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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 The Associated Press

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022

State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a “substantial cut” in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year. A joint statement issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said an expected shortage declaration “will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the river, with reductions falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.” The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers Colorado River water to users in central Arizona and southern Arizona, including farmers, cities and tribes.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado’s snowpack was almost normal this winter, but it may not be enough water for the year

The blizzard that dumped snow along the Front Range in March helped Colorado nearly reach its average snowpack for the winter, federal data shows. But last year’s historically dry weather means that streams are likely to run lower than normal, potentially restricting the amount of water some consumers can use, experts said… Areas east of the Continental Divide had above average snowpack, but the Colorado River Basin on the west was below average….

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California Dreaming: Farmers, scientists sustainably getting by with less water

Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, but only about 3% percent of it is fresh water, making it the planet’s most precious resource. But what do you do when water is in danger of going dry? California’s Central Valley is no stranger to drought, and because of that, farmers and scientists are joining forces to figure out how to get by with less.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Deal to help fish threatened by federal agencies

Water releases designed to benefit the critical outmigration of juvenile salmon on the Stanislaus River as well as assist farms and communities along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley already starting to suffer the effects of two consecutive dry years is languishing in the federal bureaucracy. Up to 100,000 acre feet is proposed to be released that belongs to the South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts that would provide a critical impulse flow from April 15 to May 15. That water based on measurements at Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River would significantly improve the survivability of the threatened salmon.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State will hear Kern River water rights case

Is there water available on the Kern River and, if so, how much? Parties to the long-running river dispute will finally get a hearing by the State Water Resources Control Board on those questions, at least. The big question — who should get the water? — will have to wait. Still, this is the first significant public movement on the Kern River in the past 11 years.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

UC Merced study imagines solar panels atop irrigation canals

Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California.  The idea has already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as one of several options for boosting the solar part of its electricity supply.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Fact sheet: Access to safe drinking water

Although most residents have safe drinking water, more than 250 water systems serving 900,000 people were out of compliance with drinking water standards in 2020. This is a chronic issue for some systems; more than 170 have been out of compliance for three or more years. More than half of these noncompliant systems are in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region and home to a third of the state’s low-income communities. Some tribal water systems face similar challenges. Data are lacking on water quality provided by roughly 1,500 very small, county-regulated water systems and more than 350,000 domestic wells, but some of these supplies may have chronic issues as well.

Aquafornia news Food Tank

Ecologists use mushrooms to detoxify soil and water after wildfires

In the wake of California’s worst-ever wildfire season, researchers are exploring how mushrooms can help detoxify polluted soil and water. Scientists and volunteers at CoRenewal, a nonprofit dedicated to ecological restoration, are conducting the experiment in burn zones along high-risk waterways in Northern California. Burned and melted plastics, metals, electronics, and building materials leave behind toxic ash, which then washes into water systems. For instance, in the months following the Tubbs Fire in 2017 and Camp Fire in 2018, authorities found toxic levels of benzene—a cancer-causing chemical—in local drinking water. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Newsom California fracking ban vision exceeds original scope

When Gov. Gavin Newsom voiced his support last year for a ban on hydraulic fracturing by oil and gas companies, an effort long fought by the industry and trade unions alike, he gave Democrats a green light to send him legislation to achieve that goal as they saw fit. But the crackdown on oil and gas production under consideration by the California Legislature is much wider in scope than the plan requested by the governor, who may get more than he bargained for as he shoulders the pressures of carrying out the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response while battling a looming recall election. The ambitious proposal would outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and a series of other oil extraction methods reviled by environmental activists. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey expansion SEIR revision work approved

A $230,000 revision of the Pure Water Monterey expansion project’s environmental review document will move forward after the Monterey One Water board approved the work earlier this week. At the same time, board members backing the study revision made it clear they wouldn’t support approving the recycled water expansion proposal itself until an outside funding source is available. On Monday, the Monterey One Water board voted 7-3 to approve the work needed to update a supplemental environmental impact report for the expansion proposal, including consultant contracts and a cost-sharing agreement with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District whose board agreed last month to cover most of the revision’s cost. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Justice

News release: California Department of Justice expresses concern over proposal to allow exploratory drilling in the Suisun Marsh

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) filed comments with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) regarding Sunset Exploration’s proposal to drill for natural gas in the Suisun Marsh. Located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this 88,000-acre wetland is home to a number of endangered and threatened species, including California Ridgway’s rail, black rail, and Chinook salmon – and is just a few short miles from environmental justice communities in Solano County…. DOJ urges the Army Corps to fully consider the proposal’s significant environmental impacts, including harm to these communities and protected species, as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions, before deciding whether to grant the requested permit.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press-Telegram

Push to reduce plastic waste gains traction in Sacramento and D.C.

If the mountain of proposed legislation is any indication, lawmakers are increasingly primed to crack down on the plastic waste that is littering roadsides, washing onto beaches and into oceans, being digested by fish, and ending up in our own bellies. In Sacramento, at least a dozen bills go after plastic pollution from a variety of angles, including reducing the amount of single-use plastics and refilling returnable beverage bottles. And in Washington, D.,C., a sweeping federal proposal co-authored by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would place much of the responsibility for plastic reduction and recycling on companies that make and utilize single-use plastics. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Judge tosses challenge from environmental groups to halt Denver Water reservoir expansion

A federal judge has thrown out a legal action from multiple environmental organizations seeking to halt the expansion of a key Denver Water storage facility, citing no legal authority to address the challenge. … The expansion of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County is intended to provide additional water storage and safeguard against future shortfalls during droughts. The utility currently serves customers in Denver, Jefferson, Arapahoe, Douglas and Adams counties. In July 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the design and construction of the reservoir’s expansion. The project would add 77,000 acre-feet of water storage and 131 feet to the dam’s height for the utility’s “North System” of water delivery.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Sierra meadows strategy – Moments that write history #8

In 2016—after two years of rigorous scientific study by CalTrout and its partners in the Sierra Meadows Partnership—the Sierra Meadows Strategy for restoring and protecting our state’s Sierra Nevada meadows was officially released. A key piece of CalTrout’s source-waters-to-sea approach to combatting the effects of drought and climate change, this strategy developed among a broad coalition of conservation partners aims to restore and conserve meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada, protecting a major source of our state’s water supply and critical habitats to fish and other species.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation releases technical reports and interactive web tool supporting the 2021 SECURE water act report

The Bureau of Reclamation today released final technical reports supporting the Water Reliability in the West – 2021 SECURE Water Act Report. Reclamation—s 2021 West-Wide Climate and Hydrology Assessment and seven individual basin reports provide detailed information on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies to increase water supply reliability in the West. A new 2021 SECURE Report Web Portal is also available to provide a user-friendly, web-based format for delivery of information in the reports. 

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Fishermen worried over salmon season

With commercial salmon fishing in California likely headed toward a shortened season starting in late June, fishermen out of Half Moon Bay remain worried about what a short season means during an already down year. … The shortened season will be set based on an estimated low stock of chinook salmon derived from statistical modeling. An ocean abundance forecast of adult salmon estimated the Sacramento River in 2021 to have around 271,000 salmon, while the Klamath River had around 181,500, both lower than their 10-year averages of 487,600 and 449,000, respectively, Morgenstern said.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Water rescue spotlights California spring river hazards

Humboldt County authorities are warning people it is still too early to swim in some rivers due to high and swift water. A report of multiple swimmers in distress this week led to a sheriff’s deputy rescuing three people stuck on a rock in Willow Creek. The Sheriff’s Office says the three Arcata-area residents had decided to swim due to good weather. The office says people should check National Weather Service information on river levels and flow information. The advice includes the Trinity River. Warming spring weather causes snowmelt that sends cold and fast-moving water down through California’s rivers to lakes and reservoirs. Authorities say even the most experienced swimmers can be in danger. California State Parks on Thursday began a series of online programs to help prevent drownings in waterways. 

Aquafornia news National Law Review

California State Water Board’s construction stormwater permit for 2021

Barack Obama was seven months into his first term as President of the United States, the World Health Organization had declared a H1N1 flu pandemic, and the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) adopted the current Construction General Permit for Stormwater Discharges (Permit or CGP). It was September 2009. Now, having administratively extended the Permit since 2014 when, by its terms, the Permit expired, the State Board may, under a schedule released late last year, soon release a new draft CGP for public comment, with a goal of adopting it late this summer. As with the current permit, the proposed new CGP will regulate the discharge of pollutants from construction sites in California. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought is back. But Southern California faces less pain than Northern California

Drought is returning to California as a second, consecutive parched winter draws to a close in the usually wet north, leaving the state’s major reservoirs half empty. But this latest period of prolonged dryness will probably play out very differently across this vast state. In Northern California, areas dependent on local supplies, such as Sonoma County, could be the hardest-hit. Central Valley growers have been told of steep cuts to upcoming water deliveries. Environmentalists too are warning of grave harm to native fish. Yet, hundreds of miles to the south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California reports record amounts of reserves — enough to carry the state’s most populous region through this year and even next.

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Aquafornia news University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Report: The first SGMA groundwater market is trading – The importance of good design and the risks of getting it wrong

A groundwater market, which caps total pumping within one or more basins, allocates portions of the total to individual users and allows users to buy and sell groundwater under the total cap, is a promising tool for basins implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … [G]roundwater markets can be a useful tool for achieving basin sustainability, but they are not a good fit for every basin or groundwater sustainability agency (GSA). … The Fox Canyon groundwater market benefitted from the four enabling conditions (water scarcity, fixed allocations, agricultural stakeholder support, and capacity and funding) described below.

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