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Water news you need to know

A collection of top water news from around California and the West compiled each weekday. Send any comments or article submissions to Foundation News & Publications Director Doug Beeman.

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Please Note: The headlines below are the original headlines used in the publication cited at the time they are posted here, and do not reflect the stance of the Water Education Foundation, an impartial nonprofit that remains neutral.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Atmospheric river – Biggest storm of the year heading for California

Winter weather is finally arriving in Northern California. And after weeks of dry, warm conditions and growing drought concerns, it’s coming in hard. Forecasters say a sizable storm — the first significant atmospheric river event to hit the greater Bay Area this winter season and likely the biggest storm in at least 12 months — will soak much of California starting Tuesday night, continuing Wednesday, and bringing wet roads, downed trees, power outages and the possibility of mudslides. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Environmental turnaround — 8 issues that will pivot in California’s favor under Biden

As wildfires, heat waves, water scarcity and threats to wildlife intensify in the West, California’s effort to confront these environmental crises now has support in Washington, a stark change from the past four years. Even as former President Donald Trump spent his final days in office on the sidelines, lamenting his election loss, his administration continued to roll back environmental conservation and gut climate regulations. 

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Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Record low Lake Powell and bad 2021 drought forecast sets stage for water cuts

The dry 2020 and the lack of snow this season has water managers in seven states preparing for the first time for cutbacks outlined in drought contingency plans drafted two years ago.  A sobering forecast released this week by the Bureau of Reclamation shows the federally owned Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the nation’s two largest reservoirs and critical storage for Colorado River water and its 40 million users — dipping near-record-low levels.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A Swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California

California water issues are notoriously complicated by a massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations in California.

Aquafornia news Grist

38 countries have declared a ‘climate emergency.’ Should the US be next?

After 10 days of protests, Britain’s Parliament did a surprising thing: Its members approved a proposal to declare a state of emergency in response to the rapidly overheating planet. And while the U.K. was the first country to do so, it wasn’t the last. Today, at least 38 countries around the world — including the whole of the European Union, Japan, and New Zealand — and thousands of towns, cities, and counties have issued some kind of resolution declaring climate change a crisis. … A week into his term, President Joe Biden is already under pressure to do the same.

Aquafornia news Sonoma Index-Tribune

California to impose first statewide rules for winery wastewater, marking new era

Hundreds of California wineries will for the first time be governed by statewide wastewater processing rules, a change from the long-held, regional approach that could increase production costs for wineries and protections for waterways while providing consistency for vintners across the state. The move toward a statewide regulatory framework, a five-year effort championed by industry leaders, was finalized this week by the State Water Resources Control Board, which approved an order setting up guidelines for wastewater processing at most of the more than 3,600 bonded wineries in the state. 

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Aquafornia news Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico water lawyer appointed to Interior Department

Tanya Trujillo, who was appointed to the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission in July 2019, has joined the Biden administration’s Interior Department. The water lawyer and native New Mexican will serve as the principal deputy assistant secretary for water and science. The position oversees the work of the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Colorado forests primed for megafires without large-scale action, federal managers warn

Federal officials entrusted with managing millions of acres of forest in Colorado and surrounding states say they’re facing accelerated decline driven by climate warming, insect infestation, megafires and surging human incursions. They’ve been struggling for years to restore resilience and ecological balance to western forests. But they’re falling further behind on key tasks…

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Editorial: The new reality – Year-round fire dangers amid drought

Oh, that the rain of the past few days would be enough. And, perhaps it will be, if forecasts for more during the upcoming week hold true. At the least, however, the rain that does fall will not dampen the possibility of more fires. Think about that: Fires in January? 

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Aquafornia news Redheaded Blackbelt

Blog: Overturned fuel tank at cannabis grow leads to over $100,000 fine and more

Two out-of-state men were ordered by a judge to pay $117,373 in restitution for water pollution violations stemming from an overturned fuel tank that released an estimated 760 gallons of diesel into Rock Tree Creek, a tributary of the Eel River.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Radhika Fox appointed to lead EPA’s Office of Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the selection of US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox as the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water. Fox was a Day One Presidential Appointee in the Biden-Harris Administration. She will serve as the Acting Assistant Administrator for Water.

Aquafornia news The Pagosa Springs SUN

Opinion: When water dries up, it can be deadly

In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese that fill the sky during migration have moved south.  This summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence. The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on the Oregon-California border.
-Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.

Aquafornia news Regional Water Authority

News release: Michelle Banonis selected as RWA manager of strategic affairs

The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is delighted to announce that Michelle Banonis has been selected as the organization’s new Manager of Strategic Affairs. Banonis has over two decades of experience in water, ecosystems, engineering, policy, and law, and most recently served as the Assistant Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources where she worked on water-related issues of statewide significance with multiple interests.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

At dawn of Biden administration, opportunities for water systems

President Joe Biden has made his priorities clear: subduing the pandemic, economic recovery, climate action, and racial equity. … Climate has received top-billing within the president’s environmental agenda, but water infrastructure and water systems could also see their status lifted. Some observers are hopeful that the new administration and the Democratic Congress will uncork federal water spending that has been steady but flat in recent years. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina Coast Water District under fire for rates, spending practices

Former U.S. Rep. Sam Farr is calling for the Marina Coast Water District to be investigated for fiscal mismanagement and merge with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, even as the district is involved in a lawsuit that has successfully challenged its water rates and could have implications for the entire Ord Community.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Friday Top of the Scroll: California water operations among Biden agency review plans

California’s tussle with federal authorities over water operations will get a second look under the new administration of President Joe Biden. The 46th president plans to sign a number of executive orders, including one that instructs agency heads to review actions taken under President Donald Trump that “were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.” On the list for both the departments of Commerce and Interior is a review of new biological opinions adopted in 2019 governing water delivery in California. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

California wildfire risk eases with rains spreading in parched state

California’s wildfire threat could ease over the next few weeks, with a series of storms bringing much-needed moisture after heat and drought torched record acreage in the state. The first downpour is already spreading across Northern California Friday, and that will be followed by progressively stronger systems through next week …

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Dupont, 3M win dismissal of California water utility’s PFAS suit

3M Co. and E.I. DuPont de Nemours Inc. shook off a California water utility’s claims that they contaminated the state water supply with PFAS after the Central District of California found the utility failed to establish jurisdiction. Golden State Water Co. alleges that the companies “directed and instructed” intermediaries and end users of their products to dispose of them in a way they should have known may cause contamination. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Foundation resources help you understand groundwater’s vital role in California
Special report on groundwater coming soon

To help you learn more about the importance of groundwater, the Water Education Foundation has an array of educational materials on this vital resource. And next week, the Foundation’s online magazine, Western Water news, will publish a special report examining how two local groundwater agencies are taking different approaches to achieve sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most critically overdrafted regions in the state.

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Lightning Complex Fires also seriously damaged drinking water systems

As the CZU Lightning Complex fire bore down on Gail Mahood’s tree-shrouded Felton neighborhood last August, she gathered what possessions she could and fled. … Thankfully, fire crews saved the little community of 20 or so houses, stopping the blaze within a half-mile of Mahood’s home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but the pipes that delivered drinking water from a spring just up the hill were completely destroyed.

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