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Water news you need to know

A collection of top water news from around California and the West each weekday.

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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 U.S. Government Accountability Office

Report: Bureau of Reclamation water reuse grant program is managed consistently with federal regulations

A Bureau of Reclamation program awards grants to water districts and other project sponsors seeking to reuse water and add to supplies. From 1992 through 2017, it awarded about $715 million for 46 construction projects and 71 studies. Nearly all of the funding—about $703 million—went for construction projects that recycled water.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Santa Clara Valley Water District files suit challenging state plan

In an attempt to block the state’s plan to divert more water toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and away from the Bay Area, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has filed a lawsuit arguing the project could significantly reduce the local water supply. If the plan advances, the water district might have to spend millions of dollars to obtain alternate water supplies and pull up more groundwater.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Water conservation sags in November

Urban water conservation took a sharp drop in November in California, with savings of just 7.8 percent compared to November 2013, the benchmark pre-drought year. That’s down from 13.4 percent savings in October. Statewide, the average was 86 gallons per capita. In the Sacramento River watershed, everyone used on average 101 gallons per day; in the Bay Area, 67 gallons; on the South Coast, 86 gallons.

Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

The West’s great river hits its limits: Will the Colorado run dry?

As the Southwest faces rapid growth and unrelenting drought, the Colorado River is in crisis, with too many demands on its diminishing flow. Now those who depend on the river must confront the hard reality that their supply of Colorado water may be cut off.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Registration now open for all 2019 water tours

You can now register for our full slate of water tours for 2019, including a new tour along California’s Central Coast to view a river’s restoration following a major dam removal, check out efforts to desalt ocean water, recycle wastewater and manage groundwater and seawater intrusion.

Aquafornia news Wired

Desalination is booming. But what about all that toxic brine?

The primary byproduct of desal is brine, which facilities pump back out to sea. The stuff sinks to the seafloor and wreaks havoc on ecosystems, cratering oxygen levels and spiking salt content. … Researchers report today that global desal brine production is 50 percent higher than previous estimates, totaling 141.5 million cubic meters a day, compared to 95 million cubic meters of actual freshwater output from the facilities. 

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

California snowpack surges after slow start. Will it be enough to combat years of drought?

California began 2019 with lower-than-average snowpack measurements — just 67 percent of the year-to-date average.  Recent storms pushed that total to 90 percent as of Friday. With more precipitation on the horizon, forecasters predict snowpack measurements will “meet or exceed” the year-to-date average by the end of the week.

Post CBS Sacramento

New Powerhouse Science Center will educate visitors on California water issues

A section of the museum will also be dedicated to water, teaching visitors how much water it takes to grow crops, how California farmers lead the world in conservation, and how the state’s complicated water storage and delivery system works, said Mike Wade, the executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. The Coalition is the title sponsor for the exhibits and has drawn on several farming organizations, including Farm Credit, to help build and maintain the exhibits.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

What happens if PG&E goes bankrupt?

The century-old PG&E—which employs 20,000 workers and is slated to play an integral role in California’s clean energy future—also has a checkered history and little goodwill to spare with the public. On Thursday, the PUC launched an investigation into the utility’s safety record and corporate structure, as Bay Area residents shouted, protested and urged commissioners not to give them a bailout.

Aquafornia news The Detroit News

Bill would declare PFAS chemicals hazardous substances under Superfund law

A bipartisan bill in Congress would designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund program, allowing federal agencies to clean up sites contaminated by harmful fluorinated compounds. Health officials have said continued exposure to certain PFAS chemicals in drinking water could harm human health. Studies link exposure to developmental effects on fetuses, cancer and liver and immunity function, among other issues.

Aquafornia news Phoenix New Times

As drought plan deadline looms, Arizona lawmakers take Water 101

Arizona legislators and staff are attending closed-door primers on water policy in advance of a critical January 31 federal deadline for the state to approve the Drought Contingency Plan. The first of three meetings occurred on Friday afternoon and lasted two and a half hours. The session was led by Central Arizona Project general manager Ted Cooke and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Gavin Newsom needs a plan for California’s endangered water supply

Gov. Gavin Newsom, if he is to successfully steer the state into the future, has to bring to his water agenda the same steely-eyed, reality-based drive that the two previous governors brought to limiting carbon emissions.  It is time for the state to respond to its water challenge with the same sense of urgency with which it adopted Assembly Bill 32, the landmark law capping greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006.

Aquafornia news The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Opinion: California’s unfulfilled promise on access to safe water

While most Californians believe strongly that all Californians should have safe drinking water, most Californians don’t understand the breadth of contaminants that impact communities throughout the state, and how significant those impacts are.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Could the Coachella Valley go dry? Agencies work to keep water flowing.

Everywhere you look new homes, hotels and master-planned developments are appearing. It is wise to ask whether we have enough water for these future desert residents and visitors.  Permits for new projects are under the jurisdiction of cities or the county — not under the purview of water agencies. Water agencies are tasked with supplying the water. Balancing growth and water supplies is nothing new to desert communities. It has always been a fact of life in our desert and is one of Desert Water Agency’s most important responsibilities. 

Aquafornia news CalWatchdog.com

Blog: Despite record budget surplus, Gov. Newsom wants new water, phone taxes

Specific details have not yet emerged on Newsom’s plan, but it’s expected to be similar to a rejected 2018 proposal from state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, to tax residential customers 95 cents a month to help fund water improvements in rural farming communities in the Central Valley and throughout the state. It would raise about $110 million to get clean water to what the McClatchy News Service estimated last year to be 360,000 people without such access. Others looking at the problem see it as much worse.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom appoints Wade Crowfoot to lead Natural Resources Agency

Wade Crowfoot will lead the agency that oversees state parks, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, among other offices, Newsom announced Friday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

More wildfires, drought and climate change bring devastating changes to California wildlands

Southern California’s native scrublands are famously tough. … They evolved along with long, hot summers, at least six rainless months a year and intense wildfires. But not this much fire, this often. The combination of too-frequent wildfires and drought amplified by climate change poses a growing threat to wildlands that deliver drinking water to millions.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona lawmakers optimistic about passing monumental drought plan

Up against a federal deadline to approve a Colorado River drought plan — a “generational change” in Arizona water management — four key legislators say they’re optimistic they’ll meet it. Led by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, they see the Legislature as ready — finally — to officially endorse the plan. That’s even though competing water interest groups still have highly visible disagreements about it.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

PG&E plans to go bankrupt amid California wildfire crisis

Overwhelmed by billions of dollars in claims from the Camp Fire and the 2017 wildfires of Northern California, PG&E said Monday it plans to file for bankruptcy.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Gavin Newsom visits Stanislaus County to talk safe drinking water

A day after proposing a tax on drinking water, Gov. Gavin Newsom took a “surprise” road trip to meet with Stanislaus County residents in a community known for having unsafe wells. Newsom and his cabinet made their first stop at the Monterey Park Tract in Ceres, where he held a roundtable discussion with people who for years had to use bottled water for drinking and cooking because their community’s two wells were long-contaminated with nitrates and arsenic.

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