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 Modesto Bee

OID and SSJID cancel large water sale to thirsty West Side

The worsening drought has canceled a large water sale to West Side farmers by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts. They announced Wednesday that their own customers will need the water, which had been declared surplus in early March. A revised forecast of Stanislaus River runoff scuttled the sale, which could have brought up to $25 million to the sellers.

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

While high-profile surface-water initiatives like WaterFix and the Delta Conveyance Project grab most of the headlines pertaining to water management in the state, efforts to make significant changes to the way groundwater is utilized have been underway since 2014. Now, the state and the local water agencies are seeking public comment on documents related to the management of groundwater. In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a three-bill legislative package collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to better manage groundwater supplies over the long term.  

Aquafornia news The Signal

News release: SCV Water receives state PSPS grant

SCV Water, the Santa Clarita Valley’s water agency, received a nearly $250,000 California Special Districts Association Public Safety Power Shutoff program allocation from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The allocation will be used to help fund the installation of a permanent generator at the Earl Schmidt Filtration Plant on Lake Hughes Road near Castaic. The addition of this second generator brings the facility up to 100% operational capacity in the event of a power outage.

Aquafornia news University of California

Blog: A path toward clean drinking water for all Californians

California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water that meets those criteria. A new study published by the California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems. 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Costa spearheads $800 million water infrastructure bill to restore key Valley canals

Congressman Jim Costa (D–Fresno) introduced a bill on Thursday that would provide over $800 million in funding to water projects in California. If the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act is enacted, $653 million in Federal funds will go to restore the capacity of three canals in the Central Valley, and $180 million will be used to restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. 

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Judge tells Monterey County to go back to the drawing board on Cal Am desal approval

Monterey County must rescind all approvals of California American Water’s proposed desalination project, per an order from a Monterey County Superior Court judge who earlier this year found the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the project without identifying a water source. The ruling was handed down April 3 by Judge Lydia Villarreal, who on Jan. 21 granted in part—and denied in part—a writ requested by the Marina Coast Water District regarding the 2019 approvals of the desal plant component of Cal Am’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.

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Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Bay environmental groups hail Redwood City salt ponds decision

Bay Area environmental groups are celebrating a decision by an affiliate of Cargill to withdraw its appeal of a federal judge’s finding that Redwood City salt ponds are protected by the Clean Water Act. While the withdrawal does not mean development is prohibited it does make it more difficult, as the federal act requires permits be issued before any dredging or filling of the salt ponds, a 1,365-acre area adjacent to the San Francisco Bay filled with tidal pools, marshland and commercial salt mining operations.

Aquafornia news Fox40

Recreational waterways can still be dangerous despite drought conditions, officials warn

The Yuba Water Agency manages water storage and deliveries to downstream customers while having a hand in preserving fish habitats and recreational areas. Currently, the agency has already begun doubling its reservoir releases at a time when visitors to the river are also expected to go up. Due to the time of year, those releases from upstream reservoirs are dictated by irrigation needs of downstream growers. 

Aquafornia news Politico

Q&A with Radhika Fox, acting head of EPA’s water office

Radhika Fox, a former executive for a nonprofit water advocacy group and water utility official, is leading the Biden administration’s work to incorporate environmental justice into EPA’s water work and chart a course to reverse a litany of Trump-era rollbacks. She comes to the role with a deep history in equity work and water infrastructure advocacy — a focus that she’s already brought to bear in helping to shape President Joe Biden’s call to remove all lead piping from drinking water systems under his massive infrastructure proposal, and in launching a review of the Trump administration’s overhaul of the regulation governing lead levels in drinking water. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Raising Shasta Dam threatens McCloud River, sacred tribal lands and salmon

Shasta Dam, which rises over 600 feet, flooded much of our tribe’s homeland and inundated dozens of our sacred sites. It stopped our salmon from reaching their spawning grounds. And by holding back water when it is needed by the river, Shasta Dam has driven our salmon to the brink of extinction. That threat continues in the proposal to raise Shasta Dam. That project would flood more of our sacred sites and further harm salmon. The Trump administration made that project their top priority water infrastructure project in the nation. 
-Written by Caleen Sisk, the spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Southern California leans on more Colorado River water to combat record dry season

Southern California, like most of the West, is in the middle of a record dry season. To combat it and keep the metropolitan area well-watered, they’re relying more heavily on the Colorado River, with water pumped directly from the south end of Lake Havasu. Last Wednesday, the Metropolitan Water District began pumping from Lake Havasu at full capacity for the first time in years, drawing water from the Whitsett Intake Pumping Plant located just north of the Parker Dam. The eight-pump flow is equivalent to about 3,000 acre feet of water being pumped per day, according to MWD Manager of Colorado River Resources Bill Hasencamp.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Epic drought means water crisis on Oregon-California border

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes. Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is working with congressional delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

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Aquafornia news KSBW

Monterey County must rescind Cal-Am desal approvals

The Superior Court of California, County of Monterey has told Monterey County it must rescind all approvals for the Cal-Am desalination project. According to the court, the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the desal project with identifying a water source. The court ruling also means that the county can’t retroactively correct the issue.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drinking water infrastructure at risk of failing

A new state analysis estimates a $4.6 billion funding gap for water system infrastructure needed to ensure Californians have access to safe and affordable drinking water. The State Water Resources Control Board this month released the first-ever drinking water needs assessment, showing that approximately 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells are at-risk of failing to provide a sufficient amount of drinking water that meets basic health standards. 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The pillars for sustainable water management in the Sacramento River basin

On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our 2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of the Interior

News release: White House announces several nominations to Interior leadership, including Tanya Trujillo as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science

The White House announced the intent to nominate several officials to serve at the Department of the Interior, including Tanya Trujillo as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. Trujillo is a water lawyer with more than 20 years of experience working on complex natural resources management issues and interstate and transboundary water agreements. She most recently worked as a project director with the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign. Before then, she served as the Executive Director of the Colorado River Board of California.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Water 101 workshop

There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know to understand California water. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Aquafornia news Water World

Opinion: Keeping water affordable

California households face over $600 million in household water debt, with some 1.6 million homes — roughly 12 percent of all state residents — dealing with an average of $500 in arrears. The findings show clear racial inequities, with households of color bearing the brunt of this debt. More than 130 smaller utilities across the state will need federal help in the next six months if they are to survive. It is clear that we need a solution now. 
-Written by Michael Carlin, the acting general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Innovation needed to solve state’s water challenges

Earlier this month, camera crews once again gathered in the Sierra Nevada to watch a man plunge a pole through the snow. The pole was removed and, following a tense few moments, Californians learned we experienced another dry winter, and we are plunging further into drought. These snowpack surveys are quaint rituals, but they’re also a jarring reminder of how little technological innovation has occurred in California’s water sector. 
-Written by Danielle Blacet, deputy executive director at the California Municipal Utilities Association, and Adrian Covert, senior vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Editorial: We are living in a climate emergency, and we’re going to say so

[C]onsider the following scenarios: A hurricane blasts Florida. A California dam bursts because floods have piled water high up behind it. A sudden, record-setting cold snap cuts power to the entire state of Texas. These are also emergencies that require immediate action. Multiply these situations worldwide, and you have the biggest environmental emergency to beset the earth in millennia: climate change. Given the circumstances, Scientific American has agreed with major news outlets worldwide to start using the term “climate emergency” in its coverage of climate change. 

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Controversial project is becoming a pipeline in the sand for local water agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is no stranger to conflict – virtually all of its dealings over the past decade have been shaped by its feud with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Now that feud is fueling fights within the agency itself.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Podcast: Updating the status for water from the Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the most highly developed surface water systems in the world, but demand for the river’s water continues to exceed supply. University of Arizona geosciences professor Connie Woodhouse discusses the impact of a warming climate on the Colorado River. She is the featured speaker for the annual College of Science lecture series April 15. Connie Woodhouse spoke with Leslie Tolbert, Regent’s professor emerita in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Sausalito sewage spill unloads nearly 100K gallons

Tree roots are being blamed for a 98,280-gallon sewage spill in Sausalito that went unnoticed for two weeks. The overflow started on March 17 and went undetected because of heavy vegetation, according to the county. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news Poseidon Water

News release: California Court of Appeal upholds state lands commission approval of Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant

Poseidon Water announced that the Third District California Court of Appeal issued a decision denying the petition by seawater desalination opponents to overturn the Sacramento County Superior Court’s 2019 ruling upholding the California State Lands Commission’s 2017 approval of an amended lease for the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project (“Project”). The Court of Appeal decision reaffirms that the State Lands Commission correctly analyzed the Project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and that the Project protects the state’s Public Trust resources.

Aquafornia news KOLD News 13

Extreme conditions now sparking drought contingency plan for first time

Extreme drought conditions throughout the West are lowering levels in the crucial water reservoir, Lake Mead. Scars of long years of low precipitation are hard to go unnoticed at Lake Mead, and the hot, dry summers have been felt for the last several years in Arizona. 2020 was especially dry, with little monsoon. Now, the West is in uncharted territory. Lake Mead is projected to drop by several feet this year, from elevation 1,083 to about 1,068, according to officials with the Central Arizona Project. The lake is hovering around 39 percent of its full capacity.

Aquafornia news New Mexico In Depth

A century of federal indifference left generations of Navajo homes without running water

[T]he 800 to 900 people in Tohatchi, and another 600 to 800 in Mexican Springs, eight miles to the west, all depend on a single well and single pump. If the pump running it fails, or if the water level in it drops — both issues that have troubled nearby Gallup this year — water will cut out for the homes, the head-start center, the schools, the clinic, the senior center, five churches, and the convenience store and gas station. … [T]he Navajo Nation has waited more than a century for pipes and water treatment plants that would bring drinking water to all of its people while watching nearby off-reservation cities and farms grow, swallowing up water from the Colorado River Basin that the tribe has a claim to.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina Coast water storage upgrade starts up, district adds new GM

A new $15 million Marina Coast Water District water storage project designed to increase water storage by more than 3 million gallons and replace a septuagenarian Army water tank and other aging infrastructure is moving forward as the district brings on a new general manager.

Aquafornia news KQED

California could phase out fracking, other oil drilling under bill headed for first test in legislature

Legislation that would gradually phase out fracking and other extraction methods that account for most of California’s petroleum production faces its first big test in Sacramento on Tuesday. The nine-member Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee is set to vote on a proposal, Senate Bill 467, that would bar new permits for hydraulic fracturing, cyclic steaming, steam flooding and water flooding. The legislation would begin taking effect in 2023 and also prohibit renewing existing permits for fracking and the other targeted methods, which a committee bill analysis says accounts for an estimated 80% to 95% of the state’s oil production.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration declares California drought disaster. What is Newsom waiting for?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 California counties as natural disaster areas last month because of the drought. And, over the weekend, Fresno Congressman Jim Costa said on KSEE-24’s Sunday Morning Matters program that Gov. Newsom should declare a statewide emergency because of the dangerously dry conditions. …Yet, Newsom… last week rejected a request from a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers from the Valley to declare a statewide drought emergency. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: How to save coastlines from climate change disasters

The frequency of natural disasters has soared in recent decades. Total damage topped $210 billion worldwide in 2020. With climate change, the costs attributed to coastal storms will increase dramatically. At the same time, coastal habitats such as wetlands and reefs are being lost rapidly. Some 20% of the world’s mangroves were lost over the last four decades. More than half of the Great Barrier Reef was degraded by bleaching in 2020 alone. In California, we have lost more than 90% of our coastal marshes.
-Written by Michael W. Beck, is a research professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join us for virtual open house May 6 on Big Day of Giving

Join us in early May for a virtual open house and happy hour event to meet our staff, learn how we pivoted last year amid the coronavirus pandemic and find out what we have planned for later this year to foster understanding of California’s most precious natural resource – water. During the May 6 open house from 4:30 to 6 p.m., you will be able to enter chatrooms and speak to our executive director and staff about our water tours, conferences, maps, publications and training programs for teachers and up-and-coming community leaders involved in water. You’ll also be able to learn more about how you can support our work.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tensions rise in water battle along Oregon-California line

One of the worst droughts in memory in a massive agricultural region straddling the California-Oregon border could mean steep cuts to irrigation water for hundreds of farmers this summer to sustain endangered fish species critical to local tribes. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water allocations in the federally owned Klamath Project, is expected to announce this week how the season’s water will be divvied up after delaying the decision a month.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Delta tunnel authority changes leaders as Newsom fights the recall by turning to billionaire champions of the project

The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work through the most dangerous part of the pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Southern California water price jumps 48% in 3 weeks as rainy season disappoints

Californians received a double dose of not so happy water news last month; cutbacks were made to water allocations and a key water price index surged higher. … The state’s Department of Water Resources has wasted no time in sounding alarm bells; officials have already announced 50 percent cutbacks from December 2020’s projected water allotments to State Water Project allocations for the 2021 water year. California residents were warned “to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users.”

Aquafornia news CBS News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Western U.S. may be entering its most severe drought in modern history

[S]ome scientists [are] saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought. That’s because in 2000, the Western U.S. entered the beginning of what scientists call a megadrought — the second worst in 1,200 years — triggered by a combination of a natural dry cycle and human-caused climate change. In the past 20 years, the two worst stretches of drought came in 2003 and 2013 — but what is happening right now appears to be the beginning stages of something even more severe. And as we head into the summer dry season, the stage is set for an escalation of extreme dry conditions, with widespread water restrictions expected and yet another dangerous fire season ahead.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 2021 spring flow releases on the Trinity River as part of restoration program

The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that this year’s restoration flow schedule for the Trinity River will begin on April 16. Each year, the Trinity Management Council advances a flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River. Due to lack of precipitation and snowpack in the Trinity Mountains this winter, the flow schedule for 2021 is scaled to a critically dry water year. Critically dry is one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to decide how much reservoir water will be released in support of the program’s goals to improve habitat for anadromous fish—fish that migrate to fresh water from salt water to spawn—like salmon and steelhead.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Goleta Water District to discuss partnership with Tesla

The Goleta Water District on Tuesday will discuss a resolution to enroll the district in an initiative program and to execute agreements with Tesla, Inc., for battery systems at the Corona Del Mar Water Treatment Plant and Ellwood Reservoir. Under the proposed agreement, Tesla would design, furnish, install, operate and maintain the battery systems through the California Public Utilities Commission Self-Generation Incentive Program. … The two battery systems, estimated to be currently worth approximately $1 million, will be owned by the district and provide emergency backup power during electrical outages and PSPS events, including approximately seven hours for Ellwood Reservoir and 8.3 hours for CDMWTP.

Aquafornia news Grist

7 million Californians live near oil and gas wells. This bill could change that

Despite its green reputation, California has a big fossil fuel problem on its hands: neighborhood oil and gas drilling. In California, there’s nothing preventing frackers or drillers from setting up shop right next to your home, school, or hospital — and indeed, this is the reality for 7.4 million Californians currently living within 1 mile of oil and gas drilling operations, who are disproportionately non-white and low-income. Now, a new state bill called S.B. 467, slated for a hearing in the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, may reshape the lives of frontline communities by eliminating fracking and instituting mandatory buffer zones between oil and gas extraction and places where Californians live, work, and study. 

Aquafornia news Sonoma West

Water rates heading back to council on Wednesday

The theme of the April 14 meeting of the Cloverdale City Council is seemingly water — the council will be viewing a presentation on its updated water and sewer rate study and giving direction on whether or not to proceed to a public hearing with new rates, and will also be discussing whether or not it wants to join the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Cadiz faces new suit over water pipeline

Another legal challenge has been launched against a project by downtown-based water infrastructure company Cadiz Inc. to pump and transport water from its desert aquifer to connect with existing water conveyance systems. This latest lawsuit was filed March 23 against the Bureau of Land Management by the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club. It asks the federal court to overturn a December BLM decision to approve the conversion of an idle oil and gas pipeline to carry water from Cadiz’s desert aquifer. Cadiz is not a direct party to the lawsuit but would be impacted by a decision resulting from the suit. The filing marks the third decade in which Cadiz’ water transfer plan has faced legal challenges from environmental groups. 

Aquafornia news NBC 7 San Diego

The massive 5-million-gallon water tank you will never see

San Diego hiking enthusiasts might have to share part of their favorite trail with a cement mixer for the next year. The San Diego County Water Authority is building a massive 5-million-gallon concrete water storage tank, called a flow regulatory structure. You will never see it once it’s completed. One of the hiking trails in the northwest corner of Mission Trails Regional Park is closed and there are trail detours on other parts. … Construction began in February as the pandemic took over California. It’s expected to take another year to complete. As of Friday, more than a dozen concrete pillars were sticking up out of the ground like a building straight out of Ancient Rome.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Cities with the most properties at risk of flooding

Here’s a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding, according to 2020 data from the First Street Foundation’s First National Flood Risk Assessment. Flooding is a huge problem in America and is only getting worse as global warming increases the frequency and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes, and the warmer atmosphere holds more water, leading to more rainfall. Warmer temperatures also trigger winter snow to melt faster and earlier. Flooding in the United States is likely to cause some $20 billion in damages this year and cost as much as $32 billion by 2051, according to research from First Street. Sundae took a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding… #10. San Jose … #5. Fresno … #3. Sacramento…

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA testifies in support of climate resilience bond proposal with amendments

ACWA staff testified with a support-if-amended position on AB 1500 (E.Garcia) during an Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearing on April 8. The bill is one of two climate resilience bond proposals that are currently advancing through the state Legislature and could be headed for the June 2022 ballot. AB 1500 would create a $6.7 billion bond measure. ACWA, with input from the State Legislative Committee’s Bond Working Group, is requesting amendments to the bills to add funding for water-related climate resilience projects that help provide a reliable water supply during drought and flood. The amendments propose the bill include funding for conveyance, dam safety, groundwater protection and sustainable groundwater management, flood management, integrated regional water management and safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities, as well as water quality and water reuse and recycling.

Aquafornia news Outdoor Life

California waterfowl threatened by dry refuges, botulism

With a salmonella outbreak in eight states already under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control, officials are watching in California for another disease that impacts waterfowl. Botulism killed thousands of waterfowl and other birds last year on two national wildlife refuges near the border of California and Oregon. Some estimates were as high as 60,000 dead birds. The Lower Klamath Basin and Tule Lake national wildlife refuges were among the first created more than 100 years ago. Millions of waterfowl and shore birds, along with songbirds, migrated along the Pacific Flyway into the two refuges and beyond. Today, between severe restrictions on water flowing into and out of the refuges and a crippling drought that shows no sign of letting up, the refuge marshes are going dry. 

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Aquafornia news USC Viterbi School Of Engineering

Blog: Saving clean drinking water…with math!

Nearly every resident of California has experienced an earthquake. Even the youngest schoolchildren have the safety procedure drilled into them: duck under a table, hold on, and pray that it’s only a small one. Barring a truly catastrophic quake, the situation usually ends there. You go on with your day as if nothing had happened, the near catastrophe completely forgotten. Most people assume that the danger ends after the last remnants of the tremor share the ground. But there is a much more sinister side effect of earthquakes that affects daily life around California and much of the rest of the world: contaminating the groundwater supply. 

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Blog: California is greenlighting oil wells linked to groundwater pollution

Throughout 2020 and early 2021, California issued more than 300 permits to oil and gas companies for new underground injection wells — an intensive form of oil production and wastewater disposal. But the actual number of new injection wells is likely higher, owing to the state’s opaque approval process that has drawn scrutiny from auditors and environmentalists. Some of these undercounted wells may be polluting groundwater used for public drinking and agricultural purposes, according to regulatory filings reviewed by Capital & Main. The impact of injection wells on groundwater in California is understudied, regulators say. 

Aquafornia news ABC10 

California slips further into drought status

The state is slipping further into more serious levels of drought as it enters the second year for dry conditions and the records the third driest rainy season on record. The US Drought Monitor has downgraded areas in far Northern California, the Central Coast, and Southern California to reflect recent drought data. The top level “Exceptional” (D4) drought remains at 5% in the Owens Valley and Mohave Desert. Extreme (D3) drought now covers 35% of the state, an increase from 32% last week. Most of the direct impacts from various stages of more severe drought impact agriculture and grazing areas. Many areas have only seen 50% of normal rain or less. Areas that receive snow have seen well below average snowpack levels.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In the West, signs in the snow warn that a 20-year drought will persist and intensify

Lack of monsoon rainfall last summer and spotty snowfall this winter combined to worsen the Western drought dramatically in the past year, and spring snowmelt won’t bring much relief. Critical April 1 measurements of snow accumulations from mountain ranges across the region show that most streams and rivers will once again flow well below average levels this year, stressing ecosystems and farms and depleting key reservoirs that are already at dangerously low levels.  As the climate warms, it’s likely that drought conditions will worsen and persist across much of the West. Dry spells between downpours and blizzards are getting longer, and snowpack in the mountains is starting to melt during winter, new research shows. 

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Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water receives $3.5M grant for Vail Dam rehabilitation 

The Rancho California Water District received a nearly $3.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which will fund up to 75% of Phase 1 of the Vail Dam Hazard Mitigation Project. Phase 1 has already begun and includes pre-construction activities such as design, environmental compliance and permitting to upgrade the dam at Vail Lake, located east of Temecula. Vail Lake, a reservoir with water storage capacity of approximately 45,000 acre-feet or 14.7 billion gallons of water, was acquired by Rancho Water in 1978 and is an component of Rancho’s diversified water supply portfolio for providing water supplies to over 150,000 urban and agricultural water users in the cities of Temecula and Murrieta, and the surrounding areas. 

Aquafornia news Patch

City of St. Helena fails drinking water standard

The city of St. Helena’s water system recently failed a drinking water standard, city officials said Thursday evening. … The city routinely monitors its distribution system for the presence of drinking water contaminants. Testing results received for Nov. 10, 2020, and March 9, 2021, showed the system exceeded the standard or maximum contaminant level —MCL — for haloacetic acids, or HAA, [Jo Ann Burkman, acting chief operator for the city's water division] said. The standard MCL for haloacetic acids is 60 ug/L; the running annual average for the LSWTP Distribution System in the fourth quarter of 2020 measured 68 ug/L…

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Updated Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project hot off the press

Our Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project has just been updated to reflect the latest developments affecting California’s largest surface water delivery system. The 24-page guide explores the history of the Central Valley Project, from its roots as a state water project that stalled amid the Great Depression to its development as a federal project that stretches from Shasta Dam in far Northern California to Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Taiwan’s drought pits chip makers against farmers

Chuang Cheng-deng’s modest rice farm is a stone’s throw from the nerve center of Taiwan’s computer chip industry, whose products power a huge share of the world’s iPhones and other gadgets. This year, Mr. Chuang is paying the price for his high-tech neighbors’ economic importance. Gripped by drought and scrambling to save water for homes and factories, Taiwan has shut off irrigation across tens of thousands of acres of farmland. … Officials are calling the drought Taiwan’s worst in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous challenges involved in hosting the island’s semiconductor industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. Chip makers use lots of water to clean their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that form the basis of the chips. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: How I got beyond the concrete and learned to love Ballona Creek

A year ago, when stay-at-home orders were a newly disorienting fact of life, I started taking long walks through my neighborhood on L.A.’s Westside. Wandering south from Palms into Culver City, I realized I live near a huge concrete channel — a creek, trapped in place — with a bike path along the water, and a view of oil pumpjacks rising and falling atop the Baldwin Hills. There were beautiful murals, too, showing a healthy, thriving waterway. They were hashtagged #KnowYourWatershed. And the more I admired them, the more I realized that I did not, in fact, know my watershed, despite growing up not far from here. 
-Written by Sammy Roth, a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

Aquafornia news BBC News

The water fight over the shrinking Colorado River

Scientists have been predicting for years that the Colorado River would continue to deplete due to global warming and increased water demands, but according to new studies it’s looking worse than they thought. That worries rancher Marsha Daughenbaugh, 68, of Steamboat Springs, who relies on the water from the Colorado River to grow feed for her cattle. … Recent reports show that the river’s water flows were down 20% in 2000 and by 2050 that number is estimated to more than double.

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Aquafornia news KPBS

Sewage flows continue to foul south San Diego County beaches

South Bay officials are beginning to run out of patience over the continued cross-border flow of sewage-tainted water. The pollution warning signs have been up most of 2021 on the sand in Imperial Beach. Last Friday, the pollution flowed north to Coronado, forcing beach closures there. Imperial Beach’s top officials are fed up.

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Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California legislators want Gov. Newsom to declare state of emergency over water ‘crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas] Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

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Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz Water Department completes major water pipeline replacement

The City of Santa Cruz Water Department announced Tuesday the replacement of a major water pipeline, that diverts water from North Coast streams, has been completed. Less than a year after the $5 million project began, 520 feet of 1960s era steel water lines have been replaced by new ductile iron pipeline. Majors, Laguna, and Liddell creeks feed into the newly-upgraded line. Water from those streams are then delivered to the the Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant, before arriving at customers’ taps. … For a length of 220 feet, the water pipeline runs beneath the San Lorenzo River. That made the project technically challenging.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Sunnyvale fined $187,000 for San Francisco Bay sewage spill

State water pollution officials have hit the city of Sunnyvale with $187,000 penalty after the city’s wastewater treatment plant spilled more than a quarter million gallons of partially treated sewage into San Francisco Bay last summer. The spill occurred on July 29 when a 36-inch welded steel pipeline ruptured, releasing 292,600 gallons — the equivalent of about 12 backyard swimming pools — of partially treated sewage that had not been disinfected into channels that flow into the bay near Moffett Field. … The spill was one of the two largest illegal discharges from a Bay Area sewage treatment plant into San Francisco Bay over the past six years …

Aquafornia news Storm Water Solutions

Blog: Playing the right card with storm water basins

Despite its semi-arid climate, characterized by mild, moist winters and hot, dry summers, the area in and around Fresno, California, has experienced numerous flood events. From elevations reaching 5,000 feet in the Sierra-Nevada mountain range, streams carry runoff from a 175-square-mile area flow onto the valley floor, where they periodically inundate farmland and urban development, including downtown Fresno. Storm flows have caused local streams and canals to overflow an average of once every four years since 1953. In the early 1950s, a group of citizens banded together to find solutions to the area’s increasing storm water management problems. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Q/A with Delta Conveyance Project Executive Director Tony Meyers

In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in protecting the security of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

SSJID, OID still waiting for federal approval of plan to help threatened fish & stressed farmers

OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water — have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated 1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5 percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the Delta.  

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water for multiple benefits – Why spring diversions on the Sacramento River are important

As we begin spring in the Sacramento Valley, the region illuminates – we see the brown landscape turn verdant, and the Valley bustles with activity as people share the hope of a new year and collectively cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. With the dry year in Northern California, the water resource managers are working overtime to carefully manage our precious water systems including rivers, streams, reservoirs and diversions to serve multiple benefits. To effectively do this, water resources must be managed in an efficient manner, with the same block of water often used to achieve several beneficial uses as it moves through the region’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Explore California’s water basics & the lifeblood of the Southwest during upcoming virtual events

Our two-day Water 101 Workshop begins on Earth Day, when you can gain a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource. One of our most popular events, the once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23. California’s water basics will be covered by some of the state’s leading policy and legal experts, including the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in the state, as well a look at hot topics and current issues of concern.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion – Are water wars about to boil?

Not counting long and ugly court battles, the two most likely solutions to California water wars are voluntary agreements or involuntary edicts. Our Modesto Bee Editorial Board long has favored voluntary agreements, or compromises negotiated mainly between local irrigation districts (representing our farmers) and state and federal officials. The other side, chiefly represented by environmental and fishing interests, would prefer that the California State Water Board simply take huge amounts of water from our Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, mostly to benefit fish — what could be called involuntary edicts. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s opinion editor.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Use of Shasta Dam TCD slide gates

The slide gates at the bottom of the Temperature Control Device (TCD) on the inside face of Shasta Dam (Figure 1) allow deeper, colder water in the reservoir to be drawn into the power plant intake penstocks and released to the river below. Use of the slide gates allows more colder water to be released for salmon in the river below in summer and fall in years when reservoir levels are low and the cold-water-pool is limited. In 2014 and 2015, NMFS and the Bureau of Reclamation learned that when the reservoir level is low and the slide gates are opened to access cold water, some warmer surface water is also drawn downward into the slide gate openings.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: The dam problem for the Bay-Delta estuary

The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers and putting business in front of the environment.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Drastic measure to meet Delta outflow

For seven days in mid-March 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation substantially increased Folsom Lake storage releases. Roughly, the releases tripled in volume (Figure 1). The release of over 20,000 acre-feet of water is significant for a year in which Folsom storage is not much better than it was in the worst year on record – 1977 (Figure 2).1 With the release in mid-March, the lake level dropped 3 feet. Yes, there was rain in the forecast and a decent snowpack, but certainly no flood concerns. So why? The reason was to meet state water quality requirements for Delta outflow. Delta outflow increased from 7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days (Figure 3).

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Opinion: Governor Newsom needs to protect the human right to water not water privatizers

Governor Gavin Newsom frequently says California is a leader in sustainability and the transition away from fossil fuels. The governor has also issued an executive order to fight climate change in response to the deadly wildfires that ravaged our state last year. Despite these public statements and official efforts, it’s puzzling that his administration has been promoting the climate-wrecking Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach as an infrastructure to source additional water for California. There are plenty of things we can do to ensure that Southern Californians have enough water to thrive…. 
-Written by Alejandro Sobrera, the Orange County Hub Coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, a youth led effort to bring about a just transition to a greener world.  

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Colorado River Indian Tribes will get $209K to stop water loss from irrigation canals

The Colorado River Indian Tribes will receive $209,000 for irrigation canal projects, Congressman Paul Gosar announced Tuesday. The federal funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior to help CRIT pay for canal lining. The project is intended to help stop water seepage from the canal. CRIT relies on the Colorado River as its primary source of water, and water conserved with help the Tribes meet existing demand during times of drought, Gosar said. The project will line nearly 4,000 feet of the earthen canal with a membrane covered in sprayed concrete. The stretch of canal has been identified as having the most significant seepage rate of all 232 miles of canals in the Colorado River Irrigation Project, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Third-driest year reported in California

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has marked 2021 as the third-driest water year, a period marked from October to March, on record for the Golden State, potentially setting up another deadly wildfire season after last year’s record setting blazes. The department’s annual snow survey released this month recorded precipitation levels at 50 percent the annual average for the water year.  The dry conditions can also be seen in the state’s water supply, with the department reporting that California’s major reservoirs are at just 50 percent of overall capacity.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Ensuring the reliability of the State Water Project, Part 1: Strategic Priorities and Programs

One of the California Water Commission’s statutory responsibilities is to conduct an annual review of the construction and operation of the State Water Project and make a report on its findings to the Department of Water Resources and the Legislature, with any recommendations it may have.  Having just finished the 2020 State Water Project review, the Commission has launched its 2021 State Water Project review with a theme focused on creating a resilient State Water Project by addressing climate change and aging infrastructure to provide multiple benefits for California. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

More water spending sought for West in infrastructure bill

As drought worsens in the West, a coalition of more than 200 farm and water organizations from 15 states that has been pushing to fix the region’s crumbling canals and reservoirs is complaining that President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure proposal doesn’t provide enough funding for above- or below-ground storage.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Complexities – Thinking about the San Francisco Estuary during the 2021 Bay-Delta Science Conference

In anticipation of this week’s Bay-Delta Science Conference, I thought it would be useful to consider some of what it takes to understand a complex ecosystem like an estuary and to encourage everyone working in the San Francisco Estuary – scientists, policymakers, and local stakeholders – to continue shifting our ecosystem management focus from the simple to the complex. I’ll explain why in a moment. Here are four suggestions for improving ecosystem management in the San Francisco Bay-Delta:

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

LaMoreaux tapped for Palmdale Water District Authority

The general manager for a local water utility company joined the Board for the Delta Conveyance Design Authority. Palmdale Water District announced on Monday that Dennis LaMoreaux has been appointed as an alternate director for the Authority.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Colorado River drought deepens, Arizona prepares for water cutbacks

Unrelenting drought and years of rising temperatures due to climate change are pushing the long-overallocated Colorado River into new territory, setting the stage for the largest mandatory water cutbacks to date. Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir on the river, has declined dramatically over the past two decades and now stands at just 40% of its full capacity. This summer, it’s projected to fall to the lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam. The reservoir near Las Vegas is approaching a threshold that is expected to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration by the federal government for next year, leading to substantial cuts in water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Endangered trout may soon return to the paved Los Angeles River

Flowing a few inches deep following a recent rain, the Los Angeles River looks more like a vast flooded interstate highway rather than any river found in nature. And yet it is the largest paved waterway in the world, best known as the filming site for car scenes in movies such as Grease and Terminator 2. … But now, following decades of public frustration about the river’s poor condition, the city—in coordination with the state and federal agencies—has mobilized to restore the waterway and its habitats. One of the most prominent pilot projects in the billion-dollar effort is the Los Angeles River Fish Passage and Habitat Structures Design Project, which aims to allow fish—especially steelhead—to move freely through the river once again.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Kamala Harris visits Oakland to tout federal jobs plan

For the first time since her historic ascension as the nation’s first woman vice president, Kamala Harris returned to her native Oakland on Monday to promote the Biden administration’s ambitious proposal to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and create jobs…. Harris toured the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s water treatment plant, speaking to employees and touting the district as the kind of operation that should be emulated. …. Harris highlighted the water portion of the [Biden] plan, saying the goal is to invest in jobs that can build up, replace and modernize water infrastructure — all with the goal of getting clean drinking water to everyone.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California is on the brink of drought – again. Is it ready?

California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating megafires. … Just four years since the state’s last drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of drought to come.

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Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Podcast: Jeff Kightlinger

In this episode John Howard and Tim Foster welcomed the longtime but soon-to-be-retired Metropolitan Water District of Southern California head honcho Jeff Kightlinger for a wide-ranging discussion that covered the status of the Delta Tunnel Project, climate change and the snow survey, the drought, working from home, jukeboxes, his punk rock roots and Dan Walters‘ connection to the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation releases technical reports and interactive web tool supporting the 2021 SECURE water act report

The Bureau of Reclamation today released final technical reports supporting the Water Reliability in the West – 2021 SECURE Water Act Report. Reclamation—s 2021 West-Wide Climate and Hydrology Assessment and seven individual basin reports provide detailed information on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies to increase water supply reliability in the West. A new 2021 SECURE Report Web Portal is also available to provide a user-friendly, web-based format for delivery of information in the reports. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Newsom California fracking ban vision exceeds original scope

When Gov. Gavin Newsom voiced his support last year for a ban on hydraulic fracturing by oil and gas companies, an effort long fought by the industry and trade unions alike, he gave Democrats a green light to send him legislation to achieve that goal as they saw fit. But the crackdown on oil and gas production under consideration by the California Legislature is much wider in scope than the plan requested by the governor, who may get more than he bargained for as he shoulders the pressures of carrying out the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response while battling a looming recall election. The ambitious proposal would outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and a series of other oil extraction methods reviled by environmental activists. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: How California stands to benefit from Biden infrastructure proposal

Perhaps more than any other part of the country, California stands to benefit from the $2.2 trillion proposal introduced last week by President Biden…. the sweeping plan would inject huge sums of money into wider roads, faster internet, high-speed trains, charging stations for electric cars, airport terminals, upgraded water pipes and much more. … The infusion is being seen not only as the path to a long-overdue upgrade of the freeways, dams and aqueducts that have long been California’s hallmark but also as a way to scale up and export the state’s ambitious climate policies.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey expansion SEIR revision work approved

A $230,000 revision of the Pure Water Monterey expansion project’s environmental review document will move forward after the Monterey One Water board approved the work earlier this week. At the same time, board members backing the study revision made it clear they wouldn’t support approving the recycled water expansion proposal itself until an outside funding source is available. On Monday, the Monterey One Water board voted 7-3 to approve the work needed to update a supplemental environmental impact report for the expansion proposal, including consultant contracts and a cost-sharing agreement with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District whose board agreed last month to cover most of the revision’s cost. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Judge tosses challenge from environmental groups to halt Denver Water reservoir expansion

A federal judge has thrown out a legal action from multiple environmental organizations seeking to halt the expansion of a key Denver Water storage facility, citing no legal authority to address the challenge. … The expansion of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County is intended to provide additional water storage and safeguard against future shortfalls during droughts. The utility currently serves customers in Denver, Jefferson, Arapahoe, Douglas and Adams counties. In July 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the design and construction of the reservoir’s expansion. The project would add 77,000 acre-feet of water storage and 131 feet to the dam’s height for the utility’s “North System” of water delivery.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022

State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a “substantial cut” in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year. A joint statement issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said an expected shortage declaration “will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the river, with reductions falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.” The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers Colorado River water to users in central Arizona and southern Arizona, including farmers, cities and tribes.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California Dreaming: Farmers, scientists sustainably getting by with less water

Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, but only about 3% percent of it is fresh water, making it the planet’s most precious resource. But what do you do when water is in danger of going dry? California’s Central Valley is no stranger to drought, and because of that, farmers and scientists are joining forces to figure out how to get by with less.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Fact sheet: Access to safe drinking water

Although most residents have safe drinking water, more than 250 water systems serving 900,000 people were out of compliance with drinking water standards in 2020. This is a chronic issue for some systems; more than 170 have been out of compliance for three or more years. More than half of these noncompliant systems are in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region and home to a third of the state’s low-income communities. Some tribal water systems face similar challenges. Data are lacking on water quality provided by roughly 1,500 very small, county-regulated water systems and more than 350,000 domestic wells, but some of these supplies may have chronic issues as well.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

UC Merced study imagines solar panels atop irrigation canals

Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California.  The idea has already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as one of several options for boosting the solar part of its electricity supply.

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: Latest California State Water Board investigative order for PFAS targets bulk fuel storage terminals and refineries

Last week, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) officially released an order (the Order) to investigate and sample for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at over 160 bulk fuel storage terminals and refineries throughout California. The State Water Board’s Order is the latest action in a series of investigative orders over the last two years to study and identify industrial and municipal sources of PFAS in California including at airports, landfills, manufacturing facilities, chrome platers, and wastewater treatment facilities.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Biden infrastructure plan – Water components

President Biden announced the first components of his proposed $2 trillion national infrastructure plan to rebuild failing, aging, and outdated water, energy, transportation, and communications systems. While the current information provides only the broadest outlines of his proposals, and the details will have to be worked out in specific legislation to be debated in Congress, it is clearly the most ambitious plan to have been put forward in many years.

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Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Regional planning for sea-level rise is key to environmental justice

As shoreline communities in the San Francisco Bay Area scramble to prepare for rising seas, they should also be mindful that protecting themselves could worsen flooding elsewhere. This is because seawalls can reflect and amplify tides. “Decisions in one location could affect hazards in another,” said environmental engineer Michelle Hummel, who began studying the bay while at UC Berkeley and is now at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her latest research reveals that building seawalls along relatively small sections of shore could raise water levels enough to have far reaching effects, even all the way across the bay. … But building seawalls in other places could, especially in the wide alluvial valleys where rivers flow into the bay.

Aquafornia news The Times-Independent

State: Moab could safely use more water

Preliminary estimates from Utah’s Division of Water Rights show that the Spanish Valley Watershed, which includes Moab, can safely withdraw 50-100% more water than it currently uses each year. The range of uncertainty in part has to do with the difficulties that come with accounting for groundwater and in part from the range of possibilities in how much climate change affects water availability in the valley. State Engineer Teresa Wilhelmsen praised research by the U.S. Geological Survey that she said “provides a wealth of information on movement of water between the various components of the aquifer system” in Moab.

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Aquafornia news KPBS

Oceanside officials counter lawn care firm’s claim on drinking water quality

City officials in Oceanside described their drinking water as consistently “high-quality, safe and reliable” Wednesday in the hope of reassuring residents after a lawn care company ranked Oceanside’s water at 198 out of 200 cities nationwide. Rosemarie Chora, the city’s water utilities division manager, said a March 23 report from LawnStarter “hit big” as residents expressed alarm on social media. Based in Austin, Texas, LawnStarter vets gardeners and pest control companies and connects them online with homeowners in about 120 cities nationwide, according to its website. It dinged the city in multiple ways.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge likely to advance PG&E suit over century-old pollution

Rejecting arguments that a utility can’t be sued over century-old pollution, a federal judge signaled Wednesday that he will likely advance a lawsuit seeking to hold Pacific Gas and Electric liable for contamination that occurred more than 100 years ago. … [Plaintiff and San Francisco resident Dan] Clarke claimed groundwater contamination stemming from the site of PG&E’s former gas plant “is intermittently discharged into the bay.” He said seasonal, tidal and other factors result in groundwater passing the former plant site and intermixing with contaminants before leaking into the San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought is back. But Southern California faces less pain than Northern California

Drought is returning to California as a second, consecutive parched winter draws to a close in the usually wet north, leaving the state’s major reservoirs half empty. But this latest period of prolonged dryness will probably play out very differently across this vast state. In Northern California, areas dependent on local supplies, such as Sonoma County, could be the hardest-hit. Central Valley growers have been told of steep cuts to upcoming water deliveries. Environmentalists too are warning of grave harm to native fish. Yet, hundreds of miles to the south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California reports record amounts of reserves — enough to carry the state’s most populous region through this year and even next.

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Aquafornia news Western City Magazine

Cities of San José and Ukiah lead the way on critical water infrastructure projects

Much of the state’s water infrastructure was designed decades ago and was built to serve half the size of our current population. Faced with aging infrastructure, California cities have taken innovative approaches to modernizing water treatment and recycling systems to meet the needs of a growing population and a changing climate. One infrastructure need that many residents take for granted is wastewater treatment. … The San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the Western United States. Originally built in 1956, today it serves more than 1.4 million residents and 17,000 businesses in eight cities in Silicon Valley and unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. Using a treatment process that simulates the way nature cleans water, the facility treats an average of 110 million gallons of wastewater per day.

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Aquafornia news UC Irvine

Podcast: How drought and climate change threaten California’s water

Rain is scarce in much of California, and most of California’s people live in water-starved regions. And yet the state is, by some measures, the fifth largest economy in the world. How? Because during the last century, California has built a complex network of dams, pumps and canals to transport water from where it falls naturally to where people live. But climate change threatens to upend the delicate system that keeps farm fields green and household taps flowing. In this episode of the UCI Podcast, Nicola Ulibarri, an assistant professor of urban planning and public policy who is an expert on water resource management, discusses how droughts and floods have shaped California’s approach to water…

Aquafornia news Mammoth Times

County scores win to keep Long Valley green – for now

The huge, lush green meadows that stretch between the S.R. 203 junction with U.S. 395 and Crowley Lake may seem like they have been there forever but in reality, their existence has been under threat for several years after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power threatened to withdraw much of the water from the meadowlands a few years ago, stating it needed the water for its own uses. If implemented, the proposed ‘de-watering’ of much of the massive meadows would have turned them into sage and dust, destroying wildlife habitat, historic cattle grazing leases, the fishing habitat along Hot Creek and the Upper Owens River and much more. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

California agricultural land values that are rising and falling the most are doing so under the perception of water availability – no surprise there. This is putting farmland in the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) in a positive light as that agency has done a good job over the years managing conjunctive use of irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Latham & Watkins

Blog: California water law – Legal challenges of water supply assessments

Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” This remains true in California, where drought conditions, climate change, and population growth throughout the state’s history have made water an increasingly valuable and regulated resource. The legal landscape involves complex questions related to water quality, water sustainability, and competing claims to water rights. One notable area of controversy involves the adequacy of water supply for new development projects.

Aquafornia news Your Central Valley.com

Explaining California’s complex water system with emotion and storytelling

California has one of the most complex and complicated water systems in the nation. There are hundreds of water districts, different reservoirs and rivers and canals controlled by different jurisdictions, and lots of politically charged legislation.   Understanding this system is a difficult undertaking, but those at the Modesto Irrigation District believe they’re up to the task.   Through emotional storytelling and strong characters, the MID set out to explain how the rivers in their district nourish communities by talking to the men and women who depend on them. The interviews and stories eventually turned into a feature-length documentary called Until the Last Drop.  

Aquafornia news Western Slope Now

2020 Drought: One of the worst in Colorado history

Local water providers say the current drought is one of the worst in Colorado history. Mesa County ranges from extreme drought to exceptional drought in areas and it doesn’t appear to be improving anytime soon. Below average spring runoff is anticipated by local water providers as watersheds are working to be replenished after last year’s drought. … The wildfires in the Colorado River basin last summer have scarred significant portions of the Colorado River which may result in debris, ash, and dense mud flowing into the Colorado River watershed, which will impact water quality for many water entities in Mesa County.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Here’s what’s in Biden’s infrastructure proposal

Now that his massive coronavirus relief package is law, President Joe Biden is laying out his next big proposal: A roughly $2 trillion plan for improving the nation’s infrastructure  … Biden’s plan allocates $111 billion to rebuild the country’s water infrastructure. It would replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines in order to improve the health of American children and communities of color. The White House says replacing the pipes would reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare facilities. The proposal would upgrade the country’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems, tackle new contaminants and support clean water infrastructure in rural parts of the country.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: With San Francisco Bay on life support, Newsom withholds the cure

San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet, with another drought looming, federal and state water managers still plan to divert large amounts of water to their contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer. Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov. Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future precarious. 
-Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF Baykeeper.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Council hires new Chief Deputy Executive Officer

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) announced the hiring of Ryan Stanbra, the Council’s legislative and policy advisor, to the key post of chief deputy executive officer. … Appointed by Governor Brown in 2015, Ryan joined the Council in the role of legislative and policy advisor. He has played a pivotal role in advising on critical Council initiatives like implementation of reduced reliance on the Delta, interagency coordination and outreach for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy, increasing funding for critical science investments, and more. He has served in the acting chief deputy executive officer role since January.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Do regulators and utility managers have irreconcilable differences or mutual goals?

What do climate change, aging infrastructure, and urban population growth have in common? They all pose major challenges – especially for water infrastructure in the United States. And many utilities are having a hard time keeping up. Part of the problem is that the industry has relied on the same handful of technologies for decades. The wastewater sector sorely needs to adopt new strategies and technologies. Innovation could serve to improve the ability of utilities to respond to stressors, increasing resilience and providing co-benefits.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Fixing a dysfunctional marsh on Sonoma Creek

Restoration projects, like species, evolve. The Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project, originally about mosquito control, has shown itself to be a boon to special-status tidal marsh wildlife as well. More than a decade of adaptive management actions made that happen.  The existing marsh, formed rapidly beginning in the 1960s by deposited sediment, lacked the dendritic channels of a mature marsh. High tides brought in water that pooled in a central basin and didn’t drain out, providing breeding habitat for mosquitos. The disadvantages of chemical treatment prompted land managers to look for alternatives.

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Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: Rural, disadvantaged California community solves century-old water quality issue by tapping the sky

Arsenic naturally occurs in the region’s groundwater and Allensworth is served by two groundwater wells that have contained arsenic levels up to 60 percent higher than state defined safety levels for drinking water. … To tackle those challenges in Allensworth, the community is collaborating with SOURCE to outfit their local community center with two Hydropanels to sustainably generate drinking water. The Hydropanels use the warmth of the sun to draw clean, pollutant-free water vapor out of the air through a patented, water-absorbing material and into a reservoir inside the panel. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

April Fools Blog: Looking for a new challenge? Retrain as a Delta Smelt

The Federal government is beginning a program for the unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.  Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water trawls. Major California water projects and water users are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year non-renewable contracts. 

Aquafornia news Allen Matkins

Blog: 2021 land use, environmental & natural resources update

With the end of the first quarter of 2021 approaching, we thought it timely to issue an update on selected recent developments and proposed changes in law and policy touching environmental, land use, and natural resource issues. At the national level, with the new Biden administration, federal policies already have undergone a significant sea-change from those of the Trump administration. And the Golden State continues to lead with a protective agenda on land use, environmental, and natural resources legislation and regulation.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Colorado River tribes aim to establish ‘one unified voice’ in policy talks

The Fort Yuma-Quechan Indian Tribe is situated at a nexus in the Colorado River Basin. That’s true in a geographic sense. The tribe’s reservation overlays the Arizona-California border near Yuma, Arizona. The two states are heavily reliant on water from the Colorado River. The reservation also abuts the U.S.-Mexico border where the river flows into Mexico for use in cities and on farms. One of the river’s largest irrigation projects, the All-American Canal, was dug through the tribe’s land, and flows from the reservation’s northeastern boundary to its far southwestern corner, on its way to irrigate crops in California’s Imperial Valley. The confluence of the Colorado River and one of its historically important tributaries, the Gila River, is nearby.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

One rescued amid Pacific Palisades water main break flooding

Scores of residents remained without water in the Pacific Palisades on Monday morning, after a water main break caused major flooding in the area the night before. Crews are working in the 16000 block of Sunset Boulevard, where the 16-inch cast iron pipe burst Sunday around 7:40 p.m., sending water gushing into the streets and flooding underground parking lots. A stretch of the main thoroughfare between Wildomar Street and Muskingum Avenue will remain closed until Monday afternoon, when the westbound lane is expected to reopen…

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California and feds still plan to drain reservoirs & kill salmon

Updated water supply allocations announced last week would still drain upstream reservoirs in order to deliver 4.5 million acre feet of water to the contractors of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP), devastating fish and wildlife. This week, the fisheries biologists at the National Marine Fisheries Service projected that these planned operations are likely to result in lethal water temperatures that will kill 89% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam this year. This mortality estimate is even worse than what was observed in 2014 and 2015, when salmon populations were devastated by warm water in their spawning grounds. 

Aquafornia news KCRA

Lessons learned from previous California drought helpful in ‘dry years’

As the rain season comes to a close across Northern California, water districts are keeping a close eye on rain totals that are below average, and water managers are explaining what another “dry water year” means for our region. According to California’s Department of Water Resources, or DWR, the state is well into its second consecutive dry year. That causes concern among water managers. However, it comes as no surprise. … With the memory of drought years between 2012 and 2016 not too distant, [DWR information officer Chris] Orrock explained how lessons learned from that time period are still being implemented.

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Aquafornia news GoBankingRates

Blog: 6 alarming facts about America’s water industry

About 40 million Americans in the West and Southwest rely on the Colorado River for drinking water, as do the region’s massive agriculture and recreation industries. Water has been the most valuable commodity in the West since the time of the pioneers. It became a source of modern political power when the water of the Colorado River was divvied up among seven Western States in the 1920s — the Jack Nicholson movie “Chinatown” dramatized California’s legendary water battles. Today, a rapidly shrinking Colorado River is forced to support relentless development in California and across the West — very thirsty development.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Clean, locally sourced water could make a comeback in Lomita

For the last seven years, Lomita resident Brenda Stephens has been advocating for better, locally sourced tap water. … Following a long history of water quality issues, plus the detection of benzene in 2019, the city of Lomita’s Cypress Water Production Facility has remained offline. The city currently outsources its water supply. For Stephens, it’s been a break from water issues. … In late 2019, Stephens and other Lomita residents took part in a CWPF tour that showcased how a new filtration system will alleviate the city’s locally-sourced water problems and bring the facility back online, safely. The city of Lomita received a $2 million grant from the Water Replenishment District’s Safe Drinking Water program.

Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Despite blizzard, Colorado’s critical mountain snowpack shrinks

Despite the recent history-making blizzard on Colorado’s Front Range, statewide snowpack sits at 92 percent of average as of March 19, down from 105 percent of average at the end of February, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Just two river basins, the Arkansas and the Rio Grande, are registering above average at 101 percent and 106 percent respectively. Among the driest are the Gunnison Basin, at 86 percent of average, and the San Juan/Dolores, at 83 percent, both in the southwestern part of the state.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Strong state oversight needed to ensure California’s wetlands are protected

When the first European explorers arrived in California’s Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields, they support millions of migrating waterbirds each year. According to a just-released study from Audubon, tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California – have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers. 
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program Director at Audubon California and a member of the California Water Commission.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Water shortages and fires loom after a dry winter

The lack of rain and snow during what is usually California’s wet season has shrunk the state’s water supply. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water as it melts over the spring and summer, is currently at 65 percent of normal. Major reservoirs are also low. Two state agencies warned last week that the dry winter is very likely to lead to cuts in the supply of water to homes, businesses and farmers. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also told its agricultural water customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to expect no water this year.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Pandemic wipes create sewer-clogging fatbergs

Even before the pandemic, Americans were already flushing far too many wipes into the sewer system. After a year of staying at home, the pipe-clogging problem has gotten worse. … Sewer backups are up 50%… Last year, Washington became the first state to pass legislation requiring manufacturers to label their products with “do not flush” disclaimers, and states including California have also introduced bills that would mandate similar labels.

Aquafornia news East County Magazine

Santee council gets update on Padre Dam’s big project

Padre Dam Water District wants to keep everyone in the loop about its massive sewage reclamation project, especially the city where the project is located — Santee. At its March 24 virtual meeting, the Santee City Council approved a legal agreement to work collaboratively with the joint powers authority that is overseeing the nearly $700 million program called Advanced Water Purification. … The Advanced Water Purification project got going in 2014 and is similar to several other water reclamation projects in the state, including one being built by the city of San Diego called Pure Water. 

Aquafornia news Valley Water

Blog: Valley Water evaluating five dam alternatives for proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir

In the face of climate change and severe weather, there is a risk of more prolonged droughts in California. Despite recent storms in March, Santa Clara County is now in a drought and it is unknown how severe it will get. Valley Water remains focused on preparing for future dry and wet years through a variety of projects and programs, including the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in southern Santa Clara County. The project would increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough water to supply up to 1.4 million residents for one year.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Proposed natural gas well at edge of Bay Area riles up opposition, at odds with state’s climate goals

A Brentwood company’s proposal to drill a natural gas well in Suisun Marsh has become the latest flash point in California’s quest to fight climate change and transition away from fossil fuels. Sunset Exploration wants to search for a commercially viable amount of gas at the site of an abandoned well in the wetlands south of Suisun City. If the company finds enough fuel, the Solano County project could be operational for 20 years, connecting to a pipeline that would help heat homes and light stoves around the region. It’s the kind of proposal that, in a prior era, might have encountered little organized resistance. 

Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

Vandals hit local water authority’s supply system

Vandals caused thousands of dollars in damage to a Calaveras County water authority’s supply system and now the public’s help is being sought to catch the suspects. The crime occurred sometime during the weekend of Saturday, March 6th at the Utica Water and Power Authority’s (Utica) public water supply system east of Forest Meadows near the end of Pennsylvania Gulch Road in the Murphys area. Authority officials note that this is the only water supply for more than 10,000 residential, commercial and agricultural customers between Murphys and Angels Camp. 

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Opinion: SLO should advance plan to pipe reclaimed water to Edna

A water project that would generate revenue, make wise use of reclaimed water and preserve large tracts of open space in the city of San Luis Obispo was first made public over 10 years ago. Since then, the city has made no progress on the proposal to allow Edna Valley landowners to reuse some of the city’s treated wastewater to irrigate vineyards and other agricultural crops. Surplus water already could be assisting growers in Edna Valley, which is an important part of the city’s greenbelt. 
Written by Neil Havlik, who served as San Luis Obispo’s natural resources manager from 1996 to 2012.

Aquafornia news The Press

California seeks input on Delta benefit program

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced a series of workshops intended to solicit public input on the development of a community benefit program associated with the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). According to DWR, community benefit programs go beyond traditional concepts of mitigation. They attempt to provide greater flexibility in addressing possible community impacts associated with the major construction projects.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Friday Top of the Scroll: Delta study predicts stronger floods and less water supply

[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000 people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together. … The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water: drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: New DWR powerplant turbine helps California achieve clean energy future

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) took another step in its ambitious efforts to reduce climate change impacts by replacing an old electricity-generating turbine with a new, energy efficient model at the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Powerplant in Butte County that will help the Department achieve its goal of using 100 percent zero-emission resources by 2045.

Aquafornia news Arizona PBS

Tribal leaders ask for more funding, less meddling for water projects

Arizona tribal officials told a Senate committee Wednesday that the federal government can help address a crisis with water infrastructure on their lands through more funding, and less meddling. Navajo Department of Water Resources Director Jason John and Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairwoman Amelia Flores made the comments during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on water infrastructure for Native communities. Leaders of Oregon and Alaska tribes also testified at the hearing. 

Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

Opinion: Water security doesn’t exist for many in Arizona. Here’s how to get it

The past year has shown Arizonans how critical water is to all we hold dear. It’s a pillar of public health, a precious and finite resource, and the lifeblood of our economy and food production.  Water is essential for life, and climate change is shrinking already scarce supplies. Fortunately, we also know what we can do now to help safeguard our water.  As we build back better post-COVID-19, we cannot take water for granted. Water security for all must become a foundational principle in planning and policy making as Arizona builds more resilient, healthy and equitable communities.
-Written by Chris Kuzdas, freshwater program manager and scientist with Environmental Defense Fund, and Haley Paul, policy director for the National Audubon Society in Arizona. 

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Water war continues to affect salmon run

The upcoming salmon season doesn’t look promising for recreational and commercial fishermen on the Coastside. But environmentalists from the Central Valley are hoping to change that in the future by easing the movement of salmon between the Pacific Ocean and inland rivers. One of those rivers is the Tuolumne River. Its stewards at the Tuolumne River Trust are sounding the alarm over the river’s health and say that committing more water to this distant river will help the salmon populations more than 100 miles away in places like Coastside fisheries.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post News

Monthly water bills could increase over 150% for Catalina residents

Catalina Island residents could see their monthly water bills will rise more than 150% over the next five years if a state commission approves a proposal by Southern California Edison. The utility company, which acquired the electric, water and gas utilities on the island in 1962, filed a request with the California Public Utilities Commission in late October seeking approval for rate increases to offset increased operating expenses and other costs, some of which are related to past drought conditions, according to a public notice issued by SCE. During the most recent California drought, city of Avalon Mayor Anni Marshall said the island’s businesses and 4,200 residents—like many across the state—reduced water consumption by 40%, cutting SCE revenue.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Audit: San Diego’s effort to inspect industrial polluters is outdated, inefficient

A San Diego program that aims to keep toxic sewer water out of the Pacific Ocean suffers from outdated methods and inadequate efforts to identify and inspect the business sites of industrial polluters, a new city audit says. The 56-page audit says the program, which oversees industrial polluters served by San Diego and 12 other local sewer districts, needs to step up efforts to find polluters and modernize its inspection program. The program – the Industrial Wastewater Control Program – is also understaffed and not capable of handling the larger workload it should handle without adding more workers, the audit says.

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Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: Water solutions are climate adaptation solutions

Most Californians rely on groundwater in some way, through the kitchen faucet, when buying food, or at a green local park to relax and recreate. Those underground aquifers are even more important during droughts. In California’s Southern San Joaquin Valley, groundwater pumping more than tripled in the 2012-2016 drought to make up for lost rain. But that over-pumping comes at a cost, causing land to sink as much as two feet a year, damaging bridges, roads, and houses, and drying up drinking water wells and rivers. The people and places most hurt are the ones without the money to drill down to find diminishing groundwater.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year, alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta. Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to southern cities and farms are creeping ahead. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

California water officials tell communities to prepare for potential water shortages

An extra dry summer with potential for water shortages – that’s what state and federal officials are telling Californians to prepare for. Predictions for 2021 are bleak. Lake levels are low and the Sacramento region is not getting the spring showers many hoped for. According to the US drought monitor, most of the Central Valley is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. This week the Department of Water Resources lowered its expected forecast of water deliveries made to cities and farms by half. But any conservation restrictions would be up to local authorities.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Las Gallinas sewage agency expands recycled water system

The Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District completed construction this week on an expansion of its water recycling system, increasing the district’s recycled water production capacity nearly fourfold. …The expanded system allows the district to treat roughly 5.4 million gallons of recycled water per day at its headquarters at 300 Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael. That’s up from the district’s previous capacity of 1.4 million daily gallons.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Spandrio to resign from the Casitas Municipal Water District board

Angelo Spandrio has announced he will resign from the Casitas Municipal Water District board later this month. The district, which manages Lake Casitas and supplies water to the Ojai Valley and parts of Ventura, has a five-member board. In recent years, it has faced a long stretch of drought conditions and shrinking water supplies. Spandrio, of Ojai, announced his decision at a March 10 board meeting, saying he and his wife plan to move to Arizona.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Valuing water in the Sacramento Valley: Celebrating World Water Day

With World Water Day this week and the dry year emerging throughout the Sacramento Valley, we take this moment to reflect on the value of water as we cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. We encourage you to watch and read the following vignettes that all showcase the value of water.

Aquafornia news Fox 13 Salt Lake City

Romney and the looming Colorado River clash

One of the most critical negotiations for Utah’s future is coming at a time when Utah’s delegations in Washington D.C. may be less influential than every other party at the table. The Colorado River Compact, hammered out in 1922 with few amendments over the years, expires in 2026. Every other state in the compact other than Utah has a majority Democratic or split delegation in Washington. Those states? Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. 

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Lake Hughes’ water pipeline completed

The state water utility company announced on Monday, it has completed a water pipeline replacement project in Lake Hughes. The California Water Service (Cal Water) ensured the upgrade will continue to provide during emergencies and everyday use, for its customers and firefighters in the Antelope Valley District. … The water utility company installed approximately 1,140 feet of six-inch PVC along Lakeview Road from Elizabeth Lake Road to Trails E through H. The previous pipe, which was more than 55 years old, ranged between half and inch to two inches-wide.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Pipe dream: Feds sued over desert water pipeline OK’d by Trump

Just before the Trump administration headed out the door, a federal agency this past December cleared the way for a private company to begin pumping groundwater from under the Mojave Trails National Monument in Southern California. The Cadiz water project would extract roughly 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater every year for 50 years from aquifers north of Joshua Tree National Park. The project would overtax the surrounding environment, according to environmentalists who filed a lawsuit to halt the project Tuesday. The latest iteration of this project involves repurposing an existing oil and gas pipeline.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

‘Big structural change’: What greens want on infrastructure

Environmental groups are calling for massive spending on an infrastructure package they view as a generational opportunity to address climate change, ramping up pressure on Democrats to deliver on campaign trail promises on clean energy and environmental justice. As Democrats call for bipartisanship and Republicans demand a narrower and cheaper bill, greens will be warning the new congressional majority against giving in to GOP demands. That tension came to a head yesterday when reports emerged in The New York Times and The Washington Post that White House aides were working on an ambitious $3 trillion infrastructure legislative effort encompassing climate, taxes and income inequality.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought is real and California is now facing water restrictions

State and federal water officials have delivered their most dire warning yet of California’s deepening drought, announcing that water supply shortages are imminent and calling for quick conservation. Among a handful of drastic actions this week, the powerful State Water Board on Monday began sending notices to California’s 40,000 water users, from small farms to big cities like San Francisco, telling them to brace for cuts. It’s a preliminary step before the possibility of ordering their water draws to stop entirely. 

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Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Energy

News release: DOE awards $27.5 million to 16 teams working to decarbonize U.S. water infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced awards totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure projects. Modern technology has the potential to reduce energy use in aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment, which demands up to 2% of domestic electricity use each year. These projects, operating in 13 states, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and water-treatment costs while improving water quality and equity of distribution nationwide. … They are based out of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.

Aquafornia news Anthropocene Magazine

Irrigation canals covered in solar panels are a powerful combination

Shading California’s irrigation canals with solar panels could reduce pollution from diesel irrigation pumps while saving a quarter of a billion cubic meters of water annually in an increasingly drought-prone state, a new study suggests. Pilot studies in India and small simulations have shown that so-called “solar canals” have lots of potential benefits: Shading the water with solar panels reduces water loss from evaporation and keeps aquatic weeds down. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: America’s drinking water future

In 2020 wildfires ravaged more than 10 million acres of land across California, Oregon and Washington, making it the largest fire season in modern history. Across the country, hurricanes over Atlantic waters yielded a record-breaking number of storms. While two very different kinds of natural disasters, scientists say they were spurred by a common catalyst – climate change – and that both also threaten drinking water supplies. As the nation already wrestles with water shortages, contamination and aging infrastructure, experts warn more frequent supercharged climate-induced events will exacerbate the pressing issue of safe drinking water.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation names Katrina Grantz Upper Colorado Basin assistant regional director

The Bureau of Reclamation is pleased to announce the selection of Katrina Grantz as assistant regional director for its Interior Region 7 — Upper Colorado Basin. Grantz, a 14-year Reclamation veteran, began her assignment March 14. As assistant regional director, she will oversee a range of water and hydropower programs in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Aquafornia news KUER

A Colorado River showdown is looming. Let the posturing begin

A showdown is looming on the Colorado River. The river’s existing management guidelines are set to expire in 2026. The states that draw water from it are about to undertake a new round of negotiations over the river’s future, while it’s facing worsening dry conditions due in part to rising temperatures. That means everyone with an interest in the river’s future — tribes, environmentalists, developers, business groups, recreation advocates — is hoping a new round of talks will bring certainty to existing water supplies and demands.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

City of Camarillo selects Inframark to operate its new desalter plant

Inframark LLC, has entered into a five-year partnership with the City of Camarillo, Calif., for the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the City’s new $66.3 million North Pleasant Valley Desalter. On January 13, the City Council unanimously approved Inframark’s proposal over three other international competitors. Inframark will also assist in the startup and commissioning of the brackish water reverse osmosis facility, which is currently under construction and is expected to be up and running this fall.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

‘Hasty’ California oil and gas lease sale draws suit against BLM

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided to sell oil and gas leases on public land in California for the first time in nearly a decade without taking a hard look at the environmental and public health impacts, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in a federal court in the state. The agency’s “hasty” environmental review ignored comments from experts and failed to consider evidence showing fracking could pollute already scarce groundwater resources, environmental groups say in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California filing. The decision violated the National Environmental Policy Act …

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Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Aurora, Colorado Springs get federal OK to test if controversial reservoir in Eagle County wilderness is feasible

White River National Forest officials on Monday said Aurora Water and Colorado Springs Utilities can move ahead with test drilling to determine whether a controversial dam on Homestake Creek in Eagle County is technically feasible…. conservation groups say they are adamantly against any new water transfers to suburban water users across the Continental Divide and will oppose every approval step….Environmental groups oppose new dams on Homestake in part because they would take water out of tributaries that feed the already-depleted Colorado River.  

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Blog: Colorado establishes water equity task force

Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Dan Gibbs, executive director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, announced recently the establishment of a Water Equity Task Force to better understand existing equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) challenges in Colorado water issues and inform the Colorado Water Plan. … The 2005 Water for the 21st Century Act (HB 05-1177) ushered in a new area of regionally inclusive and collaborative water planning. That spirit was further codified in the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, which ensured that all water uses in Colorado are interconnected and of equal value. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

State warns of possible water shortages

California farmers relying on State Water Project water were warned Monday to prepare for potential shortages by reducing water use and adopting practical conservation measures.

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Aquafornia news Patch, San Jose Spotlight

San Jose pumps the brakes on Valley Water water-recycling plan

In an effort to address drought and increase local groundwater supply, the Santa Clara County Valley Water District is fast-tracking a plan to purify and recycle more water in San Jose. … But city elected leaders — concerned for the environment and limited staff resources due to COVID-19 — are pumping the brakes and want more time to negotiate. Councilmembers met Friday with Valley Water’s board of directors for a special meeting to hash out the issue.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California vies for $3-trillion Biden infrastructure plan

A Biden initiative expected to pour up to $3 trillion into repairing America’s decrepit infrastructure and funding other programs has sparked a scramble across the nation for the federal funds — with California expecting to reap the biggest piece. …Rep. John Garamendi, a Northern California Democrat who is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee…spent more than an hour with Biden in recent weeks and came away convinced that the program will be broad enough to improve most areas of the nation’s infrastructure: highways, passenger rail, electric grids, dams, sewers and water systems, ocean terminals and airports…. 

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Aquafornia news Ecowatch

Blog: Installing solar panels over canals could save gallons of water

Installing solar panels over California’s network of water canals could save the state an estimated 63 billion gallons of water and produce 13 gigawatts of renewable power every year, according to a feasibility study published in Nature Sustainability. California moves more water than any other system in the world, with 75% of the state’s available water in its northern third and the southern two-thirds accounting for 80% of the state’s demand. Covering the canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation by shading the canals from the sun (along with the co-benefit of reducing canal-choking plant growth) and the cooling effects of the water could boost solar panel efficiency.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: That time Warren Buffett got involved in California water

[I]t was with some surprise that last year Warren Buffett found himself recently embroiled in a hugely important California water issue – removal of the Klamath River dams. The socioecological effects of dams on the Klamath River have been massive, almost uniformly negative, and ongoing. The Klamath watershed has been estimated as the third-most productive drainage on the West Coast for salmon and steelhead. Yet salmon runs declined substantially over the last century in part because dams fragment and isolate salmon from their historical upland spawning habitats. … Indigenous peoples have disproportionately dealt with the brunt of ecological impacts from dams on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feds want to fix canal, but Nevada town lives off the leaks

A Nevada town founded a century ago by pioneers lured to the West by the promise of free land and cheap water in the desert is trying to block the U.S. government from renovating a 115-year-old earthen irrigation canal with a plan that would eliminate leaking water that local residents long have used to fill their own domestic wells. A federal judge denied the town of Fernley’s bid last year to delay plans to line parts of the Truckee Canal with concrete to make it safer after it burst and flooded nearly 600 homes in 2008.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

World Water Day highlights value of water

While water shortages and lack of access are usually associated with developing countries, there were more than 2 million people in the United States without running water or basic indoor plumbing as of 2019, according to the U.S. Water Alliance. Among them are members of the Navajo Nation who drive 40 miles every few days to haul water to their homes; communities in California dealing with contaminated wells; and people across the country living with outdated water systems.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun and ProPublica

California oil regulator CalGEM struggles with enforcement, fines

Tucked out of sight, oil wells run thousands of feet deep, tapping thick crude from one of California’s many urban oil fields. And in the fall of 2019, investigators with the state’s oil agency flagged trouble. Nasco Petroleum was injecting huge amounts of water into well bores above the legal pressure limits, aiming to push more crude out of the aging downtown field. … The wells, investigators wrote in a report to a manager, posed “immediate” risks to drinking water aquifers.

Aquafornia news MarketScreener

News release: California Water Service completes infrastructure improvement project in Antelope Valley

As part of its ongoing commitment to ensure water system infrastructure remains safe and reliable in its Antelope Valley District, California Water Service (Cal Water) has completed a water pipeline replacement project in Lake Hughes. The upgrade ensures customers and firefighters continue to have the water they need for their everyday and emergency needs. The project includes the installation of approximately 1,140 feet of 6-inch PVC pipe to replace smaller, aging water mains.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative habitat creator

When Ann Hayden first joined EDF in 2002, shortly after finishing her own stint in the Peace Corps in Belize and graduate school where she studied environmental science and management, she was immediately thrown into one of California’s thorniest water debates: the restoration of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Bay-Delta, the hub of the state’s water supply. She hit the jackpot when she was hired by Tom Graff, founder of EDF’s California office and a renowned water lawyer, and Spreck Rosekrans, who garnered the respect of the water community for his ability to understand the state’s hypercomplex water operations.

Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Bill to create a Southern LA County water watchdog puts agencies on edge

A proposal to create a watchdog for South Los Angeles County’s dozens of disjointed and struggling water systems has stirred fear among public agencies and companies further down the pipeline that they could be the target of hostile takeovers. AB 1195, introduced by Assemblywoman Christina Garcia, would establish the Southern Los Angeles County Regional Water Agency and grant it authority to assist failing water systems with aging infrastructure, or to take control if a system is no longer able to provide affordable, clean drinking water.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Board approves Pure Water Monterey expansion report spending

Acting in advance of its Pure Water Monterey expansion project partner, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board has agreed to spend an additional $180,000 on updating the project’s environmental document and source water analysis for the proposal. On Monday, the water district board voted 7-0 to spend $181,125 on work to update the recycled water expansion project’s supplemental environmental impact report and conduct source water modeling in an attempt to address an issue that has drawn heavy criticism and opposition.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Next phase of construction green-lit on Pure Water Soquel project

The construction of 8 miles of water pipeline that will be integral to the Pure Water Soquel project, was approved by Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors this week. The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin, from which at least 50,000 residents depend on for drinking water, has been deemed critically depleted by the state. Years of intensive pumping for agriculture and drinking water has drawn out more water from the aquifer than is being replenished naturally by rainwater. That’s led to seawater seeping into underground storage and wells. The Pure Water project aims to bolster groundwater levels in the aquifer, and prevent seawater contamination, which has already been detected in some areas.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: 5 things to know about the fate of wild salmon

It’s not too hard to find salmon on a menu in the United States, but that seeming abundance — much of it fueled by overseas fish farms — overshadows a grim reality on the ground. Many of our wild salmon, outside Alaska, are on the ropes — and have been for decades. Twenty years ago Pacific salmon were found to have disappeared from 40% of their native rivers and streams across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. … In California a groundbreaking project to allow rivers to flood fallow farm fields in winter has helped provide both food and rearing habitat for salmon — and has helped prove that water managers don’t have to choose between fish and farmers.

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Putting solar panels on California canals could solve two crises

A new analysis finds that covering water canals in California with solar panels could save a lot of water and money while generating renewable energy. Doing so would generate between 20% and 50% higher return on investment than would be achieved by building those panels on the ground. The paper, published Thursday in Nature Sustainability, performs what its authors call a techno-economic analysis, calculating the impacts and weighing the costs and benefits of potentially covering the thousands of miles of California’s open irrigation system.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County prepares to resume flood control work to protect Napa

Amid a drought, Napa County is preparing to protect more than 2,000 city of Napa properties from the next flood. The county learned earlier this year that the stalled Napa River flood control project will receive $48.3 million in federal funds. That has local flood control officials talking about the final round of projects. Step one has been meeting with officials from the federal partner, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, by Zoom. Four flood control projects totaling about $94 million are to be done with a mixture of federal, local, developer and grant money.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The Biden administration’s critical role in Indian Country

Tribal leaders see President Joe Biden’s administration as an opportunity to increase tribal consultation regarding issues like water management, oil and gas leasing, and land conservation. Here, we look at four major projects … that the new administration is tasked with advancing…. Negotiations among federal, tribal and state governments on water flows and allocations in the Colorado River Basin began last year and are set to conclude by 2026…. After years of political, social and regulatory barriers, the undamming of the Klamath River is within sight…. 

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Aquafornia news SFist

Once again, Lake Oroville and other reservoirs are at drought emergency levels

If you were around here in 2014 or 2015, you were likely inundated with images of dried up reservoirs that looked like dirt canyons with little ponds in them, when a punishing drought forced the state to institute restrictions on water usage. Well, we’re likely headed for another summer of dried-up lawns (and wildfires) if Mother Nature continues to withhold the rain and snow that we need to make up for a super-dry November, December, and February.

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Aquafornia news The Napa Valley Register

Opinion: New users are taxing St. Helena’s water system

California and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) ordered St. Helena to build 254 new housing units by 2031. Napa is ordered to build almost 2,000, plus taking some of the county’s allocation. New users continue to be connected to the water system. On Pope Street and McCorkle there are 16 new apartments. A month later the planning commission approved five new units on Pope Street. The Hunter project at the east end of Adams Street is still underway with a new EIR — adding 87 new units to the water system. … On March 4, our city offered tips on how to conserve water. … We have to give up taking a bath so folks who buy a home in the Hunter project can landscape their yards?  Written by Mariam Hansen.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: The race is on to strike lithium at California’s Salton Sea

[The Salton Sea is] drying up, spewing harmful dust into the Imperial Valley’s already badly polluted air. There are countless stories to be told around the Salton Sea. To me, one of the most fascinating is about lithium. … I wrote about the increasingly bright prospects for Salton Sea lithium extraction in October 2019. Today, I’ve got several updates on the companies trying to make the Imperial Valley the first major source of North American lithium production — including the entrance of some powerful new players.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Aurora and Colorado Springs want more water. The proposed solution — a new reservoir — would have far-reaching impacts

While most people in Colorado live on the Front Range, most of the state’s water is on the West Slope. That’s where the snowpack melts and makes its way into the Colorado River. Much of that water flows to places like Denver through a series of dams, reservoirs, pumps and pipes. Aurora and Colorado Springs want to bring more of that water to their growing cities, which are the state’s largest after Denver. To do that, they want to dam up Whitney Creek in Eagle County south of Minturn and create a reservoir that could supply water for thousands of new homes.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Kiewit-Stantec team breaks ground on Los Angeles groundwater remediation projects

The Kiewit-Stantec design-build team recently broke ground on two multi-year projects that together total $400 million and will help remediate water from the San Fernando Valley Groundwater Basin (SFB) for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The SFB covers 226 square miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The new state-of-the-art facilities at the North Hollywood Central Response Action Treatment Facility and Tujunga Well Field Response Action Treatment Facility will address historical groundwater contamination from post WWII and cold-war era industrial operations in the area. 

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah governor declares a state of emergency because of drought

After a record dry summer and fall — and with winter snowpack currently at 70% of normal levels — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed an emergency order Wednesday declaring a state of emergency due to drought conditions. The move comes after a recommendation from the state’s Drought Review and Reporting Committee and opens the door for drought-affected communities and agricultural producers to potentially access state or federal emergency funds and resources, according to a news release. Cox said Wednesday that state leaders have been “monitoring drought conditions carefully and had hoped to see significant improvement from winter storms.”

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Aquafornia news Office of Senator Toni Atkins

News release: Natural Resources Committee passes Atkins’ bill to protect California from sea level rise

Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) today presented SB 1, a landmark bill to help California address the impacts of sea level rise, to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, which approved the bill in a 7-2 vote. … SB 1, the Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act, directs the Coastal Commission to take sea level rise into account in its planning, policies, and activities, and would … expand funding to assist more disadvantaged communities along the coast that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise and are actively working to address environmental justice issues.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

MWD manager left legacy of abuse in desert water world

In the work camps of the sprawling Colorado River Aqueduct system, Donald Nash was known as king of the desert. For more than half a decade, Nash was responsible for operating and maintaining the pumping plants, reservoirs and pipelines that deliver much of Southern California’s drinking water — while also exerting a tyrannical presence in the remote communities of aqueduct workers that have sprung up across desolate stretches of the California desert. Coworkers said they complained about Nash’s abusive behavior and recklessness to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California as he became increasingly erratic over the years.

Aquafornia news Rancho California Water District

Rancho Water announces selection of Robert Grantham as general manager

The Rancho California Water District (Rancho Water) Board of
Directors announced at their March 11, 2021 Board meeting that Robert Grantham has been selected as the new General Manager. Richard Aragon and Eva Plajzer, who have been acting as interim General Managers for the past five months, will continue in their positions of Assistant General Manager –Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer and Assistant General Manager – Engineering and Operations, respectively. Grantham’s employment will begin on March 22, 2021.

Aquafornia news The Telegraph

Scrapped Vegas pipeline plan looms amid swamp cedar debate

The shadow of a controversial plan to pipe groundwater from rural Nevada to Las Vegas looms as state lawmakers weigh two proposals to protect groves of swamp cedar trees considered sacred on Monday. Until last year when the Southern Nevada Water Authority decided to “indefinitely defer” its pursuit of permits, the trees were caught in the crossfire of fights over development and conservation.

Aquafornia news EurekAlert!

New research: Geomorphologists map fine sediment in Colorado River to improve sandbar management

Grain by grain, sandbars are ecologically important to the Colorado River system for humans and wildlife, say scientists. How sand, silt and clay move along and become deposited within the river corridor in the Grand Canyon National Park, downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, has become an important question to a number of government agencies as well as to Native American tribes. The answer impacts the entire Colorado River ecosystem and will help scientists better understand how the Colorado River system works.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Lathrop closer to being able to discharge treated water into SJ River

The city of Lathrop’s longstanding goal of discharging highly-treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River could clear a major hurdle tonight. Based on the current plan the wastewater would be mainly discharged directly into the river during winter months when irrigation demands are low and river flow is high and reduced in the summer months when irrigation demands along the river are at their peak.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

PG&E settles lawsuit over century-old gas plant pollution

Pacific Gas and Electric will pay to remove soil possibly tainted by century-old gas plants and investigate groundwater contamination in a San Francisco shoreline area under the terms of a deal announced Monday. The agreement represents the third and final settlement reached in a lawsuit filed in 2014 over pollution from manufactured gas plants operated by PG&E in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Under the deal entered Monday, PG&E will fund a study on how to remove or mitigate contamination from an underground storage tank on the former site of its North Beach gas plant, which stopped operating after it was damaged in the Great Earthquake of 1906.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: Alameda County Water District’s Water Efficiency Master Plan makes its debut

Alameda County Water District has been busy developing a Water Efficiency Master Plan that continues ACWD’s efforts to encourage water use efficiency in the Tri-Cities and ensure long-term water supply reliability for its customers. The WEMP is now complete and ready for review. It provides a roadmap for ACWD’s Water Use Efficiency Program for the next five years and strategies out to 2050.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Placer County leaders say collapsed bridge, under water for 60 years, poses new safety risks

Placer County leaders are supporting the removal of a bridge that collapsed 60 years ago near the confluence of the North Fork and Middle Fork American River in the Auburn State Recreation Area. … [Gary Estes, a board member for Protect American River Canyons,] said the debris poses threats to swimmers and kayakers. A sign posted on the State Route 49 bridge, where the collapsed bridge used to stand, warns people to use extreme caution around the steel and concrete debris.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 GM Pryor to appear on statewide water panel discussion

A trio of briefings on aging infrastructure and climate change from the State Water Project will open with a stakeholder panel discussion featuring Zone 7 Water Agency General Manager Valerie Pryor during the California Water Commission’s meeting on Wednesday (March 17), starting 9:30 a.m. The meeting agenda includes three briefings under Item No. 9 including an overview of the State Water Project and updates on the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and the California Department of Water Resources’ “efforts to address issues related to aging infrastructure.”

Aquafornia news Charlotte Observer

Water flow change at Grand Canyon to reveal riverbed

The water flow in the Grand Canyon is temporarily changing and it could reveal some surprises, geologists said. The U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday that an 11-day “spring disturbance” flow will start Monday and will drop water levels in parts of the Grand Canyon. … While dam maintenance may not seem exciting, the drop in water could reveal parts of the Colorado riverbed that hasn’t been seen in decades, USGS said. It could also impact in the Colorado River ecosystem. The change in water levels will also mimic what the Colorado River was like before the dam was built, USGS said.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

This wildlife refuge is drying up. An anonymous rancher wants to save it.

A unique deal between ranchers and wildlife advocates may at long last bring a reliable water supply to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge — and the wetlands and birds that depend on it. Since it was largely drained in the early 20th Century, the mosaic of wetlands formerly known as Lower Klamath Lake has relied on water from the Klamath Irrigation Project to grow food and provide suitable habitat for millions of migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway each year. Wetlands in the Klamath Basin support nearly 80% of the Pacific Flyway’s migratory waterfowl during the spring and fall.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Blog: We’re about to drink recycled water but don’t know what’s in it

I’ve been writing a lot about the broken sewage system in Tijuana causing spills into San Diego. Part of the concern, San Diego officials told me, is that Mexico lacks a system to monitor whether businesses are dumping toxic waste into the sewer system. That’s part of the reason why it’s risky to reuse any of that river water because, if we don’t know what’s in the water, we can’t be sure how to best treat it. San Diego is about to run into this issue in a big way with its Pure Water project, a multibillion-dollar system that’s going to recycle the city’s sewage and treat it so, well, you can drink it. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

What’s in the federal stimulus for Californians?

Last week, President Biden signed into law a historic, wide-reaching $1.9 trillion stimulus package aimed at throwing a lifeline to Americans struggling through the pandemic. In California, the news has come as a particular relief. … $16 billion: That’s the amount that is expected to be split between city and county governments to help make up for lost local tax revenue during the pandemic. And that’s what pays for essential services like law enforcement and firefighters. The money can also be used for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure projects.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: As drought alarms sound, is California prepared?

We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water management throughout the state.  Are we ready to manage our freshwater ecosystems through another drought?
-Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow, and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

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