California Leans Heavily on its Groundwater, But Will a Court Decision Tip the Scales Against More Pumping?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pumping near the Scott River in Siskiyou County sparks appellate court ruling extending public trust doctrine to groundwater connected to rivers

Scott River, in Siskiyou County. In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling extended the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that feed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves were not. The ruling marked a dramatic shift in water law and forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from those creeks in the Eastern Sierra to preserve the lake.

Now, a state appellate court has for the first time extended that same public trust doctrine to groundwater that feeds a navigable river, in this case the Scott River flowing through a picturesque valley of farms and alfalfa in Siskiyou County in the northern reaches of California.


Save the Dates for Water 101, Lower Colorado River Tour and More!
Popular Water 101 Workshop includes optional groundwater tour; Santa Ana River Watershed Conference also set

At Hoover Dam on our annual Lower Colorado River TourOur 2019 calendar is starting to fill up, so save the dates for these upcoming tours, workshops and conferences.

Feb. 7: Water 101 Workshop in Sacramento

Our most popular workshop will have an optional groundwater tour the next day. More information coming soon! Read about last year’s workshop here

Feb. 27-March 1: Lower Colorado River Tour

Water News You Need to Know

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Trump orders quicker environmental review of California water projects

President Trump on Friday directed federal agencies to speed up their environmental review of major water projects in California and to develop plans to suspend or revise regulations that hamper water deliveries. The directive will have little immediate practical effect. But it comes a bit more than two weeks before a midterm election in which some Central Valley Republicans are in close races to hold on to their congressional seats.

Related stories:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

BREAKING NEWS: Can Trump force California to drain its rivers? He’s about to try

President Donald Trump was expected to intervene in one of California’s most contentious water wars Friday by signing a memorandum designed to scuttle state regulators’ plans to keep more water in the rivers at the expense of farms and cities. 

Trump was expected to sign the memo Friday afternoon in Arizona, alongside Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from the San Joaquin Valley, according to Politico. Denham, R-Turlock, has been pleading with the Trump administration for weeks to block the state’s plan. 

Related story:

Aquafornia news Western Water

Friday’s Top of the Scroll:California leans heavily on its groundwater, but will a court decision tip the scales against more pumping?

In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from Eastern Sierra creeks that fed Mono Lake. Some 35 years later, an appellate court concluded the same public trust doctrine that applied in the Mono Lake case also applies to groundwater that feeds a navigable river in a picturesque corner of far Northern California. But will this latest ruling have the same impact on California water resources as the historic Mono Lake decision?

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

State officials ‘racing’ to prevent Carr Fire erosion before rains

State officials said today [Oct. 18] they are “racing” to implement erosion control measures before the start of the rainy season on hills left bare by the Carr Fire. … [Clint] Snyder [assistant executive officer, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board] said the erosion control is focused on protecting human life and property, preserving drinking water sources in the Sacramento River and wildlife.

Related News Release:

Online Water Encyclopedia

Aquapedia background


Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world. They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of water, 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 list.

Salton Sea
Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 232 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

Aquapedia background


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.

No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the West than in any other regions of the country.


Important People in California Water History

Read about the history people who played a significant role in the water history of California.