As atmospheric rivers blasted across California this year, they
brought epic amounts of rain and snow follwing a three-year
Devastating and deadly floods hit parts of the state and now all
eyes are on the potential for more flooding, particularly in
the San Joaquin Valley as the record amount of snow in the
Sierras melts with warmer temperatures.
With anticipated sea level rise and other impacts of a changing
climate, flood management is increasingly critical in California.
Our 2023 California Water Leaders
cohort completed its year with a report outlining policy recommendations
for leveraging green infrastructure, such as restoring
floodplains, meadows and wetlands, to help manage water
The cohort of
22 up-and-coming leaders – engineers,
attorneys, planners, scientists, water managers and other
professionals from water-related organizations – worked
collaboratively and had full editorial control on the
Updated and redesigned, the easy-to-read overview comes as
the nation’s largest dam removal project is underway with
the first of four Klamath River hydropower dams
demolished this year.
The Layperson’s Guide covers the history of the region’s tribal,
agricultural and environmental relationships with one of the
West’s largest rivers. The river’s vast watershed straddles
Cailfornia and Oregon and hosts one of the nation’s oldest
and largest reclamation projects.
As we enter the critical rainy months of December through
March, we find ourselves in two unusual and conflicting
situations: lack of water and an abundance of it. So far
this rainy season, the Department of Water Resources says
California’s water year is off to a relatively dry start with
October and November. … Last week, the department
announced that its customers who serve 27 million Californians,
will get only ten percent of their water rights. The department
further says it is hopeful that this El Niño pattern will
generate wet weather, but it may not. … ”Now we’ve seen,
so far through the fall, a pretty dry year; only half of the
precip we would expect by now,” said state climatologist
Michael Anderson. UC Merced’s Center of Watershed Sciences
expert agrees. “Average snow water content is much lower.
Precipitation is much lower than average for this time of the
year, so that’s where we are,” Josue Medellin-Azuara said.
Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho is adding
environmental violations to his lawsuit against the city of
Sacramento over what he calls its failure to act regarding the
homelessness crisis. … Ho said debris, harmful chemicals
and human waste from homeless encampments pollute the river,
putting the city in violation of state wildlife statutes.
“Would anybody now swim in the American River? Would anybody
want to fish in the American River? Would anybody even want to
kayak in the American River anymore?” Ho said. “And the
answer’s no. Shame on the city.” Critics, including
homeless advocates, say Ho’s claims are false. They cite a 2021
study by the Central Valley Water Board that found birds,
especially Canada geese, are the largest and most consistent
source of contamination in this section of the river.
The Water Education Foundation’s second edition of
Guide to The Klamath River Basin is
hot off the press and available for purchase. Updated and
redesigned, the easy-to-read overview comes as the
nation’s largest dam removal project is underway with the
first of four Klamath River hydropower dams
demolished this year. The Layperson’s Guide covers the
history of the region’s tribal, agricultural and environmental
relationships with one of the West’s largest rivers. The
river’s vast watershed straddles Cailfornia and Oregon and
hosts one of the nation’s oldest and largest reclamation
Anticipated repairs to the power plant at the base of Isabella
Dam could cause a “massive fish kill” along the length of the
Kern River as flows would have to be cut to almost nothing for
weeks. Isabella Partners, which operates that power plant,
submitted a request to the Army Corps of Engineers to cut water
releases down 25 cubic feet per second starting Dec. 18,
according to plant operator Rush Van Hook. The dam is currently
releasing about 1,100 cfs. If approved, the flow reduction
could last several, or more, weeks, he said. Operators need to
get into the plant to determine the extent of needed repairs,
which, Van Hook said may be related to the “vibration” issue
that caused the Army Corps to shut off flows in mid-April
during the height of this year’s epic runoff.
Wetlands are among the most
important and hardest-working ecosystems in the world, rivaling
rain forests and coral reefs in productivity of life.
They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of
water, sequester carbon, reduce flooding and erosion, recharge
groundwater and provide a
diverse range of recreational opportunities from fishing and
hunting to photography. They also serve as critical habitat for
wildlife, including a large percentage of plants and animals on
California’s endangered species
Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the
Bay Model is a giant hydraulic replica of San Francisco
Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta. It is housed in a converted World II-era
warehouse in Sausalito near San Francisco.
Hundreds of gallons of water are pumped through the
three-dimensional, 1.5-acre model to simulate a tidal ebb
and flow lasting 14 minutes.
Drought—an extended period of
limited or no precipitation—is a fact of life in California and
the West, with water resources following boom-and-bust patterns.
During California’s 2012–2016 drought, much of the state
experienced severe drought conditions: significantly less
precipitation and snowpack, reduced streamflow and higher
temperatures. Those same conditions reappeared early in 2021
prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom in May to declare drought emergencies
in watersheds across 41 counties in California.