Water Leaders on Bay-Delta tour

2024 Water Leader Apps Coming Soon; Water Summit Explores SGMA; Read about a New Law that Boosts Groundwater Funding

In this Issue: Water leader applications for 2024 will be coming out soon! And don’t forget to join us at our annual Water Summit Oct. 25 when we’ll be talking about taking on the improbable; and check out our latest Western Water article about a little-known change in law that will benefit groundwater in California.

Western Water Nick Cahill California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater By Nick Cahill

New California Law Bolsters Groundwater Recharge as Strategic Defense Against Climate Change
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Designates Aquifers 'Natural Infrastructure' to Boost Funding for Water Supply, Flood Control, Wildlife Habitat

Groundwater recharge in Madera CountyA new but little-known change in California law designating aquifers as “natural infrastructure” promises to unleash a flood of public funding for projects that increase the state’s supply of groundwater.

The change is buried in a sweeping state budget-related law, enacted in July, that also makes it easier for property owners and water managers to divert floodwater for storage underground.

Water News You Need to Know

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California orders bottled water company to stop ‘unauthorized’ piping from springs

For decades, water has been siphoned from springs in the San Bernardino Mountains and piped downhill to be bottled and sold as Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water. After a years-long fight over the bottled water operation in the San Bernardino National Forest, California water regulators ruled Tuesday that the company must stop taking millions of gallons through its pipelines. The State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to order the company BlueTriton Brands to “cease and desist” taking much of the water it has been piping from tunnels and boreholes in the mountains near San Bernardino. Environmentalists, who have campaigned for years against bottling water from the forest, praised the decision.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Study: Thousands of California wells are at risk of drying up despite landmark water law

Even though California enacted sweeping legislation nearly a decade ago to curb excessive agricultural pumping of groundwater, new research predicts that thousands of drinking water wells could run dry in the Central Valley by the time the law’s restrictions take full effect in 2040. The study, published this month in the journal Scientific Reports, casts critical light on how the state is implementing the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The research reveals that plans prepared by local agencies would allow for heavy pumping to continue largely unabated, potentially drawing down aquifers to low levels that would leave many residents with dry wells.

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Aquafornia news Stateline

Feds’ cash stream supports Colorado River conservation — but the money will dry up

Despite a megadrought, states in the West have been able to avoid drastic cuts to their allocations of Colorado River water this year not only because of surprising storms but also thanks to generous financial incentives from all levels of government that have encouraged people to conserve. The temporary Colorado River water-sharing agreement that Arizona, California and Nevada announced in May depends on an injection of $1.2 billion from the federal government. Some of the 30 tribal nations in the river basin also are getting federal dollars. The Gila River Indian Community, for example, will receive $233 million from the feds over the next three years, mostly to conserve water. Fueled by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the feds will spend a total of $15.4 billion for drought resiliency programs …

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Feds prevail in lawsuit against Klamath Drainage District

An irrigation district in the Klamath Project can no longer divert water from the Klamath River under a state-issued water right without approval from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a federal judge has determined. Reclamation sued the Klamath Drainage District in July 2022 for taking water from the river despite curtailments intended to protect endangered fish. The 2022 irrigation season was severely hampered in the project following several consecutive years of drought. Reclamation allotted just 62,000 acre-feet of water from Upper Klamath Lake for irrigators, about 14% of full demand, including zero water for districts with junior rights.

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Online Water Encyclopedia

Aquapedia background Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map


Sacramento National Wildlife RefugeWetlands 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 list.

Bay-Delta Tour participants viewing the Bay Model

Bay Model

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.

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 237 feet below sea level.

Lake Oroville shows the effects of drought in 2014.


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.