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 Sonoma Sun

Beavers return to Sonoma Creek

It’s been a long summer of extreme drought conditions in Sonoma Valley. But in what seems like a steady stream of dire news for the local watershed the Sonoma Ecology Center finds one glimmer of good news stands out: beavers are moving back into Sonoma Creek. … The return of these charming dam builders isn’t quite breaking news – since 1993 beavers have slowly made a comeback in Sonoma Valley. But this year, in the middle of peak dry season, their increasing presence is something for celebration.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Fort Bragg takes possession of water desalination unit

Six months ago the City of Fort Bragg ordered a desalination-reverse osmosis treatment system to help provide drinking water during periods of saltwater intrusion at its main Noyo River water source. The skid-mounted unit has arrived and can produce 200 gallons of desalinated water a minute, or 288,000 gallons of water per day, but because the unit can only run for 12 hours a day, the daily capacity will top out at 144,000 gallons.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Opinion: New housing is not an issue in San Gabriel Valley water predicament

As our own editorial of Tuesday notes, about 50% of the water in California is for the rivers and their fishes. About 40% goes to agriculture. Of the remaining 10%, 5.7% is used by residences, mostly indoors, but a great deal of that for landscaping. If I were to replace my pride and joy, the 80-year-old Meyer lemon tree in our front yard, productive enough to supply the whole block with citrus, with a granny flat, that housing would use less water than that tree.
-Written by Larry Wilson, Pasadena Star News editor. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Los Angeles shifts water supplies as drought hammers State Water Project

Cities in Southern California rely largely on water flowing through aqueducts from the Colorado River and the Sierra Nevada. But some parts of the region, such as Ventura County and northwestern L.A. County, don’t have access to Colorado River water and depend entirely on the water that comes from the Sierra through the State Water Project. … Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an agreement on Tuesday, saying the city’s Department of Water and Power is assisting the region by taking less water from the State Water Project, helping to preserve those supplies so that other districts will get the water.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Biden action puts a hold on Trump administration biological opinions

The water wars continue. Not surprisingly on Friday President Joe Biden’s administration took action to essentially place on hold an action taken by former President Donald Trump in early 2020 designed to ensure more water would be delivered to the Central Valley. The issue involved is biological opinions issued in 2019 by the Trump administration to be used when it comes to how water is managed. But a letter issued by the Bureau of Reclamation stated new biological opinions were anticipated. So not surprisingly California Republicans in Congress criticized Biden’s action.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Congress approves $80 million for Sites Reservoir

Congress approved a government funding bill last week that threw $80 million at the Sites Reservoir in California in order to keep the project on track. The project is meant to hold 1.5 million acre-feet of water for the state to be used during droughts for agriculture, community usage and environmental need, said a press release issued Tuesday by the organization behind the Sites Reservoir.

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Oroville hatchery plans to increase fall salmon run to 7.5 million

The record-breaking drought has impacted many aspects of life in California, including the Chinook salmon population. California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have teamed up at the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville to try and counteract the effects of the drought. The groups have a two-part plan of, first, returning healthy adults to the hatchery to increase the number of spring-run salmon. Second, they will increase the fall-run production of smolts, young salmon, from 6-million to 7.75-million.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news KOLO 8 - Reno

Wildfire smoke, ash may leave lasting impact on Lake Tahoe

The Caldor Fire slipped by the southern end of the Tahoe Basin, largely missing the neighborhoods there, but it also filled the Basin with smoke for weeks. Then the ash from more distant fires took its place. The skies will clear eventually, but the ash will remain, much of it in the water. Just what that will mean for Tahoe and other alpine lakes in the west isn’t known, but scientists, including a team from UNR are working to find out. They have an idea what they will be looking for. Dr. Facundo Scorco studied the effects of wildfire smoke at another lake in northern California in 2018.

Aquafornia news KDRV - Medford

Feds put another $5 million toward Klamath Basin drought relief

The federal Bureau of Reclamation has pledged another $5 million toward drought relief in the Klamath Basin as farmers and other stakeholders in the region continue to grapple with a major shortage of water. Reclamation previously awarded $15 million toward the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency, and the additional $5 million will join those funds. KPDRA is tasked with distributing the fund to irrigators in Oregon and California who are without an external water supply due to the drought. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news NPR

California farmers find ways to save water

Aaron Fukuda admits that the 15-acre sunken field behind his office doesn’t look like much. It’s basically a big, wide hole in the ground behind the headquarters of the Tulare Irrigation District, in the southern part of California’s fertile Central Valley. But “for a water resources nerd like myself, it’s a sexy, sexy piece of infrastructure,” says Fukuda, the district’s general manager. This earthen basin could be the key to survival for an agricultural community that delivers huge quantities of vegetables, fruit and nuts to the rest of the country — but is running short of water. The basin just needs California’s rivers to rise and flood it.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

As drought continues, state and federal experts call for water conservation

San Joaquin County communities are having their woes compounded as they struggle with the effects of one historic drought while still struggling with the effects of another. With constituents concerned about the ongoing drought and resources available, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, hosted a panel of state and federal experts to discuss the critical situation, its statewide effects and best water practices.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California oil spill: A rare gem slicked with oil — again

Thirty-two years ago, in a triumph of ecological restoration, ocean water rushed into a small, newly restored marsh along the heavily developed coast of Huntington Beach. … The little tract of habitat known as Talbert Marsh provides a rare refuge for at least 90 species of shorebirds that forage and rest there — all within sight of oil platforms, barges and tankers off the coast. Now, for the second time in its short history, Talbert Marsh is slicked with oil.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Groundwater and urban growth in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley is home to some 4 million residents and growing rapidly: another 1 million residents are expected by 2040. Groundwater is the primary water source for these communities, yet decades of overpumping have stressed the region’s groundwater basins, resulting in land subsidence, dry wells, and falling groundwater reserves. The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) seeks to solve this issue by mandating that water users bring their groundwater basins back into balance by the 2040s.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Locals support Central Valley town amid California drought

Ramon Chavez was a 7-year-old in Culiacán, Mexico, when his parents told him that they were traveling to the United States. He thought he was going to Disneyland. They ended up in Stratford. … Land sinks here, sometimes at nearly historic high rates of more than 1 foot per year, because of excessive groundwater pumping. Out of its four wells, Stratford can only rely on one — the others are unreliable and are unusable. 

Aquafornia news Fox 40 (Sacramento)

In California, some buy machines that make water out of air

The machine Ted Bowman helped design can make water out of the air, and in parched California, some homeowners are already buying the pricey devices. The air-to-water systems work like air conditioners by using coils to chill air, then collect water drops in a basin. … The system is one of several that have been developed in recent years to extract water from humidity in the air. Other inventions include mesh nets, solar panels and shipping containers that harvest moisture from the air.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Corps of Engineers considers nature-based flood control

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is known for damming rivers and building levees to keep waterways at bay. But a new initiative seeks natural flood control solutions as climate change brings increasingly frequent and severe weather events that test the limits of concrete and steel. … In Northern California near the state capital Sacramento, the Corps built the Yolo Bypass nearly a century ago to divert floodwaters. Its 59,000 acres (24,000 hectares) have also become habitat for native and endangered species, including Chinook salmon and steelhead.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Roseville Today

573 acres of vernal pool and wetland habitat to be protected in Placer County

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced nearly $79.2 million in grants to help conserve and permanently protect nearly 56,000 acres of habitat for 55 listed and at-risk species across 13 states through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. The grants will be matched by over $49.3 million in partner funds. In the California-Great Basin Region, the Service will deliver more than $34 million to California and Nevada.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Drought: Marin requests reservoir water for rural residents

As the deepening drought threatens to dry up some West Marin wells in the coming months, the county government wants to tap into dwindling reservoirs to avoid a potential public health emergency. The county proposes to truck reservoir water for the next four months to an estimated 10 to 20 residences in areas such as Nicasio, San Geronimo Valley and Lucas Valley. The actual number of residents is not certain, county officials said, as qualification criteria are still being drafted. 

Aquafornia news NOAA

Blog: October 2021 U.S. climate outlook – Finally, some less-than-scary news for the West

In honor of the start of Spooky Season… BOO! Let’s take a haunted look at the October 2021 outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. More than half the country, including parts of the West, are favored to have a warmer-than-average October, but for the first time in months, there’s no brown on the map out West, and even a little green. That means the odds of much wetter than average month are as good as or better than the odds of a much drier than average month.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Water World

Three companies to pay over $8M for contaminated CA groundwater

On September 30, three settlement agreements through the Central District of California’s courts will require three companies to pay $77.6 million for contaminated groundwater cleanup. The companies — Montrose Chemical Corporation of California, Bayer CropScience Inc, TFCF America Inc and Stauffer management Company LLC — agreed to pay for the cleanup of contaminated groundwater at the Montrose Superfund and the Del Amo Superfund sites in Los Angeles County.