“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
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
Jesse Colin Young, a musician famous for cofounding the
Youngbloods and for his solo career, argued to the county
earlier this year and now to the state that the proposed
125,000-gallon storage tank would affect the views of his
property in Paradise Ranch Estates, which inspired his 1973
song “Ridgetop.” The tank would sit about 5 feet from the
Youngs’ property line and is meant to replace a nearby
50,000-gallon redwood water tank as well as a 25,000-gallon
water tank that burned down in the 1995 Mount Vision Fire.
In places like Oakland, flooding will occur not just at the
shoreline, but inland in areas once considered safe from sea
level rise, including the Oakland Coliseum and Jones Avenue,
where [UC Berkeley professor Kristina] Hill and her students
now stood, more than a mile from San Leandro Bay. In fact, she
added, rising groundwater menaces nearly the entire band of
low-lying land around San Francisco Bay, as well as many other
coastal parts of the U.S.
In California, [Jerry] Schubel saw an opportunity to turn the
energy, food and water issues facing the state into a
sustainable model showing how people can live in harmony with
the Earth and the ocean, and thrive. That model required deep
collaboration, a commitment to educational resources for the
public and an aquarium willing to take a risk.
The City of Oceanside is taking control of its water destiny,
investing in a facility to purify recycled water from homes.
“It’s not being used, it’s really a waste. A lot of that water
is going out to the ocean and it’s really a precious resource,”
said Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director for the city. This
Fall they’ll break ground on the Pure Water Oceanside facility,
which will sit right next to the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation
The Regional Water Quality Control Board … detailed a
specific timeline for the board’s permit process — with a final
vote penciled in for Oct. 25. Poseidon Vice President Scott
Maloni interpreted that as a signal that board geologists,
engineers and administrators are confident they can work
through outstanding issues.
A “landmark” initiative aimed at restoring Carmel River
floodplain habitat and helping reduce flood risks for homes and
businesses along the lower part of the river and lagoon has
reached a key phase with the release of its environmental
City officials in Tehachapi are investigating ways to move
treated effluent water coming from Tehachapi’s Waste Water
Treatment Plant. More potable water could be available if a
groundwater reuse project becomes reality, opening more land at
Tehachapi Municipal Airport for potential growth.
In the month since Governor Newsom announced that he does not
support a dual-tunnel Delta water supply conveyance, activity
in the more than 20 state and federal lawsuits challenging
California WaterFix and other administrative approval processes
related to the “twin tunnels” has slowed or been briefly
stayed. The stays reflect the uncertainty surrounding the
project in light of the Governor’s comments…
Hasa, a producer and distributor of water treatment products,
has decided to construct a packaging and distribution facility
in the greater San Diego, California. … This San Diego plant
will be the seventh for the firm, which has facilities in
California, Arizona, Washington and Texas. The new facility
will become operational by the fourth quarter of 2019.
Customers of the South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD)
may be looking at an annual increase on their water and sewer
bills of 5.0 to 8.5 percent to cover costs of replacing aging
infrastructure and enhancing local fire protection.
Probably the least expensive option, estimated to cost $150
million to $250 million, would expand the canal’s upper portion
— the part visible from the surface — from about 60 feet to as
much as double that width, but only along the 25-mile problem
section. … An alternative approach, estimated to cost about
$400 million, would be to build a nearly identical canal
adjacent to the existing one in the areas that have experienced
the most subsidence.
The upgraded facility can now handle an average of 18 million
gallons per day, with a wet weather flow capacity of up to 36
million gallons. There’s also room for growth, with the
facility designed to accommodate up to an average of 22 million
gallons per day with the addition of added MBR cassettes.
The idea of a recycled water plant project has been around for
more than 10 years, with the original idea coming from the
community. Through the years, staff has looked at various
locations, including a combined project with Naval Base
Coronado, and determined the golf course location to be the
A collection of legislators are taking another shot at getting
state money to repair the canal carrying water to thousands of
farms and several cities along the Valley’s eastside. … The
bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water
supply by investing $400 million in general funds to repair
subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal caused during the historic
California American Water has notified the state Public
Utilities Commission it does not plan to pursue a Pure Water
Monterey expansion proposal, at least for now, arguing that its
proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project is still on
schedule and noting an absence of detailed information on the
proposal, as well as an apparent increase in the cost of the
recycled water project.
The only Monterey Peninsula city with its own desalination
plant is looking to install new intake wells to help balance
the salinity levels and increase output to the
300-acre-foot-per-year design capacity of the almost
10-year-old Sand City desalination facility. The plant, which
is owned by Sand City and is operated by California American
Water, is currently running at 200 acre-feet per year.
For a second, let’s consider what these cybercriminals stand to
gain from you: financial, data (operational, client, etc.),
bandwidth, processing, and power. You likely thought of the
first few – but have you considered how much processing power
you could also be offering? Why would processing, power and
bandwidth be of interest? Cryptocurrency mining.
AquaCycl, a San Diego-based wastewater treatment startup, took
home the grand prize at the San Diego Angel Conference on March
15. … The company developed a technology that uses
electricity-generating bacteria to speed up wastewater
treatment rates, resulting in a more efficient, lower-cost
When a wild river floods, water and sediment spills over its
banks onto adjacent land, it builds up a natural floodplain.
Floodplains allow a river’s high flows to spread out and slow
down, forming temporary reservoirs that pool over the rainy
season. That means more water percolating down into underlying
aquifers … and less floodwaters barreling toward cities.
After years of planning, the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary
District is gearing up to break ground on a three-year,
multimillion-dollar renovation of its sewage treatment plant.
Workers were rained out the past couple of months but are now
preparing the work site at the district headquarters at 300
Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael to replace the wastewater
treatment facilities and expand its recycled water capacity.
The statewide snowpack has reached 160 percent of its annual
year-to-date average and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra
Nevada can be seen from Highway 198. … But, if you think
that’s a lot of rain, think again. Sunday marks the 113th
anniversary of the 1906 flood, which filled Visalia’s downtown
streets with about a foot of water. The water didn’t dissipate
for 10 days.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right
decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. …
Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our
management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively
advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the
results regardless of outcome.
To better understand how vineyard and housing development could
affect its Upvalley water sources, the city of Napa may join
forces with the county on a study of runoff and inflow into
Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.
It is interesting to go to water district meetings and see
diametrically opposite sides using the same arguments they have
used for years. No one is changing what they say even though an
election changed the political landscape quite a bit. … But
there are things we can do to intelligently frame the
discussion of what is feasible — based on our actual needs.
By allocating $1 million last week toward a creek restoration
project set to rejuvenate threatened and endangered species and
reduce flooding in Pescadero, county officials locked in
funding needed to begin a dredging effort experts expect will
give the Butano Creek a chance to reset.
Full and rising reservoirs from this winter’s storms have the
Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors poised to terminate
the drought-caused emergency declaration, although South Coast
purveyors are worried a water shortage will persist for an
extended time, according to a county staff report.
A pending transfer in ownership of the Contra Costa Canal will
allow for upgrades in its water quality and safety, but it
could also make for changes for hikers and cyclists along some
of its trails. A bipartisan package of public lands bills
President Donald Trump signed Tuesday moves the Contra Costa
Water District a step closer to gaining ownership of the aging
Contra Costa Canal system.
The city of Oceanside is receiving more than $2.6 million in
federal funding to increase its local water supply and to
reduce brine discharge into the ocean. The city will receive
$2.623 million in funding from the Bureau of Reclamation’s
WaterSMART’s Desalination Construction Projects under the Water
Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), subject
to federal appropriations.
Feasibility of a potential public buyout of California American
Water’s local water system should be based on a consulting
team’s advice on an acquisition plan that could succeed in a
public necessity court trial while seeking cost savings for
local ratepayers… That’s according to a recommendation from
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District general manager
Dave Stoldt to be considered on Monday.
Ventura has released reports detailing the environmental
impacts of two sizable projects expected to increase the city’s
water supply and reliability… One involves tapping into the
city’s long-held investment into state water. The other project
would capture effluent from Ventura’s wastewater treatment
plant, treat it and turn it into drinking water.
On Thursday, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced
bipartisan legislation (H.R.1764) to support local water
infrastructure projects. … Congressman Garamendi’s
legislation would extend the maximum term for National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permits
issued under the federal Clean Water Act from 5 to 10 years, to
better reflect the construction schedules for public agencies.
Political leaders responsible for the Paso Robles Groundwater
Basin are launching discussions about which
multi-million-dollar water projects could help solve the
aquifer’s woes—and how basin pumpers will pay for them. In the
future, the basin, which serves much of Paso Robles wine
country, could start receiving water from the State Water
Project, Lake Nacimiento, and/or the Salinas Dam.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her
energy to issues associated with management of the Colorado
River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the
Colorado River Commission of Nevada. Now her career is taking a
different direction. Harkins was appointed last August to take
the helm of the United States section of the International
Boundary and Water Commission, the U.S.-Mexico agency that
oversees myriad water matters between the two countries…
A countywide effort to manage sea level rise is beginning to
coalesce. In recent months, San Mateo County officials have
taken steps to form a new government agency to address coastal
erosion, flooding, storm water infrastructure and sea level
A week after the Marina Planning Commission unanimously
rejected a key desalination project permit, California American
Water has filed an appeal of the decision to the Marina City
Council. On Wednesday, Cal Am filed the appeal to the council,
arguing the planning commission erred in its denial of a
coastal development permit for parts of the proposed desal
Last month, we broke ground on a long overdue revamp of the
West Fontana Channel. … It was created in the 1970s after the
County of San Bernardino got serious about flood control
following the devastating flooding that occurred in 1969. But
unlike Day Creek, San Sevaine and other flood control
facilities, the West Fontana Channel was never fortified with
concrete to ensure it could handle all of the fast-moving
runoff it gets inundated with after heavy storms.
Poseidon is a bad deal for ratepayers. The study by the experts
at MWDOC ranked Poseidon dead last among local water projects
based on cost. Even after demanding a $400 million subsidy
financed by Southern California water users, Poseidon’s water
is still overpriced, costing twice per gallon as much as some
of the conservation, recycling and rainwater projects already
in development around our region.
The city of Sacramento has approved a $2.9 million contract
that will allow construction of a new sewage vault underneath
McKinley Park. The goal of the project is to provide a place to
store sewage during wet weather, when stormwater runoff — and
wastewater — can end up in the same place, and overflow can
send it all into East Sacramento’s streets.
A bill from Sen. Bill Dodd that would increase legislative
oversight of the controversial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
WaterFix project and allow for more public scrutiny has cleared
its first committee hurdle. The action comes less than a month
after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wants to scale back the project
proposed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to a single tunnel.
Local officials have received an OK to divert more water into
Lake Casitas, years after prolonged drought conditions shrunk
the reservoir to historic lows. But the new measures were in
effect just a matter of days and just for one storm.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne
Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the
management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.
Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was
appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the
United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees
myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to
sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado
River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other
rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be
named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and
Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the
commission’s 129-year history.
The Trump administration released its 2020 budget request on
Monday, proposing major cuts to federal government spending.
While the cuts are unlikely to become reality — Congress has
rejected many of Trump’s previous requests — the budget is an
important signal of the administration’s priorities and
suggests a major funding fight in October.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good
example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood
damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense
and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also
illustrates how the many individual flood management options
presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified
cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and
federal parties concerned with floods.
On February 14, 2019, the California Office of the State Fire
Marshall (“OSFM”) published long awaited draft regulations to
reduce the volume of pipeline oil spills in coastal areas. The
proposed regulations, which implement AB 864 (2015), will
impose substantial and costly burdens on companies that own and
operate pipelines within California near environmentally and
ecologically sensitive areas
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a $35 million
contract to continue the Sutter Basin Project – strengthening a
stretch of Sutter County levees. The project will allow repairs
to continue on approximately five more miles of the Feather
River west levee between Tudor Road and Cypress Avenue in south
Sutter County, according to a press release from the corps.
Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in
Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the
state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as
well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon
a common frustration among many valley Republicans that
billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed
rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…
Political disputes, interstate suspicion and funding concerns
have long been a fact of life when it comes to the Colorado
River. Those same factors now are delaying a final agreement on
how to handle drought in the river basin. But, at least none of
the states involved has called out its navy. Arizona did that
85 years ago to prevent completion of Parker Dam, the concrete
structure on the Colorado River that backs up Lake Havasu on
the border between California and Arizona.
In this edition of In Depth we take on two water topics. First,
there’s growing concern that a lot of the rainwater we’ve been
getting is just going down the drain and out to sea. We plumb
the depths of California’s water system to find out where it’s
coming up short and what can be done to fix it. Then, new
research suggests that the historical link between wet winters
and less severe fire seasons has broken down. We discuss why
even in the rainiest of years, we still can’t count out
When it opened in 1951, the Friant-Kern Canal carried at least
4,000 cubic feet of water per second along its route from
Millerton Lake, north of Fresno, to Bakersfield. Then something
unfortunate happened. A 25-mile stretch of land between Terra
Bella and Pixley began to sink, and kept sinking, to the point
that the canal’s gravity-powered water flow has slowed to about
1,700 cubic feet per second. … Federal and state officials
would like to restore the canal to its original capacity, as
would the seven municipalities and 18,000 family farms using
the canal. But how? And where would money for repairs come
A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of
people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals.
… Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to
notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek
Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek
is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. … Friant-Kern
Water Authority officials later determined the flooding wasn’t
caused by “overtopping” of the Friant-Kern Canal’s banks. The
issue was drainage from Frazier Creek.
Recycled water’s been such a good deal for Orange County, the
water district is spending $140 million to expand its capacity
to purify wastewater by 30 percent. It starts in Fountain
Valley where the water district operates a 24-acre facility
that takes sewage fom the sanitation plant next door and
converts it into millions of gallons a day of pure H2O. OC
Water District President Shawn Dewane said the cost is 30
percent cheaper than imported water.
The Crossroads Open Space soccer field in Santa Maria is filled
with water thanks to the most recent storm. Located on S.
College Dr., the field also serves as a basin to collect storm
runoff. The city says the water will soak into the ground,
recharging the groundwater basin.
As droughts intensify and the snowpacks diminish, California
will need creative solutions to provide enhanced water supplies
for urban use and agriculture. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratories are working on addressing these problems,
focusing on groundwater recharge, low-cost desalination, and
energy efficient purification.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los
Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the
Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant by 2035 signals an end to the
era of addressing water shortages by importing water from
far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of
reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A.
residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the
technology that will produce safe water.
A recently completed study on the cost effectiveness and
financial risk of proposals to meet water supply demands
through 2050 concludes that the controversial Poseidon
desalination project in Huntington Beach would produce more
water than the Orange County basin needs and cost ratepayers
far more than alternatives such as recycling and capturing
The San Joaquin Valley, known as the
nation’s breadbasket, grows a cornucopia of fruits, nuts and
other agricultural products.
During our three-day Central Valley Tour April
3-5, you will meet farmers who will explain how they prepare
the fields, irrigate their crops and harvest the produce that
helps feed the nation and beyond. We also will drive through
hundreds of miles of farmland and visit the rivers, dams,
reservoirs and groundwater wells that provide the water.
One of the key challenges facing newly formed local government
agencies responsible for groundwater management is to establish
and implement quantitative metrics for sustainability. To help
local agencies do this, a new report from Water in the West
examines how four special districts in California have
used quantitative thresholds to adaptively manage groundwater.
These case studies provide valuable insights on the development
and implementation of performance metrics and will be important
in guiding local agencies.
The real-world implications of Gov. Newsom’s rejection of the
twin tunnels project became more apparent last week as the
Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation requested and were granted a 60-day stay of
hearings with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The dramatic shift from dry to wet this winter hints at what’s
to come. Scientists predict that California’s total
precipitation will remain close to constant in the future, but
it will fall in a shorter window of time, with more of it as
rain. The state will also experience greater variability—more
very wet and more very dry years. These findings highlight the
need to capture rainfall and improve aging infrastructure.
Here’s what to expect from California’s wet seasons, now and in
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good
example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood
damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense
and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also
illustrates how the many individual flood management options
presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified
cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and
federal parties concerned with floods.
A spectacular snowpack and a series of storms in the San
Joaquin Valley are bringing smiles to valley farmers’ faces. On
Friday, the Fresno Irrigation District started moving water to
farms in the cities of Fresno, Clovis, and their surrounding ag
land. While this isn’t an early start compared to typical
years, the water is especially welcome after several drought
San Diego County remains one of the few parts of the state to
still be labeled as abnormally dry, according to the drought
monitor. While rainfall this winter has already exceeded
average, the region is still recovering from a severe deficit
in precipitation, and researchers say impacts to vegetation and
reservoirs linger. Still, the San Diego region, which imports
nearly 80 percent of its water, has more than adequate supplies
to meet urban and agricultural demands.
Working under a less-than-four-year deadline, Soquel Creek
Water District is fine-tuning the ‘where’ of its planned water
recycling plant construction. On Tuesday, district officials
will recommend the board split the Pure Water Soquel project
between two sites, with tertiary treatment at the city of Santa
Cruz’s Wastewater Treatment Facility and advanced purification
at the controversial new site in Live Oak.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los
Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the
Hyperion plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing
water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and
initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available
supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand
both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will
produce safe water.
Just months before the Woolsey Fire, Las Virgenes Mutual Water
District had joined CalWARN, a mutual assistance system set up
for water utilities. General manager Dave Pedersen had heard
about it from a neighboring agency. Before dawn Nov. 9, the
district requested emergency generators. Within a few hours,
they had gotten a response.
Oceanside announced it will receive a $2.6 million federal
grant to build two more of the wells that the city has used for
more than 20 years to supply a portion of its drinking water.
The wells pump brackish water from what’s called the Mission
Basin, an area near the airport, the old swap meet property and
the San Luis Rey River. The city filters the water using the
same reverse osmosis process used on a much larger scale in
Carlsbad to desalinate seawater.
There is water here in the Mojave Desert. A lot of it. Whether
to tap it on a commercial scale or leave it alone is a
decades-old question the Trump administration has revived and
the California legislature is visiting anew. … Soon after the
2016 election, the Trump transition team included Cadiz as
No. 15 on its priority list of “emergency and national
security” projects. Less than a year later, the administration
exempted the project from a federal review that the Obama
administration required because of the federal land involved in
the pipeline construction.
A trial date has been set for Apple Valley’s eminent domain
lawsuit against Liberty Utilities, a case that will determine
whether the town will win the right to take the company’s water
system. … Liberty filed its CEQA suit a month after the Town
Council voted to take the company’s water system by eminent
domain. In court documents, the company alleged an “incomplete
and misleading” environmental impact report prepared for
To make a real structural shift, utilities must engage a
broader group of actors in the process, and that is where cap
and trade comes into play, this time for water systems. … A
smattering of cap-and-trade schemes already aim to address
water pollution in various water bodies. Yet most such trading
programmes have focused on water quality. Now their frameworks
must be expanded to account for water quantity, encouraging
efficiency, reinvestment, and supply diversification.
One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to
needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home.
The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting
in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the
Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that
juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be
better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage,
conservation and desalination.
The aging, leaking Combie Canal, a concrete flume located along
a steep hillside above the Bear River, received the OK for a
nearly $20 million replacement Wednesday. The canal is a
“critical piece of infrastructure” that serves two water
treatment plants, Nevada Irrigation District staff say, with
more than half of the district’s flows for deliveries made
through the nearly 50-year-old system.
Ventura’s water commission appealed to the City Council this
week for help, citing a list of concerns ranging from stalled
projects to a lack of financial information. In a four-page
letter, the commission described a lack of progress on key
Ventura Water priorities over the past year and a half, saying
residents were left to pay the price for delays.
Plans to give Nevada’s top water official more flexibility to
wade into water rights disputes got a rough reception in the
state Legislature. Farmers, conservationists and American
Indians from Nevada and Utah turned out in opposition to the
proposals in two bills. No one spoke in support of measures
critics say would direct more water toward urban and suburban
development at the expense of farming, ranching and the
environment in rural valleys.
A long-simmering, multi-million dollar dispute among coastal
Orange County water and sewage districts took a major step
toward resolution Wednesday, when a Superior Court judge issued
a tentative ruling that Moulton Niguel Water District is
obligated to pay outstanding bills to the South Orange County
When California’s new governor announced during his February 12
State of the State address that he didn’t support WaterFix as a
two-tunnel behemoth, he received a loud burst of applause. Yet,
in the next breath, when Newsom added he supported a one-tunnel
version, no applause followed. That’s partly because the
one-tunnel announcement hasn’t alleviated fears of people
living on the north side of the estuary. Hood, Clarksburg and
Courtland property owners still face the very real possibility
of being hit with eminent domain.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Thursday in
Sonoma County, a day after disastrous flooding from the Russian
River left numerous communities across Northern California
inundated. The governor’s order, which included Lake, Amador,
Glenn and Mendocino counties, allows Caltrans and local
government agencies to request immediate assistance from the
Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program and
the Office of Emergency Services.
California has been blessed with a wet winter this year. That’s
been good news for the California plants, animals, and humans
that rely on water to survive and recreate. But lots of
precipitation now doesn’t necessarily mean that California will
have lots of water when it needs it. That’s because what
matters is not only how much water we get, but when and how we
State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) said Senate Bill 559,
will “help secure California’s water supply by investing $400
million toward restoring lost (delivery) capacity on the
Friant-Kern Canal, one of the San Joaquin Valley’s most
critical water delivery facilities.” … The $400 million would
be appropriated from the state general fund to the Department
of Water Resources to administer the repairs.
Facing the threat of stiff fines from state water officials
several years ago, Santa Clarita Valley sewage treatment
officials approved a multimillion-dollar plan to desalinate
water sent downstream from the SCV to Ventura County. Now, SCV
Sanitation District engineers say the costs from lawsuits over
their approved plans are forcing leaders to scuttle a recycled
water project on top of the delays to a chloride-compliance
The new administration has signaled a shift in water policy by
specifically talking about turning salty water potable after
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he would support only a single
tunnel as part of the project known as WaterFix. … But
talking up desalination is much easier than making it a
reality. In the four years since California updated its
desalination regulations, none of the eight applications for
new or expanded facilities has been approved. Meanwhile, the
costs for the projects keep rising and the state has few
details about its plans.
Mono County hasn’t won the war, but it did win the first battle
in its lawsuit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power’s decision to withdraw water allotments to its Long
Valley area grazing leases. Last Friday, the Alameda County
civil court indicated LADWP’s request to dismiss the suit was
On their to-do list is determining how to spread costs from
wildfires in “an equitable manner” and considering whether the
state should create a special find to cover wildfire costs.
They face a tricky task with an array of competing interests,
chief among them how to balance wildfire costs between
utilities, their shareholders and their customers.
A second water tower in a Yuba County foothills subdivision has
residents gushing. Gold Village, which was plagued for years
with water and sewer problems, has been largely remedied for
the more than 80 homes off Hammonton-Smartsvile Road northeast
of Beale Air Force Base. “The county took care of it and
everything is fine now,” said resident Daryl Davis.
The Pismo Beach City Council wants to build a $28 million
facility that will purify Pismo Beach and South San Luis Obispo
County Sanitation District wastewater and inject it into the
Santa Maria groundwater basin. If completed, it will prevent
salt water from seeping into one of South County’s water
sources and provide more water to South County residents.
The most eco-friendly wastewater treatment plant in the
Northern San Joaquin Valley will be Manteca’s by the time 2020
rolls around. Not only is the treated water returned to the San
Joaquin River meeting the latest standards established by the
state for water quality, but within six months or so methane
gas — a major byproduct of the treatment process that typically
has to be burned — will no longer contribute to valley air
The new House of Representatives is rolling out its game plan
and strategies for the next two years, and it’s clear which
state holds the most clout: California. … California now has
more Democrats in the lower chamber than the entire
congressional delegations of Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Washington combined. The state’s
power to shape the agenda goes beyond leadership. In the
environment and energy fields, 12 Californians are subcommittee
chairs and vice chairs.
Gena Jacob figures she may come out ahead, in at least one
respect, in the wake of the Tubbs fire that leveled her
Larkfield home. … Through a program created by Sonoma Water
and offered to 143 homeowners in Larkfield Estates, they plan
to connect to a new sewer line — freeing them from the
constraints of their aging septic system — with a financing
package that takes some of the sting out of the cost.
California’s cities have almost all met or exceeded their
average rainfall for the year, meaning the state is unlikely to
slip back into drought conditions this year. But starting
Sunday, residents of five Inland Empire cities will be asked to
cut back on water usage anyway. The Water Facilities Authority
will be shutting down the Agua de Lejos Treatment Plant for
repairs on Sunday.
An international team of biologists is setting out into some of
the roughest waters in the North Pacific Ocean in the middle of
winter to try to solve the fundamental mystery of Pacific
salmon: What determines whether they live or die? Perhaps the
most critical, but least known, part of the salmon life cycle
is the few years the fish spend on the high seas, gaining
energy to return to their home rivers and spawn.
Most of the active volcanoes lie in Northern California. The
report warns a future eruption would have far-reaching adverse
impacts on natural resources and infrastructure vital to the
state’s water, power, natural gas, ground and air
transportation and telecommunication systems.
Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry
from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s
increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of
a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is
often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water
law that will have major effects on water suppliers and
farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck”
approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s references to water in his first State of
the State address were brief and a bit patchy, but they were
enough to make fiercely competing factions each believe the new
governor had their backs. But water policy in California is
never that easy.
Rains over the past several weeks have caused erosion to a
recently improved portion of levee along the east side of the
Feather River and protecting Marysville. But officials say the
damage is superficial and doesn’t pose a threat to public
Since the rainy season began in earnest in January, County
Flood Control has been operating almost constantly to keep its
debris basins clear and ready for the next onslaught. Much of
the accumulating debris is due to 2017’s Thomas Fire, which
burned more than 280,000 acres in the back- and front-country
behind Montecito, Carpinteria, and the western part of Ventura
The San Diego County Water Authority’s General Manager notified
the region’s water board on Wednesday that she is retiring.
Maureen Stapleton has held the top job at the agency for more
than two decades. She led the Water Authority through the
complicated settlement negotiations surrounding the Colorado
River. Stapleton also encouraged projects like the Carlsbad
Desalination plant as a way to diversify the region’s water
If you stand on a fragile levee of the Sacramento River these
days and watch the chocolate brown water rushing toward the
delta only a few feet under your boots, one can’t help but
wonder why the state and federal governments aren’t capturing
more of this precious resource. Why is all but a tiny fraction
heading out to sea?
Los Angeles County officials are proposing to take ownership of
40 miles of flood-control channels along the Los Angeles River
from the federal government in order to expedite maintenance
and water conservation improvements as climate change increases
the frequency of extreme weather.
This year, the water agency plans to inform farmers and the
community about not only the amount of water the Tuolumne River
Watershed has received so far this year, but also will provide
information regarding the final license application for Don
Pedro, which first began eight years ago, and the ongoing legal
battle surrounding the State Water Resources Control Board’s
decision to implement 40 percent unimpaired flows along the San
Joaquin River and its tributaries for the betterment of fish.
With a federal deadline to sign a Colorado River drought deal
three weeks away, Arizona water managers are still
grappling with several unresolved issues that could get in the
way of finishing an agreement. The outstanding issues,
some of which are proving contentious, range from developers’
concerns about securing future water supplies to lining up
funding for Pinal County farmers to drill wells and begin to
pump more groundwater.
Officials have given President Trump a plan to divert funds
designated for Army Corps of Engineers projects in California
and Puerto Rico to help pay for a wall along the southern
border, a leading member of Congress said Thursday.
… The projects include raising the height of Folsom Dam
on the American River in Northern California, protecting Lake
Isabella in Kern County from leaking as a result of
earthquakes, enlarging the Tule River and Lake Success in the
Central Valley and building shoreline protections in South San
At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are
protected under the Clean Water Act. It’s also poised to
be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies
water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland.
And it could also be a landmark year for water management in
California, with several key issues coming to a head.
A coalition of environmental groups has called on California
members of Congress to prioritize the San Luis (B.F. Sisk)
Dam seismic remediation over federal funding for new California
dams. San Luis Dam is in a very seismically active area.
Independently reviewed risk assessments for Reclamation have
shown that a large earthquake could lead to crest settlement
and overtopping of the dam, which would result in large
uncontrolled releases and likely dam failure.
In the foothills outside Longmont, Colorado, tucked high in a
narrow valley, sits an ugly, cement slab. It’s the size of a
train car and juts out into North St. Vrain Creek, a shallow
alpine stream that serves as the city’s main drinking water
supply. A tiny sign greets hikers as they pass the structure.
It reads: “Chimney Rock Dam.” What the sign doesn’t tell you is
how that cement slab ended up there.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s
persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert
worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s
Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource
challenges. Catch up on these stories and more in Western
Water Year in Review.
In February, following a string of severe natural
disasters in 2017, Congress provided a record $16 billion for
disaster mitigation — building better defenses against
hurricanes, floods and other catastrophes. Eleven months later,
the Trump administration has yet to issue rules telling states
how to apply for the money.
It has been called speculative, foolhardy and overly expensive,
but Aaron Million’s plan to pump water from the Utah-Wyoming
border to Colorado’s Front Range just won’t dry
up. Now seeking water rights from the Green
River in Utah for a new version of his plan, Million thinks he
has fashioned a winning proposal to feed Colorado’s thirsty,
A new study out of Stanford University finds that 10 percent of
the total carbon dioxide spewed from California, Oregon,
Washington and Idaho for power generation this century is the
result of states turning to fossil fuels when water was too
sparse to spin electrical turbines at dams.
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control
Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four
hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River.
The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by
California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes,
water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the
basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust
responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s
farming and ranching heritage.
A handful of environmental groups have filed a lawsuit to halt
construction on an expansion of Gross Dam in the Boulder County
foothills. Denver Water is proposing to increase the dam’s
height by more than 130 feet to store more water from the
Colorado River’s headwaters in the reservoir. The suit filed in
Denver’s U.S. District Court alleges the construction project
would negatively affect the Colorado River, harming native,
Although the contract has yet to be awarded and the operating
license hand-over has yet to be approved, Kiewit Infrastructure
West is seeking to give local contractors as much detail as it
can regarding the proposed removal of four hydroelectric dams
on the Klamath River.
[Serge] Dedina, mayor of Imperial Beach, expressed frustration
after a pipe in Tijuana ruptured on Monday and began spilling
as many as 7 million gallons of raw sewage daily into the
Tijuana River, which feeds into the Pacific Ocean. Dedina urged
city leaders in San Diego to join a lawsuit to force the
federal government to take action.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining forces with House Republicans
to try to extend a controversial law that provides more water
for Central Valley farms, but with a sweetener for the
environment: help with protecting California’s rivers and fish.
The proposed extension of the WIIN Act, or Water Infrastructure
Improvements for the Nation Act, would keep millions of federal
dollars flowing for new dams and reservoirs across the West.
A crucial certification needed to build two tunnels that
officials believe would help solve California’s water delivery
problems was withdrawn Friday, ensuring that Gov. Jerry Brown’s
pet water project won’t be approved before he leaves office in
The grades for major U.S. infrastructure would give any parent
indigestion if they were on a child’s report card. Roads: D;
bridges: C+; dams: D; ports: C+: railways: B; airports: D;
schools: D+; public transit: D-. … The need to rebuild
the nation’s highways, dams and other infrastructure is one of
the only areas of agreement among President Trump,
congressional Republicans and Democrats, who will take control
of the House next year.
A leading earthquake expert says San Diego should consider
accelerating replacement of aging water pipes and completing a
comprehensive inventory of local buildings, especially
structures made of unreinforced brick. … She [Dr. Lucy
Jones] said the water system is typically a city’s most
vulnerable point in an earthquake because shifting ground
cracks pipes, potentially depriving a recovering community of
its crucial water supply.
Trump administration officials were in California on Tuesday to
announce a $450 million loan for the Sites Reservoir project in
Colusa County. The money will be used to build a tunnel to
carry water from the Glenn-Colusa Canal to an existing
reservoir, giving farmers on the west side of the Sacramento
Valley more access to irrigation water.
Even if the nations of the world get their act together and
slash fossil-fuel emissions rapidly, the United States will
need to spend many billions of dollars to harden coastlines,
rebuild sewer systems and overhaul farming practices to protect
against floods, wildfires and heat waves that are already
causing havoc nationwide. … Much of the nation’s
infrastructure, including things like roads and sewers, was
built with historical weather conditions in mind.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
This month’s elections may have mortally wounded California’s
chances for a long-delayed $23 billion water tunnel project.
… The project’s biggest cheerleader, Gov. Jerry Brown
(D), is leaving office because of term limits and his
successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), lacks’ Brown’s enthusiasm
for the tunnels.
California voters on Tuesday rejected a water bond for the
first time in almost 30 years, disregarding pleas from its
backers that the money would fix crumbling infrastructure,
bring clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities and
kick-start badly needed environmental restoration projects.
California voters rejected borrowing nearly $9 billion for
water infrastructure improvement projects despite the state
suffering from chronic water scarcity. Proposition 3 lost
Tuesday by a narrow margin of less than 3 percentage points.
The initiative called for devoting the money to storage and dam
repairs, watershed and fisheries improvements, and habitat
protection and restoration.
Voters across the Central Valley have been flooded with water
initiatives this election season. President Trump’s Western
Water Memo sought to “ease regulatory burdens” that he says
keeps water out of Valley farms, while Proposition 3 will
appropriate billions of dollars to Valley water projects.
Nearly a decade ago, Gabriel Lozada, a man with a wiry frame
and waves of steel-gray hair who looks exactly like the
mathematician he is, set out to answer what he thought was a
relatively simple question: Could Utah’s proposed Lake Powell
Pipeline — a plan to ferry Colorado River water to southern
Utah — live up to the state’s rosy forecasts of growth and
The spring and summer of 2018 saw frenzied activity around
California WaterFix, the latest iteration of a decades-long,
on-again-off-again effort to convey fresh water from the
Sacramento River to the South Delta export pumps while
bypassing the Delta itself. Governor Jerry Brown has made
WaterFix a top priority, but as his administration heads into
its final months, the project – one of the largest
infrastructure projects in state history – still faces a raft
In California, it’s an $8.3 billion bond measure. In Colorado,
it’s oil and gas regulation. And in Alaska, it’s how much
deference to give salmon habitat when permitting mines, roads,
and other infrastructure. This election season, voters in at
least a half dozen states and counties will determine the fate
of ballot measures that propose policy changes or billions of
dollars in new spending that will affect the quality and
availability of water supplies.
An $8.9 billion state bond measure on the Nov. 6 ballot
authorizes $80 million for the removal of the Matilija Dam plus
billions for water projects around California. Proposition
3 would provide the largest amount of money that’s ever come
forward to take down the dam near Ojai, an official
overseeing the dam removal project said.
President Donald Trump’s memorandum on western water, which
ordered federal agencies to look for ways to remove regulatory
burdens on federal water projects, has caused waves in
California. But what will it actually do? … The USA TODAY
Network in California asked experts on California water,
farming and environmental issues to break down what’s
known at this point.
Excessive groundwater pumping by San Joaquin Valley farmers has
caused a stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal to sink so much that
it has interfered with irrigation deliveries to more than
300,000 acres of cropland. A fix could come from Proposition 3,
the water bond on the November ballot, which earmarks $750
million in state taxpayer funds to repair the aqueduct and
other infrastructure damaged by land subsidence.
Most visitors walking along the Embarcadero on San Francisco’s
famed waterfront are familiar with the Ferry Building, the
Giants ballpark, the Exploratorium and Fisherman’s Wharf. But
few might realize that none of those attractions would be
possible without a low-profile workhorse that holds everything
together: the Embarcadero Seawall, an aging, 3-mile-long,
rock-and-concrete structure that rebuffs pounding tides and
enabled the city to rise atop the tidal mudflats of San
More than a dozen years have passed since the U.S Army Corps of
Engineers became concerned about water seeping through the
auxiliary dam at Isabella Lake — not to mention the possibility
of a massive earthquake leveling the earthen structure.
Congress has approved a sprawling bill to improve the nation’s
ports, dams and harbors, protect against floods, restore
shorelines and support other water-related projects. If signed
by President Donald Trump, America’s Water Infrastructure Act
of 2018 would authorize more than $6 billion in spending over
10 years for projects nationwide, including one to stem coastal
erosion in Galveston, Texas, and restore wetlands damaged by
Hurricane Harvey last year.
If Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is elected governor as expected, he’ll
keep building the state’s two contentious public works
projects: the bullet train and twin water tunnels. … The
Democratic front-runner and his underdog rival, Republican
businessman John Cox, competed in a debate Monday. But the
train, tunnels and other vital state issues weren’t raised. So
I [George Skelton] called Newsom and he phoned back. I also
called and emailed Cox, but neither the candidate nor his staff
Past investigations of Legionnaires’ disease have identified
rooftop cooling towers, hospital plumbing, and ornamental
fountains in restaurant lobbies as the source of outbreaks. In
New Hampshire last summer, though, none of those was the
culprit in an outbreak of the deadly, pneumonia-like illness
that is caused by inhaling water droplets contaminated with
Legionella bacteria. This time, it was the hot tub.
California voters may be feeling a sense of deja vu when they
consider Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion water bond on the
November ballot to fund a long list of water projects —
from repairing Oroville Dam to restoring Bay Area wetlands to
helping Central Valley farmers recharge depleted groundwater.
Didn’t the voters recently approve a big water bond? Maybe two
of them? Yes. And yes.
The Oakdale Irrigation District has completed a $15 million
tunnel that bypasses a section of canal at risk of rock slides.
The 5,949-foot tunnel a few miles east of Knights Ferry is the
10th that OID has built since it formed in 1909 to tap the
Stanislaus River. One machine bored from the east and one from
the west after the project launched in September 2017, with a
break for the 2018 irrigation season.
From the air, Iron Gate Reservoir stretches for miles like a
long green banner behind Irongate Dam. … State water
quality officials posted signs around the lake in June warning
people that coming in contact with the cyanobacteria in the
algae can cause sickness in people, pets and wildlife.
Torrential rainfall lashed Japan in July. A cloudburst in
August submerged entire villages in south India. In September,
Hurricane Florence burst dams and lagoons, with coal ash and
pig waste spilling into the waterways of North Carolina. On the
other side of the planet, a typhoon walloped the Philippines
and ravaged the country’s staple crop, rice.
The biggest ticket item on California’s November ballot, tucked
between the governor’s race and local elections, is an $8.9
billion bond to help modernize California’s sprawling
waterworks. The measure, which was authored by a former state
water director, would fund scores of projects, from shiny new
desalination plants to upgrades of old dams and aqueducts to
restoration of tainted watersheds, including San Francisco Bay.
California voters in November will decide whether or not to
approve a controversial $8.9 billion bond measure for
water-related projects like groundwater storage, water
treatment and restoring protected habitats.
Thirteen percent of Americans, some 42 million people, use a
household well for their water supply. The largest clusters of
people who use wells are not where you might expect. There are
frequent reports of dry wells in the American West, but despite
its ranch-and-frontier image, the region is the most urban in
In a ceremony at the Eardley Avenue roundabout, where the
7-mile pipeline ties into the existing Cal Am water system, Cal
Am president Rich Svindland, Pacific Grove’s Mayor Bill Kampe
and City Councilman Rudy Fischer, who represented Monterey One
Water, and Monterey Peninsula Water Management District General
Manager Dave Stoldt all praised the pipeline project as a key
element of the proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply
A bond measure on the California ballot this November could
have major implications for water in Kern County and throughout
the Central Valley. Proposition 3, also known as the Water
Infrastructure and Watershed Bond Initiative, is one of 11
state-wide measures set to appear on the ballot on Election Day
After toiling away in the remote hills east of Interstate 680
on the Alameda-Santa Clara county line for seven years,
hundreds of construction workers have finally finished the
largest dam built in the Bay Area in 20 years. The 220-foot
tall dam at Calaveras Reservoir — as high as the roadway on the
Golden Gate Bridge soars above San Francisco Bay — replaces a
dam of the same size, built in 1925.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed two bills that would block
new offshore oil drilling in California by barring the
construction of pipelines, piers, wharves or other
infrastructure necessary to transport the oil and gas from
federal waters to state land.
The Front Range water district that wants to build the Chimney
Hollow Reservoir and pull more water from the Colorado River is
delaying construction bids and issuing revenue bonds, citing a
lawsuit by Save the Colorado, the Sierra Club and other
environmental groups challenging federal approvals for the
Repair and renovation work at the Moccasin Reservoir and dam in
Tuolumne County is under way nearly five months after a
punishing rainstorm pushed it to the brink of failure,
prompting the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people.
More than 80,000 people in the mountain community of Lynchburg,
Virginia, were at risk, and 120 families evacuated, when rising
waters from nearby College Lake reecently threatened to
overflow its outdated dam. Although calamity was averted
when the water receded, the incident was a frightening
reminder of the growing risk facing millions of Americans.
The state just awarded more than $2.5 billion for new water
storage projects that could help keep fruits and vegetables on
dinner tables nationwide. Lauren Sommer reports from member
station KQED in San Francisco that this marks a major shift in
the way the state is thinking about water.
The Sites Reservoir project will move forward, according to
officials, despite being awarded in a recent California Water
Commission announcement about half what project backers sought.
They will spend the next few months securing the necessary
financing to begin the next phase.
Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond on the November ballot for
a range of water projects, has support from 58 percent of
California’s likely voters, with 25 percent opposed and 17
percent undecided, the poll indicates.
During California’s recent five-year drought, it was common to
hear people asking why the state doesn’t build more dams. On
Tuesday, flush with cash from voters, the administration of
Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to finally do just that,
committing nearly $1 billion to build two huge dam projects in
the Bay Area, and another $1.5 billion for six more big water
projects from the Sacramento Valley to Bakersfield.
Central California is slowly collapsing under its own weight as
farmers suck out groundwater, emptying vast subterranean
aquifers and disrupting one of the state’s key water-delivery
networks. … Along 25 miles in Tulare County, the canal has
sunk so far that its carrying capacity has been cut in half,
according to the Sacramento Bee.
A 152-mile long canal that irrigates pistachios and other crops
in the eastern San Joaquin Valley is sinking by an inch a
month, the result of groundwater over-pumping by farmers. …
Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond on the November ballot,
would set aside $750 million to repair the canal, and
additional sums to avert subsidence.
The Army Corps of Engineers will spend $74 million to enlarge
Success Lake east of Porterville, doubling flood protection for
the city and boosting the water supply for farmers. It’s not
the only Army Corps project in the majority leader’s district
that got major funding. Lake Isabella in Kern County is getting
$258 million for a dam safety modification project.
A number of water storage projects vying for $2.7 billion in
available Proposition 1 funding moved a step closer to
receiving that money with the latest and final application
scores recently released by the California Water Commission –
Sites Reservoir being one of them. … The highest-scoring
project was the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project, which
received a score of 82.
California is about to embark on one of the biggest public
works projects not just in its own state history, but in any
state’s history. … And if that weren’t enough, it now appears
construction will be led by an entity entirely new to such a
massive water project.
The largest proposal is an $8.8-billion bond for water supply
and storage efforts including water recycling, stormwater
capture, restoring fish habitats and repairing the spillways of
the Oroville Dam that were damaged in 2017.
New water storage is the holy grail primarily for agricultural
interests in California, and in 2014 the door to achieving
long-held ambitions opened with the passage of Proposition 1,
which included $2.7 billion for the public benefits portion of
new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. … After
several rounds of reviewing and scoring proposals, the
California Water Commission released its final application
New water storage is the holy grail
primarily for agricultural interests in California, and in 2014
the door to achieving long-held ambitions opened with the passage
1, which included $2.7 billion for the public benefits
portion of new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. The
statute stipulated that the money is specifically for the
benefits that a new storage project would offer to the ecosystem,
water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.
The Diversion Pool below Oroville Dam and the trails on both
sides of it will be partially open Friday through the Fourth of
July, the Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday.
The report came during a conference call to update media on the
status of work to repair the spillways, which were heavily
damaged in February 2017.
It’s not just beaches and sand that are disappearing as the
ocean pushes inland. Sea level rise is also eating away at
California’s coastal cliffs. The question is by how much, as
Californians have heavily developed and continue to build along
the edge of the Pacific.
A U.S. judge who held a hearing about climate change that
received widespread attention ruled Monday that Congress and
the president were best suited to address the contribution of
fossil fuels to global warming, throwing out lawsuits that
sought to hold big oil companies liable for the Earth’s
The Senate will vote Monday on a minibus spending bill that
would fund the Department of Energy into the next fiscal year,
a measure that swelled with the addition last night of an
assortment of energy and resource bills. Senate leaders had
hoped to pass the package — which includes the energy-water,
military construction-veterans affairs and legislative branch
spending measures — before leaving for the weekend.
The developer trying to build a massive hydroelectric power
plant just outside Joshua Tree National Park failed to start
construction by a key deadline this week, in what critics of
the controversial project are calling a serious setback.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company has announced its interest in
selling two currently non-active hydroelectric projects at Kern
Canyon and the Tule River. The Kern Canyon project is located
east of Bakersfield. The dam was damaged in a rockslide in
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, got the Coyote Valley Dam
project — in one 13-word sentence — on a list of feasibility
studies for some 30 Corps projects from Alabama to Alaska to be
expedited by the Secretary of the Army. Tucked into the
122-page Water Resources Development Act of 2018, the list was
approved two weeks ago on a lopsided 408-2 vote in the House
and was forwarded to the Senate.
At a time when many Americans are struggling to access economic
opportunity and many of the country’s infrastructure assets are
at the end of their useful life, infrastructure jobs offer
considerable promise. … The country’s water infrastructure is
emblematic of this significant opportunity.
The state Department of Water Resources has beefed up its
response to the independent forensic report on what caused the
Oroville Dam spillway failure last year. The report, released
on Jan. 5, described how insufficient maintenance and repairs
and faulty original design allowed water to seep through the
spillway’s cracks and joints. It also blamed “long-term
systemic failure” on the part of DWR, regulators and the dam
safety industry at large.
It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the
Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is
first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan
for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors,
California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water
levels in Lake Mead before
they run too low.
If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level,
the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and
Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by
320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1
million households in one year.
I’ll trade you a piece of Yosemite Valley and all of the Napa
wine country for Disneyland and the Santa Monica Pier. … And
don’t even get us started with probable battles over how the
state’s precious water reserves would be distributed since
California is currently criss-crossed with an insanely complex
grid of aqueducts, dams, levees and channels.
Two dams critical to U.S. national security are at high risk
for “insider threats” that could impair operations because of
poor computer security practices such as too many employees
having access to administrator accounts and failures to
routinely change passwords, according to a new inspector
California is one step closer to getting a cut of $2.5 billion
over the next decade for its water needs now that the House has
passed a bill aimed at funding water research and
Across California and the Bay Area, environmental groups had
one of their best elections ever. They won nearly every major
race they contested, securing billions of dollars for parks,
beaches, water projects and public transportation, and at the
same time helped kill plans to develop Silicon Valley hillsides
and a proposal to change the way the state spends money from
its greenhouse gas auctions.
A historic vote on the Delta tunnels project is getting a
do-over. Southern California’s powerful water agency — the
Metropolitan Water District — said Thursday its board will vote
again in July on whether to pay for the lion’s share of the
project, known officially as California WaterFix.
The House on Wednesday night approved a nearly $3 billion bill
to improve the nation’s ports, dams and harbors, protect
against floods, restore shorelines and support other
water-related projects. … Lawmakers approved the bill [Water
Resources Development Act] 408-2, sending it to the Senate,
where a similar bill is under consideration.
An excavator slid down the Oroville Dam spillway slope on
Sunday morning, resulting in minor injuries to its operator,
the state Department of Water Resources confirmed on Wednesday.
Erin Mellon, assistant director of public affairs for DWR, said
that the operator immediately got back to work after the
accident, which is currently under investigation by the
department and Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the lead
contractor for the construction project.
A specially trained dog named Noah is receiving well-deserved
praise after preventing a mussel-infested watercraft from
launching Saturday in Lake Mendocino — a frighteningly close
call that public officials say underscores the need for
long-delayed, full-time measures to protect regional reservoirs
and critical infrastructure from exposure to the destructive
When [Gov. Jerry] Brown became governor again in 2011, a bullet
train project had been launched with voter approval and a
successor to the peripheral canal, twin tunnels beneath the
Delta, was being actively pursued, thanks largely to his
Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Wastewater recycling doesn’t have to be a fancy affair.
Sometimes it can be as simple as building a pipeline. That is
more or less the full description of the North Valley Regional
Recycled Water Project. Only a year after starting
construction, at a cost of around $90 million, the project is
already delivering recycled urban wastewater to farms and
wildlife refuges in California’s San Joaquin Valley, providing
a reliable new water supply to a drought-plagued region.
Chinook salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon will soon have an
easier path to the Sacramento River, and eventually their
spawning grounds. Construction has begun on the Fremont Weir,
which will allow the fish to travel from the Pacific Ocean back
to their birthplace during spawning season, which takes place
in early spring and ends just before the summer.
In contrast to the federal government’s chronic underinvestment
in the pipes, pumps, and plants that supply and treat the
nation’s drinking water, America’s large cities are forging
ahead with fresh spending to modernize their systems.
… The largest price increases occurred in California,
where major utilities are in a construction frenzy to cleanse
dirty water for reuse, gird pipes against earthquakes, and
respond to water-supply vulnerabilities that were exposed
during the five-year drought that ended last year.