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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: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing. Also, 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 NBC - Bay Area

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom in Bay Area to announce new water supply strategy for California

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday will be in the Bay Area to announce a new water supply strategy for California as the state contends with a historic drought. Newsom is scheduled to be in Contra Costa County for a news conference detailing “water supply actions” California is taking to adapt to hotter, drier conditions caused by climate change, the governor’s office said. He also is expected to announce new leadership for California’s infrastructure efforts. Drought has been a major concern for Californians. A new study by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that 68% of state residents say the water supply is a big problem where they live. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Almond orchards may be key to water storage

The next “big thing” in California water development may not be soaring 300-foot high dams. Instead, it may be intentionally diverting winter storm runoff to flood almond orchards northeast of Ripon and vineyards near Manteca and similar permanent cropland throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Proactive recharging of groundwater using California’s immense acreage of permanent crops such as almond orchards and grape vineyards could emerge as a pivotal and critical component of a plan to meet water demands as well as address hydrology patterns expected to be modified by climate change.

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Aquafornia news Civil Eats

As drought hits farms, investors lay claim to Colorado water

Michael Jones ducked under an idle sprinkler and strode across the sandy soil where he planned to plant drought-resistant crops, hoping to save water amid the driest period in more than 1,200 years. … A company known as Renewable Water Resources (RWR) aims to drill a series of deep wells on a nearby ranch it owns and pipe the water more than 200 miles north to a Denver suburb, where sprinklers rotate on manicured lawns. The firm recently sought $10 million from Douglas County to kickstart its project. … If the state engineer’s office, its water court, and federal regulators were to approve RWR’s plan, it would mark the first time that private investors could ship water from an aquifer in one part of the state to a community in another. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California drought: Communities must rely on hauled, bottled water

Many small and rural communities across California are vulnerable to drought and water shortages as they lack the diverse water sources and infrastructure of big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. In some cases, these communities are forced to rely on bottled water or water hauled in from elsewhere, which experts say is costly and unsustainable. Data from the state water board’s 2022 “Drinking Water Needs Assessment” shows that nearly 90 water providers across the state, including six in the Bay Area, have had to resort to bottled or hauled-in water to fully meet their communities’ drinking water needs in the past three years.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

The Bureau of Reclamation’s $4 billion drought question

The unveiling of the Inflation Reduction Act lit a fuse in Washington, just before the lazy days of the August recess… The House is expected to vote on the bill on Friday. With its drought provisions, the bill focuses attention on the Bureau of Reclamation…. The $4 billion dollars in the Inflation Reduction Act is more than double its annual budget. It’s certainly a large chunk of money, said Jennifer Gimbel, senior water policy scholar at the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. But it is “a drop in the bucket for what is needed” to address a growing aridity that now covers more than 70 percent of the West in some stage of drought. 

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Aquafornia news American Society of Civil Engineers

Blog: Central Valley subsidence could last longer than expected

Until the development of the major state and federal water projects that began delivering surface water to the area in the second half of the 20th century, the Central Valley relied almost exclusively on groundwater. Heavy pumping of groundwater has led to significant land subsidence throughout the valley, causing major damage in some areas to canals, aqueducts, and other infrastructure. This subsidence was particularly pronounced in the valley’s southern half, which is known as the San Joaquin Valley. By 1970, approximately half the San Joaquin Valley, or roughly 5,200 sq mi, had subsided by at least 1 ft, according to the website of the U.S. Geological Survey. Some locations had subsided by as much as 28 ft.

Aquafornia news KCLU - Thousand Oaks

Another La Nina appears on track for 2022-23, which may continue drought on Central and South Coasts

It’s a sound we haven’t heard very often during the last few month. It’s the sound of rain. One of the nation’s leading climatologists says those sounds could continue to be infrequent, with key indicators showing that we could be in for a third straight year of drought. “This is the third year in a row that La Nina has hung in there,” said Dr. Bill Patzert. “It keeps the jet stream farther north. The southern tier of the United States tends to be drier, and the northern tier tends to be stormier.” He said it’s too late in the year for an El Nino to develop, which could mean above average rainfall.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Lakes Mead and Powell are at the epicenter of the biggest Western drought in history

Nowhere is the Southwest’s worst drought since the year 800 more evident than Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the pair of artificial Colorado River reservoirs whose plunging levels threaten major water and power sources for tens of millions of people. Already, the region is being forced to adapt to the sweeping effects of climate change, and the lakes and their surrounding area are nearing an environmental point of no return. … Lake Mead is projected to get down to 22 percent of its full capacity by year’s end, while Lake Powell is expected to drop to 27 percent, according to estimations from the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Both now sit at record lows.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Crops fallowed, herds reduced as drought deepens

California farmers and ranchers affected by a third consecutive year of drought and related emergency curtailments of water deliveries have planted fewer acres, fallowed fields or reduced livestock herds to make it through the season. Siskiyou County rancher Ryan Walker, president of the county’s Farm Bureau, said farmers affected by emergency water curtailments—readopted in July by the State Water Resources Control Board—face water shortages and high hay prices, which impact ranchers’ ability to maintain livestock herds.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Bill would provide relief to farmworkers in drought-stricken California

[A]s climate change brings hotter, drier conditions, the American dream is getting harder to achieve in the Valley. Because of severe drought the past few years, farmers have left some fields unplanted. And with fewer acres to plant and harvest, many workers have had their hours cut or lost their jobs. … [State senator Melissa Hurtado] says many of these workers are struggling to pay rent and feed their families. So she’s proposed legislation that would provide qualified farmworkers with a $1,000 monthly stipend for three years.

Aquafornia news KGET - Bakersfield

Kern Congressmen seek documents from feds over drought

On Wednesday, Kern’s Congressmen Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and David Valadao (R-Hanford) sent a letter to the Interior Secretary requesting documents related to her review of the 2019 Biological Opinions. The opinions determined operations for the Central Valley Project and California State Water Project did not jeopardize endangered species. Valadao noted if the review ended with a reversal of the decision, it would be detrimental for our local economy and Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Editorial: Sacramento’s tunnel vision will destroy Delta, make fat cat hedge fund farmers richer

Tulare Lake. Gone. Owens Lake. On a resuscitator but near death. Mono Lake: Its life hangs in the balance. They  — and many more California lakes and rivers — were the victim of defying Mother Nature and sucking massive amounts of water from one basin to another. Bypassing a massive amount of water from the Delta ecological system by tunneling under it — what could possibly go wrong? It is why the recent latest reincarnation of Los Angeles’ not-to-secret plan to destroy the Delta along with their partners-in-crime on the western side of Kern County is pure tunnel vision.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Record Death Valley flooding ‘a once-in-1,000-year event’

Recent severe rains in Death Valley that flushed debris across roadways, damaged infrastructure and carried away cars are being described by meteorologists and park officials as a once-in 1,000-year event. The arid valley was pelted with roughly an inch and a half of rain on Friday, near the park’s rainfall record for a single day. The storm poured an amount of water equal to roughly 75% of the average annual total in just three hours, according to experts at Nasa’s Earth observatory.

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Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Glenn Groundwater Authority encouraging water conservation

The Glenn Groundwater Authority (GGA) is encouraging residents to conserve water at home, work and on the farm to help the local groundwater basin. … The GGA is the Groundwater Sustainability Agency managing the Glenn County portion of the Colusa Subbasin, which covers the area generally south of Stony Creek, east of the coast ranges, west of the Sacramento River, and north of the Glenn-Colusa County line.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Native teens practice first trip down dam-free Klamath River

For now, the Klamath River dams stand secure. But their days upon the Earth are numbered, as plans for the removal of three dams in California and one in Oregon move ahead. When they are gone, the river will witness a flotilla of kayaks celebrating the open water. That’s the plan, anyway, and native teens from tribes up and down the Klamath recently completed a training session for the first post-dam navigation of the river. Save California Salmon is one of the groups involved in the project. We hear from SCS staffer Danielle Frank about the plans.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Tensions high at Cal Am community meeting

[At the California State University Monterey Bay’s student union] Chants of “No Cal Am, save our water,” could be heard from the parking lot, as around 50 people representing or supporting the grassroots organization, Citizens for Just Water, protested outside the building before the meeting started. Tensions were equally high inside, as residents shouted over Cal Am representatives, criticizing them and the proposed desalination project. But despite the agitation, Cal Am’s Manager of External Affairs Josh Stratton said the public’s vocal frustration was exactly what the organization was expecting when they decided to hold the forum.

Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

Microforests: Little green spaces can have big impact on climate

Temperatures have been soaring in LA for much of this week, and it seems like the days will keep getting hotter. With climate change happening, and concerns about loss of habitat for creatures big and small, some folks are looking for little ways to make a big impact. Enter microforests. At their smallest, they’re 10 foot by 10 foot, planted in urban areas with diverse native trees and shrubs to help provide wildlife habitats and clean the air.  Native plant horticulturist and educator Katherine Pakradouni planted LA’s first microforest in Griffith Park, and says it has already attracted a wide range of animals, including bugs, birds, lizards, and squirrels.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Erosion map shows where California’s cliffs are falling into sea

Coastal cliffs in California’s far northern counties are eroding faster than those elsewhere in the state, according to a new study that used high-resolution data to pinpoint hot spots where cliffs are receding rapidly along the state’s entire coast. In the Bay Area, locations with some of the highest rates of clifftop erosion include Daly City, Pacifica and Bodega Bay, according to the study published this month by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The highest erosion rates were found near Humboldt Bay and in a few remote locations in Del Norte County.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: For water conservation, lawmakers should okay ‘decoupling’

We urge the legislature to pass and Gov. Newsom to sign SB 1469 which offers water providers a powerful tool to help encourage customers to save water and fight the drought. … SB 1469 makes permanent a program called decoupling which sounds technical but is really a very simple concept to conserve water. … Decoupling changes the water utility business model from selling to conserving water by severing the link between water sales and everyday system operations. It eliminates an incentive for water providers to sell more water. SB 1469 will … establish progressive, equitable water rates so those who use more water pay more, and those who use less will pay less.
-Written by Roberto Barragan, executive director of the California Community Economic Development Association, which advocates for community revitalization in diverse urban and rural neighborhoods.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Prairie Creek floodplain restoration enters second phase of construction

Along the banks of Prairie Creek in Humboldt County, the last wisp of fog gives way to a bright blue sky revealing a busy construction site below ancient redwoods. This summer marks the second year of construction by the Yurok Tribe on a large collaborative project that is transforming a developed and degraded site into the southern gateway to Redwood National and State Parks. In 2022, the Prairie Creek Floodplain Restoration Project began a two year phase to restore 11 acres of riparian habitat, create 800 feet of a new creek channel, and construct a second backwater pond to provide slow water refugia for juvenile salmon and steelhead.