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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 California Department of Water Resources

AQUAFORNIA Breaking News: December Storms Allow for Modest Increase in Planned State Water Project Deliveries

News release from the California Department of Water Resources: Today, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced it is increasing the State Water Project allocation to 15 percent of requested supplies for 2022. Last month, due to low water levels, the Department announced that the initial allocation would cover only critical health and safety needs of the 29 water agencies that contract to receive State Water Project supplies.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration pledges billions to fight wildfire crisis in California and across the West

Acknowledging that the U.S. Forest Service has fallen short when it comes to preventing wildfires, the Biden administration this week said it would spend nearly $3 billion to reduce risk across the most fire-prone areas of the United States, largely in the American West. The impact could be significant in California, where the federal government is the largest landowner, responsible for nearly half of all land area in the state, including 20 million acres of federal forests vexed by an enduring wildfire crisis.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Water board tables Delta drought regulation

The State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday withdrew an emergency drought regulation for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta. Despite a dry January, board staff said the regulation, known as a temporary urgency change petition (TUCP), would not improve conditions if implemented as planned in February. They found no potential benefits to Shasta and Trinity reservoirs, which have the greatest need for water. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Environmentalists fight to shut down Arrowhead water

High in the San Bernardino Mountains, water seeps from the ground … Near this dribbling spring, water gushes through a system of tunnels and boreholes, and flows into a network of stainless steel pipes that join together in a single line… to a tank, where some is hauled away in trucks to be bottled and sold as Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water. Local environmentalists say the bottled water pipeline doesn’t belong in the national forest … The latest round in the fight over bottled water in the San Bernardino Mountains is playing out in a series of virtual hearings focusing on [Arrowhead owner] BlueTriton Brands’ water rights claims.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Foundation seeks insightful writer to join our journalism team and cover West’s most important natural resource – water

We’re looking for a special kind of writer to join our team who is eager to produce the kinds of insightful and challenging stories we pursue, such as our latest Western Water article on how drought and climate change are threatening to upend collaboration in the Colorado River Basin. Are you a journalist enthralled by the history, policy and science behind Western water issues? Then you might be just the right person to join our team.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

UN report: The world’s farms stretched to ‘a breaking point’

Almost 10% of the 8 billion people on earth are already undernourished with 3 billion lacking healthy diets, and the land and water resources farmers rely on stressed to “a breaking point.” And by 2050 there will be 2 billion more mouths to feed, warns a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). … California effectively acts as America’s garden. But climate change is exacerbating droughts and water shortages in the state, and farmers are struggling to adapt.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Busting water limits won’t cost you in Marin County: Penalties canceled as rain fills reservoirs

After recent reservoir-boosting rainfall, Marin County’s largest water district decided Tuesday to repeal recently established financial penalties for excessive water use. In September, the Marin Municipal Water District board adopted an ordinance that established financial penalties for exceeding certain water use limits it set in April as drought conditions worsened across the Bay Area and California. In the September ordinance, the district set penalties for going over “tier 1” water usage, which, for single family households, is 65 gallons of water per person, per day.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Lithium a new gold rush for people near Salton Sea

People have been fighting Salton Sea shrinkage, salinity and stench for decades without much success. But now the local economy could be headed toward a boom. Gov. Gavin Newsom is trying to help energy companies tap into a huge underground reserve of lithium that’s in high demand for the big rechargeable batteries needed to power carbon-free automobiles.
-Written by LA Times columnist George Skelton. 

Aquafornia news San Diego Community News Group

Hurricane Hunters chasing atmospheric river storms over Pacific Ocean

Dr. Alison Cobb of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla is hunting atmospheric rivers with planes known as Hurricane Hunters. More specifically, she is part of a scientific team analyzing data coming from instruments deployed by special Hurricane Hunter planes tracking atmospheric rivers. The hope is that learning more about these naturally occurring weather phenomena will make them more predictable. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Highway 37 could be fully underwater as soon as 2040

California State Route 37, the major throughway that bridges the divide between Highway 101 and Interstate 80 and serves thousands of drivers daily in the North Bay, is in dire straits. A recent dispatch from the California Department of Transportation warns that nearly the entire route — spanning Novato to Vallejo — could be “permanently submerged” as soon as 2040 by increasing weather crises and rising sea levels caused by climate change. Its proximity to the San Pablo Bay makes this route especially vulnerable. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

East Kaweah GSA limits groundwater pumping

In the face of deepening drought in October, the East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (EKGSA) passed an emergency groundwater allocation policy, and for the first time ever, the Tulare County area’s farmers were given limits and fines for how much water they can pump out of the increasingly parched ground. EKGSA governs water for much of the eastern portion of the Kaweah Sub Basin, which includes the towns of Lindsay and Strathmore, and the Exeter and Ivanhoe irrigation districts and the farmland that surrounds them.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Visalia residents underwater on bills can breathe easier

Nearly 14% of Visalia water users fell behind on their utility bills during the pandemic, but many of them will have at least a portion of that debt forgiven. California Water Service (Cal Water), which provides water service to nearly 45,000 homes and businesses in Visalia, received $20.8 million in relief for customers across its 23 service areas. The funding, which Cal Water advocated to help secure, is being administered through the State Water Resources Control Board and will enable the privately-owned utility to forgive past-due balances incurred by its customers between March 2020 and mid-June 2021.

Aquafornia news Bond Buyer

California ballot measure fundraising efforts coming up short

Supporters of the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022 put a call out for donations Friday to help get the measure on the California ballot. In a “last call” for major donors, supporters of the ballot measure wrote, “the campaign finds itself in the inexplicable position of having a solution everyone wants, but unable so far to raise funds to qualify it for the ballot.

Aquafornia news NBC 7 San Diego

Record-setting December rains spell relief for San Diego area farmers

San Diego County is in the midst of moderate drought conditions, even after experiencing its 28th-wettest December on record, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). For farmers like Charley Wolk in Fallbrook, last month’s rain was money to their ears. … The avocado farmer who also owns Bejoca Grove and Landscape Management Company says the showers helped provide much-needed financial relief for farmers who can pay anywhere from $4,000 to $40,000 a month for their water bills.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Bears battle for survival as fires, drought and traffic take heavy toll

Whether emblazoned on California’s flag or described in myth, the bear stands as a potent symbol of courage and strength — a ferocious embodiment of the North American wilderness. In reality, however, the bear is vulnerable. Nearly a century after the California grizzly was hunted to extinction, its less aggressive cousin, the black bear, is being killed in record numbers on California highways, experts say. The unprecedented surge in deadly vehicle strikes is likely the result of bears fleeing massive wildfires in the Sierra Nevada, as well as the effects of drought, according to biologists.

Aquafornia news UC Davis

Blog: Top 10 environmental law decisions of 2021

In 2021 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the federal circuit appeals court for California, Arizona and Alaska, remained — save only the U.S. Supreme Court — the most important court in the United States when it comes to environmental law. This year the 9th Circuit also maintained its role as the most prodigious source of key environmental decisions of any federal appellate court — issuing nearly one per week. … United States v. Walker River Irrigation District, (Jan. 28).

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Eel River Restoration Plan

CalTrout seeks to outline an Eel River, basin-wide fisheries Restoration Plan. The Plan consists of four phases: Planning, Prioritization, Implementation and Adaptive Management, and Monitoring. The need for a holistic, watershed-wide restoration program to support the recovery of native anadromous fish populations in the Eel River is well documented in the Eel River Action Plan, CDFW South Fork Eel River Watershed Assessment, Round Valley Indian Tribe’s Eel River Restoration Strategy, and NMFS Coho and Multispecies Recovery Plans.

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Aquafornia news California Land Use & Development Law Report

Blog: After 27 years, litigation over the Monterey agreement comes to an end

Over a quarter century of CEQA litigation over the validity of an agreement between the Department of Water Resources and State Water Project contractors finally came to an end with the court of appeal’s decision in Central Delta Water Agency v. Department of Water Resources, 69 Cal. App. 5th 170 (2021), and the California Supreme Court’s denial of a petition for review of that decision. In 1994, the Department of Water Resources entered into an agreement with State Water Project contractors called the “Monterey Agreement” in an effort to settle disputes over water allocations under long-term water supply contracts.

Aquafornia news Global Water Forum

Blog: The multiple dimensions of vulnerability in our drinking water systems

The delivery of safe, affordable and reliable drinking water is a key responsibility of utilities and governments everywhere. In the U.S. there is growing evidence that access to safe and affordable drinking water is distributed unevenly. Low-income and minority communities are more likely to experience drinking water contamination, face higher water bills, and have less reliable access to drinking water. The importance of drinking water services are clear and gaining policy attention. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District News Stories

News release: Construction slowed by December rains, but on the bright side …

Dry conditions in California are traditionally a benefit for construction companies looking to continue work through the winter season. This year, however, drought-stricken California received desperately needed rains and snowfall … in abundance. That’s good news for the state, not so good for our crews looking to continue work on the Natomas Reach B project. December storms dropped so much water, that areas of Reach B’s construction site have been turned into not just puddles, but mini-lakes …

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