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: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing. Also, 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 Sacramento Bee

California family gets drinking water from air with new device

The drinking water for a family near Keyes comes from an unusual source: It’s extracted from air. Such systems could help parts of the Central Valley with polluted wells, and parts of the world where water is always in short supply. The idea is being tested by the Valley Water Collaborative, which has delivered free bottled supplies since last year in parts of Stanislaus and Merced counties. The new system yields just 10 gallons a day, but that’s enough for the drinking and cooking needs of a typical household.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Blog: Going with the flow – How aquifer recharge reduces flood risk

On a small scale, aquifers — subsurface natural basins — have been recharged with flood waters from extreme storms for decades. Now, a new Department of Water Resources (DWR) assessment shows how Flood Managed Aquifer Recharge, or Flood-MAR, can help reduce flood risk and boost groundwater supplies across large areas of land. … In partnership with the Merced Irrigation District, Sustainable Conservation, and others, DWR experts analyzed how this would work in the Merced River —a 145-mile-long tributary of the San Joaquin River. The Merced River, which flows from the Sierra Nevada to the San Joaquin Valley, could be much more vulnerable to heavy flooding as storms intensify.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Reno hit with ‘torrential rainfall,’ Tahoe area affected by water

Anticipated bursts of intense rain soaking Reno this week prompted a flood watch from the National Weather Service. The phenomenon, known as a pulsing storm, is caused by a monsoonal flow that works its way up from the Gulf of California and even the Gulf of Mexico. When the monsoonal flow collides with high pressure, the result is “torrential rainfall,” said Heather Richards, meteorologist with NWS Reno. The effect was first felt Wednesday night when 1.22 inches of rain fell in just one hour at the Reno airport. This overwhelmed the drainage capabilities, flooded streams and washed out some downtown streets.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Californians and the Environment

Californians say their top environmental issue is water supply and drought, and most are unhappy with efforts by the state and their own communities to respond. While residents link drought and wildfires to climate change, they support only certain policies meant to address the problem. In a recent presentation, survey analyst Deja Thomas shared these and other findings from the latest PPIC survey on Californians and the environment and discussed insights from the report with survey analyst Rachel Lawler.

Aquafornia news NPR

Faced with drought, a wine region in central California looks to develop a spaceport

The drought in the West and climate change have smaller cities rethinking their economies, especially if their main business is agriculture. On California’s Central Coast, one town is trying to diversify beyond its main moneymaker – grapes and wine. … Lynn Hamilton [a professor of agribusiness at nearby Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo] says … “The attitude here, it seems to be – until recently – that, oh, we’re just a rainy season away from being saved. And I think people are now starting to realize that that’s not true any longer.”

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

LA residents reduce water use after restrictions

Los Angeles residents have continued to reduce water usage at a steady pace to offset a historic drought, and those efforts appear to be working, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said at a council committee meeting Thursday. Officials projected an 11% reduction in water use for the month of July compared to the previous two Julys. That topped a 9% reduction in the month of June, the lowest water use for any June in Los Angeles since 1970. The report updating water supply conditions and drought response actions was presented to the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River Committee on Thursday.

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Aquafornia news NOAA

Blog: El Niño-Southern Oscillation and salmon

When we discuss the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (“ENSO” for short) at the blog, we often take a rather human or physics-y view of the climate phenomenon. We’ve published loads of articles discussing the mechanics for how ENSO works in the atmosphere and the ocean, and how ENSO impacts humans from droughts and wildfires to floods. … If ENSO can affect climate patterns thousands of miles away from the central/eastern equatorial Pacific… why can’t it also affect marine life within that distance? Specifically, might it affect one of the poster fish of the North Pacific, the salmon? 

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Magazine

Do you know where your water comes from?

It wasn’t until she was 26 and had one degree in environmental science and another in water recycling that Nina Gordon-Kirsch learned where the water in her faucet came from. The Mokelumne River, which carries snowmelt from the Sierras through the Central Valley and out to the San Francisco Bay delta, is surprisingly little-known considering how many lives depend on it.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Abandoned boat pulled from Sacramento River. More are in Delta.

The shell of the “All American,” an 85-foot boat that went up in flames in June, floated in an industrial area of the Sacramento River for the last six weeks with no one to claim it. On Wednesday morning, the ship finally left the river. A barge loaded with construction equipment moored beside the boat and began dismantling it, ripping off pieces of wood to be transported to a waste facility. Sacramento County leaders hope that extraction marks just the beginning of their new push to clear the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of dozens of abandoned boats cluttering up waterways … and are asking state lawmakers pass a bill that would set aside $25 million to seed the cleanup work.

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Aquafornia news Valley Voice

South Valley in water crisis as systems fail

Small Valley communities are drying up. The latest town to find itself waterless is Tooleville, east of Exeter on Highway 65. In the middle of July, with temperatures soaring and the intense Valley summer in full swing, residents of the town found the well they rely on was delivering just a dribble where it was working at all. With the aid of Self-Help Enterprises, the town is now dependent on a pair of water tanks and costly daily deliveries of trucked-in water.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

California quietly stored 500,000 pounds of contaminated soil in Jurupa Valley. Then residents found out.

For four years, thousands of soil samples and paint chips taken from homes, schools, parks and parkways near the former Exide battery facility have been stored inside shipping containers at a Superfund site. Without consulting local officials or residents, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control transported the samples to the Stringfellow facility, an Inland Empire quarry that once served as an industrial dumping ground — one that leaked toxic chemicals into groundwater and soil over several decades.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: A Summer of (Eco)Restoration

Summer 2022 is a season of ecological restoration for the Department of Water Resources (DWR). From June 23 to July 14, 2022, DWR and partners celebrated four multi-benefit restoration projects taking place in California’s Central Valley including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta), Suisun Marsh, and Yolo Bypass region. Each of these projects have the capacity to deliver multiple benefits that include habitat restoration, supporting endangered species, flood risk reduction, or public access.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Conservation helps farms survive—and thrive—in drought

Healthy soil is a potent tool to combat the impacts of drought on farms and ranches. By using conservation practices that build healthy soil—like cover cropping, conservation tillage, and compost—growers increase the natural water storage potential of their land. Healthy soil captures more water when it rains and holds onto that water for future crop use, allowing farms with healthy soil to deliver stable yields, even in drought years.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

A race to save fish as Rio Grande dries, even in Albuquerque

On a recent, scorching afternoon in Albuquerque, off-road vehicles cruised up and down a stretch of dry riverbed where normally the Rio Grande flows. The drivers weren’t thrill-seekers, but biologists hoping to save as many endangered fish as they could before the sun turned shrinking pools of water into dust. For the first time in four decades, America’s fifth-longest river went dry in Albuquerque last week. Habitat for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow — a shimmery, pinky-sized native fish — went with it.

Aquafornia news Fox 40 - Sacramento

American Cruise Lines to offer cruises through the Californian Delta

American Cruise Lines have announced their first California cruise through the California Delta, exploring San Francisco, Napa Valley and the San Joaquin Valley. According to the news release, operating round trip, the cruise will take guests from San Francisco into Wine Country along the Napa River. It will also take guests through the San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, and the San Joaquin River. The new cruise line will be eight days with stops in San Francisco, Napa, Valley, Stockton, and Sacramento.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Opinion: The monsoon can’t save us

As I wrote this, news arrived that Sen. Joe Manchin — the coal-loving Democrat from West Virginia — finally agreed to support a climate bill that would potentially cut planet-warming emissions by some 40% by 2030. It will be a huge step forward (fossil fuel-friendly provisions aside) if it makes it through Congress, but it won’t do much to ease the West’s desiccation anytime soon. That gives the collective users of the region’s water no choice but to cut our consumption, and fast.
-Written by Jonathan Thompson, a contributing editor at High Country News and author of Sagebrush Empire: How a Remote Utah County Became the Battlefront of American Public Lands.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drought and old pipes could slow Colorado River to a trickle

In their pleas to Western states to cut back on water use from the Colorado River Basin, federal officials are keenly focused on keeping Lake Powell’s elevation at 3,490 feet — the minimum needed to keep hydropower humming at Glen Canyon Dam. But if federal efforts can’t stop the reservoir from shrinking to new lows — its elevation is 3,536 feet as of Monday — the lights going out might not even be the worst problem. If it dips 60 feet below its current level, the already dwindling Colorado River could trickle down into a fraction of what is expected for states below the dam, a new analysis by conservation groups found.

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Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Democratic lawmakers representing Delta-area urge Gov. Newsom to cancel Delta tunnel plan

California lawmakers representing the state’s Delta area are calling for Gov. Gavin Newsom to cancel his plan for an underground tunnel that would reroute water from Northern to Southern California. Representatives John Garamendi, Josh Harder, Jerry McNerney and Mike Thompson, all Democrats, released a joint statement in response to the draft environmental impact report for the project.

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Aquafornia news Discover Magazine

California wildfire: Fire clouds erupted high into the atmosphere first, then heavy rain caused flooding

Just a day after it ignited on July 29th, California’s McKinney Fire exploded in intensity, burning so hot that it exceeded a satellite sensor’s ability to measure it while lofting multiple fire clouds high into the atmosphere. Now, heavy rains in the area have sent torrents of water, mud and debris down streams, knocking out a bridge and inuring a man who was helping to battle the blaze — which has grown to a third of the size of New York City.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

US West, already in drought, is facing dwindling snowpacks

The Western US is an empire built on snow. And that snow is vanishing. … That snowmelt, often traveling hundreds of miles from mountain top to tap, sustains the booming desert communities of Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City — even coastal Los Angeles and San Francisco. … Those dwindling snow levels — a trend that’s extremely unlikely to reverse as temperatures keep rising — will demand hard choices if the 11 states in the Western US are to continue to thrive. So far, responses to the worsening water crisis have not matched the scale of the problem.