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 KCRA - Sacramento

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

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

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Aquafornia news E&E News

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

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

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Whitewater rafting from ridgetop to river mouth: seeing the multiple benefits of California water

The forests and meadows of the Sierra Nevada, Coast Range, and Cascade Mountains are the source waters for much of the Sacramento River Basin and the State of California. Healthy headwaters ensure increased water supply reliability and reduced flooding risks, improved water quality, reduced impacts from catastrophic wildfires, increased renewable energy supplies, enhanced habitat, and improved response to climate change and extreme weather.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Talks on Highway 37’s future underway as sea-level threat looms

For generations, the 21-mile route linking Marin County and Vallejo has been essential for commuters and travelers. Now Highway 37 has become something more — a centerpiece in a growing debate on how the Bay Area and California should respond to climate change and when politicians should bite the bullet to spend the billions of dollars needed to deal with it. Caltrans is studying a plan to widen a traffic-prone, 10-mile stretch of the highway at a cost of nearly half a billion dollars while it comes up with a longer-term fix. But some advocates say they should skip that step while significant funding is available and do what all parties agree will eventually need to be done by elevating the road.

Aquafornia news Nossaman LLP

Blog: Draft EIR released for Delta Conveyance project

A key priority of the Newsom Administration – the Delta Conveyance Project – has officially entered its next chapter. On July 22, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its draft environmental impact report (Draft EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project. The Delta Conveyance Project is DWR’s and Governor Newsom’s plan to build an underground tunnel to bring water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the State Water Project pumps near Tracy in order to reduce the risk from earthquakes and climate change to the State’s water supplies.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

When there’s arsenic in the water, but ‘we have nowhere to go’

In California’s Eastern Coachella Valley, some of the state’s poorest workers toil in fields and groves of date palms. … Three times a week, Pascual Campos Ochoa, 26, loads up a duffel bag with a brown fleece blanket and a plastic container of oatmeal. A van picks him up from the dusty trailer park where he lives — where stray dogs wander among the carcasses of old cars and working electricity is not a given — and takes him to a clinic for kidney dialysis.  Still, it was not until recently, he said, that he considered that his health problems may be tied to … the water tainted with high levels of arsenic that spewed for years from its aging pipes.

Aquafornia news NPR News for Southern California

Listen: As our climate permanently changes how is California fighting aridification?

Climate change has had a major impact across the world, specifically in California, one example of it has been the increasingly disastrous wildfires and drought issues we see today. With aridification, or the gradual change to a drier climate, changing the state, it does leave many wondering what can be done to limit its effects on Californians. The stricter statewide regulations on water, the state has shown a willingness to take the situation seriously–but the recent resignation of a California drought official did put into question just how urgent California officials are viewing aridification.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Can Newsom finally win long Delta water conflict?

Will the fifth time be the charm for California’s decades-long effort to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that more Northern California water can be transported to Southern California? Don’t count on it. Last week, the state Department of Water Resources released a draft environmental impact report on the latest iteration of the 57-year-long effort to change the Delta’s role in water supply, a 45-mile-long tunnel officially named the “Delta Conveyance.” The 3,000-page document immediately drew the responses that have accompanied past versions — big municipal and agricultural water agencies were in favor of it because it would, they hope, increase water deliveries south of the Delta, and environmentalists were against it, saying it would further damage the Delta’s already bruised ecosystem.
-Written by Dan Walters, columnist for CalMatters.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

3 issues to watch as heat strains the grid

Drought conditions gripping the U.S. are shining a bright light on a severe and emerging risk to the nation’s long-term power supply: water scarcity…. The danger is most glaring on the parched West Coast where California, plagued by climbing temperatures, saw hydroelectric generation fall 48 percent below a 10-year average last year, and output was likewise curbed across the Pacific Northwest. The current dry spell — considered one of the worst on record — will likely take a bigger chunk of California’s hydropower out of commission….

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Aquafornia news The Center Square

Education, water banks could ease Utah’s water challenges, report says

Utah’s main crop is a thirsty one and with water becoming more limited, some are wondering if farmers should consider a crop that uses less, according to a report released by Gov. Spencer Cox Wednesday.  The report, the third in Cox’s “Utah’s Coordinated Action Plan for Water,” calls for new strategies such as split stream leases and water banking. The 20-page report focuses on agriculture. The previous reports highlighted infrastructure investments and communities. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Unsafe drinking water is a reality for nearly a million Californians, especially in Central Valley, new audit finds

Nearly a million Californians have unsafe drinking water and the agency charged with helping them is ill-equipped to do so.  That’s according to a new state audit of the California Water Resources Control Board, which says 920,000 residents are at increased risk of liver and kidney problems — and even cancer — because they get water from systems that fail to meet contaminant standards for safe drinking water. The auditor says more than 800 water systems in the state are in that “failing” category, a number that has more than doubled in the last year.

Aquafornia news Action News Now

Department of Water Resources talks Oroville Dam following 4.2 earthquake

A recent earthquake in the Oroville area has many wondering how stable the Oroville Dam is. The Department of Water Resources told Action News Now the Dam is in good condition and was not damaged by the 4.2 earthquakes. Many people in Oroville said they’ve experienced several earthquakes but are always on alert when a fire or earthquake happens, especially after the Oroville Spillway Crisis in 2017. The crisis pushed nearly 190,0000 people to evacuate but the DWR said the Dam can withstand a lot and is constantly being evaluated in case an emergency breaks out.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Anselmo flood protection project hits a roadblock

A plan to remove a more than 80-year-old bridge in downtown San Anselmo as part of a key flood control effort in the Ross Valley has hit a snag. The news came as part of a mandated, annual report on the use of funds generated by a stormwater drainage fee presented to the Board of Supervisors earlier this month. The fee was narrowly approved by voters in 2007 to do flood prevention projects in the Ross Valley. Its passage followed destructive storm-driven floods in 1982 and 2005 that damaged 1,200 homes and 200 businesses.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

EPA adds $132M in funding to national estuary programs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance July 26 for place-based projects using $132 million in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds being distributed via its National Estuary Program. The NEP, which started in 1987, funds water quality and ecological integrity recovery projects at 28 estuaries along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts, plus Puerto Rico, considered to be of “national significance.” … Local program directors detailed funding plans in a statement, including building defenses in California’s Santa Monica Bay area against sea level rise …

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought official blasts Newsom administration

In his time at the California State Water Resources Control Board, Max Gomberg has witnessed the state grapple with two devastating droughts and the accelerating effects of climate change. Now, after 10 years of recommending strategies for making California more water resilient, the board’s climate and conservation manager is calling it quits. The reason: He no longer believes Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration are willing to pursue the sorts of transformational changes necessary in an age of growing aridification.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Lawmakers call on Kern stakeholders to engage on water investment

Farmers and water managers may need to do more to engage with lawmakers from outside the Central Valley before the state Legislature can be persuaded to make important investments in water storage and other infrastructure projects, members of Kern’s Sacramento delegation told an audience Tuesday of the Water Association of Kern County. The three locally elected representatives — Assemblyman Vince Fong and state Sens. Shannon Grove and Melissa Hurtado — made the request in the context of their frustration with big-city, coastal lawmakers they said misunderstand how things work in not only the water world but in-state energy production as well.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California revives Delta tunnel project for water deliveries

Here we go again. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration revived the Delta tunnel project Wednesday, unveiling a downsized version of the controversial, multibillion-dollar plan to re-engineer the fragile estuary on Sacramento’s doorstep that serves as the hub of California’s over-stressed water-delivery network. After three years with little to no public activity, the state released an environmental blueprint for what’s now called the Delta Conveyance — a 45-mile tunnel that would divert water from the Sacramento River and route it under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that it can be shipped to farms and cities hundreds of miles away.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: California water: New $16 billion Delta tunnel plan released by Newsom administration

Three years ago, amid shaky political support and uncertain funding, Gov. Gavin Newsom killed plans by his predecessor, Jerry Brown, to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Delta to more easily move water south. Now a slimmed down version of the project — which has been one of the most contentious water issues in California since the early 1980s — is back. On Wednesday, Newsom’s administration released details of his new plan, which calls for building one tunnel instead of two.

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta ISB review of Delta tunnel project proceeding under huge time pressure

On June 8, 2022, DWR’s Director, Karla Nemeth, made a presentation on the Delta tunnel project to the Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB), with several of the scientists who had worked on the project. She said that she supported the Delta ISB’s review of the project. But unlike the twin tunnels project, the Department of Water Resources did not release the Administrative Draft EIR for the single tunnel. DWR is instead planning for the Delta ISB to review the new project for the first time during the CEQA comment period on the Draft Delta Conveyance EIR, which could be as short as 90 days.

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Blog: CA DWR to release draft environmental impact report for Delta tunnel this week

The California Department of Water Resources has announced that it will be releasing their Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) early this week for the Delta Conveyance Project, AKA the embattled Delta Tunnel. Documents for federal review of the project will be released later this fall. … The changes in the plans include changes to the intakes, the tunnel itself, the power lines, the route and the operations, according to DWR. Here are some of the highlights of the proposed changes: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

SJV water districts get $800,000 in federal grants to save water

Two agencies in the San Joaquin Valley are closer to funding water conservation projects thanks to an $800,000 grant from the Bureau of Reclamation.  The money comes from the Bureau’s Agricultural Water and Conservation Efficiency grants.  About $362,000 will go to the Corcoran Irrigation District in Kings County and $430,000 will go to the Lost Hills Water District in Kern County.  The money will partially fund projects aimed at water savings and streamlining water transportation and storage. The rest of the funding will come from local contributions.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Drought is decimating my farm. How California should help us

As I drive across my family’s farm in the San Joaquin Valley, it feels as if I’m traveling on a chessboard. I cross one square with crops and then another without crops — our fields that must lay fallow. Our farm’s crops have been decimated by the drought. Last year, reduced water deliveries in the state led to 395,000 acres of cropland being idled, according to UC Merced researchers, and about 8,750 agricultural workers lost their jobs. … Without enough water, farmers in California can’t survive. The state’s aging water supply infrastructure has not kept up with the growth of the state. 
-Written by Joe L. Del Bosque, CEO and president of the family-owned Del Bosque Farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Follow the water!

People often have strange ideas about how water works.  Even simple water systems can be confusing.  When water systems become large complex socio-physical-ecological systems serving many users and uses, opportunities for confusion become extreme, surpassing comprehension by our ancient Homo sapien brains. When confused by conflicting rhetoric, using numbers to “follow the water” can be helpful.  The California Water Plan has developed some such numbers.  This essay presents their net water use numbers for 2018, by California’s agricultural, urban, and environmental uses by hydrologic region. 

Aquafornia news Fox News

Las Vegas ‘water cops’ patrol for water wasters amid unprecedented drought

The drought in the west has gotten so bad that bodies, World War II boats and other artifacts have resurfaced at Lake Mead, about 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. As the water dries up, so-called “water cops” are going after anybody who’s wasting it. Water waste investigators with the Las Vegas Valley Water District patrol the roads and neighborhoods every day to hunt for violations like broken sprinklers and excess watering.

Aquafornia news KCET - Los Angeles

Can desalination be a solution for drought in SoCal?

California is currently suffering through its worst drought in over 1,200 years, a fact painfully illustrated by a hot, dry summer, nearly empty reservoirs, and a historically diminished Colorado River. New water restrictions have gone into effect across the state. As California scrambles to conserve water, desalination plants, facilities that use reverse osmosis filters to purify seawater and transform it into drinking water, have increasingly become part of the discussion.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water officials scrutinize costs for bigger reservoirs, new pipelines

Marin Municipal Water District officials, continuing their quest to boost supply, met this week for a detailed cost assessment on expanding reservoirs and connecting to new sources. District staff stressed to the board that — unlike other options under review such as desalination and recycled water expansion that can produce a continual flow of water — enlarging reservoirs or building pipelines to outside suppliers does not guarantee water will be available when needed. 

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Deepening drought prompts readoption of curtailment regulation for the Delta

With three consecutive years of drought reducing state and federal water project reservoirs to historic lows, the State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday readopted measures for the Delta to protect drinking water supplies, prevent salinity intrusion and minimize impacts to fish and the environment. The State Water Board decision updating an emergency curtailment and reporting regulation authorizes staff to determine the amount of water available to certain right holders during the drought, preserving drinking water for 27 million Californians and the irrigation supply for more than three million acres of farmland.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Taking a big leap to solve California water problems: How uncommon partners are finding common ground on the water

There we were, 19 of us on the stony shore of the Tuolumne River, feeling a bit stranded like the crew of Gilligan’s Island. Our “Finding Common Water” rafting excursion was planned around “no water Wednesday,” when river releases are held back for water conservation and infrastructure maintenance. The trip’s goal: Get off our desk chairs and onto rafts, out of the ordinary and into an extraordinary setting — a hot, highly regulated, wild and scenic river —  to push us out of our comfort zone and get to work on addressing real water problems.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Republicans oppose drought, wildfire package

The House will vote this week on legislation to boost wildfire fighter pay, make federal forests more fire resilient and help communities in the West conserve water in the face of long-term drought. The package, called the “Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act,” combines 48 previously introduced bills on related issues, a move that sparked Republican complaints that majority Democrats are trying to ram them through with scant consideration and little GOP involvement.

Aquafornia news Southern California News Group

Here’s how low California’s reservoirs are and what to expect in the future

There has not been much good news about California’s water supply lately, but there could be some relief on the way. The North-of-Delta Offstream Storage project, often referred to as the planned Sites Reservoir, was authorized by Congress in 2003. The long delayed project got a financial boost in March when the federal government signaled its intent to loan the project nearly $2.2 billion — about half of the cost to design, plan and build it. … The new reservoir could increase Northern California’s water storage capacity by up to 15% and would hold enough water to supply about 1.5 million to 3 million households for one year — although much of the water would be for agricultural purposes.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada’s Natural Resources acting director on collaboration, drought, smart-from-the-start planning

With hundreds of full-time employees, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is one of the state’s largest agencies, responsible for a wide array of activities, from overseeing state parks and wildland fire crews to regulating industrial pollution and managing water rights. Earlier this month, the agency got a new leader. Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed Jim Lawrence, who has worked at the agency since 1998, to serve as the acting director. … The leadership change comes at a time when the state — and the region — face a number of ongoing interconnected environmental issues, including a prolonged drought that has strained water supplies, pressures on public land, increasingly risky wildfire behavior and extreme heat.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles has plans to put recycled water in your tap

Water has always been recycled. The water molecules in your shower or cup of coffee might just be the same molecules that rained on dinosaurs more than 65 million years ago. With the technological advancements in water recycling, however, the water that went down your sink this morning might be back in your tap sooner than you think. The city of Los Angeles and agencies across Southern California are looking into what’s known as “direct potable reuse,” which means putting purified recycled water directly back into our drinking water systems. …. Their efforts hinge on the State Water Resources Control Board, which has been tasked by legislators to develop a set of uniform regulations on direct potable reuse by Dec. 31, 2023.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River advocates accuse utility of “lawless” water diversions on behalf of a long closed fish hatchery

As water in the North Fork of the Kern River dwindles, controversy over its diminished flows is ramping up. At least some river watchers are accusing Southern California Edison of misusing a portion of the flows by continuing to divert water, ostensibly, for a state-owned fish hatchery that has been closed since 2020. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) even sent a letter to Edison in January 2022 directing the utility to stop taking water out of the river for the hatchery, saying the facility and its pipeline are inoperable. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought leaves Mexico’s second biggest city without water

Drought has drained the three reservoirs that provide about 60% of the water for the [Monterrey, Mexico] region’s 5 million residents. Most homes now receive water for only a few hours each morning. And on the city’s periphery, many taps have run completely dry. … “It should be a wake-up call,” said Samuel Sandoval Solis, an expert in water management at UC Davis who described the situation in Monterrey as a “crystal ball” for Southern California. Both are densely packed metropolitan centers that rely heavily on faraway water sources. … Southern California cities, which import about 55% of their water from the Colorado River and Northern California, have already been forced to reduce water usage and face the prospect of further cuts as drought persists …

Aquafornia news Ramona Sentinel

Ramona water district adopts regional water management plan, pursues $4.8M in grants

The Ramona Municipal Water District board on July 12 adopted the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Plan as an avenue to $4.8 million in grants. The water district has already applied for the funds available through IRWM grants. The source of the funds is Proposition 1 — the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act — which was approved by California voters in 2014 and authorizes $510 million in IRWM funding. Grants available to the Ramona water district are nearly $2.43 million for The Acres safe drinking water project and $2.43 million for the Ramona/Barona recycled water pipeline project.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: Delta flows - Failed drought planning for the Delta 

Yesterday, Restore the Delta sent the following scoping comment letter to the Army Corps of Engineers in response to a “Dredge and Fill (404) Application from California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to construct North Delta Drought Salinity Barriers Project.” DWR proposes in its application to add two more temporary rock fill barriers along Steamboat and Miner sloughs in the North Delta intending to prevent intrusion of high-salinity tidal waters into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should critical drought conditions persist into 2023 and beyond.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Big water pipelines, an old pursuit, still alluring in drying west

Across the country’s western drylands, a motley group of actors is responding to the region’s intensifying water crisis by reviving a well-worn but risky tactic: building water pipelines to tap remote groundwater basins and reservoirs to feed fast-growing metropolitan areas, or to supply rural towns that lack a reliable source. Government agencies, wildcat entrepreneurs, and city utilities are among those vying to pump and pipe water across vast distances — potentially at great economic and environmental cost. Even as critics question the suitability of the water transfers in a new climate era, supporters in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, the federal government, Indian tribes, and other states are prepared to spend billions on water-supply pipelines.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

Santa Rosa encouraging water conservation through free audits, rebates and expertise

There’s a lot of big ideas for solving California’s perpetual water shortages. Desalinate ocean water. Tow giant bags of water or use a pipeline to pull water out of the mouth of the Columbia River. But there are also less ambitious and perhaps more practical ways too. The city of Santa Rosa is looking to help, one drip at a time. Thomas Hare and Holly Nadeau are water resource specialists from the Santa Rosa’s water department, On a recent Wednesday, in the Oakmont district, they were welcomed to the home of Leslie and Greg Gossage…ready to get down to some detective work.

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Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Humboldt Bay found to have highest sea level rise rate in California

According to California’s 4th Climate Change Assessment, Humboldt Bay has the highest sea level rise rate in California, surpassing both global and regional averages. This finding prompted Humboldt County to conduct a grand jury report regarding the local response to sea level rise, which the Eureka City Council reviewed during their weekly meeting this evening. The report identified various local stakeholders including businesses, residents of the unincorporated coastal communities in the county, and the many plants and animals that rely on the Humboldt Bay ecosystem.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Transformer explodes at Hoover Dam

An explosion at the Hoover Dam has prompted an emergency response from a Nevada fire crew, authorities said Tuesday morning. … Boulder City officials said on Twitter that the city fire department was heading toward the incident about 10:30 a.m. after video circulated on social media showing an explosion near the dam. They later said the fire was extinguished before crews arrived. … A transformer caught fire at the dam about 10 a.m., the Bureau of Reclamation said on Twitter. No injuries were reported among visitors or employees, and the small blaze was extinguished by a fire brigade run by the bureau.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

East Bay city increases water rates

Pittsburg water customers will soon see a 5% increase in their water rates for each of the next five years as a result of council action this week. Paul Rodrigues, city finance director, cited increases in the cost of energy and raw water, and the need to make capital improvements – at a $76.5 million price tag – in the water treatment plant as reasons for the increases. Both commercial and residential customers will be affected, but seniors will pay less, seeing only a 2% increase each year. 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Orange County Water District recognized for federal efforts by ACWA

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has recognized the Orange County Water District (OCWD) as a winner of ACWA’s 2022 “Most Effective Agency on Federal Issues” Award. … OCWD was recognized for its robust legislative efforts in 2021 including supporting federal bills that provided funding for water infrastructure and advocating for two key per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) priorities: provide an exemption from PFAS liability for water and wastewater agencies under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), and preserve the Safe Drinking Water Act’s current provisions that include a cost-benefit analysis in the development of new drinking water standards.

Aquafornia news On the Public Record

Blog: On your watch.

Yesterday Max Gomberg had his last day at the State Water Resources Control Board. He sent this on his last day, and cc’ed me. With his permission: Hello everyone:  I am sharing my parting thoughts because I believe in facing hard truths and difficult decisions. These are dark and uncertain times, both because fascists are regaining power and because climate change is rapidly decreasing the habitability of many places. Sadly, this state is not on a path towards steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions reductions, massive construction to alleviate the housing crisis, quickly and permanently reducing agriculture to manage the loss of water to aridification, and reducing law enforcement and carceral budgets and reallocating resources to programs that actually increase public health and safety.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Every Californian holds the key to drought response

All Californians play a role in preserving and enhancing our water supplies for a drought-resilient future. California again is in a familiar state of drought, although not all communities are affected equally. Some regions are in extreme water shortage; others are not. We must address these differences. That starts with all Californians understanding where their water comes from and what they can do to use it wisely.
-Written by Steve Welch, general manager of the Contra Costa Water District; and Sandy Kerl, the general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: One year later, DWR has provided nearly half a billion in drought relief to communities

A year after receiving funding from the Budget Act of 2021, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has successfully awarded more than $440 million to date in drought relief assistance to small and urban communities to address water supply challenges and help build local resilience. The Budget Act of 2021 allocated $500 million in total drought-relief funds to DWR following extreme dry conditions and Governor Newsom’s statewide drought emergency declaration.

Aquafornia news KCET - Los Angeles

How a 19th-century drought gave us the L.A. we know today

1795 had been a drought year, as were the years between 1807 and 1809. Drought returned in 1822-1823, followed by floods in 1825, and three years of little rain from 1827 to 1829 and again in 1844-1846. Travel writer Emma Adams described the “annual panic” in Los Angeles when winter rains were overdue and “all classes of businessmen are at a white heat of anxiety.”

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

DWR enters first phase of hoist replacements at Oroville Dam

The California Department of Water Resources has begun its nine-year project to replace the spillway gate hoists at the Oroville Dam. Workers began the process of reverse-engineering the hoists Tuesday to open the door for replacing one per year in a project expected to be complete in 2031. Scott Turnquist, DWR’s engineering branch manager for the Oroville field division, said the project is the result of years worth of planning in an effort to have large-scale maintenance on the dam. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Times photographer embarked on a watershed journey

It was late 2020, less than a year into the pandemic, but Luis Sinco wasn’t thinking about COVID-19. He was overwhelmed by catastrophe. Fires were burning, glaciers were melting, and the West was again in drought. But from talking to his kids and friends and people around him, the award-winning Times photographer sensed little dire urgency, little connection between the climate crisis and the routines of everyday life. … [Sinco] set off on his own. In between assignments, he traveled roughly 1,500 miles, from the river’s headwaters in the Rocky Mountains down to where the Colorado once regularly reached its terminus, in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

Aquafornia news Byron-Bethany Irrigation District

Alert: State lifts curtailments

Just days after ordering the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) to shut off its pumps and halt water deliveries at the height of the growing season, the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) lifted the curtailments of BBID’s water rights. At 4:07 on Tuesday, the Board issued a Drought Update advising that the pre-1914 water right serving much of BBID’s service area, and the post-1914 water right serving the District’s West Side Service Area, are no longer curtailed.

Aquafornia news Water Resources IMPACT

St. Francis Dam and the End of Mulholland’s Reign

Thanks to the 1974 fictionalized movie Chinatown, many people know the infamous story of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, built to capture runoff from the Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley for delivery to Los Angeles.  Construction of the aqueduct, started in 1908, compared in complexity to the building of the Panama Canal. It required 3,900 workers at its peak and involved the digging of 164 tunnels. At the time it was the longest aqueduct in the world … 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

On a brutal summer day, one California town ran out of water. Then the fire came

There is a state mandate to consolidate [small] water systems with larger nearby communities by 2024. But that wasn’t soon enough for East Orosi, an unincorporated Tulare County hamlet southeast of Fresno. The water went off Tuesday afternoon. A temporary fix allowed the water to run sporadically on Wednesday. By then, a family had lost their home to a fire they had no water to fight. Children had spent a day scrambling to keep pets and livestock from dying. And in this community that already depends on bottled water for drinking, everyone knew the taps could soon go dry again. 

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

The ‘King Tides’ bringing minor coastal flooding to San Francisco

The National Weather Service has issued an advisory that King Tides will cause minor flooding to coastal areas of the San Francisco shoreline starting Monday night and will continue to Friday, with the highest tide expected after midnight on Thursday. The flooding is expected to begin tonight at 8 p.m. King Tides are the highest predicted tides of the year in a coastal region and normally occur only once or twice a year – when the moon is closest to the earth. The event usually takes place from January to December, but can also take place during the summer.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Arizona to spend $1.2 billion on water security

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed B1740 yesterday, investing $1.2 billion over three years to fund projects that will bring additional water to the state to secure Arizona’s water future, improve existing water infrastructure and implement effective conservation tools. The projects will help ensure that Arizona families, businesses and agriculture continue to have adequate long-term water supplies.

Aquafornia news Desert Review

Calexico celebrates $28M in New River funding

After a decade of immense effort, the New River Project received $28 million in funding to begin the first phase of restoration said to bring public health safety and environmental justice to Calexico, Mexicali, and Baja California, at a press conference at the Women’s Improvement Club in Calexico July 7. Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Senator Ben Hueso, along with California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld and his team, were welcomed to The City of Calexico by the Mayor of Calexico, Javier Moreno. 

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

California officials study drought benefits of salinity barrier

On Monday, California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a draft Environmental Impacts Report, which looked into the benefits and potential negative impacts of repeated use of a temporary drought salinity barrier in the delta. This drought barrier is in the West False River. It is a wall of earth that helps to keep salt water from the Bay Area from infiltrating into the freshwater delta system during times of severe drought…. If the delta were to become contaminated with saltwater, millions would lose access to fresh drinking water, including farmers, who rely on the delta for irrigation.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

California lawmaker nabs Natural Resources slot

California’s newest member of Congress will be serving on the House Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Connie Conway, a Republican who represents the 22nd District in the agriculture-heavy Central Valley, got assigned to Natural Resources by House GOP leadership, Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) the ranking member of the committee, announced today. In a statement, Conway said that she understood “the diverse water and energy challenges impacting the livelihoods of Central Valley residents and farmers.” She added that she looked forward to “working with my colleagues to address the drought and rising energy costs by modernizing outdated environmental laws and improving water storage infrastructure.”

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Vargas, Jacobs try new route to spend $300 million on Tijuana pollution fix

A pair of San Diego Congressional representatives are trying again to transfer money between the bank accounts of two federal agencies.  Without the legislative fix, most of $300 million worth of projects to clean-up the polluted Tijuana River and Southern California beaches cannot be spent. Reps. Juan Vargas and Sara Jacobs are hopeful the full House and Senate will OK language introduced in a spending bill that’s passed a House committee, according to a Thursday press release.  

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Good Times

Local water resource managers prepare for another dry summer

Summer is here, and water resource managers around the state are gearing up for another dry season. In Santa Cruz County, unique geology and three distinct basins make protecting the water supply a complicated and fractured process involving multiple water agencies. From the Pajaro Valley to the Santa Cruz Mountains, here’s what they’re doing.

Aquafornia news Petaluma Argus Courier

Oak Hill neighbors express concerns as Petaluma plans for new well

Petaluma residents neighboring a planned groundwater well project in the Oak Hill Park area are asking city leaders for more transparency and review before approving its construction, following concerns that the area’s foundation may be too fragile. The Oak Hill Municipal Well Project would install a well on a 5.58-acre, city-owned property at 35 Park Avenue, as city officials look to offset the need for purchased water and increase the reliability and diversity of local water supplies during the ongoing drought. But neighbors are concerned the well will have a negative impact on the environment and make way for sinkholes.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado outlines its plan for how the state will deal with water shortages worsened by climate change and population growth

Colorado’s water leaders have released an updated blueprint detailing how the state will manage and conserve water supplies as climate change and population growth strain the system in unprecedented ways. The first Colorado Water Plan was released in 2015 after back-to-back years of historic drought and sought to address the possibility that the state might not have enough water in the next few decades…. The reservoirs on the Colorado River, which starts in the mountains of Colorado and supplies more than 40 million people in the West with water, have hit critically low levels in the last year. 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Calif. invests $2M in urgent drought relief projects

California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced financial support to four urgent drought relief projects in Humboldt, Los Angeles, Modoc, Shasta, and Siskiyou counties through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. In coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, DWR awarded $2 million in funding to support four projects that will improve drought resilience and address local water needs.

Aquafornia news KCRW

Saltwater toilets and stormwater drains: How to beat drought

There are two schools of thought on how to navigate the West’s historic drought: Use less water or find new ways to make more of it usable. A few cities are trying to do both, and so far, it’s spared them from some of the most stringent drought restrictions. In the last drought, Santa Monica used to rely heavily on water imported from Northern California. But now less than half of Santa Monica’s water is imported, which spared them from the mandatory outdoor water restrictions that began at the beginning of June.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin highway flooding projects get $30M from state

As sea-level rise and flooding threaten to cut off Marin City from emergency services and block one of the busiest North Bay highways, the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom have allocated $30 million in the state budget to begin planning for defenses. The budget adopted on Tuesday provides $20 million to begin designing flood protections on Highway 37 and the Novato Creek Bridge. Another $10 million is for planning defenses for recurring flooding on Highway 101 that blocks the only road in and out of Marin City.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

East County’s $950M water recycling project could be in jeopardy as San Diego nixes pipeline deal

East County officials fear a $950 million sewage recycling project could get flushed down the drain because of a pipeline deal gone awry. Leaders spearheading the endeavor blame San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria — who signed off on building an eight-mile “brine line” as recently as last year but has since reneged on that commitment. The pipeline would prevent concentrated waste generated by the East County project’s reverse osmosis filtration system from entering into the city’s own $5 billion Pure Water sewage recycling project now under construction. 

Aquafornia news Politico

The Southwest is bone dry. Now, a key water source is at risk.

California and six other Western states have less than 60 days to pull off a seemingly impossible feat: Cut a multi-way deal to dramatically reduce their consumption of water from the dangerously low Colorado River. If they don’t, the federal government will do it for them. A federal Bureau of Reclamation ultimatum last month, prompted by an extreme climate-change-induced drop in water levels at the nation’s largest reservoirs, reopens years of complicated agreements and political feuds among the communities whose livelihoods depend on the river. The deadline represents a crucial moment for the arid Southwest, which must now swiftly reckon with a problem that has been decades in the making.

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: California eases environmental requirements to address threatened electricity outages

On June 30, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 205, a legislative effort to bolster the state’s energy resources and avoid outages like those California experienced in August 2020.  AB 205 creates a Strategic Reliability Reserve that will secure new emergency and temporary generators, retain existing resources, and encourage the development of new clean energy projects and energy storage systems.  To secure the resources needed to maintain the reliability of electric service, the legislation temporarily relaxes some of California’s strict environmental requirements.  

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California is missing an entire year of rainfall since mid-2019, new figures show

California’s water issues may be complicated. But the rainfall shortage driving the state’s current drought comes down to basic math. … Over the three-year period that ended June 30, most Northern California cities received only about half to two-thirds of their historical average rainfall, according to data that [Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services in Half Moon Bay] compiled. And each passing year without soaking winter rains has been steadily drying the state out a little more — further dropping reservoirs, parching soils and forests and depleting groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

There are no simple solutions to California’s complicated water problem. This is why

In March the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invited the backers of Sites Reservoir — a mammoth water storage project in the Sacramento Valley that’s being personally led by [Fritz Durst, a farmer in Yolo County] — to apply for a $2.2 billion construction loan. … But the reservoir, planned for a spot straddling the Glenn-Colusa county line, 10 miles west of the Sacramento River, won’t dig California out of its current mega-drought. Even if all goes according to plan — a pretty big if — Sites wouldn’t finish construction until 2030. … The only way out of this, for the time being, is conservation, forcing farmers and homeowners alike to make do with less water.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water supplier examines costs of new supply sources

The Marin Municipal Water District took a first look this week at how much water it could receive from new sources such as desalination or expanding reservoirs, and how much they would cost. On Tuesday, consultants with the Jacobs Engineering firm provided the district’s board with an overview of the preliminary cost and water production estimates for several supply options. More expensive options included desalination, dredging existing reservoirs, expanding the recycled water system and building pipelines to connect with other Bay Area water suppliers.

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Aquafornia news Daily Kos

91 percent of Butte Creek spring-run Chinook salmon died before spawning in 2021

A record run of wild spring run Chinook salmon on a Sacramento River tributary turned into a disaster when the majority of fish perished before spawning last year. In  May, the CDFW published a monitoring report on 2021’s spring Chinook salmon run on Butte Creek, a Sacramento River tributary, revealing that 91 percent of the adult fish died before spawning. … An estimated 19,773 out of the over 21,580 fish total that returned to spawn in the Butte County stream perished before spawning. Only an estimated 1,807 adults survived to spawn in a year with a record return of fish. … The fish perished from disease in the crowded, warm water conditions on the creek …

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Manteca could overtake Tracy population by 2030

If there is a promised land for home developers in San Joaquin County, it might just be Manteca. Lathrop thanks to the 15,001-home planned River Islands community was — once aberrations involving Paradise and Santa Cruz growth due to people returning to rebuilt homes after being  burned-out in a PG&E sparked wildfire and the return to in-person learning at University of California campuses — the fastest growing city in California in 2021. … Mountain House will likely be checked to a large degree by water. It needed a 10,000  acre-foot water transfer from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District to try and weather the drought this year after the state cut off their water deliveries.

Aquafornia news KQED

See a map of Bay Area hazardous sites at risk from rising seas

More than 900 hazardous sites — power plants, sewage treatment plants, refineries, cleanup areas and other facilities — across California could be inundated with ocean water and groundwater by the end of the century, according to climate scientists at UCLA and UC Berkeley. … [UCLA’s Lara] Cushing and UC Berkeley’s Rachel Morello-Frosch, both environmental health scientists, last year launched an interactive tool, Toxic Tides, mapping California’s hazardous sites that could be inundated by sea level rise. … The researchers also used federal groundwater data to examine how rising ocean water would drive freshwater up from the ground.

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Aquafornia news Ripon Advance

Democrats reject three Valadao amendments addressing Calif. drought

U.S. House Appropriations Committee Democrats voted down all three drought-related amendments offered by U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) to the fiscal year 2023 Energy and Water Appropriations bill during the committee’s June 28 markup of the legislation. … The first amendment offered by Rep. Valadao addressed water storage capacity issues. It would have extended the California storage provisions of the federal Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act through the end of 2023, as well as the authorization of appropriations for water storage projects, according to information provided by the congressman’s staff.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State water funding to help upgrade mountain systems

A sliver of state money will help upgrade drinking water systems in eastern Fresno County mountain communities that have been plagued by both drought and devastating wildfires. The money is part of an overall $300 million in Department of Water Resources funding aimed at drought impacts. In Fresno County, the Sierra Resource Conservation District was awarded $525,000 to upgrade technology for five community groundwater systems in the mountains.  The five water systems were all impacted by the 2020 Creek Fire, one of California’s biggest wildfires, which burned nearly 380,000 acres in the Sierra Nevadas. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin district to vet costs, benefits of new water sources

Marin Municipal Water District will hold a series of meetings focused on adding new water sources. The district, which serves 191,000 central and southern Marin residents, launched a water supply study in March as it faced depleting its local reservoir supplies after two years of severe drought. On Tuesday, staff will provide the district Board of Directors a first-time overview of the various water supply options the agency could consider as it looks to bolster its supply … desalination, increasing local reservoir storage, groundwater banking in Sonoma County, increasing water imports from the Russian River, expansion of recycled water systems, conservation measures and a pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Tales from the Water Wars — Jonas Minton’s testimony on true collaboration

Jonas Minton, the Senior Water Policy Advisor for Planning and Conservation League, passed away on June 22, 2022. He was 73. I had the privilege of serving on an expert panel with Jonas on April 2, 2018…. Jonas Minton provided many great observations that day. The observations which most show his legacy are in his testimony on truly collaborative processes. In my opinion, Jonas’ ability to facilitate collaborations between stakeholders in truly fair, equitable, and transparent processes was his greatest gift to the California water community. He will be greatly missed.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom plans to keep lights on in CA — with fossil fuels

A controversial plan from Gov. Gavin Newsom would reshape how business is done on the California power grid…. State lawmakers could vote as early as Wednesday night on the polarizing legislation, whose text was revealed late Sunday. The bill would give the Department of Water Resources unprecedented authority to build or buy energy from any facility that can help keep the lights on during the next few summers — including polluting diesel generators and four gas-fired power plants along the Southern California coast that were originally supposed to close in 2020 but were rescued by state officials.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 -Sacramento

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California water supply forecast to be audited

There’ll be an audit of California’s water supply forecast after the state overestimated and prematurely released 700,000 acre-feet of water last year, officials announced Monday. A news release from Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) announced that Gray’s request for audit was approved. It aims to examine the impacts of the flawed forecasts and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State Water Board. … California’s water operations overestimated the forecast by 68% for the Sacramento River  region, 45% for the San Joaquin River region and 46% for the Tulare Lake region, according to a state report. Those overestimations left the operators with less stored water than was necessary, according to Gray’s news release.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Feds seek ideas on how to manage a drier Colorado River

For many decades, the Colorado River was managed with the attitude that its water levels would remain roughly stable over time, punctuated by alternating wet and dry periods. But in the face of possibly the river’s driest period in 1,200 years, a new approach is now needed to managing the river’s reservoirs — one that can account for “deep uncertainty” about future climate and runoff conditions, says the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. And for the next two months, the bureau wants to hear from the public about how it should go about operating reservoirs including Lake Mead, Lake Powell and other parts of the river system under such conditions.

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Aquafornia news Dana Point Times

In wake of Poseidon desal plant’s denial, South Coast Water looks to fill hole in county’s water portfolio

As the State of California faces a record drought, ocean desalination has been highlighted as a potentially more reliable alternative to imported water. Following the California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) unanimous vote to deny permits for the Brookfield-Poseidon Desalination plant in Huntington Beach last month, the South Coast Water District (SCWD) is working to obtain all major permits for its own desalination plant near Doheny by the end of the year. The local water district is looking to produce up to five million gallons of potable drinking water a day by 2027 through its proposed Doheny Ocean Desalination project. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Uncertainty in modeling, an Art Gallery

Water resource planners regularly rely on computer models to illuminate relationships between human- and natural-systems. Anyone who has tinkered with one of California water supply models knows this is a deeply left-brained exercise. During Winter 2021, as part of Jay Lund’s Art and Water class, water resource engineering students took a break from creating and analyzing mathematical models to exercise the right side of their brains and enjoy some art. Please enjoy this collection of art pieces curated by a group of graduate students who can’t quite figure out how to unplug…

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona to spend $1 billion seeking new water sources

Gov. Doug Ducey is expected to sign legislation as early as this week to spend $1 billion looking for long-term sources of new water for Arizona. State lawmakers finally lined up the votes for the plan Friday, the last day of their 2022 session. … The plan requires that 75% of the funding be spent to acquire water from outside of the state, which could include building a plant to desalinate water from the Sea of Cortez in Sonora. State officials have also mentioned exploring the possibility of a pipeline from the Mississippi River. 

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.

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 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.

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 Colorado River
Updated 2018

Cover page for the Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River .

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 

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.