“Infrastructure” in general can be defined as the components and equipment needed to operate, as well as the structures needed for, public works systems. Typical examples include roads, bridges, sewers and water supply systems.Various dams and infrastructural buildings have given Californians and the West the opportunity to control water, dating back to the days of Native Americans.

Water management infrastructure focuses on the parts, including pipes, storage reservoirs, pumps, valves, filtration and treatment equipment and meters, as well as the buildings to house process and treatment equipment. Irrigation infrastructure includes reservoirs, irrigation canals. Major flood control infrastructure includes dikes, levees, major pumping stations and floodgates.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Winter storms allow state water project to move and store additional water

The series of storms that have hit California since the beginning of the year is translating to additional water for millions of Californians. The State Water Project is proactively working to move and store as much of the surplus water from these storms as possible. The State Water Project (SWP) is making additional water available to its contractors (public agencies and local water districts) that have the ability to take delivery of the water in their own system, including through groundwater recharge. Known as “Article 21 water,” this water does not count toward formal SWP allocation amounts. This water is available only under certain conditions: when there is no place to store this water in the SWP reservoirs; when there is a demand for this water from the south of Delta contractors above their allocated amount; and when there is available pumping and conveyance capacity within the SWP.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Explore breadth & depth of the ‘nation’s breadbasket’ on the Central Valley Tour April 26-28

California’s climate whiplash has been on full display in the San Joaquin Valley this winter as the region has shifted from managing three years of drought impacts to enduring widespread flooding following a series of intense atmospheric rivers. Our Central Valley Tour at the end of April is your best opportunity to understand both the challenges and opportunities of water management in the region. The 3-day, 2-night tour tour weaves around and across the entire valley to give you a firsthand look at farms, wetlands and major infrastructure such as Friant Dam in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Fresno and San Luis Reservoir in the Coastal Range near Los Banos, the nation’s largest off-stream reservoir and a key water facility serving both the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news ABC7 - San Francisco

San Francisco company Epic Cleantec is advancing water recycling technologies in downtown buildings and beer

Looking out from a downtown San Francisco rooftop, Epic Cleantec co-founder and CEO Aaron Tartakovsky says you can actually see the future of recycled water. “This is not theoretical, it’s happening right now. It’s happening here, it’s happening in the Chorus building, where we’re going to be operating that system. And it’s happening in a third building over here,” says Tartakovsky, pointing a short distance away. Epic Cleantec is harnessing the used wastewater from high-rise buildings, and giving it a second life, with a dizzying array of technologies. … At the heart of the system lies a control center that monitors everything from the amount of energy being saved to the amount of wastewater being recovered. Ryan Pully is the director of water reuse operations.

Aquafornia news Grist

Rising groundwater threatens clean air and water across the US

Places in the United States where the water table is inching higher — along the coasts, yes, but also inland, in parts of the Midwest — are already beginning to experience problems with infrastructure. Cracks in aging and poorly maintained pipes are being inundated, leaving plumbing unable to carry away stormwater and waste. Pavement is degrading faster. Trees are drowning as the soil becomes soupier, starving their roots of oxygen. During high tides and when it rains, groundwater is even reaching the surface and forming temporary ponds where there never used to be flooding. … In the San Francisco Bay Area, rising groundwater threatens to spread contamination that can evaporate and rise into the air inside homes, schools, and workplaces.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water supply benefits of Delta tunnel need closer look

The California Department of Water Resources is using the winter storms to claim that the proposed Delta Conveyance project would help ensure a more reliable water supply for the State Water Project in light of how climate change will alter seasonal patterns of rain and drought. In reality, the benefits of the conveyance project are speculative at best. The Delta Counties Coalition demonstrated for over 15 years that resources slated for the tunnel would be better spent on sustainable, resilient water infrastructure around the state (such as groundwater recharge, storage, recycled water expansion, desalination) instead of further increasing reliance on Sacramento River freshwater flows, which is in direct conflict with a Delta Reform Act requirement to reduce reliance on the Delta.
-Written by Oscar Villegas, chair of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors; and Patrick Kennedy, a member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and Delta Counties Coalition.

Aquafornia news CBS - Los Angeles

Southern California cities adjusting to worsening King Tides

The crashing waves can be a calming force on the California coast but the mighty Pacific Ocean is nothing to turn your back on.  Reina Sharkey’s daughter lives along a stretch of sand in Seal Beach where the frequent “King Tides” and storms have forced the city to give them a winter wall of sand.  “I can’t see the ocean because of that hill there,” said Sharkey.  The city said that the berms are a necessary safety measure to protect the nearby homes from the surf and high tides. … The sea levels are rising because of Thermal Expansion, a product of climate change. The process has caused ice to melt into the ocean, which in turn caused the sea levels to rise and making higher waves, flooding in low-lying areas, washed-away roads and coastal erosion will become more common. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

House panel hones in on Calif.’s lackluster water storage

Tuesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources discussed the increased need for water storage in California and the rest of the western United States given the highly above average precipitation after years of drought.  The Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a hearing on long-term drought and the water storage issues throughout the reasons to discuss the situation and possible solutions. … Bourdeau, the Vice Chair of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority … [and] a director for Westlands Water District … noted that farmers throughout the Central Valley have spent billions of dollars to put drip irrigation systems in place, among other water-saving measures, to go along with the conservation efforts from municipal water users. But without proper water storage solutions, the nation’s future could be imperil if the Valley’s food production wanes. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

U.N. puts focus on ‘deep trouble’ in water worldwide

For the first time in 46 years, the United Nations convened a global conference on water, creating new impetus for wide-ranging efforts to manage water more sustainably, adapt to worsening droughts and floods with climate change, and accelerate solutions for the estimated 2 billion people around the world who live without access to clean drinking water. The conference this week in New York brought together about 10,000 participants, including national leaders and scientists, with a focus on addressing the world’s many water problems and making progress toward a goal of ensuring clean drinking water and sanitation for all people.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Editorial: A mostly hidden problem wastes appalling amounts of water

When Americans turn on their faucets, they shouldn’t have to think about infrastructure. A well-run system for clean drinking water ought to be the bare minimum of what the government delivers. But virtually every part of the country is struggling with aging pipes, which are wasting billions of gallons of water every day. Some utilities are losing as much as half or more of their water supply to leaks. Worse, most states don’t know the scale of the problem and are doing little to find out, threatening their residents’ wallets and their health. This issue is mostly hidden — until there is a serious problem. Water main breaks, for example, can tear up roads and damage property. These occur somewhere in the country every two minutes, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Sacramento, CA, firefighters vandalized water tower, costing $65,000

In July 2019 a group of Sacramento firefighters spray painted the inside of a city water tank, causing “floating debris” and damage that cost taxpayers over $65,000. As punishment, two of them received a two-day unpaid suspension. The firefighters had just graduated from the academy, and spray painted their academy number on the inside of an East Sacramento water tank, according to a Dec. 21, 2021, disciplinary letter, obtained from a California Public Records Act request by The Sacramento Bee. … But this time the new firefighters, with help from two captains, spray painted the inside, causing “floating debris” to surface in the drinking water that serves nearby businesses and homes. The city did not discover the floating debris until a year and a half after the fire fighters spray painted it. Testing found no contamination, city spokesman Tim Swanson said.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

‘We’ve lost the aqueduct’: How severe flooding threatens a Los Angeles water lifeline

For more than 100 years, the Los Angeles Aqueduct has endured earthquakes, flash floods and dozens of bomb attacks as it wends and weaves through the canyons and deserts of the eastern Sierra Nevada. But earlier this month, record storms accomplished the unthinkable when floodwaters undermined a 120-foot-long section of aqueduct in Owens Valley, causing its concrete walls to crumble. “We’ve lost the aqueduct!” a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power inspector told his superiors by cellphone. As he spoke, chocolate-colored runoff and debris undercut the aqueduct just west of Highway 395 and the community of Olancha. It was the first time in history that the 200-mile aqueduct had been breached by extreme weather, threatening water deliveries to 4 million ratepayers in Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District seeks $200K grant for desalination study

Marin Municipal Water District is seeking a $200,000 federal grant to study the possibility of building a brackish water desalination plant on the Petaluma River. The district’s board voted 4-0 on Tuesday, with Jed Smith abstaining, to retroactively authorize an application to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the study. The district submitted the grant application in late February. While the district has studied a desalination plant on San Francisco Bay in the past, officials said a plant in brackish water on the Petaluma River is a newer concept that has not been examined.

Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Work begins on Klamath dam removals

Proponents of the removal of four dams from the Klamath River in Northern California and Southern Oregon announced March 23 that work has begun on the project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval last fall cleared the way for the the Klamath River Renewal Corp., which has been pushing removal of the dams for more than a decade to help endangered fish, to team with California and Oregon in accepting transfer of the project license from energy company PacifiCorp and start the dam removal process. … The project is funded by $200 million from PacifiCorp and $250 million from a California water bond passed in 2014. The three larger dams are to be removed next year with removal of all four dams completed by the end of 2024; however, the restoration of the 38 mile reach of river impacted by the dams will take longer.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

BREAKING NEWS: Newsom rolls back California drought restrictions after remarkably wet winter

On the heels of one of California’s wettest winters on record, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that he will roll back some of the state’s most severe drought restrictions and dramatically increase water supplies for agencies serving 27 million people.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Climate change is destabilizing insurance industry

The president of one of the world’s largest insurance brokers warned Wednesday that climate change is destabilizing the insurance industry, driving up prices and pushing insurers out of high-risk markets. Aon PLC President Eric Andersen told a Senate committee that climate change is injecting uncertainty into an industry built on risk prediction and has created “a crisis of confidence around the ability to predict loss.”

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Pajaro residents cleared to return to flood-ravaged Monterey County farm town

Doris Padilla, 65, stood almost catatonic Thursday outside her mud-covered house on Florence Street in Pajaro, unable to begin the grueling work of rebuilding. Unlike the neighbors busying themselves shoveling contaminated mud and debris and moving waterlogged furniture and carpets out of their homes, Padilla just couldn’t move. She waited outside her house for her son to come home from work and start cleaning up. … Monterey County authorities Thursday morning lifted evacuation orders for the flood-ravaged farm town, allowing residents to return to their homes in most cases for the first time since they were forced to flee in the middle of the night March 11 after a levee failed upriver and inundated their community.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

A broken pipe in Jackson [Mississippi] left residents without drinking water

On an abandoned golf course, overgrown with shrubs and saw grass, you can hear the rushing water from 100 yards away. Near Hole 4, past the little bridge and crumbling cart paths, what looks to be a waterfall comes into view, pouring down through the brush and into the creek below. Except the torrent of water gushing up through the mud isn’t from a spring-fed stream or a bubbling brook. It is spewing from a broken city water line. As residents had to boil their tap water and businesses closed because their faucets were dry, the break at the old Colonial Country Club squandered an estimated five million gallons of drinking water a day in a city that had none to spare.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Friday Top of the Scroll: Klamath dam removals, habitat restoration, begins

Crews have begun working on removing four dams on the Klamath River which tribes and other groups have lobbied to take down for decades. The early removal work involves upgrading bridges and constructing roads to allow greater access to the remote dams, which are expected to be fully down by the end of 2024. The dam removal on the 38-mile stretch of the river comes after an agreement between the last dam owner PacifiCorp, California, Oregon, the Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe and a multitude of environmental organizations, with the goal of restoring salmon populations. The Klamath River Renewal Corporation held a news conference on Thursday giving an update on their work in dismantling the dams and restoring habitats.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Battered California faces billions in storm damage to crops, homes and roads

The costs of California’s relentless winter storms keep rising. And outside of the human toll — with at least 28 people killed since January — the price will be measured in billions. The “bomb cyclone” that lashed San Francisco on Tuesday was the latest in an epic series of extreme weather events to hit California since New Year’s Eve. It blew out windows from skyscrapers, flung barges into a historic bridge, sent trees tumbling across roads, knocked down power lines, and threatened a major freeway as the waterlogged hillside beneath it started to collapse….The price tag for all this mayhem — road repairs, damaged homes, lost crops — won’t become clear for months. But the early estimates are sobering.

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District moves forward with an attempted public buyout of private water utility Cal Am.

The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District … announced it has finalized its appraisal of Cal Am, the private utility water provider for the Monterey Peninsula, to buy it out in what could be a friendly—but likely hostile—attempted takeover. It will most certainly end up in court—Cal Am has repeatedly said it’s not for sale—but this is nonetheless a long-awaited moment. On Monday April 3, at 5:30pm in the Monterey City Hall council chambers, the district will host a public presentation outlining the methodology its consultants used in the appraisal, followed by a Q&A. But regardless, the die will have already been cast: the district’s statement notes that while the presentation is occurring, “it is expected that an offer to purchase the system will be made to Cal Am on or about the same time.”

Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

LA is drowning in stormwater. Here’s how much we’ve captured

Los Angeles County is on track to capture enough stormwater this year to quench the year-round water needs of more than a quarter of the county’s residents. It’s good news, but there is still a lot of work to do to meet local water use goals. [LA County’s principal stormwater engineer Sterling] Klippel says LA County gets about a third of its water from those [local] aquifers while the rest is imported either from Northern California or from the Colorado River. But the City of LA’s goal is to flip that equation by 2035, using two-thirds local water and cutting Southern California’s dependence on imported water. [Bruce Reznik, head of the nonprofit LA Waterkeeper] says the local infrastructure is just not set up for that yet.

Aquafornia news Nature Communications

New research: Satellites reveal hotspots of global river extent change

Rivers are one of the most dynamic water cycle components of the earth surface and hold fundamental economic and ecological significance for the development of human societies, ecosystem sustainability, and regional climate. Yet, their natural balance has been threatened by a wide range of anthropogenic stressors and ongoing climate change. With increasing demands for economic and social development, human disturbances in the form of dam construction, aquaculture, and irrigation have resulted in large-scale and rapid transformations of river channels.

Aquafornia news Smithsonian Magazine

Are floating solar panels the future of clean energy production?

Floating solar panels placed on reservoirs around the world could generate enough energy to power thousands of cities, according to a study published last week in the journal Nature Sustainability. Called floating photovoltaic systems, or “floatovoltaics,” these solar arrays function the same way as panels on land, capturing sunlight to generate electricity. … The new research shows this buoyant technology has the potential to create vast amounts of power and conserve water—without taking up precious space on land. … A handful of countries are already answering that question by using floating solar panels in a limited capacity… California plans to test a similar idea in which solar panels will be placed above irrigation canals.

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

Scientists, policy leaders, and insurance experts meet to address climate risks

The March 16 Coastal Climate Resilience Symposium at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center focused on the role of insurance and nature-based solutions in reducing the risks of flooding and other natural disasters, which are being exacerbated by climate change and rising sea levels. Coastal scientists, insurance industry experts, and representatives of state and federal agencies came together at the meeting to address challenges and opportunities for building coastal resilience to climate change. The flooding from a levee breach in nearby Pajaro served as a somber reminder of the urgency of the issues they had gathered to discuss.

Aquafornia news KQED

Fewer than 10% of levees in the greater Bay Area have a federal flood risk rating

Atmospheric river-fueled storms have hammered the network of hundreds of levees in coastal counties near the San Francisco Bay — from the agricultural fields of Monterey County to urban places like San Leandro, Walnut Creek and Richmond to more rural parts of the North Bay. At least two major levees, in Salinas and Pajaro, have failed since New Year’s Eve. The levee breach along the Pajaro River, which divides Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, left the entire town of Pajaro in a deluge of water. More than 3,000 residents could be displaced for several weeks. The disastrous flood submerged a significant acreage of agricultural land there, and the mostly lower-income Latino community now faces overwhelming economic and housing uncertainty.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Sites Reservoir’s novel approach to storing water for the environment

In 2014, Proposition 1 set aside $2.7 billion to fund the “public benefit” portions of water storage projects through the Water Storage Investment Program. Water storage for the environment played a crucial role in determining how much funding the projects would receive. One of these projects, Sites Reservoir, offers a novel approach to storing water to benefit freshwater ecosystems when they need it most. We talked to Jerry Brown, executive director of the Sites Project Authority, to learn more about plans for the reservoir and its ecosystem water budget.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought in Spain’s northeast empties reservoirs

The medieval church of Sant Romà disappeared from view in the 1960s, when the town of Vilanova de Sau, an hour north of Barcelona, was flooded to create a reservoir. In the past three decades, its spectral belltower has broken the surface several times, serving as a punctual reminder of Spain’s fragile water resources. But today the church’s tower, its nave and the building’s foundations are all exposed. The bare, steep ridges of the Sau reservoir show how far its levels have receded, and the cracked earth around the remaining pool of water is trodden by tourists attracted by the ghost village’s reappearance. Drought in Spain’s northeast reached “exceptional” levels last month, menacing access to drinking water for 6 million people in the Barcelona metropolitan area.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Towns in California’s Central Valley face flood crisis, forcing thousands to flee

Thousands of people in the rural San Joaquin Valley have been forced to leave their homes as rivers and creeks have swelled from recent storms, putting neighborhoods and farms under water — and more wet weather looms. The flooding was most severe in Tulare County, where over the weekend scenes played out of residents being plucked from high water by rescuers in boats, dairy workers rustling cattle out of swampy fields, and backhoes pouring dirt to repair storm-damaged levees…. The widespread flooding comes as severe storms continue to pound the region while huge volumes of water from California’s highest peaks pour out of the nearby Sierra Nevada. The river channels and extensive berms and levees designed to corral floodwaters have been overwhelmed.

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Aquafornia news National Geographic

Is tap water safe to drink? Here’s what you really need to know.

Most U.S. residents don’t need to worry about the safety of their tap water, but millions of Americans are still exposed to contaminants every year.  It can take a water crisis to highlight where drinking water infrastructure is failing. One of the most devastating water crises in recent memory was the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water in 2014. As of January 2023, nine years after the initial contamination, residents are still dealing with the effects. And last year, a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi left many of the city’s 150,000 residents without potable water, a problem that persists today.  Here, drinking water experts from the EPA, academia, and advocacy groups weigh in on what you need to know about your tap. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Ugly deeds, politics and high drama swirl amid the waters of a re-emerging Tulare Lake

The drama was high on the Tulare Lake bed Saturday as flood waters pushed some landowners to resort to heavy handed and, in one instance, illegal tactics, to try and keep their farm ground dry — even at the expense of other farmers and some small communities. Someone illegally cut the banks of Deer Creek in the middle of the night causing water to rush toward the tiny town of Allensworth. The levee protecting Corcoran had its own protection as an armed guard patrolled the structure to keep it safe. At the south end of the old lake bed, the J.G. Boswell Company had workers drag a piece of heavy equipment onto the banks of its Homeland Canal to prevent any cuts that would drain Poso Creek water onto Boswell land.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Concern grows about Los Angeles River’s ‘choke point’

Heavy rain this week turned the Los Angeles River flood-control channel into a raging torrent, and with new storms expected on Monday, emergency officials are keeping a wary eye on a well-known stretch that has long been vulnerable to flooding. Glendale Narrows is a lush seven-mile section of rumbling runoff between Griffith Park and downtown that attracts numerous sightseers and bicyclists. But despite its Instagram appeal, the narrows is a flood manager’s nightmare. It remains one of the few areas along the World War II-era channel that has a soft bottom due to its high water table. As a result, it is prone to erosion and buildups of sediment, vegetation and debris that could back up flows dumped by major storms.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Opinion: California’s deluge has a hydroelectric silver lining

California is an elemental maelstrom branded as a laid-back idyll; a “beautiful fraud” as environmentalist Marc Reisner put it. The pitch has faltered in recent years, as first wildfires and now torrential rains have claimed lives, wrecked infrastructure and displaced whole towns. Yet the atmospheric rivers deluging the state today may offer a silver lining of sorts later this year, during California’s summer blackout season. Risk of wildfires is one factor that can prompt electricity shutoffs in California during the summer. A more prosaic reason is that hot evenings can raise demand for air conditioning just as the sunset switches off the state’s vast, but variable, solar energy, pushing the grid to its limits. 
-Written by Liam Denning, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering energy and commodities. 

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

Scott Dam gates to stay open, meaning Lake Pillsbury diversions to remain at drought levels

Pacific Gas & Electric says it intends to keep the gates open at Scott Dam from now on in deference to seismic safety concerns, meaning Lake Pillsbury in Lake County will never completely fill again, even in a wet year like this one. The utility usually closes the dam gates in April, allowing spring runoff and snowmelt to raise the water level for summer recreation and water releases during the later, drier parts of the year. But the company says updated seismic analysis of the dam suggested a higher level of risk than previous evaluations, prompting a change in operations. Instead, more water will be allowed to flow into the Eel River this spring instead of keeping it behind the dam.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

The price of San Diego’s ‘drought-proof’ water could spike a whopping 14 percent

San Diegans are facing a tidal wave of rate increases in coming years for so-called drought-proof water — driven in large part by new sewage recycling projects coupled with the rising cost of desalination and importing the Colorado River. While many residents already struggle to pay their utility bills, the situation now appears more dire than elected leaders may have anticipated. The San Diego County Water Authority recently announced that retail agencies should brace for a massive 14 percent spike on the cost of wholesale deliveries next year…. Officials on the wholesaler’s 36-member board are anxiously exploring ways to temper such double-digit price hikes, even contemplating the sale of costly desalinated water produced in Carlsbad.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Influential Little Hoover Commission launches its first-ever study of the California Environmental Quality Act

California’s bedrock environmental law has helped protect residents, wildlife and natural resources from pollution and other negative effects of development countless times since then-Gov. Ronald Reagan put it on the books more than half a century ago. But the California Environmental Quality Act, better known as CEQA, sometimes is weaponized by competing businesses, labor unions and anti-development neighbors who aren’t necessarily motivated by environmental concerns. … Supporters say the law has blocked or forced changes for hundreds of projects that would have worsened air, water and soil pollution…. Witnesses spelled out those competing realities during an all-day hearing Thursday before the Little Hoover Commission which, for the first time, is studying whether to recommend changes to the environmental law.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Cal Am says it intends to sign water purchase agreement

After more than a year of wrangling, California American Water Co. has agreed in principle to sign an agreement to purchase water from a major expansion of a Monterey Peninsula water recycling project that when completed will provide for thousands of acre-feet of additional water. Evan Jacobs, external affairs manager for Cal Am, confirmed Thursday that what was agreed upon was a filing made by the state Public Advocates Office that gave Cal Am a portion of what it wanted. The filing still must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, but it’s the first time all sides have agreed in principle since September of 2021. The Public Advocates Office helps to ensure Californians are represented at the CPUC by recommending solutions and alternatives in utility customers’ best interests.

Aquafornia news 12 News - Phoenix

Nestlé-backed bill may detrimentally change Arizona water law

A Nestlé plant in the Valley has an issue: it wants to produce a lot of “high-quality” creamer. But it might not have enough water to do so. The company’s solution could allow factories to drain Arizona’s groundwater and could threaten the quality of city tap water, according to water experts. The massive food and drink producer announced last year it would be building a nearly $700 million plant in Glendale, but has since run into issues with its water provider EPCOR. The amount of wastewater Nestlé projected to need turned out to be too much for the Canada-based utility.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Pajaro/Sunny Mesa water system customers remain under “do not drink” order indefinitely

In the wake of flooding caused by a breach of the Pajaro River levee around midnight between March 10 and 11, the Pajaro/Sunny Mesa water systems were put on a “do not drink” order on March 11, just before 1pm.  That means even boiling the water, filtering it or otherwise treating it will not necessarily make it safe. That’s not because the water is known to be unsafe—it hasn’t been tested yet—it’s just that it might be.  Judy Varela with Pajaro/Sunny Mesa says that three wells have been impacted by the flooding, and it’s not known if any of the floodwaters have seeped down the well shafts and into the groundwater supply, and it’s also not yet known what contaminants, if any, are in those floodwaters. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California lawmakers face daunting task in preparing for devastating earthquakes

The “Big One” may be inevitable, but California lawmakers face a major undertaking in preparing for future earthquakes which cannot be predicted. In a joint state Senate and Assembly hearing on preparing for catastrophic earthquakes, in light of the Turkey and Syria disasters, experts told state leaders that bigger plans to prepare for a disaster are needed beyond small programs. … The state must also consider how vulnerable its massive and complicated water infrastructure is to earthquakes. Many levee systems are in dire need of upgrades to survive floods, let alone a major quake. [Evan Reis of the U.S. Resiliency Council] said the water grid is highly vulnerable because the pipes that transport water between regions travel a long distance and often cross fault lines. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Damage from “severe breach” of Friant-Kern Canal construction at Deer Creek difficult to assess

An unfinished section of the new Friant-Kern Canal suffered a “severe breach” at Deer Creek in Tulare County Friday night as the normally dry creek swelled with rain and snowmelt and overran its banks into the construction zone. “This was worse than the one before,” said Johnny Amaral, Chief Operating Officer of the Friant Water Authority, at the authority’s executive committee meeting on Monday. “We haven’t gotten a handle on it yet but it’s tough to do anything out there right now with what we’re expecting tomorrow.”

Aquafornia news Deseret News

More moisture is headed to Utah, the West. Will it help Lake Powell?

Lake Powell is currently close to 180 feet below full pool and coming off a summer last year where several boat ramps were closed and owners were advised to retrieve their houseboats from the docks. Releases from a couple of upstream reservoirs, including Flaming Gorge, were made last summer to help the nation’s second largest reservoir and its Glen Canyon Dam, which provides power generation to Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Nebraska. A Monday briefing from the drought integrated information center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there is wet relief on the way for Lake Powell, which typically gets its maximum flows well into July.

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Delta tunnel project up for Solano County board review

Solano County supervisors are scheduled Tuesday to receive an update on the latest Delta tunnel project. “The Delta Conveyance Project is the latest iteration of an isolated conveyance by the state Department of Water Resources to remove freshwater flows from the Delta for use in central and Southern California,” the staff report to the board states. “The (Delta Conveyance Project) includes constructing a 45-mile long, 39-foot diameter tunnel under the Delta with new diversions in the North Delta that have a capacity to divert up to 6,000 cubic feet (of water) per second and operating new conveyance facilities that would add to the existing State Water Project infrastructure.” 

Aquafornia news CNN

Monday Top of the Scroll: Another atmospheric river is coming for California, where neighborhoods already are flooded and hundreds are in shelters

Still reeling from storms that inundated neighborhoods, forced rescues and damaged roads, storm-battered California is bracing for another atmospheric river that threatens even more flooding Monday. More than 17 million people remain under flood watches across California and Nevada early Monday as the storm makes its menacing approach – the 11th atmospheric river to hit the West this winter season. The new storm, arriving on the heels of another atmospheric river, could exacerbate flooding and damage in some places. Already, those in the central and northern parts of California are crowding into shelters and dealing with flooded neighborhoods, along with mudslides, dangerous rushing rivers, collapsed bridges and unusable roads.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: California lowering dam water levels, warns of flood threat as storm hits

With back-to-back storms to hit California in the coming days, state officials are scrambling to make strategic releases from key reservoirs in hopes of preventing a repeat of the flooding that killed nearly two dozen people in January. At least 10 rivers are forecast to overflow from the incoming “Pineapple Express” storm, which is expected to drop warm, heavy, snow-melting rain as it moves from the Central Coast toward the southern Sierra beginning Thursday night into Saturday. Among them are rivers that flooded at the start of the year, when nine atmospheric river storms pummeled the state. The waterways include the Cosumnes River near Sacramento, where more than a dozen levee breaches sent floodwaters onto roadways and low-lying areas, trapping drivers and contributing to at least three deaths along Highway 99.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Newsom budget would slash funds that protect coast

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget would cut funding for coastal resilience projects almost in half, eliminating more than half a billion dollars of state funds this year that would help protect the coast against rising seas and climate change. The cuts are part of Newsom’s proposed $6 billion in reductions to California’s climate change programs in response to a projected $22.5 billion statewide deficit. California’s coastal resilience programs provide funding for local governments to prepare coastal plans and pay for some projects that protect beaches, homes and infrastructure at risk from rising sea levels. Greenhouse gases are responsible for warming the planet, which melts ice and causes sea levels to rise.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California could get hit with new atmospheric river this week, and consequences could be concerning

Northern California could be in for a new atmospheric river storm by the end of the week, potentially blasting the Bay Area with substantial rain, and the Sierra with even more heavy snow, but likely not as fierce as the wet storms that wreaked damage across the region at the start of the year, forecasters say…. Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and the Nature Conservancy, said Sunday evening that an atmospheric river could be a concern regarding the state’s snowpack, which on Friday reached its highest level this century for the start of March. Such rain-on-snow events — when heavy rain falls on snow in higher elevations — could result in snow melting faster, flooding downstream areas, overwhelming rivers and overloading buildings with heavy slush, weather experts say.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Video: How to keep the world from running out of drinking water

The megadrought that’s plagued the US West for years has impacted everything from the food Americans eat to their electricity supply. And while extreme weather can sometimes trigger wet winters like this one, in California and the rest of the region, the long-term future remains a very dry one. In this episode of Getting Warmer With Kal Penn, we explore what the future of water in the West may look like. In Nevada, Penn investigates the lasting impacts of the Colorado River Compact, the 1922 agreement that doles out water rights to the seven states along its path. Overly optimistic from the start, the system is now on the verge of collapse as water levels in key reservoirs approach dead pool-status.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Folsom Dam spillway: $16.6 million to repair cracking damage

Folsom Dam has some cosmetic cracks in its newer spillway but officials say there is nothing to worry about. The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $16.6 million contract in January for construction on rods within hydraulic cylinders of the Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway gates that control the flow of water and began cracking after the completion of the spillway’s construction in 2017, according to Tyler Stalker, a spokesperson for the corps. Construction will start in 2025, officials said, and is expected to be completed by 2027. The spillway’s construction costs totaled $900 million and includes an 1,100-foot approach channel that funnels water from Folsom Lake into the spillway, according to the corps’ website. Stalker said cracking in coatings that are used to protect steel structures from corrosion is not unusual, and it does not indicate broken or failing system components.

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

El Dorado Irrigation District crews tend to canals in winter weather

Crews with the El Dorado Irrigation District are working to clear snow and debris from the flumes and canals that deliver water to its customers throughout the latest round of winter weather. Matt Heape, a hydro operations and maintenance supervisor for the district, said the focus Tuesday was taking care of a 22-mile canal system. … To do that, he explained, crews used snowcats to get to remote, wooden locations, sometimes having to snowshoe in further to reach the canals and the surrounding walkways. Much of the day included clearing walkways, plowing snow and keeping systems clear, Heap said.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Yountville discovers recycled water line break under Napa River, responds with $1 million emergency repair

A break in Yountville’s recycled-water main serving the Vintner’s Golf Club and various vineyard ponds east and west of the Napa River has led to an emergency $1 million repair project, approved by the Town Council last week. The main in question is a 6-inch PVC pipe, first installed in 1977, that runs across the floor of the Napa Valley from the Yountville wastewater treatment plant west of Highway 29. It reaches as far as the Clos du Val Winery pond past the Silverado Trail, to the east, Yountville’s public works director John Ferons said at the council meeting. As such, the water line also runs below the Napa River, which is where the leak was discovered about two weeks ago. Yountville town staff discovered the leak at noon Feb. 15 because a low-flow alarm went off, and workers shut off the pumps to investigate the pipes, according to a staff report.

Aquafornia news NBC - Bay Area

‘Things are looking great’: Checking in on South Bay reservoir levels

South Bay reservoirs are handling the recent rain quite well due in part to a delicate dance water managers have been doing to make sure they catch as much water as possible. … To make room for future storms, Valley Water has been strategically releasing water from reservoirs, which is part of the reason why the county average for reservoir capacity right now is only 50%. Valley Water said the winter rain so far still isn’t enough to call off the drought emergency. … The Sierra snowpack is also looking robust. Experts say the hope now is that the Sierra stays cold for the next few weeks to keep the snowpack intact. The goal is for the snowpack to begin melting in mid-spring in time for the runoff to refill the reservoirs again.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

A California tunnel could save stormwater for millions. Why is it so divisive?

As drought-weary Californians watched trillions of gallons of runoff wash into the Pacific Ocean during recent storms, it underscored a nagging question: Why can’t we save more of that water for not-so-rainy days to come? But even the rare opportunity to stock up on the precious resource isn’t proving enough to unite a state divided on a contentious idea to siphon water from the north and tunnel it southward, an attempt to combat the Southwest’s worst drought in more than a millennium. The California Department of Water Resources said such a tunnel could have captured a year’s supply of water for more than 2 million people. The proposal from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration — one that would cost $16 billion to help 27 million water customers in central and southern California — is spurring fresh outrage from communities that have fended off similar plans over four decades, including suggestions to build other tunnels or a massive canal. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California ducks demand to review local wastewater discharge permits

The California State Water Resources Control Board can’t be forced to evaluate the “reasonableness” of locally issued permits to discharge treated wastewater, a state appeals court ruled, because state law doesn’t impose this obligation on the agency. The Los Angeles-based Second Appellate District on Monday overturned a trial judge’s order for the agency to evaluate the reasonableness of the permits that were renewed in 2017 by its regional board in LA, allowing four treatment plants to discharge millions of gallons of treated wastewater in the LA River and the Pacific Ocean every day. LA Waterkeeper, an environmental watchdog, had challenged the permits arguing the regional board and the state board should have considered better uses of the water, such as recycling, rather than dumping it in the ocean.

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Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Going with flow: How the Santa Cruz water treatment plant took on January’s storms

January’s relentless storms brought power outages, floods, landslides and falling trees. But Santa Cruz residents had one critical resource they never had to worry about  — clean drinking water. … Santa Cruz draws drinking water from multiple surface water sources. It’s a complex system and it keeps the operators on their toes, especially during storms. … Loch Lomond Reservoir, which is held by the Newell Creek Dam, holds about one year’s worth of drinking water supply. That supply, which workers sometimes refer to as “the lake,” can be pulled in for treatment as needed, but operators try to use other sources first. “We kind of look at the lake as it’s a reserve for the dry years,” said Ben Curson, a water treatment operator.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

The parched metropolis: can eco architecture save LA from megadrought?

After weeks of record-breaking rainfall have seen freeways flood, hillsides collapse and the dry concrete gutter of the Los Angeles River transform into a raging torrent, you may have assumed that California’s water-shortage woes were beginning to ease. With many areas receiving their usual annual rainfall in just three weeks, surely the multiyear megadrought is finally abating. Sadly, no. Decades of building concrete gutters – driven by the mindset that stormwater is a threat to be banished, not an asset to be stored – have meant that the vast majority of that rain was simply flushed out into the ocean. Of the billions of gallons that have fallen on the LA area, only a tiny fraction were absorbed into the ground.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: New study shows Eel River dam removal would benefit local economy

A new report from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute details the beneficial local economic impacts that would be generated by the removal of Scott and Cape Horn Dams, two aging dams on the Eel River that are part of the hydroelectric Potter Valley Project. The report estimates dam removal would create between 1,037 and 1,332 local jobs and would boost the regional economy to the tune of $203 million to $278 million. In addition to boosting the local economy, dam removal is crucial for healthy fish populations, clean water, and Tribal cultural practices. Located on the Eel River 20 miles northeast of Ukiah, the Potter Valley Project includes two Eel River dams, a diversion tunnel that moves water out of the Eel River watershed and into the East Branch of the Russian River, and a powerhouse. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

This reservoir on the Sacramento River has been planned for decades. What’s taking so long?

Last century, California built dozens of large dams, creating the elaborate reservoir system that supplies the bulk of the state’s drinking and irrigation water. Now state officials and supporters are ready to build the next one. The Sites Reservoir — planned in a remote corner of the western Sacramento Valley for at least 40 years — has been gaining steam and support since 2014, when voters approved Prop. 1, a water bond that authorized $2.7 billion for new storage projects.  Still, Sites Reservoir remains almost a decade away: Acquisition of water rights, permitting and environmental review are still in the works. Kickoff of construction, which includes two large dams, had been scheduled for 2024, but likely will be delayed another year. Completion is expected in 2030 or 2031.

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Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

Climate fix: How the Bay Area is preparing for sea level rise

Scientists have warned for decades that due to climate change water levels are rising throughout the Bay Area. The first place excess water will show up is underground. As we saw from recent storms, shallow groundwater can cause flooding in streets and low-lying areas and can overwhelm wastewater systems. Local planners and policy makers are analyzing how the region should adapt to the problem of a rising water table and how to design buildings, freeways and sewer infrastructure in response. In our next installment of “Climate Fix: Rethinking Solutions for California,” a collaboration between the KQED’s Forum and Science teams, we’ll discuss what’s happening with groundwater levels as the Bay Area prepares for sea level rise in the next several decades. Have you experienced flooding in your home and how did you handle it?

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California invests in critical Central Valley water infrastructure projects

California’s water authorities will spend $15 million in three crucial water management zones within the drought-ravaged southern Central Valley.  The hub of agricultural production in the Golden State, the Central Valley has also faced the most dire impacts from another historic drought, as thousands of wells went dry last year and many communities faced a total lack of safe drinking water. The state’s authorities say they are releasing funds to begin projects to prevent such hardship in future droughts. The Department of Water Resources along with California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot came to the small city of Parlier on Thursday to announce three grants totaling $15 million to improve water infrastructure in the region.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Critical Carmel River fish rescue facility damaged in flood

Among the homes and businesses severely damaged by flooding along the Carmel River on Jan. 9 was a critical steelhead trout facility protecting the endangered fish that have suffered because of over-pumping of the river to provide drinking water for the Monterey Peninsula. Operated by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility in Carmel Valley was designed in the early 1990s and came online in 1996 to rescue federally listed endangered steelhead trout that have been cut off from upstream spawning grounds. The over-pumping has turned parts of the river into ponds that trap the steelhead. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Q & A: What California’s winter storms mean for future – UCSC professor weighs in

For three weeks after Christmas, California was pounded with a series of nine atmospheric river storms. The drenching rains replenished reservoirs that had been seriously depleted during three years of severe drought. But they also caused flooding from the Central Valley to Santa Barbara, triggering mudslides, sinkholes and power outages, and left 22 people dead. Along the coast, big waves ripped a 40-foot hole in the Capitola Wharf, destroyed facilities at Seacliff Beach State Park, flooded homes, wrecked businesses and caused millions of dollars in erosion. For the past 55 years, Gary Griggs, a Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, has studied big storms, sea level rise and California’s changing coastline. UCSC’s longest-serving professor, he is one of the nation’s experts in the ways oceans reshape the land. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Progress on L.A. County stormwater capture program slowing

Only weeks ago, Angelenos watched as trillions of gallons of precious stormwater poured into the region’s concrete waterways, slid down slick pavement and washed out to sea. After so many months of drought-related water restrictions, it seemed to many like a missed opportunity. While officials say they’re making progress when it comes to capturing more of the county’s stormwater, a new report from watchdog group Los Angeles Waterkeeper has focused on the plan’s sluggish progress so far, and calls for improved metrics and a more proactive approach, among other recommendations. The Safe Clean Water Program — passed by Los Angeles County voters in 2018 as Measure W — allocates $280 million annually to projects aimed at capturing and cleaning stormwater when it falls.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

News release: Federal scientists assess unusual river-erosion disaster in Ecuadorian Amazon

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation traveled to rural Ecuador to work with scientists from the Corporacion Electrica del Ecuador (CELEC) in assessing an unusual and catastrophic geohazard: the collapse of a 132-meter-tall (433 foot) lava dam on the Rio Coca, which triggered massive erosion along the river that has damaged critical infrastructure (roads, buildings, pipelines) and cut off transportation corridors to local communities.  Before 2020, the Rio Coca cascaded over a lava dam as the famous San Rafael waterfall, Ecuador’s tallest. Over several months, a large sinkhole formed just upstream of the waterfall. The river re-routed through the sinkhole on February 2, 2020, undercutting the lava dam (which collapsed in 2021) and triggering major retrogressive erosion that has been migrating upstream for the past three years…

Aquafornia news LAist

Stormwater program has helped fight the drought, but there’s a long way to go

L.A. County voters passed Measure W back in 2018. Since then, the tax on impermeable pavement helps fund stormwater capture projects across the region. Now, more than four years later, a new report finds that the Safe Clean Water Program — which is made up of multiple committees that review and approve funding for projects — has helped significantly in: Clearing a backlog of city and county projects to improve local water quality and infrastructure Distributing more than $1 billion to primarily fund such projects The report is from environmental non-profit L.A. Waterkeeper.

Aquafornia news Western Water

California water agencies hoped a deluge would recharge their aquifers. but when it came, some couldn’t use it

It was exactly the sort of deluge California groundwater agencies have been counting on to replenish their overworked aquifers. The start of 2023 brought a parade of torrential Pacific storms to bone dry California. Snow piled up across the Sierra Nevada at a near-record pace while runoff from the foothills gushed into the Central Valley, swelling rivers over their banks and filling seasonal creeks for the first time in half a decade. Suddenly, water managers and farmers toiling in one of the state’s most groundwater-depleted regions had an opportunity to capture stormwater and bank it underground. … The barrage of water was in many ways the first real test of groundwater sustainability agencies’ plans to bring their basins into balance, as required by California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The run of storms revealed an assortment of bright spots and hurdles the state must overcome to fully take advantage of the bounty brought by the next big atmospheric river storm.  

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California Water Agencies Hoped A Deluge Would Recharge Their Aquifers. But When It Came, Some Couldn’t Use It
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: January storms jump-started recharge projects in badly overdrafted San Joaquin Valley, but hurdles with state permits and infrastructure hindered some efforts

An intentionally flooded almond orchard in Tulare CountyIt was exactly the sort of deluge California groundwater agencies have been counting on to replenish their overworked aquifers.

The start of 2023 brought a parade of torrential Pacific storms to bone dry California. Snow piled up across the Sierra Nevada at a near-record pace while runoff from the foothills gushed into the Central Valley, swelling rivers over their banks and filling seasonal creeks for the first time in half a decade.    

Suddenly, water managers and farmers toiling in one of the state’s most groundwater-depleted regions had an opportunity to capture stormwater and bank it underground. Enterprising agencies diverted water from rushing rivers and creeks into manmade recharge basins or intentionally flooded orchards and farmland. Others snagged temporary permits from the state to pull from streams they ordinarily couldn’t touch.

As New Deadline Looms, Groundwater Managers Rework ‘Incomplete’ Plans to Meet California’s Sustainability Goals
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: More than half of the most critically overdrawn basins, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, are racing against a July deadline to retool their plans and avoid state intervention

A field in Kern County is irrigated by sprinkler.Managers of California’s most overdrawn aquifers were given a monumental task under the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Craft viable, detailed plans on a 20-year timeline to bring their beleaguered basins into balance. It was a task that required more than 250 newly formed local groundwater agencies – many of them in the drought-stressed San Joaquin Valley – to set up shop, gather data, hear from the public and collaborate with neighbors on multiple complex plans, often covering just portions of a groundwater basin.

New EPA Regional Administrator Tackles Water Needs with a Wealth of Experience and $1 Billion in Federal Funding
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Martha Guzman says surge of federal dollars offers 'greatest opportunity' to address longstanding water needs, including for tribes & disadvantaged communities in EPA Region 9

EPA Region 9 Administrator Martha Guzman.Martha Guzman recalls those awful days working on water and other issues as a deputy legislative secretary for then-Gov. Jerry Brown. California was mired in a recession and the state’s finances were deep in the red. Parks were cut, schools were cut, programs were cut to try to balance a troubled state budget in what she remembers as “that terrible time.”

She now finds herself in a strikingly different position: As administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9, she has a mandate to address water challenges across California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii and $1 billion to help pay for it. It is the kind of funding, she said, that is usually spread out over a decade. Guzman called it the “absolutely greatest opportunity.”

MWD’s Jeff Kightlinger Reflects On Building Big Things, Essential Partnerships and His Hopes For the Delta
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Veteran Water Boss, Retiring After 25 Years With SoCal Water Giant, Discusses ‘Permanent’ Drought, Conservation Gains & the Struggling Colorado River

Jeff Kightlinger, longtime general manager of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.When you oversee the largest supplier of treated water in the United States, you tend to think big.

Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the last 15 years, has focused on diversifying his agency’s water supply and building security through investment. That means looking beyond MWD’s borders to ensure the reliable delivery of water to two-thirds of California’s population.

Pandemic Lockdown Exposes the Vulnerability Some Californians Face Keeping Up With Water Bills
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Growing mountain of water bills spotlights affordability and hurdles to implementing a statewide assistance program

Single-family residential customers who are behind on their water bills in San Diego County's Helix Water District can get a one-time credit on their bill through a rate assistance program funded with money from surplus land sales.As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt.

Water affordability concerns, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy. Jobs were lost and household finances were upended. Even with federal stimulus aid and unemployment checks, bills fell by the wayside.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Red alert sounding on California drought, as farmers get less water

A government agency that controls much of California’s water supply released its initial allocation for 2021, and the numbers reinforced fears that the state is falling into another drought. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that most of the water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project will get just 5% of their contract supply, a dismally low number. Although the figure could grow if California gets more rain and snow, the allocation comes amid fresh weather forecasts suggesting the dry winter is continuing. The National Weather Service says the Sacramento Valley will be warm and windy the next few days, with no rain in the forecast.

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In the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies Try to Find Their Balance
WESTERN WATER SPECIAL REPORT: Agencies in Fresno, Tulare counties pursue different approaches to address overdraft and meet requirements of California’s groundwater law

Flooding permanent crops seasonally, such as this vineyard at Terranova Ranch in Fresno County, is one innovative strategy to recharge aquifers.Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary PitzerDouglas E. Beeman

As Wildfires Grow More Intense, California Water Managers Are Learning To Rewrite Their Emergency Playbook
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Agencies share lessons learned as they recover from fires that destroyed facilities, contaminated supplies and devastated their customers

Debris from the Camp Fire that swept through the Sierra foothills town of Paradise  in November 2018.

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

It’s been a year since two devastating wildfires on opposite ends of California underscored the harsh new realities facing water districts and cities serving communities in or adjacent to the state’s fire-prone wildlands. Fire doesn’t just level homes, it can contaminate water, scorch watersheds, damage delivery systems and upend an agency’s finances.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward A Drought-Proof Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Water agencies in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo counties look to seawater, recycled water to protect against water shortages

The spillway at Lake Cachuma in central Santa Barbara County. Drought in 2016 plunged its storage to about 8 percent of capacity.The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.

Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

‘Mission-Oriented’ Colorado River Veteran Takes the Helm as the US Commissioner of IBWC
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Jayne Harkins’ duties include collaboration with Mexico on Colorado River supply, water quality issues

Jayne Harkins, the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission.For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.

Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the commission’s 129-year history.


A Bounty of San Joaquin Valley Crops on Display During Central Valley Tour
Act now, our April 3-5 tour is almost sold out!

The San Joaquin Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket, grows a cornucopia of fruits, nuts and other agricultural products.

During our three-day Central Valley Tour April 3-5, you will meet farmers who will explain how they prepare the fields, irrigate their crops and harvest the produce that helps feed the nation and beyond. We also will drive through hundreds of miles of farmland and visit the rivers, dams, reservoirs and groundwater wells that provide the water.

Western Water California Water Map Layperson's Guide to the State Water Project Gary Pitzer

As He Steps Aside, Tim Quinn Talks About ‘Adversarialists,’ Collaboration and Hope For Solving the State’s Tough Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tim Quinn, retiring executive director of Association of California Water Agencies

ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn  with a report produced by Association of California Water Agencies on  sustainable groundwater management.  (Source:  Association of California Water Agencies)In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

As Decision Nears On California Water Storage Funding, a Chairman Reflects on Lessons Learned and What’s Next
WESTERN WATER Q&A: California Water Commission Chairman Armando Quintero

Armando Quintero, chair of the California Water CommissionNew water storage is the holy grail primarily for agricultural interests in California, and in 2014 the door to achieving long-held ambitions opened with the passage of Proposition 1, which included $2.7 billion for the public benefits portion of new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. The statute stipulated that the money is specifically for the benefits that a new storage project would offer to the ecosystem, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

As Colorado River Levels Drop, Pressure Grows On Arizona To Complete A Plan For Water Shortages
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: A dispute over who speaks for Arizona has stalled work with California, Nevada on Drought Contingency Plan

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors, California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water levels in Lake Mead before they run too low.

If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level, the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1 million households in one year.


Central Valley Tour Offers Unique View of San Joaquin Valley’s Key Dams and Reservoirs
March 14-16 tour includes major federal and state water projects

Get a unique view of the San Joaquin Valley’s key dams and reservoirs that store and transport water on our March Central Valley Tour.

Our Central Valley Tour, March 14-16, offers a broad view of water issues in the San Joaquin Valley. In addition to the farms, orchards, critical habitat for threatened bird populations, flood bypasses and a national wildlife refuge, we visit some of California’s major water infrastructure projects.

Western Water Excerpt Jenn Bowles

Enhancing California’s Water Supply: The Drive for New Storage
Spring 2017

One of the wettest years in California history that ended a record five-year drought has rejuvenated the call for new storage to be built above and below ground.

In a state that depends on large surface water reservoirs to help store water before moving it hundreds of miles to where it is used, a wet year after a long drought has some people yearning for a place to sock away some of those flood flows for when they are needed.

Aquapedia background

One Hundred Year Flood

Risk Assessment, Not a Timeline

Contrary to popular belief, “100-Year Flood” does not refer to a flood that happens every century. Rather, the term describes the statistical chance of a flood of a certain magnitude (or greater) taking place once in 100 years. It is also accurate to say a so-called “100-Year Flood” has a 1 percent chance of occurring in a given year, and those living in a 100-year floodplain have, each year, a 1 percent chance of being flooded.

Western Water Excerpt Jenn Bowles

Outdated Dams: When Removal Becomes an Option
Summer 2016

Mired in drought, expectations are high that new storage funded by Prop. 1 will be constructed to help California weather the adverse conditions and keep water flowing to homes and farms.

At the same time, there are some dams in the state eyed for removal because they are obsolete – choked by accumulated sediment, seismically vulnerable and out of compliance with federal regulations that require environmental balance.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Maps & Posters Colorado River Bundle

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Western Water Magazine

Ante Up: Funding California’s Water
May/June 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at how water use is paid for and the push to make public financing more flexible.


Folsom Dam on the American River east of Sacramento

Dams have allowed Californians and others across the West to harness and control water dating back to pre-European settlement days when Native Americans had erected simple dams for catching salmon.

Western Water Magazine

Are We Keeping Up With Water Infrastructure Needs?
January/February 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines water infrastructure – its costs and the quest to augment traditional brick-and-mortar facilities with sleeker, “green” features.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer

Are We Keeping Up With Water Infrastructure Needs?
January/February 2012

Everywhere you look water infrastructure is working hard to keep cities, farms and industry in the state running. From the massive storage structures that dot the West to the aqueducts that convey water hundreds of miles to large urban areas and the untold miles of water mains and sewage lines under every city and town, the semiarid West would not exist as it does without the hardware that meets its water needs.

Western Water Magazine

Mimicking the Natural Landscape: Low Impact Development and Stormwater Capture
September/October 2011

This printed issue of Western Water discusses low impact development and stormwater capture – two areas of emerging interest that are viewed as important components of California’s future water supply and management scenario.

Western Water Magazine

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater banking, a water management strategy with appreciable benefits but not without challenges and controversy.

Western Water Magazine

A ‘New Direction’ for Water Decisions? The California Water Plan
May/June 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines the changed nature of the California Water Plan, some aspects of the 2009 update (including the recommendation for a water finance plan) and the reaction by certain stakeholders.

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Dollars and Sense: How We Pay For Water
September/October 2009

It’s no secret that providing water in a state with the size and climate of California costs money. The gamut of water-related infrastructure – from reservoirs like Lake Oroville to the pumps and pipes that deliver water to homes, businesses and farms – incurs initial and ongoing expenses. Throw in a new spate of possible mega-projects, such as those designed to rescue the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and the dollar amount grows exponen­tially to billion-dollar amounts that rival the entire gross national product of a small country.

Western Water Magazine

Dollars and Sense: How We Pay for Water
September/October 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines the financing of water infrastructure, both at the local level and from the statewide perspective, and some of the factors that influence how people receive their water, the price they pay for it and how much they might have to pay in the future.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Small Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

They are located in urban areas and in some of the most rural parts of the state, but they have at least one thing in common: they provide water service to a very small group of people. In a state where water is managed and delivered by an organization as large as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, most small water systems exist in obscurity – financed by shoestring budgets and operated by personnel who wear many hats.

Western Water Magazine

Pumps, Pipes and Plants: Meeting Modern Water Infrastructure Needs
July/August 2006

This issue of Western Water looks at water infrastructure – from the large conveyance systems to the small neighborhood providers – and the many challenges faced by water agencies in their continuing mission of assuring a steady and reliable supply for their customers.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer

Pumps, Pipes and Plants: Meeting Modern Water Infrastructure Needs
Jul/Aug 2006

Chances are that deep within the ground beneath you as you read this is a vast network of infrastructure that is busy providing the necessary services that enable life to proceed at the pace it does in the 21st century. Electricity zips through cables to power lights and computers while other conduits move infinite amounts of information that light up computer screens and phone lines.

Western Water Magazine

Does California Need More Surface Water Storage?
September/October 2003

This issue of Western Water explores the question of whether the state needs more surface storage, with a particular focus on the five proposed projects identified in the CALFED 2000 ROD and the politics and funding issues of these projects.