“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
Proponents of a plan to remove four Klamath River dams to
improve water quality and fish health were encouraged last week
after a federal commission approved their panel of experts who
will be responsible for determining what it will take to
undergo what officials say is the largest dam removal project
in the nation’s history, according to the nonprofit heading the
Water storage projects seeking money from Proposition 1 got
another round of scoring Friday from the California Water
Commission staff, adding a little more clarity to what will get
how much. Proposition 1, a water bond measure passed in
November 2014, included $2.7 billion for new water storage in
In the years to come, we’re likely to see a lot more “green”
and distributed infrastructure projects from water utilities,
like permeable pavement, rainwater capture and efficiency
rebates. That’s because coming up with the money needed to
scale these projects just got a lot easier.
The second and final phase of reconstruction continues at the
Oroville Dam spillways. … A flight over the location last
week during a break in Butte County Sheriff’s Office helicopter
training exercise, showed that much original concrete at the
top of the chute has been removed, along with the walls.
The California Water Commission – the entity responsible for
awarding $2.7 billion in Proposition 1 funds to water storage
projects in a few months – didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with
officials pushing for Sites Reservoir, primarily on the
benefits to salmon the project would provide.
Despite what you may have gleaned from television and the
movies, zombies aren’t always constituted of flesh and blood.
Sometimes they come in concrete and rock. Exhibit A is a
$3-billion dam proposal on the San Joaquin River known as
California voters are being asked to weigh in on new borrowing,
new government restrictions and a drought-friendly tax break on
the statewide primary ballots that will be counted June 5.
There are five propositions in all, a small menu of proposed
laws all written by the California Legislature.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and two
other water districts that agreed to fund the California
Waterfix tunnel project announced today [May 14] the formation
of a public agency that will be charged with its design and
construction. … The California Department of Water
Resources also announced that it has created the Delta
Conveyance Office …
Tracking how much Americans spend on infrastructure starts with
defining the sector. In this case, we mean the essential
services related to public works: water and sewer, electricity
and gas, transportation, telephone, and broadband.
Fresh off recent victories securing billions of dollars in
financing for his ambitious plan to reroute California’s water
system, Gov. Jerry Brown offered a genial yet urgent reminder
Thursday of the need to set the project on stable footing
before he leaves office next year.
Gov. Jerry Brown warned local water agency
officials throughout California on Thursday that unless
the delta tunnels project gets needed state and federal permits
soon and continues advancing, the major infrastructure project
may not happen in their lifetime.
A Bay Area water agency agreed Tuesday to pump $650 million
into Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels project, providing a
meaningful boost for the controversial $16.7 billion plan. The
4-3 vote by the Santa Clara Valley Water District brings the
tunnels project, which would overhaul the troubled heart of
California’s aging water delivery network, a step closer to
being fully funded.
One billion dollars isn’t enough, Sites Reservoir supporters
say. Despite being eligible for $1 billion in Proposition 1
funds from the state, a top official with the group
spearheading Sites Reservoir said the state is failing to see
the big picture in terms of the benefits the project would
provide California, namely its endangered salmon.
In a vote that could give Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion Delta
tunnels plan new momentum, Silicon Valley’s largest water
agency on Tuesday will consider changing course and endorsing
the controversial project to make it easier to move water to
The 2014 water bond included a novel funding approach designed
to take at least some of the politicking out of deciding which
projects get public money. This week’s tortured deliberations
by the California Water Commission showed just how tough it is
to do that. … The projects, from around the state,
spanned the storage spectrum.
Leaders from across the central San Joaquin Valley gathered
Friday to promise people here they won’t give up the fight for
Temperance Flat reservoir, one day after the California Water
Commission decided to allocate minimal money to the project.
But, project proponents said it was too soon to know exactly
how they’ll proceed.
The California Water Commission announced Friday that the Sites
Reservoir project was eligible for $1 billion in Proposition 1
funds, up from $933 million the commission had said it might
receive last month. … The commission also signaled more
support for a small groundwater storage proposed by the
Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District.
The California Water Commission on Thursday put in serious
doubt the future of building a reservoir at Temperance Flat in
east Fresno County. Meeting in Sacramento, the commission
appeared to be headed toward preventing the massive water
storage project to move forward.
After a five-hour packed public hearing, the board of Silicon
Valley’s largest water provider late Wednesday night put off a
closely watched vote until next week on whether to provide up
to $650 million to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan
to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta to make it easier to move water south.
The day of reckoning is drawing near for Huntington Beach’s
long-planned desalination plant, which would help quench Orange
County’s thirst with sea water and free up imported water for
the rest of the Southern California. Twenty years and $50
million into the process, officials with plant purveyor
Poseidon are optimistic they will get their final two permits —
possibly by year’s end.
Just six months ago, a major Bay Area water district only would
commit about a third of the $650 million Gov. Jerry Brown’s
office had hoped it would pay for his controversial Delta
tunnels project. In a sudden reversal, the Santa Clara Valley
Water District board now may pay the full amount.
The water is rising. Closures are lifting. And enthusiasm is
building. After more than a decade of planning, construction
and disappointing water levels, Lake Perris is on its way to
being the recreational paradise it was before fears that its
dam would collapse in an earthquake significantly curtailed
State regulators are urging local elected officials to brace
for retreat as scientists continue to predict sea levels will
rise in coming decades and pummel beachfront communities from
San Diego to Arcata.
In a dramatic reversal of its stance just six months ago,
Silicon Valley’s largest water district has scheduled a vote
Wednesday on a plan to commit up to $650 million to Gov. Jerry
Brown’s controversial proposal to build two massive tunnels
under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Bureau of Reclamation officials are calling a water leak from
the A canal headgates a standard operational incident, although
an unfortunate one, in regards to water delivery to Klamath
Reclamation Project irrigators.
The U.S. House approved a bill Wednesday that would reverse a
federal judge’s order to spill more water from four Pacific
Northwest dams to help migrating salmon reach the Pacific
Ocean. The bill, approved 225-189, would prevent any changes in
dam operations until 2022.
Two different water bonds are set to appear on the California
ballot this election season, after a $9 billion measure
gathered enough signatures to qualify in November, according to
the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday.
A bill proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher which would take
the State Water Project out of the hands of the state
Department of Water Resources passed unanimously on Tuesday
through a legislative committee. Assembly Bill 3045 passed 15-0
through the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and
is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The extreme weather swings experienced by Californians the past
six years — a historic drought followed by drenching winter
storms that caused $100 million in damage to San Jose and
wrecked the spillway at Oroville Dam — will become the norm
over coming generations, a new study has found.
California took a big step Friday toward launching a new
multibillion-dollar wave of reservoir construction. After being
accused of being overly tightfisted with taxpayer dollars, the
California Water Commission released updated plans for
allocating nearly $2.6 billion in bond funds approved by voters
during the depths of the drought.
Eight hundred deaths, 18,000 people injured, more than $82
billion in property damage and business losses, and 400 fires
that would claim more lives and permanently alter the urban
landscape of the San Francisco Bay region.
As is often said, it’s not a matter of if, but of when, a large
earthquake strikes the heart of one of California’s most
densely populated regions. State officials and local agencies
know the clock is ticking, and mile by mile, pipe by pipe, work
crews are replacing or retrofitting water lines throughout much
of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas. Upgrades have
also been made in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta …
A landmark report by the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that
at least 800 people could be killed and 18,000 more injured in
a hypothetical magnitude 7 earthquake on the Hayward fault
centered below Oakland. … More than 400,000 people could
be displaced from their homes, and some East Bay residents may
lose access to clean running water for as long as six months.
After last winter’s big snowfall and this year’s “Miracle
March,” which pounded the basin with feet of much-needed snow,
Lake Tahoe’s water level has remained high and the Tahoe City
dam has been releasing more water down the Truckee River. But
for one lakefront community, it’s not happening fast enough.
Sailors arriving in San Francisco in the 19th century used two
giant redwood trees perched on a hill to help guide their ships
into the bay. The redwoods were felled for their lumber at
around the time of the gold rush, but San Francisco now has a
new beacon: Salesforce Tower, the tallest office building in
Sin City has never been a place that thinks small. So it should
come as no surprise that Las Vegas – about 300 miles from the
Pacific Ocean – is pondering seawater desalination to meet its
long-term water demand. That doesn’t mean Vegas plans to build
a pipeline to the ocean. More likely, it would help pay for a
desalination facility in a place like Mexico, then trade that
investment for a piece of Mexico’s water rights in the Colorado
Elected officials and Southern Nevada Water Authority employees
got a rare glimpse inside the community’s water supply safety
net at Lake Mead on Saturday. For several hours in the morning,
during a lull in construction activity, the authority opened
its low-lake-level pumping station to tours.
When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
voted to finance the lion’s share of the delta tunnels project,
some on the board called it a bold stroke of leadership. The
delegations from Los Angeles and San Diego, however, called the
move alarming, financially risky and irresponsible.
A powerful Southern California water agency voted Tuesday to
cover two-thirds of the cost of building the controversial
Delta tunnels, in one of the most significant California water
actions in decades.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted
Tuesday to shoulder most of the cost of revamping the system
that delivers water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta to
the Southland, committing nearly $11 billion to building two
California’s largest water agency on Tuesday approved a nearly
$11 billion plan to help fund two enormous tunnels, breathing
new life into Gov. Jerry Brown’s ambitious and controversial
plan to remake the state’s water system.
The largest water district in California agreed Tuesday to fork
over nearly $11 billion to build two tunnels that will siphon
water south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a
major boost for Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet project.
At least a dozen federal agencies today [April 9] signed an
agreement to streamline the environmental permitting process, a
White House official confirmed to E&E News. The memorandum
of understanding implements President Trump’s Aug. 15, 2017,
executive order, which aims to cut permitting time for big
infrastructure projects to two years.
In what will be a crucial decision, the board of the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is expected
to vote Tuesday whether to approve nearly $11 billion in
financing to help build two giant water tunnels in the center
of the state’s waterworks or $5.2 billion to construct a single
tunnel. Lobbying on the long-planned project continued Monday
as Gov. Jerry Brown asked MWD directors to move ahead with both
In agenda materials posted Friday afternoon, the staff of the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California presented
two options for the board to vote on Tuesday: Approve $5.2
billion in funding for a single tunnel that would be built in
the center of the state’s waterworks, or OK up to $10.8 billion
to help finance the construction of two tunnels.
The need for more storage has been evident for decades, and
although Southern California’s water agencies, particularly the
Metropolitan Water District, have been diligent about adding
it, Northern California, where most of the rain falls, has been
California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year
when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water
bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.
Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping
disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making
flood management improvements. But they avoid more
controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they
propose to do some very different things to appeal to different
The Bay Area’s deeply unequal cities, home to mansions and
shacks alike, are linked by one thing: thirst. Banding
together, the region’s water agencies on Tuesday unveiled the
latest upgrades to a vast network that connects six million
people and provides mutual aid in a crisis, such as an
earthquake or severe drought.
When a wildfire leveled a whole neighborhood in Santa Rosa,
California, in October, it was just the first disaster for this
Wine Country city. A second disaster is now unfolding after
chemical contamination was detected in the city’s drinking
water following the fire.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is
dropping plans to push ahead with a two-tunnel proposal to
revamp the state’s water delivery system, opting to pursue a
scaled-back version instead.
Testing is in progress at schools throughout Marin for lead in
drinking water, and one fountain has been shut down because of
contamination. The testing is being conducted in accordance
with Assembly Bill 746. It requires campuses built before Jan.
1, 2010, to receive the testing for lead contamination by July
Claiming that mismanagement by Silicon Valley’s largest water
agency has likely wiped out endangered steelhead trout in
Coyote Creek, a coalition of environmentalists, including the
Sierra Club, has filed a complaint with state water officials
seeking to force big changes to protect the fish in the nearby
It may take Santa Rosa more than two years to fully replace the
water system in an area of Fountaingrove where the drinking
water was contaminated by benzene following the fires last
year, a timeline some residents say is unacceptable and will
prevent them from rebuilding.
Southern California’s biggest water agency is considering
picking up most of the bill for overhauling the state’s
waterworks without any guarantee that it will eventually recoup
its additional, multibillion-dollar investment. At a board
workshop Tuesday, officials of the Metropolitan Water District
of Southern California outlined ways in which the agency could
finance the construction of two giant water tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Three of the region’s four major dams (aside from Oroville) are
stocked with more than 100 percent of year-to-date average
water supply, including Folsom Lake, which rose 33 feet over
the past month. All dams remain 10-15 percent short of
Pushing ahead with an ambitious effort to take a majority stake
in the state’s troubled $16.7 billion tunnels project, Southern
California’s behemoth water agency announced Tuesday that the
plan would cost its ratepayers less than $5 a month.
Jock O’Connell, international trade adviser at California-based
Beacon Economics, said the infrastructure sector will be one of
the first to feel the impact of the tariff. … So “if you’re
building new bridges, or the twin tunnels the governor wants to
build, or the high speed rail system,” you’re going to have to
start recalculating, he said.
Heavy rain in the Sierra foothills pushed a small dam within
San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy water system to the brink of
failure Thursday, sending a brief scare through the rural
region where roads were closed and a few dozen residents were
forced to evacuate.
The Los Angeles City Council moved Wednesday to officially
oppose staged construction of a proposed multibillion-dollar
water-delivery tunnel project if it would result in greater
costs or a greater portion of the financial burden for Los
Inclusion of money for raising Shasta Dam got the most
attention in a recently released federal budget proposal, but
the same package also includes money for Sites Reservoir. The
Department of Interior is recommending spending $33.3 million
under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act,
which was signed into law in December 2016.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says
eradicating lead from drinking water is one of his top
priorities three years after the Flint water crisis, and he’s
worried Americans aren’t “sufficiently aware” of the threat.
The Trump administration accused Russia on Thursday of
engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and
European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems,
and could have sabotaged or shut power plants off at will.
The Trump administration on Thursday announced sanctions
against 19 Russian individuals and five organizations for
meddling in the 2016 election and for other “destructive
cyber-attacks” still targeting the U.S. electrical grid and
One of California’s foremost experts on freshwater fish
believes there may be hope for restoring native salmon to
abundance – but there’s a catch: California must build the
controversial Delta tunnels, he says.
Major parts of San Francisco Bay’s shoreline are slowly
sinking, a new scientific study has found, dramatically
increasing the risk of billions of dollars of flooding in the
coming decades as sea level rise continues due to climate
In the wake of rising outcry in San Diego of cross-border flows
of contaminated water, trash and sediment from Tijuana, Mexico
is moving ahead with a series of short-term upgrades to
Tijuana’s sewage collection and treatment system aimed at
preventing such incidents, and responding with greater speed
should they occur.
A Sacramento County judge on Monday declined to temporarily
stop the hearings that will decide the fate of Gov. Jerry
Brown’s Delta tunnels project after its opponents sued alleging
the process had been tainted by secret meetings.
Two tunnels, one or none? The question continues to swirl
around plans to perform major surgery on the sickly heart of
California’s water system. Confronted with a shortage of
funding, state officials announced last month that they would
move ahead with the construction of one giant water tunnel
under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta rather than two.
Flood control officials are asking a judge to impose sanctions
against an outspoken critic who they say has forced them to
waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money on
litigation the critic referred to as his “hobby.”
Sites Project Authority officials recently appealed the
California Water Commission’s initial public benefit score in
hopes of improving their pitch for a chunk of the $2.7 billion
in available Proposition 1 funding for state water storage
Norma Sanchez took a quick break from watering her East
Porterville front yard, bent the garden hose and reflected on
years of being without reliable water. Now, she has
water, pressure and along with it problems with the new
delivery system residents waited so long to get.
The Fish and Wildlife Service faces a $1.3 billion deferred
maintenance backlog that can sometimes get overlooked despite
its ominous size. … With some 5,000 buildings and 6,938
other structures to tend across 566 wildlife refuges, among
other responsibilities, FWS has to struggle to keep up with
problems that the public may not see.
Sacramento County is leading a lawsuit accusing state officials
of holding illegal secret meetings about the controversial
Delta tunnels project. The county, joined by the city of
Stockton, several Delta water agencies and a group of
environmental organizations, sued the State Water Resources
Control Board on Tuesday.
Facing pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown, Southern California’s
largest water agency could vote as soon as April on whether to
take a majority stake in the twin-tunnels project Brown plans
for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Friday is the deadline for agencies seeking water storage money
from the Proposition 1 bond measure to respond to the critiques
of their proposals by the California Water Commission staff.
… At stake is $2.7 billion in bond money dedicated to
increasing water storage, which was included in the broader
$7.5 billion water bond approved by voters in November 2014.
The California Water Commission, which is evaluating the Nevada
Irrigation District’s application in pursuit of state funding
for the proposed Centennial dam, was greeted by a surprise
group of visitors Wednesday. Dressed in lifejackets and
wielding kayak paddles, about 60 demonstrators stood outside
the Commission’s monthly meeting in Sacramento Wednesday to
show their opposition to the Centennial project on the Bear
Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle, pulling a child’s red
wagon, arrived at a meeting of the California Water Commission
with a stack of petitions with 4,000 signatures supporting the
two largest reservoir projects seeking bond money: Sites
Reservoir north of Sacramento and Temperance Flat in the San
Those who want to blame a California environmental law for
the state’s housing problems should instead point their fingers
at cities and counties, according to a new report from
researchers at UC Berkeley and Columbia University.
Everyone knows about the risk from Oroville Dam after the
spillway crisis, but most of the dams in the north valley are
considered to have a high-hazard potential. … New
requirements for these high-risk dams, including annual
inspections, will come into play if Gov. Jerry Brown signs the
dam safety bill on his desk soon.
Mexico City got a substantial warning before the shaking from a
distant earthquake arrived Friday — some 30 to 60 seconds
broadcast over loudspeakers from an earthquake early warning
system. It was another success for Mexico City’s earthquake
warning system — one which California, Oregon and Washington
state still lack, and one that is an ongoing target for
elimination by President Trump.
[Interior Secretary Ryan] Zinke wants to divide most of the
department’s 70,000 employees and their responsibilities into
13 regions based on rivers and ecosystems, instead of the
current map based mostly on state lines.
We all know Hoover Dam, and you might know about the Imperial
or other dams that manage the Colorado River. But the very
first completed dam on the Colorado was the Laguna Dam.
… Doug Cox at the Imperial Irrigation District manages
More than half of a $173.5 million U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency award to California for drinking water and
wastewater infrastructure upgrades will be designated for the
Pure Water Monterey recycled water project.
Earlier this week, KPCC learned Southern California’s largest
water importer, the Metropolitan Water District, was
considering more than doubling its investment in a plan to
reconfigure how supplies are diverted from one of the region’s
most important sources of water: the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta just east of San Francisco.
More than six years after critics began calling for a full
economic study of the Delta tunnels plan, the Brown
administration released one on Tuesday, finding that the
benefits outweigh the costs — albeit by a slim margin for some
In a dramatic twist on the Delta tunnels saga, Southern
California’s powerful water agency is exploring the feasibility
of owning the majority stake in the controversial project, a
move that raises fears of a “water grab.”
Becky Van and Kale Novalis knew exactly when and where they
were going to tell each other, “I love you,” for the first
time. … The couple had signed up for a Valentine’s Day tour
of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the largest of
14 wastewater treatment facilities in New York City.
If California taxpayers are going to spend $2.7 billion on new
water storage projects, the projects had better come with many
more environmental benefits. That was the message sent by
the California Water Commission, which on February 2 released
its first analysis of 11 projects vying for a share of the
President Donald Trump on Monday launched a “big week” for his
long-awaited infrastructure plan, which envisions spurring $1.5
trillion in spending over a decade to rebuild roads and
highways. … Half the money would go to grants for
transportation, water, flood control, cleanup at some of the
country’s most polluted sites and other projects.
On Feb. 26, the farmers will make a pivotal decision: whether
or not to tax themselves about $14 million over 30 years to
build a new delivery system. Thursday, the League of Women
Voters, the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District and
county officials will host a public meeting to explain all of
this at 6 p.m. at Jackson Hall, on the Lodi Grape Festival
Government at all levels moves at a glacial pace, especially
when it’s trying to deal with the complex and contentious issue
of water. Four years ago in the midst of a scary, five-year
drought — one of the state’s driest periods in recorded history
— voters eagerly approved a $7.5-billion water bond proposal,
Proposition 1. The vote was a lopsided 67% to 33%.
San Francisco officials have reached an important milestone in
a long-running effort to build a high-pressure water network
needed to bring vital firefighting capabilities to the Richmond
and Sunset districts — two neighborhoods that have historically
lacked direct access to such a system.
The pipes carrying away the effluvia of very sick people are
bound to be nasty, dirty places. But just how unwholesome they
are is made clear in a new report showing that the pipes
beneath a hospital intensive care unit are a throbbing,
seething hookup zone for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Researchers, government officials, and technical experts met
February 8 in Washington, D.C. for the first meeting of a
National Academy of Sciences investigation on minimizing the
spread of Legionella bacteria in building plumbing and
municipal water systems. Legionnaires’ disease sickened at
least 6,141 people in 2016 in the United States and killed
several hundred, a death toll that is higher than any other
water-related illness in the country.
California water officials announced Wednesday that a plan to
build two giant tunnels for moving water supplies across the
state was being reduced to a single, less costly underpass — at
least initially — a setback for one of Gov. Jerry Brown’s
State officials Wednesday said they will press ahead with a
smaller version of a long-planned water delivery project,
initially building one, instead of two, massive tunnels in the
heart of California’s vast waterworks. The decision to downsize
California WaterFix boils down to money.
State officials declined late Tuesday to further delay key
hearings on the proposed Delta tunnels, overriding opponents’
arguments that illegal meetings have taken place and that the
project soon may be altered anyway. The State Water Resources
Control Board found that the meetings were legal.
Nine individuals or entities from Yuba-Sutter are suing the
California Department of Water Resources for more than $27
million in damages suffered as a consequence of the Lake
Oroville spillway crisis last February.
In a report released Friday, California water officials found
that Los Vaqueros Reservoir managers haven’t shown that enough
public benefit will come with the expansion. As a result, they
may get little or no state funding. The same was said of 10
other water-supply projects competing for dollars from
voter-approved Proposition 1.
Last winter, California’s Democratic leaders were feeling
cautiously optimistic that they could work with President
Donald Trump to spur desperately needed infrastructure
investment in the state. One year into the Trump
administration, the prospects for bipartisan partnership on the
issue have dimmed.
California water officials have approved $34.4 million in
grants to eight desalination projects across the state,
including one in the East Bay city of Antioch, as part of an
effort to boost the water supply in the wake of the state’s
historic, five-year drought.
America is facing a water infrastructure crisis. … Investing
more in the country’s water infrastructure would help—which the
Trump administration and other federal leaders appear to be
considering in 2018—but simply throwing more money at these
problems does not necessarily address another enormous
challenge facing utilities and the communities they serve:
Local leaders are pressing the state Department of Water
Resources for details on how residents will be involved in the
community needs assessment. Department officials have said that
constructing additional infrastructure at Oroville Dam,
including a second gated spillway and a fully lined emergency
spillway, would be considered as part of the assessment.
An application for $1 billion of state bond money to build
Temperance Flat dam east of Fresno scored a dismal zero from
the California Water Commission on the cost-benefit ratio,
potentially jeopardizing its construction. Supporters of the
dam expressed shock and dismay and are blaming the commission
staff for the low score. They’ve got company.
During his second governorship, Jerry Brown has frequently
touted big public-works projects as the mark of a great
society—a marked change from his first stint four decades ago,
when “small is beautiful” and “lower your expectations” were
his oft-voiced themes. He did it again last week, effusively
plugging two major public works, twin water tunnels and a
high-speed rail network, during his final State of the State
For a politician who winces at the L-word — “legacy” — Gov.
Jerry Brown spent much of his State of the State address on
Thursday defending the key projects and policies that will
likely define his: the state’s beleaguered bullet train, his
Delta tunnel plan and criminal justice reforms reducing
California’s prison population.
Months of behind the scenes talks have failed to drum up enough
money to pay the full costs of replumbing the center of
California’s sprawling waterworks with two giant water tunnels.
That has left the state with little choice but to scale down a
roughly $17-billion water delivery project to fit a funding pot
of less than $10 billion.
Federal officials have agreed to cede authority over projects
that would destroy vernal pools to San Diego officials. In
exchange, the city has agreed to protect many vernal pools and
abide by a clear set of rules endorsed by federal officials.
Get a unique view of the San Joaquin Valley’s key dams and
reservoirs that store and transport water on our March Central
Our Central Valley
Tour, March 14-16, offers a broad view of water issues
in the San Joaquin Valley. In addition to the farms, orchards,
critical habitat for threatened bird populations, flood bypasses
and a national wildlife refuge, we visit some of California’s
major water infrastructure projects.
Time is running out for Gov. Jerry Brown to fix two big legacy
projects. If he doesn’t, his successor might just dump them in
the trash. Brown has only until the end of the year to clean up
and repair his bullet train and water tunnel ventures.
The disaster at Oroville Dam in California last winter put
questions about dam safety in the headlines for the first time
in many years. … The state of Utah went through its own
disaster in 1989 that prompted big changes in the state’s dam
Signaling trouble for nearly a dozen landmark water storage
projects to help California cope with its next drought, state
water officials on Thursday announced none of the proposals —
including raising Contra Costa County’s Los Vaqueros Dam
and building a new Santa Clara County dam near Pacheco Pass —
provide the public benefits that their supporters claim,
potentially putting their state funding at risk.
Bacteria responsible for the deadliest waterborne disease in
the United States are frequent residents of the cooling towers
that are a part of heating and air conditioning systems in
apartments, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, and other large
buildings, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
The United States is facing a number of water issues: drought,
wildfires, pollution and inequitable distribution. In fact,
when it comes to water policy, the U.S. Water Alliance says
that the nation is at a “crossroads” of short-term crises –
like deadly storms and acute pollution problems – and long-term
trends such as climate change and
Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is proposing scaling back his
troubled plans to redo California’s water system, releasing a
new plan that would build only one tunnel to ship water from
Northern California instead of two, and put Southern and
central California water agencies directly in charge of
designing and building it.
After power and drinking water return, and cleanup crews haul
away the last of the boulders and muck that splintered homes
like a battering ram, the wealthy seaside hideaway of
Montecito, California, will start rebuilding with the
possibility of another catastrophic flood in mind.
Mudflows knocked out six sections of Montecito’s main water
line that snakes along the hills above most homes. There, a
pipeline once partly aboveground is now sometimes 50 feet in
the air after the ravines beneath it washed out.
Faced with a shortage of money and political support after
seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is
working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects
— a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move
water from Northern California to the south.
The verdict is in and California stands convicted of gross
negligence in the construction and maintenance of the nation’s
highest dam, Oroville. The dam on the Feather River came very
close to failing last year, forcing the evacuation of a
quarter-million people living downstream. … Clearly, for
decades there was no willingness at DWR [California Department
of Water Resources] to acknowledge the fundamental nature of
the flaws and spend money to repair them.
Faced with a shortage of money and political support after
seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is
working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects,
a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move
water from Northern California to the south.
In December, the city and county of Santa Cruz joined a wave of
coastal California communities suing fossil-fuel companies for
climate-change related damages. On Monday, ExxonMobil pushed
back against what it called “abusive law enforcement tactics
and litigation,” threatening to file its own legal action and
accusing the local jurisdictions of hypocritically omitting
reference to climate change damages from their own bond
Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez on Thursday
proposed a $400 million plan to build a horseshoe-shaped lake
on the north side of the Salton Sea — and to pay for it using a
tax district and a new bond issue subject to voter
approval. The proposal calls for a 4,200-acre lake, roughly
double the size of Big Bear Lake.
Riverside County officials on Thursday unveiled a possible
$400-million remedy for some of what ails the shrinking Salton
Sea: record-high salinity levels, die-offs of fish, fewer birds
and an immense “bathtub ring” of smelly playa prone to toxic
Six months ago, officials in Imperial Beach joined six other
California coastal communities in a first of its kind lawsuit:
Demanding that 18 energy companies in the oil and coal sectors
pay the cities for damages associated with rising sea levels
and other effects of a warming planet. Now, one of those
companies — ExxonMobil — has fired back with its own aggressive
Utilities from California to Florida are seeing their expenses
drop dramatically with the GOP tax overhaul, which could save
these regulated electric, gas and water utilities billions of
dollars each year. … California is home to numerous
investor-owned utilities, ranging from Pacific Gas & Electric
to private water companies.
Having signed the tax bill just before Christmas, [President
Donald] Trump promised to offer a public works plan in the new
year. Large sums of money are potentially in play — a $1
trillion figure has been discussed by both Democrats and
Republicans for repairing, modernizing, and extending the
nation’s water pipes, roads, airports, dams, transmission
lines, bridges, and sewer systems.
The California Water Commission got a look in December at all
11 projects vying for water storage bond money, including Sites
Reservoir. Proponents of Sites, an off-stream reservoir
proposed for a valley west of Maxwell, are seeking $1.7 million
from Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion bond measure approved by
voters in November 2014.
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also known
as FERC, formally accepted the state’s application for the Lake
Powell Pipeline. This notice affirms that the proposed 140-mile
pipeline, which would draw water from the Colorado River to
serve southwestern Utah communities is ready for environmental
analysis and public comment.
Elected officials and other groups representing those living
below the troubled Oroville Dam have asked the Trump
administration to hold off on renewing its 50-year license,
saying the federal government should at least know why the
spillway broke in half last winter before signing off.
A 20-mile portion of one of the Valley’s largest waterways is
sinking. It’s getting worse each month and while the water
levels drop, the price tag rises. Earlier this year, the
Friant Water Authority reported measurements that showed a
nearly 3-foot drop in the Friant-Kern Canal’s elevation in some
The story of water in 2017 was one of trial and response.
America’s water utilities, for instance, are caught between two
forces: a need to reinvest in aging systems and income
stagnation among the bottom 20 percent that is calling into
question the affordability of water service for the poor.
Overseas, the risks to life and health are more immediate.
With the number of fires in the West growing due to
climate change, and a recent decision by the state Public
Utilities Commission to require that a utility — not ratepayers
— pick up the costs for fires caused by its power lines, it’s
likely that Californians are going to see more deliberate,
pre-planned power outages when there is extreme wildfire risk,
experts say. … Among the problems from planned blackouts
… Water pumps may not work.
The Bee reviewed five years of inspection reports by the
California Department of Water Resources for 93 dams that the
state identified as potentially problematic in the wake of the
Oroville Dam spillway failure. … Use the map to see if a dam
near you is on the list.
When it comes to inspecting dams, California is second to none.
A panel of national experts examined the state’s Division of
Safety of Dams last year and declared it tops in the field,
citing inspectors’ knack for flagging small problems before
they turn serious. Getting dam owners to fix those flaws
quickly is another matter.
As firefighters battled a destructive wildfire that swept
through neighborhoods in Ventura, they were stymied by some
fire hydrants that didn’t work. Officials said power outages
caused by the fire and heavy winds left some water pumping
stations inoperable, meaning water couldn’t reach the fire
Sun-scorched desert mesa, 140 miles of it, lies between Lake
Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, and Utah’s
Washington County, one of America’s driest metropolitan
regions. … The [Washington County Water Conservancy] district
plans to link the reservoir and the county with one of the
longest and most expensive water pipelines ever proposed in the
State lawmakers opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnel plan
are stepping up calls for greater transparency into the
project’s finances, as the proposed water delivery system
suffered a series of setbacks this fall.
A long-awaited study on the costs and benefits of Gov. Jerry
Brown’s Delta tunnels should be finished by next spring, a
state official said Thursday after an independent audit
concluded such a study should have already been done. The
tunnels have been in the planning stage for 11 years, but state
officials have never completed a comprehensive analysis of
whether the project pencils out financially.
In a highly anticipated report, a panel chartered by Congress
to advise public agencies on effective governance recommends
that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revise how it
appraises financial burdens when communities are required to
upgrade water and sewer systems.
With a five-year drought and then a winter of floods having
exposed the limits of California’s vast network of reservoirs,
dams and canals, voters are likely to have the chance next year
to decide whether to pay for major upgrades to the state’s
waterworks. Two multibillion-dollar bonds are expected to go
before voters that promise to boost water supplies, offer flood
protection and restore rivers and streams.
The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to
continue its opposition to a proposal related to funding for
the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The removal of
the dams is the core component of the Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement, a multi-party agreement that sets forth a
path toward the removal of J.C. Boyle, Iron Gate, Copco 1, and
Copco 2 dams.
Who owns the water pipes beneath your street? Increasingly, it
is a private company, a shift from the mostly public ownership
of the systems used to provide drinking water and remove waste
that has prevailed in the U.S. since the early 1900s.
Every day, Mike Thompson hears a new story about how last
month’s fires in Northern California have affected people’s
lives…. And yet none of the $44 billion that the White House
requested of Congress on Friday for supplemental disaster aid
includes funding to rebuild California after the fires — which
killed 43 people and destroyed nearly 9,000 structures — a move
that’s sparked an outcry from Thompson and his fellow
President Trump says he is frustrated with the slow pace of
major construction projects like highways, ports and pipelines.
Last summer, he pledged to use the power of the presidency to
jump start building when it became bogged down in
A coalition of non-profits is asking a superior court to
reverse a state agency’s decision to greenlight a
long-proposed, controversial desalination plant in Huntington
Beach. … The Poseidon desalination plant has been proposed
for the site of the AES power plant on Pacific Coast Highway in
Huntington Beach for nearly 20 years, and has been continually
challenged and fought by environmental groups.
This year’s record hurricane season has been a wake-up call
when it comes to water infrastructure. It has also been a
reminder of how the public sector plays a crucial role in
promoting more resilient investments, managing runoff concerns,
and preventing floods. Many communities, though, still lack the
financial and technical capacity to support clean, safe, and
reliable water infrastructure.
In the weeks after Labor Day, one dozen people who live in or
visited Anaheim, California fell ill with a common set of
symptoms: fever, chills, and coughing. Ten of the 12, all
between the ages of 52 and 94, required treatment at a hospital
and were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a pneumonia-like
illness that attacks the lungs. One person died.
Bursting pipes. Leaks. Public health scares. America is facing
a crisis over its crumbling water infrastructure, and fixing it
will be a monumental and expensive task. Two powerful
industries, plastic and iron, are locked in a lobbying war over
the estimated $300 billion that local governments will spend on
water and sewer pipes over the next decade.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers asked the U.S.
government Friday for $7.4 billion to help rebuild after a
cluster of fires tore through the heart of wine country,
killing more than 40 people and leaving thousands without
It sounds like a nice, elegant compromise for a California
water project swamped in uncertainty: If there isn’t enough
money to build two Delta tunnels, why not build just one?
Drastically downsizing Gov. Jerry Brown’s tunnels wouldn’t
merely save money.
California’s ambitious plan to build two giant water tunnels
under the West’s largest estuary has been deemed too expensive
by some of the water utilities that would have to pay for it.
As a result, attention is turning back to a cheaper option: One
tunnel instead of two. … Ironically, it is an option the
state’s top water agencies rejected out of hand a decade ago.
In the Delta region, the twin tunnels always have been
considered double trouble. If you take the “twin” out, you’ve
still got trouble. That’s the view of many local activists as
speculation grows that Gov. Jerry Brown’s two-tunnel water
conveyance project will soon be downsized, whittled down to
perhaps just one tunnel with a smaller capacity.
At a time when California was suffering from a record-breaking
drought, removing a dam would have seemed counterintuitive. …
The razing of the Sam Clemente Dam served a dual
purpose. The sediment-choked reservoir blocked access to the
ocean for steelhead and the dam was at risk of catastrophic
failure due to earthquakes.
A new option has entered the discussion of Delta water
supplies: one cross-Delta tunnel instead of two. For now,
California’s WaterFix proposal, pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, is
for two tunnels under-crossing the Delta for 35 miles, allowing
up to 60 percent of Delta water exports to come from the main
channel of Sacramento River.
Considering the events of this past winter and the problems
they posed to Yuba-Sutter levees, officials are confident the
improvements made over the past several months will withstand
the upcoming flood season.
After several hours of confusion over the Trump
administration’s position on a massive water delivery project,
the Interior Department said Wednesday it would continue to
work with the state on California WaterFix.
Is the Trump administration opposed to the Delta tunnels, Gov.
Jerry Brown’s plan to remake the troubled estuary and improve
water deliveries to the southern half of the state? For a while
Wednesday, it certainly looked that way.
Bewildering both opponents and supporters of Gov. Jerry Brown’s
plan to build two giant water tunnels under the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, the Department of Interior late Wednesday
said the Trump administration had not pulled its support for
the project as reported earlier.
Five California Democrats in Congress asked Tuesday for a new
federal review of funding for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed
tunnel project. Their request follows a federal audit of
Brown’s $16 billion proposal to re-engineer California’s
complex north-south water system by building two giant water
Trouble with the Upper Berryessa Creek flood project between
North San Jose and Milpitas continues to work its way
downstream, as a group of residents plan to legally challenge
the Santa Clara Valley Water District and California Department
of Fish and Wildlife in court over “unmitigated” environmental
impacts from the Lower Berryessa Creek project.
The final round of battles between the people who want to build
the Poseidon desalination water plant, and the grass roots
environmental groups who oppose it, began Thursday in a crowded
city hall chamber in Huntington Beach. … The
three-member [State Lands] commission voted late Thursday to
approve the project as long as the operators agree to eliminate
or reduce carbon emissions.
A proposed Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant passed
a major regulatory hurdle Thursday when a marathon session at
City Hall concluded with an endorsement from the California
State Lands Commission.
Silicon Valley’s water district Wednesday rejected Gov. Jerry
Brown’s plan to build twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta but said it would support a smaller, less
expensive project. A top state official said the Brown
administration is willing to consider such an approach.
In its most far-reaching decision in more than 50 years,
Silicon Valley’s largest water provider will vote Tuesday on
whether to embrace or reject Gov. Jerry Brown’ s $17 billion
plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta.
On Oct. 10, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California voted to endorse the Delta tunnels, the $17 billion
project that aims to reboot California’s main water supply
system. Two days later, the Kern County Water Agency offered
its own bid – albeit it a hesitant one – of support.
Sonoma County officials said they will not let people return
home until it is safe and utilities are restored. Crews have
been working around the clock to connect water and power, in
some cases putting up new poles next to smoldering trees, the
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls Gov. Jerry Brown pitching
her to support his costly twin-tunnels water plan. He showed
her the environmental analysis and she was shocked. Shocked not
at the contents, but at the documents’ size.
The San Diego River saw a huge increase of pollution from human
feces last winter, according to documents obtained from
regional water quality regulators. The flood of human waste
came as storms drenched the region, washing pollution from the
urban environment into watersheds and potentially flushing
sewage from leaky pipes through groundwater into rivers and
Residents in the Larkfield area north of Santa Rosa were urged
not to drink tap water there for the foreseeable future, as the
devastating Tubbs fire ravaging the region has damaged storage
tanks and a pumping station, officials said Monday.
Next month three Marin Municipal Water District spillways will
undergo an inspection to make sure they are safe in the wake of
the Oroville Dam problems earlier this year. Last week the
district hired Los Angeles-based AECOM to conduct evaluations
of the spillways at the Kent, Nicasio and Soulajule reservoirs
as required by the state Division of Safety of Dams.
In 1960, the water barons of Los Angeles stood between Gov. Pat
Brown and his dream of building a network of dams and canals to
make the southern half of California bloom. He beat them – just
barely, after weeks of public arm-twisting – and the State
Water Project was born.
After the Obama administration helped broker a deal last year
to tear down four dams straddling the California-Oregon border,
practically everyone involved figured President Donald Trump
would undermine it. They assumed Trump would side with
conservative activists and Republican congressmen who thwarted
an earlier version of the same agreement in 2015.
On the eve of key votes in San Jose and Los Angeles, Gov. Jerry
Brown’s $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels
through the Delta to make it easier to move water from north to
south was hit with another setback Thursday as a state audit
found it was suffering from “significant cost increases and
Imperial Beach, Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego took the
first step toward suing the federal government to stop
wastewater and raw sewage from continually pouring over the
border from Tijuana into San Diego County. … On Thursday, Lt.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, as the chair of the State Lands
Commission, announced his support for the efforts by local
officials in San Diego to address the situation.
The state’s water users will find out soon if they will be
paying for the $17 billion tunnel project called the California
WaterFix. The controversial plan proposes building tunnels
under the Sacramento Delta to secure the supply of water being
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors of the Water Resources
Agency approved up to $500,000 for state-mandated emergency
repair work to the county-owned Lake San Antonio and Lake
Nacimiento dam spillways dubbed “minimum requirements” to allow
the dam spillways to continue operating, with additional,
classified assessments still being finalized that could result
in further repairs.
Southern California’s mammoth water agency appeared ready to
plow ahead with the Delta tunnels project Tuesday, despite a
“no” vote by a giant bloc of San Joaquin Valley farmers that
could doom the $17 billion proposal.
Year after year, owners of professional sports teams and
developers of proposed skyscrapers have pleaded with California
lawmakers to grant relief for their projects from the state’s
environmental regulations. They’ve found a largely receptive
After big natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,
federal officials often tighten up flood protection standards.
That’s what happened in California after Hurricane Katrina
twelve years ago. But many flood-prone communities are still
struggling to meet those standards, including Sacramento, one
of the riskiest flood zones in the country.