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 CBS San Francisco

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: CA voter support for water infrastructure ballot measure may hang on the weather

Signature-gathering has begun to place an initiative on the 2022 ballot that would force the legislature to fund more water storage in California. But even supporters admit, the success of the measure may depend on the weather. With many reservoirs in the state drying up and no guarantee of a wet winter, some Central Valley farmers and Southern California water districts are pushing an initiative called the ‘Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022.’ 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Citing climate risks, California is denying fracking permits in droves

Oil companies that blast water and chemicals into the earth to extract fossil fuels are having trouble getting new permits for their California operations even sooner than expected. Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged the state would stop issuing new permits for fracking by 2024, but California has already begun to ban the controversial oil extraction method in practice by denying permits in droves with little fanfare. … [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State Water Board adopts resolution committing to advance racial equity in policy and practice

The State Water Resources Control Board today adopted a resolution affirming its commitment to advancing racial equity and acknowledging that its programs were established within a structural framework that perpetuates inequities based on race. In the resolution, the State Water Board pledges to express this commitment through institutionalizing racial equity in its policies, programs and service to communities while fostering greater workforce diversity, equity and inclusion within the agency. 

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

California drought unlikely to end this winter

Don’t hold your breath for California’s drought ending with this winter’s rains. Instead, you’d do well to hold your shower time to a minimum. There’s less than a 40% chance of water supplies getting back to normal after this winter, with a slightly better than 50% chance that the state’s drought will worsen, according to forecasters at a Monday, Nov. 22, drought webinar hosted by the National Integrated Drought Information Center.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fire danger lingers in Southern California, lacking downpours that hit Bay Area

While record amounts of rain have greatly reduced the risk of wildfire in some Northern California regions, the southern reaches of the state are not so lucky. Southern California anticipates the return of dangerous fire weather for the Thanksgiving holiday. Residents of Los Angeles and Ventura counties have been on alert since early Sunday when strong Santa Ana winds began battering the region with warm, dry gusts. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Where is the water going?

Farmers in the heart of California’s agricultural belt – Kings County – sense something is awry with their water supplies. In this intensively farmed, perennially dry county, water is leaving at a concerning rate. … As far as [walnut farmer Steve Walker] knows, no agency, city or county board is trying to figure out what’s really happening. … But this much he knows — certain groundwater wells in the county are running practically year round, even in wet years. 

Aquafornia news Washington Post

Klamath River basin drought leaves families, farms dry, reignites longstanding conflicts

The simple way to think about this crisis: There’s no longer enough water to go around to meet the needs of farmers and Native American populations as well as fish and birds. For more than a century, the federal government has overseen an intricate and imperfect system of water distribution intended to sustain an ecosystem and an economy. The whole precarious balance was based on the assumption that enough snow would always fall…

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Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Denver broke record for latest first measurable snow

Denver officially broke its all-time record for the latest first measurable snow when the Mile High City reported no snowfall on Sunday, surpassing a record that had stood since Nov. 21, 1934. AccuWeather meteorologists say that it could be weeks before the next chance for significant accumulation in the city. April 21 was the last time that snow accumulated in Denver, and for a brief moment last week, it looked like the snowless streak was about to come to an end.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Water company in Sacramento County doesn’t track what it wastes

When you see a constant stream of water heading into the sewer drain stemming from a pipe leak, do you ever wonder how much of it is wasted water? Chances are, the amount of water going down the drain isn’t being tracked. At the same time, Californians are being asked to conserve water during a severe drought. 

Aquafornia news Eos

Water wisdom: The indigenous scientists walking in two worlds

Every year, on one day in October, generations of the Washoe Tribe gather on the shores of Lake Tahoe for a day of fishing using handmade spears, harpoons, and nets made from willow, dogbane, and other traditional materials. The Washoe have centered their lives around Lake Tahoe for thousands of years, catching and drying fish in the summers to sustain them through the winters. But in the colonialist world, the tribe of roughly 1,400 members has little access to the lake.

Aquafornia news LA Daily News

Castaic Dam project to ease quake concerns nears completion

Seismic work at Castaic Dam’s tower access bridge in Los Angeles County has reached a milestone, wrapping up a project on three bridge piers as its owner — the California Department of Water Resources — works on reducing risk of quake damage at its water facilities. … The 500-foot-long bridge provides access for operations and maintenance crews to the structure that allows releasing water from Castaic Lake. The bridge was built in 1974 and later retrofitted in 1998 following the Northridge Earthquake.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Department of Conservation previews SGMA multi-benefit land repurposing program

At the September meeting of the California Water Commission, Kealiʻi Bright, Assistant Director of the Division of Land Resource Protection at the California Department of Conservation (or DOC), gave a presentation on a new program being spun up to repurpose farmland being retired due to SGMA implementation. Mr. Bright began by acknowledging that the Department of Conservation being at a Water Commission might be unusual because they are not a groundwater agency or any kind of water agency, but they are an agency with a suite of programs that invest in natural and working lands’ land use … 

Aquafornia news Turtle Island Restoration Network

Blog: Sustainable salmon policies

To save coho salmon from extinction and promote healthy water quality for residents, SPAWN provides indisputable scientific data and calls on decision makers to take speedy and decisive action to protect Marin’s coho salmon and expand their chances for recovery to sustainable population levels. Currently, the Marin County Board of Supervisors can ensure protections for coho salmon by passing a science-based, common-sense Streamside Conservation Area Ordinance.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Pico Water District receives PFAS water treatment grants

An agreement with the California Water Replenishment District (WRD) to cover the construction costs of new treatment facilities will result in improved water quality and millions of dollars in savings for Pico Water District customers. Under the terms of the agreement, WRD will provide nearly $4.3 million in reimbursements for equipment to remove per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) detected in the groundwater supply. Scientific studies indicate that exposure to PFAS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Rafael sewage spill dumps 75K gallons

About 75,000 gallons of sewage spilled in San Rafael’s Montecito and Happy Valley neighborhoods after a pipe backed up, officials said Monday. The spill happened last week off Highland Avenue above San Rafael High School. It is the latest sewage spill believed to be linked to the atmospheric river storm that battered the Bay Area on Oct. 24, according to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. 

Aquafornia news Mount Shasta News

U.S. Forest Service water management: Limited oversight of diversions

While the U.S. Forest Service pours resources into a runaway battle on wildfire, it is losing the war over water.  About half of Western water supply originates on national forest land. But before that water reaches the West’s major cities or great rivers, much of it has already been claimed. Thousands of farmers, ranchers, cities, housing developments and industrial users pump water from the ground, channel it away from streams into ditches or pipelines, and hold it back in ponds and reservoirs — all to use public water, often for private purposes. 

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Mendocino County may have a standalone water agency by next summer

The recent rainfall has offered Mendocino County some respite from the drought, bringing many communities out of a crisis situation. But it’s still not clear for how long. Now communities throughout the county are using this breathing room to make their water systems more resilient to drought before next summer. That includes re-establishing a standalone county water agency.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

Bechtel, Nautilus team to build unique floating data centers

The first floating data center built for Nautilus Data Technologies is getting a second-phase expansion in Stockton, Calif., while the firm accelerates plans for it and Bechtel to engineer and construct others in Maine and possibly Ireland. The multi-year program allows Nautilus to deploy its water-based system for sustainable and efficient data center cooling, while Bechtel focuses on development and construction. … Nautilus completed the floating 7-MW scalable Stockton 1 Data Center, located on a barge on the San Joaquin River, last year before it signed an agreement in June with Bechtel. 

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Lady of the Lake: Wondering about water rights

I just moved to Lake County and live next to the lake. I heard the other day that Lake County doesn’t have water rights to Clear Lake? Is that correct? Can I take water from the lake to irrigate my garden? I also have a pond on my property and a well, who has rights to those sources of water? Thanks for clearing this up! — Wondering about Water Rights Walter Walter, Thank you for asking these questions. I get asked about water rights quite a bit actually. You are right about Clear Lake’s water rights — they actually belong to Yolo County. 

Aquafornia news KALW

Marin County developers could face new fees

Faced with the need to reduce the demand on water supplies, Marin County developers would have to pay thousands of dollars in new fees, according to a proposal by the Marin Municipal Water District. The Marin Independent Journal reported that the water district’s board is considering a new measure which would require future projects in its jurisdiction to have a net-zero demand on reservoirs.