Our state is in a fight over water policy that could hit all Californians squarely in their grocery carts. If the State Water Board’s unimpaired flow policy is adopted, significant additional amounts of water will be diverted away from farms and others and left in our rivers under the assumption that it will help native fish. Not only does science show this approach doesn’t work, we also know it will cause a variety of new problems.
The rivers that once poured from the Sierra Nevada, thick with snowmelt and salmon, now languish amid relentless pumping, sometimes shriveling to a trickle and sparking a crisis for fish, wildlife and the people who rely on a healthy California delta. A state plan to improve these flows and avert disaster, however, has been mired in conflict and delays.
Environmentalists are challenging a court ruling over whether water from the Rio Grande is properly accounted for and being used in beneficial ways as it flows through New Mexico’s most populated region. They say the state’s top water manager needs to do more to reduce use in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, but irrigation officials say they’re already doing the best they can as years of drought have strained resources.
Salmon fishing on the Mokelumne River and South Fork Mokelumne has improved as the Chinooks move upstream on their fall spawning run. “Fishing is really good now,” said Jeremy Grimes at Fisherman’s Friend in Lodi.
Dear Chairwoman Felicia Marcus: The State Water Resources Control Board is slated for a Nov. 7 vote on a Bay-Delta Water Quality Plan which would require 40 percent of unimpaired flows to remain in the rivers to purportedly revive chinook salmon through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
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.
In a recent decision in litigation over flows and salmon survival in the Scott River system, the California Court of Appeal has ruled that groundwater pumping that diminishes the volume or flow of water in a navigable surface stream may violate the public trust. The public trust does not protect groundwater itself. “Rather, the public trust doctrine applies if extraction of groundwater adversely impacts a navigable waterway to which the public trust doctrine does apply.”
A price tag has been calculated for keeping Chico’s trash out of nearby rivers and streams: $5.4 million, plus $122,000 a year. The city is being required by the State Water Resources Control Board to implement a plan to capture the trash that washes into the city storm drain system, to keep it out of waterways.
The Animas River appears to have hit an all-time low. During the last week or so, the river in Durango has registered the lowest flows ever recorded at a water-level gauge, which has been in operation for 107 years, located behind the Powerhouse Science Center, according to data maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) wants to sell its two dams on California’s upper Eel River as soon as possible. Part of a diversion scheme called the Potter Valley Project, the utility wants to get the dams off its balance sheet so badly it is moving to auction them off right in the middle of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing process. Scott Dam will be 102 years old, and Cape Horn 112 years old, when their current federal license expires in 2022.
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.
The panoply of eagles, ospreys, beavers, otters and other critters that paraded before our gaze over our nine hours (including 30 minutes for breaks) on the Sacramento River between Hamilton City and Butte City far exceeded our hopes.
After three weeks and about 400 miles, I finished my kayaking (and walking) journey down the “most endangered” river in America: California’s San Joaquin. This page collects the tweets from my adventure.
Three weeks and about 400 miles ago, I started a trip down the “most endangered” river in the United States, California’s San Joaquin. The underloved river is born in the Sierra Nevada and snakes across one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, California’s Central Valley.
From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW):
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is hosting its third speaker series with a presentation on the effects of climate change on salmon and steelhead trout in the American River. The event will be held at the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center in Rancho Cordova on July 17 at 7 p.m.