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 SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water transfers helped farmers survive this year. Now, all eyes are on the coming water year

Water transfers, trades and sales doubled this year as drought left San Joaquin Valley farmers scrambling for supplies. … [Sam Boland-Brien, program manager at the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights] said he’s seen about twice the amount of transfers this year compared to an average water year. 

Aquafornia news UC Davis Magazine

Blog: Who is to blame for California’s drought?

Social media users are playing the blame game when it comes to California’s drought. Read enough comments online and you’ll see many similar responses blaming the state government for its management of water: California should have more water storage. California dumps water into the ocean. Northern California sends too much water to Southern California. UC Davis experts said those assertions are incorrect.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Sierra Club threatens suit over ag land policy

A month after the Visalia City Council threw out a policy designed to prevent urban sprawl, the Sierra Club is threatening to sue the city over the change … requesting an injunction against implementation of the new policy, which does not include an ag mitigation policy (AMP). … The city attorney advised the General Plan could be “modified” due to changes in case law since 2014, such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which could affect the availability of water to some farmland within the city’s growth boundaries.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Journey along the Sacramento River and Into Other Key California Watersheds During Virtual Events this Fall

The Foundation’s virtual journeys will whisk you away to explore California’s key rivers and water regions this fall from the Sacramento River to the headwaters in the Sierras. Plus, our annual Water Summit will feature water managers and other water experts who are dealing with the “new normal” as unprecedented drought and wildfires challenge the status quo.

Aquafornia news City News Service

Nonprofit developing pilot to reduce daily water usage

A pair of environmental groups are developing a path for Los Angeles residents to conserve water with a goal of using just 13 gallons per day, down from the current California average of 86 gallons, officials said Tuesday. … the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles is partnering with the 50 Liter Home Coalition to develop a plan.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s water outlook slightly improved, but West remains in grip of long-term drought

Utah’s drought-induced water crisis has softened somewhat after a string of monsoons, but the state’s water supplies are far from safe, with reservoirs across the state falling below 40% full, state officials told lawmakers Tuesday. Only a massive snowpack this winter can assure adequate supplies going into next year, and even then, Utah’s water future remains uncertain in the face of long-term drought and climate change. In July the entire state was in extreme or exceptional drought and Utah’s two largest lakes hit their lowest levels ever.

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Aquafornia news CNN News Wire

The West’s historic drought in 3 maps

More than 94 percent of the West is in drought this week, according to the US Drought Monitor, with six states entirely in drought status: California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana. Parts of the West saw record-setting rainfall that brought some slight relief to the region, but most areas remain dry. Against the backdrop of climate change-fueled drought, wildfires have charred nearly 6 million acres of vegetation across the region. Fire experts say that dry and windy conditions create a prime environment for wildfires to spark and spread.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

California wildfires close Sequoia national park and prompt evacuations

A complex of lightning-sparked wildfires burning in California’s Sierra Nevada has exploded in size, prompting evacuations and the shutdown of Sequoia national park, where the fire is burning close to the park’s namesake trees. The KNP Complex fire, composed of the Paradise and Colony fires, took hold in the dense, mountainous vegetation on 9 September. By Wednesday morning, the blaze had scorched more than 7,000 acres….Fueled by higher temperatures and extreme drought conditions, more than 7,400 wildfires have burned in California this year, scorching more than 2.2m acres.

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Drought on Mendocino Coast: State Water Board amends curtailment orders to expedite water deliveries

To expedite the delivery of much-needed drinking water to coastal Mendocino County residents whose wells have gone dry, the California State Water Resources Control Board has amended its previous curtailment orders to allow the city of Ukiah to draw water from the Russian River for emergency supplies. 

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Assembly ends SB 559 hopes this year

The Valley’s best hope to renovate its water infrastructure has been put on the shelf for now. Senate Bill (SB) 559, the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021, was moved to the state Assembly’s “inactive file” on Sept. 8. … As written SB 559 offered a holisitic, statewide approach to help restore the conveyance capacity by created a fund to provide up to $785 million to repair key parts of the state’s water infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area winemakers are feeling climate change more acutely than ever this harvest season

This year’s wine harvest is well underway throughout California, and vintners in some parts of the state say they’re feeling the effects of climate change more acutely than ever.   The drought has left grapevines parched. Fruit yields are dramatically low. Vines look visibly stressed. In some vineyards, all of the grapes seem to be ripening all at once, presenting winemakers with a logistical impossibility. And the threat of wildfire — which, by this time last year, had ruined grapes up and down the state with pernicious smoke — remains on everyone’s mind.

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Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Surface water plant operational by June 2023?

Currently every drop of water that comes out of faucets in Ceres comes straight out of the ground. But come June 2023, some of that water will be directly piped from the Tuolumne River after it’s been treated. Construction is about 25 percent completed and running $1 million under budget, a manager of the project told the Ceres City Council on Monday evening. … Ceres will ultimately receive up to 15 million gallons of water per day while Turlock takes 30 million gallons. Two additional phases will increase the plant’s capacity to produce 45 million gallons per day for the two cities.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Climate change is happening right now in Colorado, here’s how

The scientific consensus is that human-caused climate change has in recent decades raised average temperatures in the West about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and nearly two full degrees on maximum temperature days, according to Matthew Lachniet, a geoscience professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The days of Coloradans putting off climate change as a worry for hurricane-ravaged Louisiana or a water-challenged Middle East now seem to be over. Following are just a few of the ways “climate change now” made its full force known in the Rocky Mountains this year and showed its impact on everyday life.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: A holistic approach to water management in the Sacramento River basin – Ridgetop to river mouth water management

Water resources managers and the leaders in Northern California continue to advance Ridgetop to River Mouth water management … There are unique opportunities in the Sacramento River Basin to advance ridgetop to river mouth water management, which can best be envisioned by looking holistically at: 1) headwaters and forest health, 2) floodplain reactivation for public safety and fish and wildlife, 3) sustainable groundwater management (including groundwater recharge and banking), 4) healthy soils and farms; 5) safe drinking water; and 6) vital rivers and streams.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Downsized almond industry proceeds with harvest

Almonds in California are no longer sustainable at current levels. That’s the consensus of recent headlines describing the prolonged historic drought — and increasing restrictions on water use — currently impacting the state’s $6 billion industry and its efforts to produce 80 percent of the world’s almonds.  The U.S. Drought Monitor is showing California to be slowly approaching 90% of the state categorized as being in ‘extreme’ drought —especially in the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Record-high levels of cyanotoxin found in Clear Lake prompt Public Health officer’s warning

New testing results that have found record-high levels of cyanotoxin at sampling sites on Clear Lake prompted the Public Health officer on Wednesday night to issue a warning to those who source their water from private intakes on the lake. 

Aquafornia news San Clemente Times

Cost analysis for desalination presented to SCWD board

Ocean desalination has been named as one of the South Coast Water District’s top priorities—even more so as California undergoes an unprecedented water shortage. In 2008, a Pilot Ocean Desalination Project was first initiated at Doheny State Beach, and the facility operated successfully for 21 months between 2010 and 2012. Subsequent to this effort, the District has proceeded with planning for an Ocean Desalination Facility. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

County’s fracking lawsuit also targets other oilfield regulatory actions

The lawsuit Kern County filed this week against Gov. Gavin Newsom is aimed at not only ending his de-facto ban on fracking but also at easing state regulatory constraints on at least two other oilfield techniques common locally. As part of its larger argument that the Newsom administration has overstepped its constitutional authority, Monday’s petition for a writ of mandate in Kern County Superior Court asserts Newsom had no right in 2019 to place a moratorium on high-pressure cyclic steaming or require extensive “area of review” analyses prior to approval of underground injections.

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Opinion: Adding needed homes won’t unduly burden water systems

The availability of potable water is not a reason to oppose development in drought-threatened California. The view that water should limit development is one of the false claims made by Not-In-My-Back-Yard organizations that want to stop the future. The NIMBY mantra that new development poses risks to the environment, that we will run out of water, is wrong. Less than 5 percent of annual water supply is used inside residences. There are many NIMBY organizations making these false claims, some with longstanding national stature.
-Written by Jim Larimer, a resident of Miramar.​

Aquafornia news The Press

Annual Delta waterway cleanup scheduled for Saturday

Environmentally minded residents of East County have an opportunity to help make the Delta a little better. The annual Delta Waterway Cleanup will take place Saturday, Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Delta Protection Commission (DPC) sponsors this event, and has similar ones scheduled in each of the five counties that adjoin the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta. In Contra Costa County, volunteers will focus their efforts on Bethel Island. The Delta cleanup is part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest annual volunteer event.