Infrastructure

Overview

Infrastructure

“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 The Santa Barbara Independent

Getting to bottom of Goleta’s million-gallon sewage spill

The cause of Santa Barbara County’s biggest offshore sewage spill in recent memory — north of one million gallons — remains the subject of an ongoing investigation, the county supervisors were told in an informational briefing this Tuesday morning.  The supervisors were most interested in figuring out why it took six days for its Department of Public Health to get the news of a leak that was first detected late Friday, February 16. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Cal Am fires its first defensive legal volley against the water district in public buyout case.

An effort toward a public takeover of the private water utility California American Water has taken years to get to this point. Activists asked voters to approve a ballot measure to that end in 2005, and it failed. They tried again in 2014, and lost again. They prevailed in 2018 with the passage of Measure J, which compelled the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to acquire Cal Am’s local system “if and when feasible.” More than five years later, the matter has moved to the courts. In October 2023, the board of the water district determined that yes, it was feasible—and that it would pursue acquisition of Cal Am’s system. Because the utility company had rejected the public district’s previous offer of $449 million to buy it, the district would proceed by filing an eminent domain case. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Will a $16-billion water tunnel destroy California’s delta?

In the heart of California, at the place where two great rivers converge beneath the Tule fog, lies the linchpin of one of the largest water supply systems in the world. [T]he Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta … is also the site of a bitter, decades-long battle over a proposed plan known as the Delta Conveyance Project — a 45-mile tunnel that would run beneath the delta to move more water from Northern California to thirsty cities to the south. State officials say the tunnel is a critical piece of infrastructure that would help protect millions of Californians from losing water supplies in the event of a major earthquake or levee break. … Opponents say the tunnel is a boondoggle that would further imperil the delta’s fragile ecosystem, which has already been eroded by heavy water withdrawals for agriculture and cities. 

Related article:

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Caltrans looking at addressing PCH flooding issues near Bolsa Chica wetlands

Pacific Coast Highway closing during high tides or heavy rainstorms near the Bolsa Chica wetlands is a common problem for drivers in the area, and Caltrans officials say they are looking to address the flooding problems in the future. When asked if Caltrans had plans to address the flooding concerns along that stretch of road at a recent Huntington Beach City Council meeting, Caltrans District 12 Asset Manager Bassem Barsoum said officials are working on a plan. Storms earlier this month forced a 93 hour closure of the road in town to traffic. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Club magazine

A tale of two sea level rise solutions

On a mid-winter morning in central California, Alyson Hunter and Bruce Delgado gathered at the Marina State Beach parking lot, the sea raging in the distance. Heavy rolling waves gushed toward shore, crumbling before the dune. The temperature was in the high 40s, though the morning sun was strong and the air was nearly still.  … Without a coordinated state-wide plan for sea level rise, however, cities and towns have arrived at vastly different approaches to their shared problem. This lack of coordination along the coast could present additional challenges down the line, sparing certain areas at first but ultimately worsening the impacts of sea level rise for more economically and environmentally vulnerable communities.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Funding could be biggest hurdle faced by the Delta tunnel as water users weigh costs versus benefits of the $16 billion project

The controversial Delta Conveyance Project may have bigger problems than legal action over its recently approved environmental impact report.  Who’s going to pay the estimated $16 billion price tag? The concept, a tunnel to take Sacramento River water beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to thirsty towns and farms further south, relies on the end users footing the bill. But over the decades that the project has languished in various iterations, those end users have become less enthusiastic to open their wallets. In fact, the single largest recipient of delta water via the State Water Project – and the single largest payer – the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, has committed only $160 million for project planning this time around.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Route Fifty

EPA expands water program to help more disadvantaged communities apply for grants

The Biden administration announced Thursday that it will be expanding a program offering small disadvantaged communities help in applying for $50 billion in infrastructure act funding to improve drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, disadvantaged and underserved communities often struggle to access federal funding because they lack the money to do the assessments required to apply for grants. To try to help, the EPA said it will now be offering engineering assistance to communities to identify water challenges, develop plans, build capacity and develop their application materials through its WaterTA program. The program is free, and local governments, water utilities, state and tribal governments, and nonprofits are eligible for the assistance.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

A Phoenix resident missed a big water leak. Could smart meters help?

Like a lot of homeowners in neighborhoods with decades-old plumbing, Ken Hoag experienced a leak in the pipe leading under his yard from the curbside city meter to his house. Only this was no trickling stream, but a gusher that would cost him more than $1,000. City meter readers must check meters manually or, at homes with updated meters, they must at least drive through the neighborhood for it to ping their equipment with current water volumes. In Hoag’s case last fall, that took long enough that no one from the city alerted him of unusual readings until 160,000 gallons had drained away under his yard over parts of two billing cycles. He hadn’t noticed so much as a puddle to suggest a problem and was shocked when he got the first of those bills on Nov. 22.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin City slated for water pipeline overhaul

The Marin Municipal Water District is planning to replace several miles of leaking pipes in Marin City at an estimated cost of about $5.9 million. The district will soon be reviewing bids for the first phase of the project, which officials say is needed to reduce water loss and improve the resilience of the area’s drinking water system. “This is an underserved community,” said Jed Smith, a district board member, said during an operations committee meeting on Feb. 16. … The first phase of project has an estimated cost of $3.8 million. It would replace approximately 9,200 feet of a 65-year-old leak-prone cast-iron pipe with welded steel pipe on various streets. The work would take about 332 days to perform, with completion scheduled around Jan. 31, 2025. The project also will replace 197 service laterals — piping owned by the Marin water district that connects the water main pipeline to the service meter and customer-owned pipes.

Aquafornia news Fox 5 San Diego

Portions of San Diego’s First Aqueduct to shut down for yearly inspections and maintenance of water supply pipelines for the region

Portions of San Diego’s First Aqueduct will shut down this week for yearly inspections and maintenance of water supply pipelines for the region, the San Diego County Water Authority announced this week. The San Diego County Water Authority’s historic First Aqueduct delivers treated and untreated water from just south of the Riverside County/San Diego County border to the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside, transporting up to 120 million gallons of water per day to the San Diego region. Portions of the San Diego County Water Authority’s historic First Aqueduct are scheduled to shut down from Feb. 25 to March 5 as the Water Authority works to maintain a safe and reliable water supply for San Diegans.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

California beaches close after 1 million gallon sewage spill

More problems arose on the Central Coast following a wild storm Monday that flooded the region and transformed the runways at the Santa Barbara Airport into a flooded plain. The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced Thursday that it was closing two beaches in the county indefinitely, after waterways were contaminated by thousands of gallons of sewage spilling from a sewer line and manhole that were damaged due to the storm. Goleta Beach is closed from 1 mile east to 0.5 mile west of the Goleta Slough outfall after “a release of approximately 500,000 gallons of sewage from a damaged force main sewer line near the Santa Barbara Airport to the Goleta Slough during the recent rain event,” the department wrote in a media release. 

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

State awards $1M to workforce partnership to support San Diego flood victims

A local agency has been awarded nearly $1 million in emergency funding by the state to provide assistance to residents hit hard by January’s storms, it was announced Thursday. With this award, from the California Employment Development Department and Workforce Development System, the San Diego Workforce Partnership will collaborate with the county, city and San Diego Labor Council on temporary job-creation projects. San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nora Vargas said the funding will provide “essential aid, including rental assistance, legal services, transportation and childcare support” to individuals and businesses in need. … According to the workforce partnership, an estimated 20,000 employers and 80,000 jobs stand at risk from temporary or permanent damages, the majority of which was to small businesses.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California Forever: Analyzing billionaire promises for new city

… [CEO Jan] Sramek said California Forever has secured enough water for the 50,000 initial residents of the proposed community, and maybe even the first 100,000. The water rights came from the land the company has bought, he said, and are sourced from groundwater and the Sacramento River. The company could buy more water to supplement that, but wouldn’t need it for the first buildout, he said.

Aquafornia news Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom

News release: How California has captured water from storms

California is taking advantage of this year’s storms to expand water supplies, building off of last year’s actions to capture stormwater. Last year, the Newsom Administration’s actions resulted in three times more groundwater recharge capacity than would have otherwise occurred. Since 2019, the Governor has allocated $1.6 billion for flood preparedness and response, part of the historic $7.3 billion investment package and to strengthen California’s water resilience. Here’s what the state is doing this year to capture water:

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Agenda posted for Water 101 Workshop in April; optional groundwater tour nearly full

Don’t miss a once-a-year opportunity to attend our Water 101 Workshop on April 5 to gain a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource. One of our most popular events, the daylong workshop at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento offers anyone new to California water issues or newly elected to a water district board — and really anyone who wants a refresher — a chance to gain a solid statewide grounding on California’s water resources. Some of state’s leading policy and legal experts are on the agenda for the workshop that details the historical, legal and political facets of water management in the state. 

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Leucadia’s drainage issues span decades, and there’s still a long way to go 

Twelve years ago, a San Diego County grand jury urged the city of Encinitas to find a long-term solution to improve the existing stormwater infrastructure in Leucadia Roadside Park, a neighborhood in Encinitas.  Last month, historic flooding across San Diego County damaged the homes and businesses of more than 1,000 residents – Leucadia Roadside Park was one of the communities hit hard. The area’s inadequate stormwater infrastructure was a major reason why. … Five of those businesses had substantial damage, four are still closed for repairs, she said, and one of those businesses may not be able to reopen. Repairs are costing some business owners tens of thousands of dollars. 

Aquafornia news WBUR - Boston

Arizona tribe first to span canals with solar panels

For the first time in the United States, a tribe in Arizona is building a solar farm over an irrigation canal to produce clean energy and save water at a time of unrelenting drought. The Gila River Indian Community has broken ground on a project to put solar panels over nearly 3,000 feet of the Casa Blanca canal south of Phoenix. It’s one phase of a pilot project designed to eventually help the tribe reach its goal of using 100% renewable power. The idea is modeled after a similar project in India, says David DeJong, director of the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project. … The Turlock Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley is expected to start a project of its own soon. DeJong says money from the Inflation Reduction Act funded the solar farm, and it will eventually produce enough electricity to power several thousand homes.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Still reeling from pandemic, Sacramento delta residents eye major land, water management deals

… [F]or those who live and work along the [Delta's] 57,000 acres of waterways, controversy over how to manage the delta’s levees, land and ecosystems has long been a part of this area’s legacy.  That’s particularly true now, amid big proposed changes to the area’s land and water use. State officials recently approved an environmental study on the Delta Conveyance Project, a plan to add a 35-foot-wide, 45-mile tunnel to speed up collection of water and add to the state’s storage following years of drought. Officials hope the project will improve supplies that have drastically dwindled due to climate change, but some fear it could draw water from local farms and further deplete the area’s wetland habitats.

Aquafornia news Eos

Five key needs for addressing flood injustice

What do Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Tula, Mexico (a city outside Mexico City), have in common? Both have histories of communities experiencing unequal flood exposure, unfair recovery outcomes, and a limited ability to adapt to flooding. These inequalities represent what we call flood injustice, and they demonstrate how flood risk is shaped by politics and policy as much as, or perhaps even more than, by weather and climate change. Cedar Rapids saw a major flood in 2008 that displaced more than 18,000 residents and incurred over $3 billion in economic losses. Flooding primarily occurred within affordable housing and other residential areas west of downtown. 

Aquafornia news CBS 8 - San Diego

Why was water released from Hodges Reservoir?

CBS 8 is Working for You to investigate the Lake Hodges water supply, after receiving a huge response to our report on the release of more than 600 million gallons of water into the ocean. Now, CBS 8 has learned, the city of San Diego has lost its access to Lake Hodges water, due to a state order by the Division of Safety of Dams, which shut down a pipeline operated by the San Diego County Water Authority. The city of San Diego is under the state order to keep Lake Hodges water levels low – at 280 feet – because Hodges Dam was found to be unsafe. Neighbor Michael Citrin was not happy to learn that, since January, the city of San Diego has released 619 million gallons of water from Lake Hodges, and there is no end in sight as another storm is on its way next week.

Aquafornia news CBS - Sacramento

No more Delta smelt? The Delta tunnel project threatens their extinction for good

A project to move water from the Sacramento region down to Southern California was recently approved by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). The $16 billion Delta Conveyance Project is causing major controversy around environmental concerns. This is a very complex issue, Californians are in need of water all over the state. But with a project like the delta tunnel, environmentalists say the 50 species of fish in the delta are at risk as well as the wildlife and people who depend on the fish.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Caltrans proposes southern Marin flood control project

A notoriously flood-prone section of southern Marin could soon get its own defense against sea-level rise. Caltrans is proposing protections for the area along Richardson Bay between Marin City and Tamalpais Valley. The project would include the Manzanita Park and Ride lot and the Highway 101 interchanges at Shoreline Highway and Donahue Street. An online public meeting to introduce the plans is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 29. The webinar can be accessed at bit.ly/3ud2ovl. … The lower half of the Manzanita lot is closed an average of seven to 12 weeks out of the year because of frequent tidal flooding driven by sea-level rise, according to Caltrans. Intense rains coupled with high tides also flood the southbound Highway 101 offramp at the Donahue Street interchange in Marin City, O’Donnell said.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Silver lining to California winter storm damage: lower property taxes

If the floods, slides and landscape mayhem triggered by the string of winter storms severely damaged your house in California, there’s one bit of relief you can claim: a property tax cut. Under state law, property owners who suffer at least $10,000 in damage to their home’s current market value can apply for a reassessment. They have to file an application with their county assessor’s office within 12 months of the incident unless their county offers a later deadline. … If your home was substantially damaged or destroyed in the recent storms, Proposition 19 from 2020 allows you to transfer the taxable value to a newly purchased or constructed house anywhere in the state within two years after you sell the damaged property.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

What a multi-million dollar price tag for Colorado River water says about the West’s unquenchable thirst

In Colorado, the water that comes from our taps and keeps our fields growing can be in limited supply. That means heated debates over water – who gets to use it and how money should be spent to keep it flowing – are constant. That is evident right now, after a Colorado water agency announced plans to buy nearly $100 million of water from the Colorado River, even without plans to change how that water is used. “The purchase represents the culmination of a decades-long effort to keep Shoshone’s water on the west side of Colorado’s mountains, settling the region’s long-held anxieties over competition with the water needs of the Front Range, where fast-growing cities and suburbs around Denver need more water to keep pace with development,” explained KUNC reporter Alex Hager. He joined In The NoCo host Erin O’Toole to tell us more.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Commentary: Will cataloging California’s top policy issues inspire politicians to think long term?

California’s public policy issues tend to stretch across multiple years or even decades, while the attention spans of politicians are abbreviated by election cycles and term limits. The short-term mentality of governors and legislators undermines the continuity that’s needed to deal with long-term issues. Many examples of the syndrome exist but a classic is a project that has been kicking around in one form or another, with multiple name changes, for at least six decades – moving water from the Sacramento River around, through or under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the head of the California Aqueduct. It was touted as the last major link in the state’s water system, and originally it was to be a 43-mile-long “peripheral canal” around the Delta when first proposed in the 1960s.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news KUER - Salton Sea

Like Utah, California has had pipeline dreams to save its drying Salton Sea

Most people don’t know that California’s largest lake — the Salton Sea — was a mishap. Birthed in 1905 when the Colorado River experienced massive floods, the accidental lake soon became a community commodity. It once was a recreation destination, filled with fish and migratory birds, that supported the surrounding agricultural communities throughout the Imperial and Coachella valleys. … Other than its origin story, the Salton Sea and Utah’s Great Salt Lake share some commonalities. Both are drying terminal lakes hurt by the West’s drought and where water is siphoned off for human needs before water levels can replenish. In both places, dust is a consequence of the exposed lakebeds — and both have a pungent aroma. The ecological, environmental, and in Utah’s case, economic, impacts of the lakes’ declines have pushed both states into varying degrees of action to save them.

Aquafornia news Politico

A Republican’s quixotic quest against dam removal

Water is flowing unimpeded down the Klamath River to the Pacific Ocean for the first time in more than a century — and Rep. Doug LaMalfa is depressed. “It’s our worst defeat since I’ve been a legislator,” he said in an interview ahead of PacifiCorp’s emptying of three reservoirs on the Klamath River in order to demolish the dams that stand in front of them. It’s the largest dam removal project in the country, and it’s a harbinger of the shifting politics around rivers in the age of climate change. The traditional fault lines that have long pitted anti-dam environmentalists and tribes against pro-dam farmers and utilities, who benefit from their water and electricity, are blurring. … LaMalfa knows times are changing. “I feel like just one anti-aircraft gunner with 10,000 enemy fighter planes coming at you at once,” he said.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s flood-control system survived epic storm. But it’s losing battle with climate change

Los Angeles County’s Byzantine flood control system has thus far absorbed near-record precipitation — a feat that officials say was made possible by extensive preparations, including the massive dredging of key debris basins and clearing of storm drains in areas deemed most susceptible to flooding. But as the most intense period of rain passed into history Monday, the concern among local engineers and officials was whether flood infrastructure built over the last 100 years and based on 20th century hydrologic records can continue to keep up with increasingly frequent extreme weather events propelled by climate change. … From Sunday and into Monday, the sprawling network of 18 dams, 487 miles of flood-control channels, 3,300 miles of underground storm drain channels and dozens of debris basins managed to steer countless gallons of water and flowing debris away from communities in historic flood plains.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 constructs new monitoring wells at Ken Mercer Sports Park

The Zone 7 Water Agency completed the construction of two new monitoring wells at the Ken Mercer Sports Park in Pleasanton in early January that representatives said will help the agency detect PFAS contamination before it spreads any further. While there haven’t been any contaminants found in the area around the sports park along Hopyard Road, having these two wells will help warn the water agency before any contaminants seep into any wells with actual drinking water.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news California Globe

Opinion: Comparing the Delta tunnel versus desalination

… One of the biggest concerns about desalination projects is the financial cost to build them. … [A] relevant comparison is the estimated cost for the Huntington Beach Desalination plant versus the estimated cost for the proposed Delta Tunnel. We must bear in mind that the Delta Tunnel, if it is ever built, probably won’t add one drop to California’s water supply.
-Written by Edward Ring, a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president.

Aquafornia news Aspen Daily News

State OKs assistance to purchase Shoshone water rights

The Colorado Water Conservation Board on Monday voted to recommend $20 million in assistance to the Colorado River Water Conservation District to purchase the water rights connected with the Shoshone Hydropower Plant in Glenwood Canyon.  The conservation board voted to recommend the funding as part of the state’s annual Water Projects Bill. In a news release, the board said the money would “contribute to a larger funding effort to secure Shoshone permanence and foster water security on the Colorado River.” Prior to Monday’s vote, 18 people — each of whom joined in-person or virtually on behalf of local governments, water providers, NGOs and other entities — signed up to testify in favor of approval, according to the release.

Aquafornia news KSBW - Central Coast

State money coming to help Big Basin Water Company customers

Santa Cruz County is getting state money to help bring safe drinking water to customers in the Santa Cruz Mountains. On Tuesday, the county announced they are receiving an $850,000 state grant to help assure access to safe drinking water for the community served by Big Basin Water Company. The emergency one-time grant was sought in response to the urgent drinking water supply, safety and reliability situation faced by customers of Big Basin Water. The privately owned utility is now operated under a court-appointed receiver, Serviam by Wright LLP. The receivership was sought by the county and obtained by the State Water Resources Control Board and the Attorney General due to water outages, chronic supply shortfalls, and substandard infrastructure. The funding may be used to address system deficiencies, including drinking water shortages and necessary system upgrades.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Inside Whiskeytown Dam’s Glory Hole spillway, where few others have gone

As one of two people who descended 260 feet down into the Glory Hole spillway at Whiskeytown Dam on Tuesday, Scott Colburn has gone where few others have gone before. A civil engineer with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Colburn inspected the Glory Hole to make sure it was structurally sound. He was joined on his venture by James Hudleston, a mechanical engineer for the bureau. Colburn said they did not find any troubles with the concrete structure, which is an emergency spillway to prevent the lake from flowing over the top of the earthen Whiskeytown Dam, which the bureau operates.

Aquafornia news Vallejo Times Herald

California Forever revisions shrink proposed footprint by 1,100 acres

California Forever refiled its East Solano Homes, Jobs, and Clean Energy Initiative on Monday, shrinking the proposed footprint of its new community to 17,500 acres from 18,600 acres. Language has been added to ensure that, if passed, Solano County will have the right to enforce the development agreement, including all guarantees made by California Forever to the voters, through the duration of the development agreement. … On water, the plan has adapted to include language ensuring it will meet standards of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and other regulations to “protect groundwater uses in the long term and assure that neighboring uses are protected.” Imported water will be used to augment groundwater replenishment “to the extent it is needed,” the new details explain. Additional water sources will be identified “in other parts of the state,” according to new language.

Aquafornia news AP News

Spring a leak? Google will find it through a new partnership aimed at saving water in New Mexico

New Mexico is teaming up with Google to hunt for leaky water pipes using satellite imagery as the drought-stricken state prepares for a future in which growing demand puts more pressure on already dwindling drinking water supplies. State officials made the announcement Tuesday as they rolled out a 50-year plan that includes nearly a dozen action items for tackling a problem faced by many communities in the western U.S., where climate change has resulted in warmer temperatures and widespread drought. New Mexico is the first state to partner with Google for such an endeavor, state officials said, noting that the payoff could be significant in terms of curbing losses and saving municipalities and ratepayers money over the long term.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Making sense of the floods in San Diego

The media coverage of the floods in San Diego last week has been breathless—and for good reason. High waters carried cars for miles, people were wading through chest-deep waters, and many low-income communities bore the brunt of the flooding. But was this actually a 1000-year flood? We looked to PPIC research network member Brett Sanders and PPIC Water Policy Center senior fellow Jeffrey Mount to untangle truth from fiction. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

EMWD interview talks groundwater desalination

In the latest episode of Dropping By from Stormwater Solutions, Joe Mouawad, general manager of the Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) talks about EMWD’s emphasis on groundwater desalination. EMWD is the sixth largest water retailer in the state of California and serves the fastest growing region in the entire state. The district is making significant investments in drought-resilient water supplies. One of those investments is in groundwater desalination. The district’s groundwater desalination effort is part of its Groundwater Reliability Plus initiative. As part of EMWD’s efforts to improve is drought resilience, the district conveys brackish groundwater to a reverse osmosis facility.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

SSJID turns snow into quality drinking water

Snow falling on the upper reaches of the Stanislaus River Basin near Sonora Pass this winter could be flowing through Manteca faucets as water this summer. It’s because roughly 60 percent of the 4.5 billion gallons of water Manteca uses in a typical year is not taken from the 17 wells dispersed throughout the city. It comes from surface sources secured nearly 115 years ago by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District. But it wasn’t until 2007 that SSJID’s water captured to irrigate farms was tapped to help deliver safe and reliable water for Manteca as well as Lathrop and Tracy. The snow that melts into water to make what could be a meandering trip of over 100 miles can pick up a lot of stuff that isn’t good for you.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Where’s the river?” Bakersfield lowers required Kern River flows pending interim flow agreement

Required flows down the Kern River channel were lowered by the City of Bakersfield on Monday as officials have collected more data on how much water is actually needed for the river to get west of town, according to an email from the City Water Resources Department. The move is part of a larger effort to re-water the river through town per an ongoing lawsuit against Bakersfield by several public interest groups.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Opinion: Shoshone water rights offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Colorado’s namesake river that we must secure

… The senior water rights tied to Shoshone Power Plant hold the key to a more secure water future not only for the Western Slope, but for the entire state of Colorado. Shoshone’s benefits are unique because its water rights are nonconsumptive, which means the water used for hydropower production — more than 1,400 cubic feet per second — returns entirely to the river after a short trip through its turbines. Because of its nonconsumptive nature, communities large and small along the Colorado River benefit from the water security and water quality provided by Shoshone’s flows. These water rights provide certainty for farmers, ranchers and recreational outfitters upstream and downstream of Glenwood Canyon.
-Written by Julie McCluskie, speaker of the Colorado House; and Russ George, who represented northwestern Colorado counties in the Colorado House for four terms. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Environmentalists, local water agencies sue over Delta tunnel project

A month after California’s water regulator gave its seal of approval to a controversial water infrastructure project that could replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the plan is coming under renewed legal fire. Eight lawsuits filed by several counties, local water agencies and a coalition of environmental advocates claim the Department of Water Resources violated laws protecting the beleaguered estuary when it approved the project. The complaints allege the Delta tunnel project, formally called the Delta Conveyance, would imperil the region’s environmental health and human survival, from endangered and threatened fish species to low-income residents and multigenerational farms. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Fronteras

‘We need to get good partners’ to secure water for AZ, agency says

The head of a state agency that’s looking for new water sources for Arizona is unhappy with the governor’s budget proposal. Two years ago, then-Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona lawmakers agreed to invest $1 billion in a desalination plant, among other projects to augment Arizona’s water supply. The money was to be allocated over three years. But last year’s budget included roughly half of the $333 million expected for the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority, or WIFA. And Gov. Katie Hobbs has proposed just $33 million for the agency in her plan for the upcoming fiscal year. All of that has Chuck Podolak concerned. He’s WIFA’s director, and has been speaking out about the need to fully fund his decades-old agency. He joined The Show to talk more about it and the conversation began with where the authority is in the area of trying to find new sources of water for the state.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The CoolDown

Blog: Community partners with US Army Corps of Engineers on groundbreaking new project: ‘Incredibly innovative work’

In the face of extreme drought conditions, a tribal community is embarking on an uplifting new collaboration to conserve water while also generating clean power. Together with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona will soon break ground on installing solar panels over irrigation canals — the first project of its kind in the nation, as Recharge News reported. The solar canal pilot aims to cover 1,000 feet of canal to start. If successful, this first phase will pave the way to cover more miles of the Community’s vast irrigation system, one of the largest in Arizona, per the news outlet. The first phase of this project has an estimated cost of $6.7 million and is slated for completion in 2025.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Decades of inaction left a water system in southwestern Colorado in shambles. Will the state step in to help?

…[Rural] water users and hundreds more like them in southwestern Colorado draw water from a federally managed irrigation system with a decades-long backlog of maintenance issues that would cost $35.3 million to address, according to 2024 federal estimates. It’s one of 16 similar irrigation systems in the West, called Indian Irrigation Projects, run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Parts of the projects are in complete disrepair, and they’ve been chronically underfunded for so long that it would cost more than $2.3 billion to completely fix them, according to the bureau’s 2024 estimate. To complicate matters further, the federal government and tribes do not agree on who is responsible for maintaining the system.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Why are top California Democrats ducking Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Delta tunnel project?

The three top Democrats seeking to replace the late Dianne Feinstein in the United States Senate managed to clearly answer every question California’s McClatchy opinion team recently managed to pose. Except for one. It happened to deal with one of Feinstein’s signature issues: Water. Here was the question: “Climate change is requiring California to adapt its water management and develop new supplies. What is your position on Governor Newsom’s Delta Conveyance Project…?” One said yes. Two said they were studying the matter. Asked the identical question, our incumbent Senator, Alex Padilla, said he was analyzing a recently-published environmental document. Three out of four of California’s leading Democrats are flunking a key leadership test. The Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta is ground zero in California water. It is home to the two largest water diversion projects that two-thirds of the state depends on.
-Written by Tom Philp, Sacramento Bee columnist.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Raw sewage in creeks? Sunnyvale and Mountain View argue in court the Clean Water Act should not apply to them

When it comes to the environment, Sunnyvale and Mountain View have a pretty green image, spending millions on bike lanes, solar energy and electric vehicle charging stations. But their tactics in an ongoing court case — in which their lawyers claimed major Bay Area creeks should not be protected from pollution under the federal Clean Water Act — are raising eyebrows among environmentalists. … The Clean Water Act is one of America’s landmark environmental laws. Passed by Congress in 1972, it prohibits the discharge of pollutants like chemicals, sewage, garbage and toxic waste into creeks, rivers, lakes and bays without a federal permit. In 2020, Baykeeper sued Sunnyvale and Mountain View, saying they have been violating the Clean Water Act for years by discharging raw sewage and polluted stormwater into creeks, sending bacteria pollution to levels more than 50 times legal limits.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California just released a major new report on sea level rise. Here’s how bad it could get

A new scientific model provides more certainty about how much ocean levels could rise in California in the next 30 years and predicts slightly less rising in some scenarios than previously thought. But the predictions still show grave threats to California, where 70% of the population lives near the coast. Statewide, sea levels are due to rise by an average of 0.8 feet (9.6 inches) by 2050 compared to a baseline of 2000, according to the draft report. … The new report also went into detail about how groundwater levels will rise along with sea levels, which can spread contaminants in the soil and threaten underground infrastructure. It could also make levees that are being planned to hold back flooding ineffective, said Kristina Hill, an associate professor at UC Berkeley and director at its Institute of Urban and Regional Development. 

Aquafornia news Bay City News

Environmental groups sue to block Delta Tunnel project

Environmental groups on Friday sued the California Department of Water Resources for approving a plan to divert water from the environmentally sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta to Central and Southern California. The lawsuit says the water agency failed to consider ecological and wildlife harms in giving the go-ahead for the giant tunnel known as the Delta Conveyance Project taking water from Northern California. Advocates say the project will modernize the state’s aging water system, which is currently not equipped to capture water amid climate change conditions. Opponents say the tunnel would divert billions of gallons of water from the Sacramento River, harming delta smelt, Chinook salmon and other imperiled fish.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Undark

The cost of freeing drinking water from ‘forever chemicals’

Situated in a former sand and gravel pit just a few hundred feet from the Kennebec River in central Maine, the Riverside Station pumps half a million gallons of fresh groundwater every day. The well station processes water from two of five wells on either side of the river operated by the Greater Augusta Utility District, or GAUD, which supplies drinking water to nearly 6,000 local households. … But in March 2021, environmental sampling of Riverside well water revealed trace levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or “forever chemicals,” as they’re better known. … PFAS have been linked to a variety of health problems, and Maine lawmakers at the time were debating an even stricter limit for the chemicals. Tarbuck knew a lower standard was coming someday. The only question was when. As it turns out, a tougher standard is expected early this year. That’s when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to finalize an enforceable cap on PFAS in drinking water that will require GAUD and thousands of other utilities around the country to update their treatment methods. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Clean water is a human right. Why are so many California communities without it?

Barely a month after he took office in 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom journeyed to a rural school in the Central Valley … Riverview Elementary School, in Parlier, to dramatize his first bill-signing, an interim fix to provide tens of millions of dollars to buy bottled water for communities with contaminated wells. … Finding the money has turned out to be the easy part. Five years after the governor’s visit, students at Riverview still drink bottled water. …Faced with attitudes toward state government that range from distrust to low expectations, Sacramento officials have struggled to forge partnerships in communities divided by class and race. For once, the state has money, along with increased authority to force changes. What’s missing is leadership to disrupt a process where intolerable delays are accepted as inevitable.
-Written by Miriam Pawel, author of, among other books, “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography.” She is at work on a history of the University of California. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Sites Reservoir would cause negative environmental impacts to Sacramento River

As the permitting battle over the proposed Sites Reservoir Project in Northern California heats up, it’s become clear that the project would further heat up the atmosphere as well. Just as California has made bold commitments to achieve carbon neutrality in the next few decades, the state seems ready to approve a dam project that would put that progress in jeopardy. A new report, “Estimate of Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Proposed Sites Reservoir Project Using the All-Res Modeling Tool,” created by a science team at my organization, Tell The Dam Truth, exposes the climate impacts caused by this massive dam and reservoir system.
-Written by Gary Wockner, PhD, who directs Tell The Dam Truth

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Residents below Isabella Dam again swamped by seepage after new pump runs out of gas

Residents living below the Isabella Auxiliary Dam were thrilled earlier this month with a temporary fix that finally dried up excessive seepage from the dam that had been swamping septic systems and breeding forests of mosquito-infested weeds around their homes. The didn’t realize how temporary the fix would be, however. After only 12 days without a river cutting through his land, rancher Gerald Wenstrand woke up to see the seepage back on Saturday.

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.

Related articles: 

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 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 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.

Announcement

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

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.

Announcement

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.

Aquapedia background California Water Map

Sites Reservoir

Location for the proposed Sites Reservoir

The proposed Sites Reservoir would be an off-river storage basin on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, about 78 miles northwest of Sacramento. It would capture stormwater flows from the Sacramento River for release in dry and critical years for fish and wildlife and for farms, communities and businesses.

The water would be held in a 14,000-acre basin of grasslands surrounded by the rolling eastern foothills of the Coast Range. Known as Antelope Valley, the sparsely populated area in Glenn and Colusa counties is used for livestock grazing.

Video

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.

Publication

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.

Publication

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.

Publication

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.

Publication

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.

Dams

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.