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 Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought: Emergency project being built to protect California water supplies

In a new symbol of California’s worsening drought, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a $10 million emergency project to build a massive rock barrier through part of the Delta in Contra Costa County to preserve water supplies for millions of people across the state. The 800-foot long barrier — the size of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid laid on its side — is essentially a rock wall, 120 feet wide, built in water 35 feet deep. Its purpose: To block salt water from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay from flowing too far east and contaminating the huge state and federal pumps near Tracy …

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Next heat wave coming soon, centering on Northern California

The Bay Area enjoyed a significant cooldown on the first day of summer as the first major heat wave of the year subsided Sunday — but forecasters are predicting another record-breaking hot spell by next weekend. Last week’s heat wave saw a strong area of high pressure build from the Southwest desert, strengthening as it baked the central and southern regions of California … Experts said the heat is likely to intensify California’s already dire drought conditions and bring potential wildfire danger.

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Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

New bill would make it easier to transfer water throughout California

Growers are dealing with severe cutbacks in the surface water deliveries they normally receive from reservoirs. The lack of steady irrigation has already impacted spring cropping decisions made by farmers. … A bill introduced by Republican Congressman David Valadao would allow more water to be moved south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while keeping protections in place for fish such as the delta smelt and salmon.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

News release: Forty-two percent of public water supply wells in California’s San Joaquin Valley vulnerable, finds new report

Forty two percent of shallow wells supplying water to community water systems in California’s San Joaquin Valley are vulnerable to going partially or fully dry under the state’s minimum thresholds, finds a new report from the Pacific Institute. Most impacted wells are shallower, and tend to be in disadvantaged communities.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Farmers and ranchers need support during drought

While California is known for its world-famous entertainment industry and ever-transforming tech sector, agriculture is the often-overlooked backbone of our diverse state and one of its earliest economic engines.  Our state’s multigenerational farmers and ranchers not only feed Californians, but also supply one-third of our country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, while also leading the nation in milk production.
-Written by Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and David Shabazian, director of the California Department of Conservation.

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Aquafornia news SFist

Nearly all of California’s giant sequoias are in ‘exceptional drought’ areas

As California’s drought worsens, over 93% of all known giant sequoia trees currently exist in areas experiencing “exceptional drought” conditions — the most severe drought classification established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). … [H]uman activity and climate change threaten their continued existence. And now with drought conditions worsening across the West Coast, virtually every single one of the massive trees is now rooted in an area under exceptional drought conditions, leaving them prone to damage from wildfires.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Newsom’s wildfire plan may have a problem when it comes to fighting big blazes

Before last year’s devastating fire season, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed firefighters to clear huge lines of trees and shrubs near more than 200 communities to help stop or slow a potential blaze. Much of the work was done in the Bay Area. These widely promoted fuel breaks, a centerpiece of the governor’s billion-dollar strategy to protect California from catastrophic wildfire, however, have had limited success, according to data reviewed by The Chronicle.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

This giant ‘inland ocean’ is Southern California’s last defense against drought

Mechanical engineer Brent Yamasaki set out amid the recent blistering heat wave to take stock of the giant dams, pumps and pipes that support Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County, the largest storehouse of water in Southern California…. water availability in Southern California “is expected to remain relatively stable over the next few years,” says Deven Upadhyay, the MWD’s chief operating officer. “Diamond Valley Lake is a key part of that forecast….”

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Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

What Islais Creek tells us about rising sea levels in San Francisco

Islais Creek is an unassuming waterway along San Francisco’s eastern industrial shoreline, meandering its way inland and providing a natural border between The City’s Bayview and Dogpatch neighborhoods. There’s a nice little park there, tucked under a bridge, that locals visit. But it’s not the kind of place most people think about much. Environmentalists and urban planners, on the other hand, think about it a lot. Here’s why: Rising sea levels and flooding.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Watershed restoration is key to a climate-smart future 

California is in a megadrought, with its key reservoirs falling to their lowest points in history. Wildfire season is already here, and officials are bracing for yet another catastrophic year. Meanwhile, rural communities remain in desperate need of viable, sustainable economic futures. One climate-smart solution that addresses all these needs is watershed restoration.

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Aquafornia news Valley Roadrunner

Planning group’s Schmidt says SDG&E violating state water board waiver

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) appears to be violating a water discharge waver by the California Water Quality Control Board issued earlier this month by the board, according to Larry Schmidt of the VC Planning Group, whom The Roadrunner contacted Saturday. Schmidt is the lead for the planning group on this issue after being appointed Monday night to head the group’s subcommittee investigating the utility’s work on Cole Grade Road that is near Cool Valley Road.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: What’s a 100-year flood? A hydrologist explains

A 100-year flood, like a 100-year storm, is one so severe it has only a 1% chance of hitting in any given year. Unfortunately, many people believe that if they experienced a 100-year flood this year, they will not see another one like it for 99 years. It just doesn’t work that way. In reality, the chance of being flooded next year, and the year after that, is the same as it was when the house flooded the first time – 1%.

Aquafornia news The Coast News Group

San Elijo’s water reclamation facility named ‘Plant of the Year’

The San Elijo Joint Powers Authority’s water reclamation facility near San Elijo Lagoon on Manchester Avenue in Encinitas was named “Plant of the Year” by the California Water Environment Association, the agency announced today. The award recognizes accomplishments in compliance, innovative practices, cost-effectiveness and superior plant performance amongst wastewater agencies across California.

Aquafornia news Aspen Times

Conservation groups want recreation water right tied to Colorado’s natural river features

Three conservation groups aiming to keep more water in rivers for recreation are working on a revision to a state law. American Whitewater, Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates are proposing an amendment to legislation that would allow natural river features such as waves and rapids to get a water right. Under the state’s current statute, in order to get what is known as a recreational in-channel diversion water right, it must be tied to a man-made structure in the river, such as a design feature that creates the waves in many kayak parks. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Kayak San Francisco Bay: How to spend an amazing day out on the water

I’ve spent my whole life near San Francisco Bay. But the amount of time that I’ve actually spent out on the water has been minimal — a few ferry rides, a dinner cruise or two, a trip to Alcatraz and back in grade school. That’s it. I like to blame my yacht-less friends, who have been amazingly inconsiderate over the decades and never bought fancy sailboats to take me out on the water. The real reason, of course, is that I’d never explored some relatively inexpensive ways to explore this area’s most famous feature. Turns out it’s pretty easy to do, especially if you like to paddle.

Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

Once declared extinct, Owens pupfish finds fresh hope in long-awaited new habitat

In early April, just over 700 Owens pupfish were relocated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to River Spring Lakes Ecological Reserve in Owens Valley. The move is seen as a significant step forward for the rare North American fish, once declared extinct in 1940, that has been considered on “life-support” since it was re-discovered in 1964.  

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Water: Lake Pillsbury Alliance – Part 2

In April of 2017, PGE began moving forward with its plans to relicense the Potter Valley Project (PVP)—with, as of yet, no designs to remove any of the infrastructure—and in August of 2019, Congressman Jared Huffman created the PVP Ad Hoc Committee, a Two Basin Solution for the Eel and Russian River basins, whose more than 20 members were tasked with the relicensing process of the PVP to improve fisheries and fish migration, minimize adverse impacts to water supply reliability, respect tribal rights and minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to Lake County including Lake Pillsbury. 

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: California’s opportunity to shape worldwide biodiversity policy

California, like the rest of the world, must wrestle with a hard truth: Our climate has changed. As we face another water-shortage crisis, we must acknowledge a sobering reality: We’re not in a drought. This is our new normal. And we need to adapt. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t solve our drought, or the myriad other environmental crises, without protecting our ecosystems. And we can’t protect our ecosystems without acknowledging that this work is globally connected.
-Written by Assembly Member Laura Friedman, D-Glendale; LA-based environmental and social policy advisor Rosalind Helfand; and Mike Young, political and organizing director of the California League of Conservation Voters.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Why filmmaker Emmett Brennan walked 200 miles to spotlight L.A.’s water crisis

A few years ago, filmmaker Emmett Brennan discovered that the once-lush Owens Valley that sources water for Los Angeles is now mostly a stark desert, and he had to do something. The result is a meditative new feature-length documentary called “Reflection: A Walk with Water” that traces a 200-mile trek by foot along the entire length of the L.A. aqueduct to raise awareness about the way we use and misuse water. The film, with original music by Jacob Collier and Justin Kauflin, is streaming through June 23 as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Monday Top of the Scroll: Irrigation districts agree to send water from New Melones south to drought-stricken farmers

As much as 100,000 acre-feet of water — enough to meet the annual demand of more than 40,000 Tuolumne County residents for at least five years — that’s currently stored in New Melones Reservoir could soon be sent south to aid drought-stricken farmers under an agreement between the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts.

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