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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 San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Despite second dry year, Newsom resists declaring a drought emergency

Despite bipartisan calls to declare a state of emergency over California’s deepening drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom sidestepped questions Tuesday about when he may issue a proclamation. The governor said his administration is talking with federal officials daily about the status of the state’s water supply after two years of minimal rainfall that have dried out much of California.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Shasta Dam raise threatens McCloud River, group says

While the federal government sees the prospect of raising the height of Shasta Dam as a way to increase water storage for a thirsty California, the Winnemem Wintu of Shasta County see it as a threat to their culture. It was a theme picked up this week by American Rivers, a conservation group that named the McCloud River one of America’s 10 most endangered rivers because of the proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam. … Raising the height of the dam would raise the level of the lake about 20 feet when full. It would also further inundate about a third of a mile of the McCloud River … 

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

San Francisco Bay: Protections being thrown away, scientists say

For more than 100 years after California’s Gold Rush, developers and city leaders filled in San Francisco Bay, shrinking it by one third to build farms, freeways, airports and subdivisions. All that changed in the 1970s with modern environmental laws. But now as sea level rise threatens to cause billions of dollars of flooding in the coming decades, the bay is going to need to be filled again — but this time in a different way, according to a new scientific report out Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Controversial project is becoming a pipeline in the sand for local water agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is no stranger to conflict – virtually all of its dealings over the past decade have been shaped by its feud with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Now that feud is fueling fights within the agency itself.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

IID decides to stand pat on Abatti’s Supreme Court petition

Imperial Irrigation District apparently has decided not to sweat Michael Abatti’s decision to appeal his case against the district to the nation’s highest court. IID announced Monday it will not file a response to Abatti’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court over his ongoing legal dispute with the district over water rights. The exception would be if the court requests a response. IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said in a press release that a response is unnecessary.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Innovation needed to solve state’s water challenges

Earlier this month, camera crews once again gathered in the Sierra Nevada to watch a man plunge a pole through the snow. The pole was removed and, following a tense few moments, Californians learned we experienced another dry winter, and we are plunging further into drought. These snowpack surveys are quaint rituals, but they’re also a jarring reminder of how little technological innovation has occurred in California’s water sector. 
-Written by Danielle Blacet, deputy executive director at the California Municipal Utilities Association, and Adrian Covert, senior vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council.

Aquafornia news Water World

Opinion: Keeping water affordable

California households face over $600 million in household water debt, with some 1.6 million homes — roughly 12 percent of all state residents — dealing with an average of $500 in arrears. The findings show clear racial inequities, with households of color bearing the brunt of this debt. More than 130 smaller utilities across the state will need federal help in the next six months if they are to survive. It is clear that we need a solution now. 
-Written by Michael Carlin, the acting general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

It’s that time of year, when we find out it’s that kind of year. We appear at the doorstep of a “critically dry year,” and most reservoir levels are significantly below average. Those conditions bring painfully to mind the awful drought years of 2014 and 2015, and threaten water supplies for California farms and cities, and for the protected fish species that must also get by in these lean years.
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources, and Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Sausalito sewage spill unloads nearly 100K gallons

Tree roots are being blamed for a 98,280-gallon sewage spill in Sausalito that went unnoticed for two weeks. The overflow started on March 17 and went undetected because of heavy vegetation, according to the county. 

Aquafornia news The Reporter

Lower Putah Creek Salmon Study extended through SCWA approval

How many salmon populate the Lower Putah Creek? What are the demographics of these fish? In what ways can their habitat be preserved so the lower creek remains healthy? Researchers at the University of California, Davis are researching these questions, and the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) has given them another year of funding to continue their research as part of the Lower Putah Creek Salmon Study through the rest of the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Editorial: We are living in a climate emergency, and we’re going to say so

[C]onsider the following scenarios: A hurricane blasts Florida. A California dam bursts because floods have piled water high up behind it. A sudden, record-setting cold snap cuts power to the entire state of Texas. These are also emergencies that require immediate action. Multiply these situations worldwide, and you have the biggest environmental emergency to beset the earth in millennia: climate change. Given the circumstances, Scientific American has agreed with major news outlets worldwide to start using the term “climate emergency” in its coverage of climate change. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Scientists investigate if suckers need to take their vitamins

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking into whether a previously unexplored vitamin deficiency could play a role in the decline of sucker species in the Klamath Basin. Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, is essential for all vertebrates. It helps enzymes break down sugars, produce energy and create genetic material. In fish, it plays a significant role in early growth and development. 

Aquafornia news Patch

Ballona wetlands activists plan Earth Day protest

Ballona Wetlands activists and Westside residents are planning an Earth Day protest, calling on local leaders to shut down the Playa del Rey oil field and pushing back against what they call a disguised restoration project meant to restore the gas company’s infrastructure below the ecological reserve.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Podcast: Updating the status for water from the Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the most highly developed surface water systems in the world, but demand for the river’s water continues to exceed supply. University of Arizona geosciences professor Connie Woodhouse discusses the impact of a warming climate on the Colorado River. She is the featured speaker for the annual College of Science lecture series April 15. Connie Woodhouse spoke with Leslie Tolbert, Regent’s professor emerita in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona.

Aquafornia news Northcoast Environmental Center

News release: NEC sues Humboldt County over Rolling Meadow Ranch cannabis project

CITIZENS for a SUSTAINABLE HUMBOLDT (CSH) and the NORTHCOAST ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER (NEC) have filed a lawsuit in the Humboldt County Superior Court, with claims under the California Environmental Quality, the State Planning and Zoning Law, and other laws, challenging the environmental review and permits approved by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration declares California drought disaster. What is Newsom waiting for?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 California counties as natural disaster areas last month because of the drought. And, over the weekend, Fresno Congressman Jim Costa said on KSEE-24’s Sunday Morning Matters program that Gov. Newsom should declare a statewide emergency because of the dangerously dry conditions. …Yet, Newsom… last week rejected a request from a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers from the Valley to declare a statewide drought emergency. 

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tensions rise in water battle along Oregon-California line

One of the worst droughts in memory in a massive agricultural region straddling the California-Oregon border could mean steep cuts to irrigation water for hundreds of farmers this summer to sustain endangered fish species critical to local tribes. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water allocations in the federally owned Klamath Project, is expected to announce this week how the season’s water will be divvied up after delaying the decision a month.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

The simple local solution to sea level rise? Mud from the bottom of San Francisco Bay

Protecting the Bay Area from sea level rise may all come down to mud. That’s the finding of a new report from San Francisco Estuary Institute that tries to address a two-part problem related to the looming threat of sea level rise: the lack of natural sediment coming into the bay and the need to reinforce its shorelines to protect the region from rising seas. There’s a fairly straightforward solution, the nonprofit research organization proposes: Take the sediment that’s dredged from the bay’s shipping channels and barged out to sea or to deep parts of the bay — 2½ to 3 million cubic yards of mud a year — and use it to restore wetlands on the perimeter. 

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