Sloughs (pronounced “slews”) are shallow lakes or swamps. Generally
they serve as backwaters –
or a stagnant part of a river – and are consequently located at
edges of rivers where a stream or other canal once flowed.
Lester A. Snow, the mastermind behind
countless water resources management projects, has been involved
in water issues in two states, both the public and private
sectors and on regional, state and federal levels of government.
In a timeline of his career, Snow served from 1988-1995 as the
general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority after
leaving the Arizona Department of Water Resources. From
1995-1999, he was the executive director of the CALFED Bay-Delta
Program, which included a team of both federal and state
Springs are where groundwater becomes surface water, acting as openings
where subsurface water can discharge onto the ground or directly
into other water bodies. They can also be considered the
consequence of an overflowing
aquifer. As a result, springs often serve as headwaters to streams.
The Stanislaus River empties into the San Joaquin from the east
along with the Merced and
Tuolumne rivers. Although
drainage flows into these rivers in their lower reaches, the
water quality is relatively good in each of the three
Liability for levee failure in California took a new turn after a
court ruling found the state liable for hundreds of millions of
dollars from the 1986 Linda Levee collapse in Yuba County. The
levee failure killed two people and destroyed or damaged about
The collapse also had long-term legal ramifications.
The Paterno Decision
California’s Supreme Court found that, “when a public entity
operates a flood management system built by someone else, it
accepts liability as if it had planned and built the system
The State Water Project is an aquatic lifeline for California
because of its vital role in bringing water to cities and farms.
Without it, California would never have developed into the
economic powerhouse it is.
The State Water Project diverts water from the Feather River to
the Central Valley, South Bay Area and Southern California. Its
key feature is the 444-mile long California Aqueduct that can
be viewed from Interstate 5.
Ron Stork, the award-winning policy director of the Friends of
the River, joined the statewide California river conservation
group in 1987 as its associate conservation director. Previously
he was executive director of the Merced Canyon Committee, where
he directed the successful effort to obtain the National Wild and
Scenic River designation for the Merced River.
For all the benefits of precipitation, stormwater also brings
with it many challenges.
In urban areas, after long dry periods rainwater runoff can
contain heavy accumulations of pollutants that have built up over
time. For example, a rainbow like shine on a roadway puddle can
indicate the presence of oil or gasoline. Stormwater does not go
into the sewer. Instead, pollutants can be flushed into waterways
with detrimental effects on the environment and water quality.
The Suisun Marsh is the largest contiguous brackish water wetland
in western North America, providing food and habitat for
thousands of migratory birds and many species of plants, fish and
wildlife. The combination of tidal wetlands, diked seasonal
wetlands, sloughs and upland grassland comprises more than 10
percent of the remaining wetlands in California.
The marsh is where fresh water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta meets salt water from San Francisco Bay.
The story of California’s surface water— water that remains on
the earth’s surface, in rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs or
oceans—is one that reflects the state’s geographic complexity.
About 75 percent of California’s surface water supply originates
in the northern third of the state, but around 80 percent of
water demand occurs in the southern two-thirds of the state. And
the demand for water is highest during the dry summer months when
there is little natural precipitation or snowmelt.
A new era of groundwater management
began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies
to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management
plans with the state as the backstop.
SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the
“management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be
maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without
causing undesirable results.”
Sustainability is defined as that which “meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs.”
In its 2013 Water Plan Update, the California Department of Water
Resources notes that “a sustainable system or process has
longevity and resilience … manages risk but cannot eliminate it …
generally provides for the economy, the ecosystem, and social