Some water districts would like to keep negotiating with state officials over river flows. But lawsuits replaced settlements as the most likely path forward, the day after a crucial vote in Sacramento approving the “water grab.”
A sewage spill that federal officials said started Monday night south of the border continues to flood the Tijuana River with millions of gallons of raw effluent. A ruptured collector pipe in southeast Tijuana is leaking roughly 7 million gallons a day of sewage into the river, according to the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission.
A state board on Wednesday approved a contentious proposal to boost water flows through a Central California river, a move that would increase habitat for salmon but deliver less water to farmers and cities such as San Francisco. The plan under consideration by the Water Resources Control Board would alter management of the Lower San Joaquin River and three tributaries to address what environmental groups say is a crisis in the delta that empties into San Francisco Bay.
It may be the holiday season at the mall, but it’s spawning season on the American River. The fish ladder at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery opened in early November, and salmon will continue to climb it until mid-December.
As all eyes turn to the State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday, the board won’t have complete settlement agreements with Modesto-area irrigation districts to consider at a crucial meeting. At most, the districts and negotiators with the state Natural Resources Agency will have the basic framework of an agreement that’s an alternative to a state plan for river flows that is fiercely opposed by water users and local agencies in Stanislaus County.
The Río Nuevo flows north from Mexico into the United States, passing through a gap in the border fence. The murky green water reeks of sewage and carries soapsuds, pieces of trash and a load of toxic chemicals from Mexicali, a city filled with factories that manufacture products from electronics to auto parts.
Coloradoans know well the impact of abandoned mines and the risk they can pose to rivers and streams. Colorado has 13,000 miles of these streams, some of which are impaired from mining activities and miners long gone. As CEO of Coeur Mining and as CEO of Trout Unlimited, we don’t necessarily agree on everything.
Five appointed state regulators can do an enormous amount to help salmon and the state’s most-altered water system on Dec. 12. Or they can guarantee that water lawyers will stay busy for decades to come. The State Water Resources Control Board’s five members – including one added Thursday – are scheduled to vote on implementing the Bay-Delta Plan’s Substitute Environmental Document.
Fourteen years after Congress authorized New Mexico to trade 14,000 acre feet of water with a downstream user in Arizona—and four years after a state commission voted to build a diversion on the Gila River—there’s little to show for the project, other than continued confusion and about $17 million in spent money. “The process is going to end at some point,” said Norman Gaume, an opponent of the project and a former director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC). “It’s a question of how much more money will they waste?”
Unimpaired streamflow has long been the benchmark against which current stream flows are evaluated for environmental purposes. The underlying assumption is that if there is water in a stream, the stream must be healthy. A closer look shows why unimpaired flows is often a flawed basis for environmental management, particularly when water quality is the primary problem.
A sweeping conservation bill introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris would expand the boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include popular hiking trails north of Pasadena and create a federally designated recreation area along the San Gabriel River, including the western portion of the Puente-Chino Hills.
Fish and other aquatic life did not suffer severe or long-lasting damage from a mine waste spill three years ago that polluted rivers in three states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. An EPA report released last week analyzed the 2015 spill at the inactive Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado, which an EPA-led contractor inadvertently triggered.
Not long after the Gold Rush of 1849, California became a state and made its capital in Sacramento. It seemed a logical choice. The city was served by the two of the state’s biggest rivers, the Sacramento and American, at a time when a lot of goods and people moved via river traffic. It was somewhat centrally located. But, there was the occasional flood. Every spring, the snowcap in the Sierras melts, leaving a significant amount of water in the Central Valley, where Sacramento sits. The city engineered a levee system to control the seasonal flooding.
After more a year of obstacles, the federal government will resume a project to fulfill an 80-year-old promise. The Trump administration halted work in October 2017 on a plan to build a village for tribal members who fished the Columbia River for millennia, but last week, money reappeared in the budget.
California’s most senior Democrat and most powerful Republican in Washington are teaming up to extend a federal law designed to deliver more Northern California water south, despite the objections of some of the state’s environmentalists. While controversial, the language in their proposal could help settle the contentious negotiations currently underway in Sacramento on Delta water flows — the lifeblood of California agriculture as well as endangered salmon and smelt.
This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future.
A state official confirmed Friday that a potentially toxic form of blue-green algae is blooming in the San Joaquin River. It’s unknown whether this is the same algae greening up the waterfront area only a few miles away.
Desperate to save plummeting water reserves in Lake Mendocino, a Mendocino County water agency is lobbying the state to dramatically reduce the amount that must be released downstream into the Russian River for fish and people.