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Our Latest Western Water Article Examines Efforts to Help Consumers Afford Water as Bills Pile Up Amid Pandemic
Foundation writing team also updated Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map, and guides on Water Law, Delta & Central Valley Project

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt.

Concerns about water affordability, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy. Our latest article in Western Water explores the hurdles to helping consumers, how some water agencies have devised workarounds and how far more lasting solutions remain out of reach.

Announcement

Last Chance to Join Us for Tomorrow’s Virtual Open House
Enjoy a happy hour with our team!

Enjoy happy hour tomorrow with the Water Education Foundation, test your water knowledge in a trivia contest, win some prizes and socialize in chat rooms!

The team behind our programs that inspire a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource – water – will be on hand during the hour-long virtual event starting at 4:30 p.m.

Water News You Need to Know

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Hosing down the driveway? Why California has no statewide water wasting rules as it heads into a new drought

Anyone who lived through California’s last big drought from 2012 to 2016 remembers the rules. You couldn’t water your yard so much that the water ran off into the street or sidewalk. Or hose down a driveway. Hotels had to put up signs telling customers they could choose not to have sheets and towels washed every day. Ornamental fountains were prohibited unless they recycled water. Watering landscaping within 48 hours of rain was forbidden. … Now California is entering a new drought with dwindling reservoir levels. But so far, there are no statewide prohibitions against wasting water.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why melting Sierra snow won’t save California from extreme drought

California’s drought conditions have gone from bad to worse in scarcely a month. In the weeks following April 1, the traditional end of the rainy season, warm temperatures have burned off most of the Sierra Nevada snowpack and left the state’s water network gasping. Instead of delivering a generous volume of melted snow into California’s rivers and reservoirs, the snowpack has largely evaporated into the air or trickled into the ground.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?

In scale and ambition, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has few parallels. And the work becomes increasingly urgent as the climate crisis makes water shortages increasingly severe. … This emphasis on local expertise points to SGMA’s possibilities — and its potential pitfalls — especially when it comes to deciding what “sustainable” water management means. Each management body has wide discretion to define “sustainability” — and the path to sustainability by 2040 — for its particular basin.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Don’t expect Miracle May this month on the Colorado River

The Colorado River Basin appears to be out of miracles this spring. Five years after a “Miracle May” of record rainfall staved off what had appeared to be the river’s first imminent shortage in water deliveries, the hope for another in 2021 “is fading quickly,” says the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center’s latest report, released Thursday. That’s one more piece of bad news for the Central Arizona Project. A first-time shortage is now likely to slash deliveries of river water to Central Arizona farmers starting in 2022 but won’t affect drinking water supplies for Tucson, Phoenix and other cities, or for tribes and industries that get CAP water.

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Online Water Encyclopedia

Restored wetlands in Northern California
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Wetlands

Wetlands are among the most important and hardest-working ecosystems in the world, rivaling rain forests and coral reefs in productivity of life. 

Salton Sea
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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.

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

Lake Oroville shows the effects of drought in 2014.
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Drought

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 most recent drought, from 2012–2016, much of the state experienced severe drought conditions: significantly less precipitation and snowpack, reduced streamflow and higher temperatures.

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Important People in California Water History

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