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.

Subscribe to our weekday emails to have news delivered to your inbox about 9 a.m. Monday through Friday except for holidays. Or subscribe via RSS feed.

For breaking news, follow us on Twitter.

Check out our special news feeds devoted to: 

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 Jose Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: California drought: Wasting water? You could be hit with a $500 fine

Hosing off the driveway. Watering lawns within 48 hours of a rain storm. Washing a car without a shut-off nozzle. Any of those wasteful practices could soon be illegal in drought-stricken California, with fines of up to $500 for violators. Seven months after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for most counties in California, his administration is moving forward with something water conservation experts said should have happened long ago — crafting statewide rules to ban the egregious wasting of water

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Biden administration moves to scrap Cadiz water pipeline right-of-way permit, cleared by Trump

Federal authorities have moved to reverse a Trump administration decision that cleared the way for Cadiz Inc. to pipe water across public land in the California desert. The request filed in federal court Friday, which must still be granted, could deal a blow to the company’s decades-long effort to pump groundwater from beneath its desert property 200 miles east of Los Angeles and sell it to urban Southern California.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news KTLA

Pair of storms expected to bring rain to SoCal this week

A pair of storms are on their way to Southern California this week and will bring the region a chance of showers on Tuesday and Thursday. Above average temperatures are expected on Monday, but clouds will begin to increase later in the day as a weak weather system begins to move over the Southland. Forecasters are calling for a chance of rain Tuesday afternoon, with only about .10 of an inch expected.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Science of an underdog: the improbable comeback of spring-run Chinook salmon in the San Joaquin River

“You can’t design a worse evolutionary strategy for the Anthropocene” There are many variants on this quote, and we’ve heard them often in reference to the status of native fishes in California and other freshwater organisms worldwide. Indeed, the statement rings true for Pacific salmon, but especially spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in California. And although the current situation certainly looks bleak overall for endangered salmon (Moyle et al. 2017), there are signs in a few corners that the arrow may finally be pointing up.

Aquafornia news KJZZ/Fronteras

Bill would allow Colorado River Indian tribes to lease water to other cities

As water supply continues to raise alarm bells across the American West, Sen. Mark Kelly introduced a bill that would allow central Arizona’s Colorado River Indian tribes to give portions Colorado River shares to other parts of the state.  The Colorado River Indian Tribes are a single tribal nation made up of more than 4000 Chemehuevi, Mojave, Hopi and Navajo members who live along the river in California and Arizona.  The bill comes amid historic low levels in Lake Mead and as Arizona faces a harsh water future. 

Aquafornia news Science Alert

‘Snow drought’ is threatening the western US, and that could become a massive problem

The western United States has built their water infrastructure on a melting foundation, and unless we do something about global warming, scientists worry the consequences will be catastrophic. According to new models, the snow season in states like California could be virtually nonexistent by the end of the century, impacting water supply systems as well as flora, fauna, rivers and even the wildfire season.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Off-season irrigation could pause as Reclamation ‘pays back’ PacifiCorp reservoirs

 2021’s disaster of a water year continues to wreak havoc on Water Year 2022. In August, the Bureau of Reclamation had to ‘borrow’ 9,300 acre-feet from the flow of the Klamath River to stabilize the only remaining wetland unit on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The agency must now pay that water back to Iron Gate and Copco Reservoirs, which were drawn down to facilitate the transfer while keeping lake levels and Klamath River flows in line with Endangered Species Act requirements.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

First-ever well water regulations coming to Sonoma County

Three local agencies that govern about 8,000 private and public wells will hold public hearings this week on plans to sustain underground water relied on by rural residents, farmers and cities. The Groundwater Sustainability Plans, mandated by state law, represent California’s first move to regulate and set fees for well water use — a historically unrestricted domain often compared to the “Wild West.”

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Billions for climate protection fuel new debate: Who deserves it most?

The new infrastructure law signed by President Biden includes almost $50 billion to protect communities against climate change … But historically, it is wealthier, white communities — with both high property values and the resources to apply to competitive programs — that receive the bulk of federal grants. … More than half the money went to California, New Jersey and Washington State. The largest single recipient was a $68 million flood-control project in Menlo Park, Calif., where the median household income is more than $160,000, the typical home costs more than $2 million and only one in five residents are Black or Hispanic. 

Aquafornia news Wall Street Journal

California dairy farmers struggle to stay in the ‘Got Milk’ state

Dairy farmers in California, the nation’s top milk producer, face pressure from rising costs, increasingly complex environmental regulations and a quest for water—challenges all magnified by a historic drought. For some, the challenges are existential. In the north coast, home to the state’s small, organic dairy farms, shrunken reservoirs and shriveled pastures pushed some farmers to the brink earlier this year.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

ACWA members elect Pamela Tobin as association president

Members of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today announced the election of Pamela Tobin, who serves on San Juan Water District Board of Directors, to a two-year term as president of the statewide association. Cathy Green, who serves on the Orange County Water District Board of Directors, was elected vice president.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water pipeline plan draws environmental lawsuit

A Marin environmental group is suing to block a proposed water pipeline on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, citing the potential harm to endangered fish. The plaintiffs also allege the Marin Municipal Water District project could open the door to tens of thousands of new homes being developed in the county. The Fairfax-based North Coast Rivers Alliance filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Marin County Superior Court.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Plan targeting faulty septic systems in parts of Russian River watershed revised, finalized

Thousands of property owners in the Russian River watershed will soon be accountable for ensuring their septic systems operate properly through five-year inspections aimed at controlling bacterial contamination from human waste.  The new requirement is part of a controversial plan approved by water quality regulators this week. It was the fourth version of the plan to be considered, and it amends sweeping two-year-old regulations intended to keep human and animal waste out of local waterways.

Aquafornia news KCLU

Microfibers from clothing are polluting the waterways, sediment and fish around Ventura County

Clothing made of polyester, nylon or fleece gets softer and even comfier over time. It almost breaks down. That’s because when you wash this type of clothing, in a washing machine, thousands of the plastic fibers that make up the garment are shed into the water. They are extremely small, we’re talking five millimeters or less, and are called microfibers. They are too small to be caught by a washing machine’s filter and ultimately they end up in our waterways.

Aquafornia news CA Energy Commission

News release: The Department of the Navy and the California Energy Commission partner on energy and water initiatives

The Department of the Navy (DON) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Dec. 1 that will help the Navy, the Marine Corps and the state collaborate on energy and water-related projects at DON installations. … The agreement supports Navy and Marine Corps efforts to address energy resilience issues, climate initiatives, fossil fuel reduction, greenhouse gas reductions, water consumption, and alternative-fuel vehicles. 

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Department of Water Resources investing heavy in water facility rehabilitation

The California Department of Water Resources initiated a $100 million funding program to restore capacity to portions of the California Aqueduct, San Luis Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal, and Friant-Kern Canal lost to land subsidence occurring during the last several decades. … In its first year, the program will provide up to $37 million to the State Water Project’s California Aqueduct and San Luis Canal (jointly operated by DWR and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation), $39.2 million to Friant Water Authority for the Friant-Kern Canal, and $23.8 million to San Luis Delta-Mendota Authority for the Delta-Mendota Canal.

Related article:

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA awards Inter Tribal Council of Arizona $1,581,000 to protect children from lead in drinking water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded $1,581,000 to the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) to help identify sources of lead in drinking water in schools or child care facilities. The funding will help protect children and helps advance the federal action plan to reduce childhood lead exposures. The ITCA project will serve schools or child care facilities at federally-recognized Tribes located in New Mexico (in EPA Region 6), as well as those located in Arizona, California, Nevada, and the Navajo Nation (in EPA Region 9). The project will also build on previous lead-testing programs at Tribal schools in these areas.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Democrats eye massive shift in war on wildfires: Prevention

Democrats are proposing a potentially seismic shift in how the nation battles wildfires by dramatically increasing funding for efforts that aim to prevent blazes, rather than focusing on the tools to put them out. Under the social safety-net and climate bill passed by the House and now being negotiated in the Senate, Democrats would funnel $27 billion into the nation’s forests, including a sizable $14 billion over a decade for clearing vegetation and other dry debris that can fuel a fire.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Oil, ag parry accusations they use too much water during drought

The second year of an extraordinary drought has revived a debate over whether two pillars of Kern’s economy, oil and ag, are using more than their fair share of the state’s precious water supplies. A coalition of environmental groups sent a letter Tuesday calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to take executive action to “balance water use and access in the state” by reining in what it called large and polluting corporate interests. Representatives of the oil and ag industry countered the coalition’s assertions…

Related article: 

Aquafornia news OPB

Hatcheries may be the last best hope for endangered suck fish in the Klamath Basin

The Klamath Basin is coming off a tough year. Farmers, ranchers, fish, birds — nobody had enough water. And the crisis — fueled by climate change, politics and water policy — doesn’t appear likely to resolve anytime soon. The two species of endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake are in the middle of the turmoil. … Despite being protected as an endangered species for more than 30 years, the numbers of shortnose and Lost River suckers have continued to decline. Only about 8,000 thousand shortnose suckers are left in the world.