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Overview

Aquafornia
Water news you need to know

A collection of top water news from around California and the West compiled each weekday by veteran journalist Matt Weiser.

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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 Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Late-season rains mask looming fire danger as lush plants turn dry and explosive

Giant green stems with budding yellow flowers greeted hikers along a narrow path beneath the soaring Santa Monica Mountains on a recent drizzly day. This is where, just seven months ago, the worst fire in Los Angeles County history swept through, destroying more than 1,000 homes and blackening miles of hillsides and canyon. But thanks to one of the wettest seasons in years, rains have transformed the fire zone back to life with great speed.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Lake Tahoe clarity improves dramatically over past year

Good news, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend: The clarity of the famed, cobalt-blue waters of Lake Tahoe improved dramatically last year, with visibility increasing 10 feet from the year before, a study released Thursday by scientists at UC Davis found. The jump is the largest annual improvement in 50 years, since measurements at the iconic Sierra Nevada lake began in 1968.

Aquafornia news Western Water

150 years after John Wesley Powell ventured down the Colorado River, how should we assess his legacy in the West?

University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Charles Wilkinson … described the Western icon and one-armed Civil War veteran as a complex character, a larger-than-life person and an early visionary of wise water use in an arid West. Wilkinson spoke recently with Western Water about Powell and his legacy, and how Powell might view the Colorado River today.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Bureau of Reclamation bumps Westside water allocation to 70 percent

The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms provided an added boost to the already above average precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still about 150% of average for this time of year.”

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

‘It’s raining plastic’: Researchers find microscopic fibers in Colorado rain samples

U.S. Geological Survey researcher Greg Wetherbee collected rain samples from eight sites along Colorado’s Front Range. … In 90 percent of the samples Wetherbee found a rainbow wheel of plastics, mostly fibers and mostly colored blue. … The plastics were tiny, needing magnification of 20 to 40 times to be visible and they were not dense enough to be weighed. More fibers were found in urban sites, but plastics were also spotted in samples from a site at elevation 10,300 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Butte County concerned over lake levels

There are more concerns over lake levels in Oroville as Butte County leaders take initiative to explore alternative options for safety measures. The Department of Water Resources (DWR), a leg of the State Water Project, manages the Oroville Dam. On Wednesday, DWR officials remained adamant in saying they have no plans to release water from the Oroville Dam spillway.

Aquafornia news KALW

A small city fights plans for a desalination plant

The desalination plant would have seven wells sloping into the ground and sucking up water underneath the dunes, removing the salt, and sending it to cities on the Monterey Peninsula … but not Marina. They wouldn’t get any of the desalinated water because they’re not served by CalAm. Biala and other Marina residents oppose the plant because they think it will cause irreversible damage to their town’s ecosystems.

Aquafornia news Calaveras Enterprise

Calaveras Public Utility District ratepayers face 40% increase; district prioritizing infrastructure upgrades

The proposal is to increase both base and usage rates by approximately 40% in the first year, and by about 70% of the current rate by July of 2023. … The last set of rate increases ended in 2016, yet system costs have been increasing each year due to inflation and maintenance expenses associated with an aging system…

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Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Public hearing on fracking in Valley not recorded – ‘I feel like the process is rigged’

The majority of the dozens of commenters at the meeting spoke out against the analysis and the prospect of increased fracking in the region, expressing concerns about air pollution, drinking water quality, and climate change. … Tempers at the meeting also flared for what many attendees viewed as a lack of accountability from the BLM. The agency did not record the meeting, instead inviting attendees to submit written comments online, electronically, and only in English.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Speakers plead for Santa Maria to resume putting fluoride in water

Dentists and public-health advocates are speaking out against the city of Santa Maria’s decision to stop adding fluoride to local tap water, calling the supplement a vital step for good oral health. After hearing pleas at the start of the meeting Tuesday night, the City Council asked staff to include the possible restoration of fluoride as part of budget deliberations set for June 18.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey advances plan to shore up eroding beaches

Called the Monterey Bay Opportunistic Beach Nourishment Program, the plan entails hauling beach-quality sand from other inland locations as a result of construction, development or dredging projects. The sand would be added to stockpiles at different locations and then be applied to dry sand areas above high tide marks…

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water shuts down well after perchlorate detected

Acting on “an abundance of caution,” SCV Water officials shut down one of their wells last week, after routine testing detected the presence of perchlorate, a suspected carcinogen and long-standing concern in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

DWR reverses Solano lowlands groundwater priority for now

It appears Solano County and Vallejo have avoided a potentially costly state shift in the groundwater sustainability priority for the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands. While the final decision by the Department of Water Resources has not been made, the state agency has for now backed off its proposal to increase the priority status from very low to medium for the lowlands.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

California agriculture & water history plays out in Traver

The history of Traver, preserved in many books and archives, is a study in land development, agriculture and irrigation. It started when a civil engineer named Peter Y. Baker conceived a plan to convert thousands acres of rangeland in northern Tulare and southern Fresno counties into fields of wheat by diverting water by canal from the Kings River.

Aquafornia news KHTS

Santa Clarita solar company offering ‘smart’ sprinkler controller to save water during rain

The “smart” sprinkler controller … uses the internet to detect when rain is in the forecast and automatically delays the system so the homeowner doesn’t even have to think about it. In addition, the controller syncs to smartphones, allowing the homeowner to easily adjust watering schedules manually as well.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Rural Nevadans unite with environmentalists over water bill fears

Nevada ranchers, environmental groups and American Indian tribes are sounding the alarm over legislation they say could drain the water supply from rural areas throughout the state. They’re worried about Assembly Bill 30 in the Nevada Legislature after negotiations over arcane language in the bill broke down in recent days.

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Aquafornia news ABC 15 Arizona

How Arizona is cleaning up dozens of contaminated groundwater sites

Slow moving plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting underneath homes, businesses and schools throughout Arizona. … While some cities like Phoenix do not use groundwater for drinking water, much of the state does.

Aquafornia news The Pacific Institute

Blog: Can California shift to proactive drought preparedness?

Precipitation in California is highly variable from year to year, and climate change is increasing this variability. … To address this and other challenges, the state passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1668 and Senate Bill (SB) 606 in June 2018. Known jointly as the Water Conservation Legislation, these bills were drafted in response of Governor Jerry Brown’s 2016 executive order to “make water conservation a California way of life.” There are six key components…

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California Senate rejects proposed tax on water bills

The Senate voted 37-1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would create a fund dedicated to improving the state’s drinking water. But the bill is clear the money could not come from a new tax on water bills. Instead, Senate leaders have signaled their intention to use $150 million of existing taxpayer money each year.

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Aquafornia news SFGate.com

The science behind why California has been soaked by storms this May

By late spring, the Pacific jet stream is typically rushing over the Northwest, but this year its trajectory never shifted to the north and remains over California, hurling storms from the Pacific Ocean onshore. Jon Gottschalck, chief of the operational prediction branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the reason for the jet stream’s wayward activity are complicated, but he and his colleagues at NOAA think El Niño is definitely at play.

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