One of two State Water Project aqueducts serving Southern
California, the East Branch Aqueduct stores water in Silverwood
Lake and Lake Perris.
After being pumped over the Tehachapi Mountains from the
Edmonston Pumping Plant, water for the East Branch Aqueduct
passes through Palmdale and Lancaster [see also West Branch Aqueduct]. The
water is then stored for distribution to Inland Empire cities
such as San Bernardino and Riverside.
Arthur D. Edmonston directed the early planning
of the Central Valley Project, State Water Project and State
He served as California state engineer and chief of the Division
of Water Resources (predecessor to the Department of Water
Resources) from 1950-1955, a time of rapid population,
agricultural and industry growth California. Water shortages were
common, and groundwater supplies were being overdrafted.
The Eel River flows from the
Mendocino National Forest to the coast a few miles south of
Eureka, traversing a topographically diverse
area of mountains, canyons and redwood forests in Northern
California. Including its tributaries, it
drains more than 3,500 square miles and is the state’s third
El Niño is characterized by unusually warm water
temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. El Niño’s storm
track affects the location of jet streams. Instead of coming
ashore in the Pacific Northwest, the southern jet stream hits
California, with increased rainfall and accompanying floods,
landslides and coastal erosion. The effects are variable across
the state and are more predictable in Southern California.
Environmental concerns have closely followed California’s
development of water resources since its earliest days as a
Early miners harnessed water to dislodge gold through hydraulic
mining. Debris resulting from these mining practices washed down
in rivers and streams, choking them and harming aquatic life and
Estuaries are places where fresh and
salt water mix, usually at the point where a river enters the
ocean. They are the meeting point between riverine environments
and the sea, with a combination of tides, waves, salinity, fresh
water flow and sediment. The constant churning means there are
elevated levels of nutrients, making estuaries highly productive
Evaporation ponds contain agricultural drainage water and are
used when agricultural growers do not have access to rivers for
Drainage water is the only source of water in many of these
ponds, resulting in extremely high concentrations of salts.
Concentrations of other trace elements such as selenium are also
elevated in evaporation basins, with a wide degree of variability
Such ponds resemble wetland areas that birds use for nesting and
feeding grounds and may pose risks to waterfowl and shorebirds.