There was no electricity when Vickie Buchanan’s family came to Diamond Valley in 1958. Nor were there many crops. But there was water, and as early settlers, Vickie’s parents were given priority access under a rule fundamental to Western water law: “first in time, first in right.” A steady flow of farmers followed, planting alfalfa and timothy hay grass in the high-desert soil of the central Nevada valley.
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 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.
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.
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.
The Trump administration has handed a big boost to a private water venture in Southern California, angering California’s senior senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who said the decision could “destroy pristine public land” in the Mojave Desert.
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.
The project, which involves the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Imperial Irrigation District, is one of several initial efforts underway to restore habitat and reduce windblown dust as the Salton Sea shrinks. The lake is about to begin receding rapidly.
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.
If whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over, five years of drought have transformed California’s civil courts into well-worn legal boxing rings. As climate change threatens the state’s long-term water future, local water officials and legal experts say water rights have morphed into priceless bounty worth protecting by any means necessary.
At a special meeting Monday, irrigation leaders will consider selling more river water to buyers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a tradition that has brought in millions of dollars but also controversy to the Oakdale Irrigation District.
California officials don’t have to pay property owners to access their land to conduct preliminary testing before deciding whether to move forward with a $15.7 billion plan to build two giant water tunnels to supply drinking water for cities and irrigation for farmers, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday. … Officials promoting the tunnels will present plans to state water regulators in hearings starting Tuesday.
In a win for the state, the California Supreme Court declared Thursday that the state has the right to go on private property for soil and environmental testing as part of a plan to divert fresh water under or around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on its way to Central and Southern California.
The California Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for state water authorities to do environmental and geological testing on private land for a proposed project to divert Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water to the south.
Water leaders voted 3-2 Tuesday to sue to bar elected board members Linda Santos and Gail Altieri from closed-door board discussions regarding an ongoing lawsuit facing the Oakdale Irrigation District. Santos and Altieri cast “no” votes but were outvoted by board members Steve Webb, Gary Osmundson and Herman Doornenbal.
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.
A judge declined Wednesday to halt the Oakdale Irrigation District’s evolving plan to idle some farmland and sell water not needed for that land. The district has not revealed – to the public or its own board of directors – how its fallowing program has changed, other than to say that previous prospective buyers no longer are involved.
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.
The rains this winter were more or less than expected, depending on where you live and what you expected. … The unequal distribution of water continues as state and federal water leaders allocate surface water supply.
The Oakdale Irrigation District expects to reap $13.75 million selling Stanislaus River water to buyers from the Fresno area and on the Valley’s drought-scarred West Side, according to a sales agreement unanimously approved Tuesday by the OID board.
Only one farmer showed up Tuesday to share thoughts on the irrigation district’s controversial habit of selling river water to outside buyers, although benefits from doing so became the focus of a subsequent budget discussion.
At least at the Salton Sea, the district’s [Imperial Irrigation District] hardball tactics seem to be working: There’s been more political progress this year than ever before. Gov. Jerry Brown has asked for a plan of action, and several long-stalled pilot projects are finally getting underway.
Irrigation leaders complied with California open-meetings law when they agreed to sell Stanislaus River water to Fresno-area buyers at a Tri-Dam meeting in Manteca, an attorney representing the Oakdale Irrigation District said in a written response to a customer’s formal complaint.
Imperial Valley farmers know their water is precious and understand that to preserve a way of life that runs back a century they have to grapple with the needs of a drought-stricken state. … In 2003, the Imperial Irrigation District, under pressure from Senator Dianne Feinstein and other federal and state officials, controversially agreed to sell as much as 280,000 acre-feet a year to San Diego.
Irrigation leaders illegally agreed to sell Stanislaus River water to outsiders, an Oakdale Irrigation District customer alleges in a formal complaint. … The district has explained the deal in meetings, a news release and an Oct. 18 advertisement in The Modesto Bee.
Irrigation agencies in Oakdale and Manteca will reap $11.5 million selling Stanislaus River water to outsiders in coming weeks. Sensitive to pressure from local farmers, government officials and media, the Oakdale Irrigation District kept the deal under wraps until Tuesday’s announcement.
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.
In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says Cadiz cannot use an existing railroad right-of-way for a new water pipeline that would carry supplies from the project’s proposed well field to the Colorado River Aqueduct.
Drought-stricken cities in Southern California will soon get some help courtesy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. … Pending approval from its board, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will pay the authority almost $44.4 million for the water, which equates to about a six-month supply for the Las Vegas Valley.
Residents in the Coachella Valley are used to the seasonal rotten-egg stench from the Salton Sea, but not for nine days in a row. … In 2017, water to the sea will decrease greatly when an agreement to transfer water from farms to San Diego kicks into high gear.
Last fall, farmers working the flat land along the Colorado River outside Blythe, California, harvested a lucrative crop of oranges, lettuce and alfalfa from fields irrigated with river water. But that wasn’t their only source of income.
In 2000, most of the Sacramento region’s water agencies and environmental groups came together in the historic Water Forum Agreement that established a framework to provide a reliable water supply through 2030 and to preserve environmental resources of the lower American River.
Even as they cope with their own cutbacks, several Sacramento Valley water agencies are contemplating major water sales to huge farming interests south of the Delta. … While the dollars are tempting, area officials say water sales are also a means of helping their fellow Californians.
An entrepreneur attempting to pioneer the shipment of large volumes of water from an Alaskan town to thirsty global markets claims his company is a step closer after signing a contract to deliver 10 million gallons per month to a buyer in dry California.
On Tuesday, the board of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, or EBMUD, unanimously authorized district staff to negotiate the purchase of up to 21,000 acre-feet of Sacramento River water from the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Sycamore Mutual Water Co. and Reclamation District 1004 outside of Colusa.
With one emergency water supply already flowing in, the East Bay’s largest water district plans to buy three others to bolster its drought defenses. The East Bay Municipal Utility District board on Tuesday will consider authorizing the purchase of up to 21,000 acre feet of water from three Northern California suppliers with water to spare.
SWIIM, which stands for Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management, seeks to streamline the water transfer process, selling its service to farmers and water districts. Already operating in Colorado, the startup is working with Western Growers, a trade group, to start pilot programs in Kern County, the Sacramento Valley, the Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley this year.
The Dublin San Ramon Services District says its path toward buying surplus Yuba County water is clearer after the Tri-Valley’s wholesale water supplier — Alameda County Zone 7 Water agency — withdrew its earlier protest against the transfer.
California officials said Wednesday that the drought-stricken state set an unachievable bar to save the Salton Sea and outlined small projects aimed at staving off the demise of the state’s largest lake, disappointing farmers, environmentalists and others.
After listening to seven hours of doomsday predictions, state water officials agreed Wednesday to look at one of California’s largest but often ignored environmental problems: the deterioration of the Salton Sea.
Los Angeles is offering rice farmers in the Sacramento Valley more money than the city has ever paid for water — $700 per acre-foot. At this price, rice farmers could make more money selling water than they can make on their crops.
During its meeting Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors will consider sending a letter of concerns to the Biggs-West Gridley Water District over plans to transfer Feather River water to the San Joaquin Valley.
Imperial County and the Imperial Irrigation District announced a settlement in a long-running legal battle Tuesday, ending 12 years of litigation over a water transfer deal and its effects on the shrinking Salton Sea. The case stems from the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement, or QSA, the largest agricultural-to-urban water transfer in U.S. history.
The Imperial Irrigation District is calling on all stakeholders in the 2003 water transfer deal to come together to finally find a solution to the piece of that puzzle that has remained elusive ever since: the promised restoration of the Salton Sea.
The Imperial Irrigation District is pressing for the state to take the lead in settling on a plan for the Salton Sea and paying for it as a deadline nears in less than three years for the lake’s decline to accelerate.
If I have sugar in my pantry and flour in my cupboard, does that make me a baker? No. But The Bee continues to assert that since the Oakdale Irrigation District pumps groundwater and sells surface water that makes it guilty of pumping and selling groundwater out of the county.
Imperial Valley water officials on Tuesday urged the state to help “avert an emerging environmental and public health crisis at the Salton Sea,” or otherwise consider restricting a massive water transfer deal that benefits San Diego.
Butte County supervisors are being asked to voice sincere dissatisfaction with an environmental document reviews the potential impacts of a 10-year water transfer program from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
There’s a plan for water transfers could move up to 511,000 acre-feet of water each year for the next 10 years from the Sacramento Valley to the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area. … The Bureau [of Reclamation] is in the middle of writing the “Long-Term Water Transfers Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report.”
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.”
Drought is rampant these days in many parts of the American West, so consider this a pretty sweet gift: You’ve just been given the rights to some water. … Your job is to turn around and use that resource in the most valuable way possible.
This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.
One of the most extreme droughts in California’s history has been hitting agriculture hard, forcing cutbacks in water deliveries in parts of the Central Valley and leaving more than 400,000 acres of farmland fallow and dry.
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.
This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12 about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.
The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2000 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use … Colorado River transfers, CALFED’s Water Transfer Program and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market.
Order in bulk (10 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.
The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.
The Yuba Accord is a landmark agreement that balances the interests of environmental groups, agriculture, water agencies and hydroelectric operators relying on water from the Yuba River. A tributary of the Feather River, the Yuba is located north of Sacramento.
Pieced together after two decades of lawsuits, the Yuba Accord allows for fresh water flows to support native fish while also providing water for hydropower, transfers and irrigation. The Accord took effect in 2008 after two years as a pilot project.
This printed issue of Western Water explores the historic nature of some of the key agreements in recent years, future challenges, and what leading state representatives identify as potential “worst-case scenarios.” Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the Colorado River Symposium. The Foundation will publish the full proceedings of the Symposium in 2012.
This issue of Western Water examines the continuing practice of smart water use in the urban sector and its many facets, from improved consumer appliances to improved agency planning to the improvements in water recycling and desalination. Many in the water community say conserving water is not merely a response to drought conditions, but a permanent ethic in an era in which every drop of water is a valuable commodity not to be wasted.
This issue updates progress on crafting and implementing California’s 4.4 plan to reduce its use of Colorado River water by 800,000 acre-feet. The state has used as much as 5.2 million acre-feet of Colorado River water annually, but under pressure from Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the other six states that share this resource, California’s Colorado River parties have been trying to close the gap between demand and supply.