and other activists who had advocated for protecting the San Gabriel Mountains were shocked this month when President Obama created a national monument that was significantly smaller than they had expected and that excluded heavily used areas of the forest north of Los Angeles and Pasadena.
Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond, gathered the reluctant hold-your-nose support of The Press Democrat editorial board. But you should vote no on Proposition 1. Here’s why: Proposition 1 is not a solution to our water shortages or drought. But it does burden us with $14.4 billion of real debt obligations including interest …
For the past half-century, California has fallen behind in adequately planning for our water future by not investing in water storage and improved infrastructure. This failure, combined with the persistent drought, has led to the current statewide water crisis and threatens the future of our agriculture.
A showdown over whether to employ state legislation requiring union-backed labor protections on the Interlake Tunnel project continued Tuesday even as a status report indicated the project cost has nearly doubled.
California’s stubborn drought helped push a $7.5-billion water bond through the Legislature and onto the November ballot. But even if voters approve Proposition 1, it won’t provide relief any time soon.
Conservationists are turning their attention to the restoration of the Santa Ana River after recently approved legislation established a program to create a network of trails and river-bottom parks that could eventually connect scenic spots from Big Bear Lake to Huntington Beach.
The Santa Ana River, born of snowmelt and natural springs near Big Bear Lake, flows through Southern California as one of the region’s most scenic rivers — until it hits Orange County. … Under the legislation by state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), the Santa Ana River Conservancy Program will operate within the state Coastal Conservancy …”
In his first policy speech as California’s Senate leader, Kevin de León said one of his key priorities will be combating climate change by setting policies that promote energy efficiency. … In his speech to the water officials Thursday, de León also stumped for Proposition 1 …”
Restoring the ecological health of the Delta is critical to California’s water system. It’s also a prime reason why voters should approve Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November ballot.
The Pacific Institute, an internationally-renowned independent think tank focused on water issues, has released a report that helps voters untangle the complexities of the water bond measure. The Pacific Institute is taking no formal position for or against Proposition 1.
An in-depth analysis of the $7.5 billion water bond (Proposition 1) on the Nov. 4 ballot finds that it could benefit California’s communities and the environment but that those benefits (water supply, water reliability and environmental quality improvements) are not guaranteed.
Faced with a state mandate to balance groundwater basins within the next two decades, Monterey County officials on Tuesday took the first step toward meeting that goal in the long overdrafted Salinas Valley groundwater basin.
The [Public Policy Institute of California] survey, produced with support from The James Irvine Foundation, determined likely voter sentiment on other issues, including: … On Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond, 56 percent say they would support it after being read the ballot title and label for the measure.
[Gov. Jerry] Brown, running for his fourth term as governor, used his appearance at The Hamilton Project conference to give a sort of oral history of California water — which is, in a sense, a Brown family story — and to make a pitch for Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion bond measure on the November ballot.
The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5. “Congress Created Dust Bowl.” “Stop the Politicians’ Water Crisis.” “No Water No Jobs.”
Step by step, sewage flows through the city’s Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in the San Fernando Valley. Ultimately, the cleaned effluent flows into lakes and rivers. … Mayor Eric Garcetti, who prefers the term “showers to flowers” instead of “toilet to tap,” also lobbied for groundwater cleanup funds.
He’ll [Gov. Jerry Brown] dive further into the world of water at a policy conference today at Stanford University, hosted by The Hamilton Project at The Brookings Institution and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. … His speech, scheduled for 9:20 a.m., will be webcast.
San Joaquin County is missing out on millions of dollars in state grants to fight the drought, in part because some private landowners are reluctant to share confidential information about their wells.
The reduction of water use in new homes has long been a focus of California’s homebuilding industry. … The good news is the state has a golden opportunity to use the emergency drought funds available to retrofit older homes to comply with current building standards – potentially saving hundreds of billions of gallons a year.
Federal officials confirmed Wednesday that the Mount Baldy ski area and village are outside the boundaries of the newly designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, settling days of uncertainty.
A new campaign is underway to promote the new Salton Sea license plate, with the goal of registering at least 7,500 pre-sales by the end of next year. … Assemblyman Brian Nestande, a Palm Desert Republican, sponsored the legislation to create the plate. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in September.
It’s been four days since President Barack Obama flew into Southern California to establish the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, but federal officials are still unclear on exactly where it is. … Neither does staff at the office of Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, who pushed for the designation.
Sonoma County planning officials on Monday unveiled the most significant changes in nearly 40 years to the county’s underground well ordinance, which sets in place rules property owners must follow when drilling a new water well.
President Obama on Friday officially set aside 346,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument, a move to link more communities east of Los Angeles with wild places in their own backyards. … The San Gabriel River takes shape in three forks that drain a lacework of pristine mountain creeks.
Three straight years of desperately dry conditions in California are igniting hills in walls of towering orange flames, turning reservoirs to sandpits, and causing residents across America’s most populous state to clamor for water.
The lure of a San Gabriel Mountains wilderness teeming with wildlife, rivers and breathtaking panoramas is so strong that it now draws 3 million annual visitors whose presence, paradoxically, has overrun the region and degraded its beauty. President Obama will address that reality Friday by announcing that he is designating part of the mountains a national monument.
The biggest changes to California groundwater law in 150 years are on the way. What it means for local water leaders is a lot of work. The goal within 20 years is for all groundwater basins in the state to achieve sustainability.