Topic: Agricultural Conservation

Overview

Agricultural Conservation

As the single largest water-consuming industry, agriculture has become a focal point for efforts to promote water conservation. The drive for water use efficiency has become institutionalized in agriculture through numerous federal, state and local programs. Since the 1980s, some water districts serving agricultural areas have developed extensive water conservation programs to help their customers (From Aquapedia).

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Win-loss budget outcomes for ag climate programs

The California Climate & Agriculture Network called the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program the most popular of the Climate Smart Agriculture Programs, and the only program that offered incentives for on-farm water conservation practices.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: MWD achieves consensus on Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

The agreement on how to address dwindling reservoir levels along the Colorado River comes after years of negotiation between two nations, seven states, ten tribes, and the countless internal interests involved. TPR presents the following interview with Metropolitan Water District General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger discussing how a complex consensus among the parties was finally reached…

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: It’s time to finally adopt a Russian River plan

Here’s a safe prediction: Generations to come will be thankful for everything done today to protect the Russian River. Here’s another: Restoring and preserving the river’s health will become more challenging and expensive each time action is delayed.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Opinion: ‘Black Swan’ water planning in the Colorado River Basin

The states that share the river completed a drought plan earlier this year that brings them closer to living within currently available supplies, and a new round of negotiations on long-term management of the river is due to begin next year. However, a new report warns that planning for gradually declining water supplies, as difficult as that is, may not be enough to adequately prepare for the future.

Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: State agencies seek input on creating climate-resilient water system

The agencies want ideas for actions needed now to help California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, year-round wildfires, species declines, aging infrastructure, contaminated water supplies and changing demands for water. The input will help determine priorities and identify complementary actions to ensure safe and dependable water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy and environment.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: What does the future hold for irrigation management?

Climate variability, competition for water from other users including urban and environmental, and groundwater depletion threaten the sustainability of irrigated agriculture. To face these challenges, the irrigation industry must develop and adopt innovative technologies and management practices that optimize economic outcomes, while also minimizing environmental impact.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Groundwater managers seek 7 to serve as advisers

Water officials struck with the task of hammering out a plan to manage Santa Clarita Valley groundwater are looking for seven people to serve as the agency’s advisory group. … “We need their input to move ahead,” Tara Bravo, spokeswoman for SV Strategies, told the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency board.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Economic tradeoffs in groundwater management during drought

Domestic well users in some areas were greatly impacted by additional agricultural groundwater pumping during California’s 2012-2016 drought… Implementation of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) should improve long-term groundwater availability during drought for all system users by requiring groundwater management to avoid significant and unreasonable impacts of decreased groundwater levels.

Aquafornia news Ensia.com

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: With floods and droughts increasing, communities take a new look at storing water underground

California is looking to scale up this strategy. The snowpack that historically has supplied water into the dry spring and summer is predicted to largely disappear with the climate crisis. And its winter storms are predicted to grow more intense. Water managers and scientists, led by the California Department of Water Resources, are looking for the best places to move water from winter storms underground for use during the dry summers.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Fostering sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley

California’s largest farming region faces two linked challenges: balancing groundwater supply and demand in overdrafted basins, and addressing water quality in the region’s aquifers. We talked to Ashley Boren, executive director of Sustainable Conservation, about tackling these issues in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Arizona plans for drought contingency plan impacts

Earlier this year, the seven states that rely on Colorado River water signed a collective drought contingency plan. At a conference last week in Colorado, Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke said his state will take about half of the water reductions under that plan when a drought hits.

Aquafornia news Steamboat Pilot

Colorado exploring program to pay farmers to temporarily stop using water

As the West faces more demand for water and less water available to meet that demand, decision makers are working to figure out how Colorado could implement recently signed agreements to reduce water use in the Colorado River basin, which includes the Yampa River.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Keeping green during drought

A new study analyzes patterns of urban irrigation and vegetation health during extreme drought. Its findings could inform urban water conservation and water infrastructure development under climate pressures.

Aquafornia news Business Insider

7 places that are sinking faster than anywhere else in the US

Central Valley residents know their land is sinking. They’ve seen cracks in their walls, holes in their roads, and soil that’s started to slowly disappear below the foundation of their homes. Though the agricultural hub is still reeling from one of the worst droughts in California history, its encounter with subsidence — the gradual caving in of land — is far from unique.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Waters of the U.S. review stumps advisers: ‘The science isn’t right’

Members of EPA’s Science Advisory Board grappled with whether and how to weigh in on the Trump administration’s rollback of clean water standards given the administration’s insistence that the proposal is a question of policy, not science. “They have the right to change the policy, but the science isn’t right,” member Robert Merritt said.

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Don’t get lulled by wet winter, Arizona meteorologists warn

It can be difficult to precisely define a drought in a state known for being hot and dry. … Arizona and the Southwest’s standards for drought are far different from standards in other parts of the country that may be wetter or have the capacity to store large volumes of groundwater.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

President signs disaster relief bill; legislation to help victims of fire, flood

President Donald Trump has signed new disaster relief legislation that will help victims of wildland fires, floods and extreme weather, including: $1 billion  to address 2018 and 2019 floods, which could provide critical support in Lake, Glenn, Butte and Colusa counties; $349.4 million to repair local drinking water systems – including the water system in Paradise, destroyed by the 2018 Camp Fire.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

In California, ‘enough’ water is never enough

Dr. Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources, says while we would like to believe we are returning to the days when California rain and snowfall averages were normal more years than not, there is little or no indication that is the case. … “We’ll never be in a place where we can coast or just relax on water issues.”

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Groundwater managers working in four critically-overdrafted basins discuss how their planning efforts are going

At the spring conference of the Association of California Water Agencies, a panel discussion brought together groundwater managers in four critically overdrafted basins to discuss their near-term goals and regional challenges in complying with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

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Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: California court finds tribe lacks standing to quantify reserved water right

The Central District of California in the second phase of Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District et. al. issued a decision with massive implications for water rights in the West. … In the second phase of the case, the District Court determined that the Water District has not harmed the Tribe with its groundwater pumping, and therefore the Tribe cannot require the Water Districts stop pumping… 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Supervisors take another step toward Potter Valley involvement

Humboldt County could soon join a number of agencies around California teaming up to license the Potter Valley Project, a water development in the Eel and Russian river basins. The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday morning unanimously affirmed support for the coalition, which proposes a “two-basin solution” to fix the various environmental problems created by the enormous development.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Legislation to set aside water passes through Nevada Legislature with bipartisan, unanimous support

They say water is for fighting over, but one bill sitting on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk proves that’s not always true. In fact, Senate Bill 140 would make fighting over some water impossible. … To protect against future over-pumping, the bill would require the state to set aside 10 percent of available water in those basins.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Don’t let Trump, Cargill pave San Francisco Bay

Since our great awakening in the 1960s, the Bay Area has become a proud leader in protecting our local environment, from the redwoods and ridgelines to San Francisco Bay. … But some wealthy developers don’t care, despite decades of being told, “no, we won’t build on the Bay anymore.” With Donald Trump’s help, Cargill Salt and luxury home developer DMB Associates keep putting their profit above the health of our Bay.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Nearly half of annual water use reports still need to be filed

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is warning water rights holders that failure to file their annual reports will result in significant fines. Annual water use reports for all appropriative water rights including permits, licenses, registrations and certificates, were initially due on April 1. According to the Board, only 57 percent of those with appropriative water rights had filed the required reports for 2018 as of April 2.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

License to Pump

Overpumping groundwater poses a major threat to the availability of a critical resource… A new dashboard tool, created by affiliates from Stanford’s Water in the West program, compares groundwater withdrawal permitting – a common tool used by resource managers to limit groundwater pumping – to help plan for a more sustainable future.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo County set to extend Paso Robles groundwater restrictions

First adopted in 2013 amid drying wells over the basin, the county offset ordinance put a theoretical moratorium on agricultural pumping. But the policy is set to expire later this year when North County leaders adopt a basin-wide sustainability plan—even though that plan could take another several years to fully take effect.

Aquafornia news Arizona Municipal Water Users Association

Blog: Will Our Drought Ever End?

Earlier this month the governor’s Drought Interagency Coordinating Group unanimously voted to inform the governor that Arizona’s long-running drought declaration should continue. This means Arizona has been in a state of drought for more than 20 years, surpassing the worst drought in more than 110 years of record keeping. Now that our drought has been extended yet again, it leaves many to wonder what it will take to get us out of this drought.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Silicon Valley water agency might buy Central Valley farm

Once again, a big thirsty metropolis is looking at buying Central Valley farmland with an eye toward boosting its water supplies. And once again, neighboring farmers are nervous about it. … And any proposal involving the movement of groundwater from a rural area creates controversy, especially as farmers begin to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act…

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: The Colorado River’s biggest challenge looms

States that share the river’s water finalized a big agreement last month, but an even larger challenge determining the river’s future is just around the bend, expert John Fleck explains.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Is overwatering really so bad?

Even though the Russian River watershed has received roughly 130 percent of the average rainfall this season, it is time to discuss the impacts of overwatered landscapes as the dry weather returns and irrigation controllers turn on.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Support Newsom’s ‘reset’ to a one-tunnel project

The Kern County Water Agency supports the state’s “reset” to a one-tunnel approach because it is more cost effective and still prepares California’s water system for earthquakes and climate change while protecting the Delta’s fish and communities.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour Weekend

Amid drought, Phoenix plans for a future with less water

As the Colorado River’s flow declines, water supplies in seven states are imperiled by potential shortages. That includes Arizona, which passed legislation outlining steps it would take if water from the river continues to decrease. But what does a water shortage mean for Phoenix?

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Making key policy decisions in advance of droughts

It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t have clearly defined priorities. This is true for sudden-onset crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset crises, like droughts.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Bureau of Reclamation bumps Westside water allocation to 70 percent

The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms provided an added boost to the already above average precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still about 150% of average for this time of year.”

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

California agriculture & water history plays out in Traver

The history of Traver, preserved in many books and archives, is a study in land development, agriculture and irrigation. It started when a civil engineer named Peter Y. Baker conceived a plan to convert thousands acres of rangeland in northern Tulare and southern Fresno counties into fields of wheat by diverting water by canal from the Kings River.

Aquafornia news Western Water

150 years after John Wesley Powell ventured down the Colorado River, how should we assess his legacy in the West?

University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Charles Wilkinson … described the Western icon and one-armed Civil War veteran as a complex character, a larger-than-life person and an early visionary of wise water use in an arid West. Wilkinson spoke recently with Western Water about Powell and his legacy, and how Powell might view the Colorado River today.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

DWR reverses Solano lowlands groundwater priority for now

It appears Solano County and Vallejo have avoided a potentially costly state shift in the groundwater sustainability priority for the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands. While the final decision by the Department of Water Resources has not been made, the state agency has for now backed off its proposal to increase the priority status from very low to medium for the lowlands.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Almond growers learn about their ‘largest challenge’

The session, “Navigating the Waters,” drew a crowd of about 150 farmers to the International Agri-Center in Tulare last week, where attendees heard from water-agency leaders, state water officials, farmers and others on a range of topics with the goal of helping almond growers make informed water decisions.

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Sonoma County approves plan to offset groundwater fees in the Santa Rosa Plain

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan, the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000 annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Update provided on imported water goal

A firm hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is already in the initial phase to find sources of imported water for the valley, according to a progress report delivered at a Thursday board meeting. … Capitol Core Group, retained in March, is looking at what water supply options are available and how to secure funding to ultimately purchase and develop infrastructure to deliver into the valley.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Infrastructure funding should include irrigation modernization

As the focus on infrastructure retakes center stage in Washington, we hope lawmakers don’t overlook a prime opportunity to invest in Western water and irrigation systems. Here in the West, our dams, irrigation systems, canals and other infrastructure — much of it more than a century old — are past due for modernization.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Managing drought in a changing climate: Four essential reforms

Last fall, a team of researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studied the state’s response to the extreme drought conditions, distilling their findings down to four essential reforms that will better prepare the state to adapt to the impacts of climate change. At the Association of Water Agencies of Ventura County’s Annual Symposium held in April of 2019, Ellen Hanak, Director of Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center gave this recap of their research.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Cow manure: An unexpected climate solution

In 2016, California became the first state to pass legislation regulating dairy methane, requiring the farms to cut their manure emissions 40% by 2030. … Enter Neil Black. Black’s company builds multimillion-dollar projects at the state’s largest dairies to capture the gas.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

A beginner’s course on how officials determine potential run-off

To Eastern Sierra residents, in most years, annual run-off means the streams and canals rise and pasture lands start to green-up. For Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, run-off is the city’s life’s blood… So, how do they figure it out? Eric Tillemans, LADWP engineer, gave the Inyo County Board of Supervisors a beginner’s course in Run-Off 101 at a recent meeting.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt County eyes role in Potter Valley project

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to investigate becoming a stakeholder in the Potter Valley project, a massive water development in the Eel and Russian river basins. … The idea is to protect the Russian River’s water supply for Potter Valley residents while mitigating the effects of the Scott Dam on Eel River fish populations.

Aquafornia news KUOW

Drought emergency declared over nearly half of Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency across nearly half the state. The drought declaration covers the Olympic peninsula, the North Cascades, the eastern Cascades and most of southwest Washington. It allows local governments to tap into $2 million in state funding to respond to hardships caused by the drought. … Snowpack is now at its fourth-lowest level in the past 30 years.

Aquafornia news Inkstain

Blog: What the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan means in practice

I ran down a quick summary this morning of the relevant data, comparing recent use with the cuts mandated under the DCP. It shows that, at this first tier of shortage, permitted use is less than the voluntary cuts water users have been making since 2015. In other words, all of the states are already using less water than contemplated in this first tier of DCP reductions.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River deal: As states sign, long-term challenges remain

The Colorado River just got a boost that’s likely to prevent its depleted reservoirs from bottoming out, at least for the next several years. Representatives of seven Western states and the federal government signed a landmark deal on Monday laying out potential cuts in water deliveries through 2026 to reduce the risks of the river’s reservoirs hitting critically low levels.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s dairy industry faces water quality challenges

Contaminated groundwater is an ongoing problem in some of the state’s poorest rural communities, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley. One big threat is nitrate, caused mainly by many decades of crop fertilization with chemical fertilizers and dairy manure. We talked to Anja Raudabaugh of Western United Dairymen about what can be done to address these challenges.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

The Drought Contingency Plan is done. Now what?

After months of tense, difficult negotiations, a plan to spread the effects of anticipated cutbacks on the drought-stricken Colorado River is nearing completion. On Monday, representatives of the seven states that rely on the river will gather for a formal signing ceremony at Hoover Dam, the real and symbolic center of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Health of Napa County watersheds takes centerstage

Napa County’s latest watershed symposium came at a time when tensions are high over how to protect trees and reservoirs in the area’s mountains. Close to 200 people from various backgrounds came to Copia on Thursday for an A-to-Z look at what’s happening in the watersheds. Scientists, elected officials, wine industry members and citizen activists all attended.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Opinion: We were warned 150 years ago about our water shortage. We have to do better

The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people. It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century. We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have to do better.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Dispute over Desert Hot Springs groundwater picks up steam in latest report

Mission Springs Water District alleged that Desert Water Agency, which also provides water to more than 100,000 Palm Springs and Cathedral City residents, made a board decision that violated a previous settlement between the two agencies. … Last month, the issue over groundwater management in Desert Hot Springs picked up steam when a study group formed by Mission Springs published a 16-page report that lambasted Desert Water Agency’s actions…

Aquafornia news ABC 15 Arizona

Beer makers teaming up to protect Arizona’s water supply

There is a unique partnership happening in Arizona between farmers, those involved in the malting process, and brewers that is saving thousands of gallons of water from being taken from the Verde River.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Opinion: One good year does not end a drought

It takes more than one wet year to not only refill reservoirs but also recharge aquifers and return moisture in parched soils to normal levels. … All this upstream snowpack and rain is predicted to boost Powell to 47% of capacity by the end of the year, another three or four feet, but there’ll still be plenty of the “bathtub ring” visible. It’s been 36 years since Powell was full. It’s not likely it’ll ever fill again.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

NASA’s GRACE: What researchers have learned from water in motion

When you hear news about ice loss from Greenland or Antarctica, an aquifer in California that is getting depleted, or a new explanation for a wobble in Earth’s rotation, you might not realize that all these findings may rely on data from one single mission

Aquafornia news Capitol Media Services

Pinal County farmers make another plea for $20M from state to drill wells

Insisting the state made a commitment, a central Arizona lawmaker and farmers he represents are making a last-ditch pitch for $20 million from taxpayers to drill new wells and water delivery canals. Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said Thursday the farmers in Pinal County agreed to give up their right to Colorado River water to help the state come up with a plan to deal with the drought. In exchange they were given the right to take additional water out of the ground.

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

Watermasters celebrate peaceful 50 years

The Western-San Bernardino and Orange County judgments, signed April 17, 1969, helped establish five watermasters and settle water rights throughout the watershed that supplies the water agencies within San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties. The agreements settled decades of lawsuits over water rights…

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: This Arizona bill supports local planning for resilient groundwater supplies in two rural counties

Arizona relies on groundwater for about 40% of its water supply, yet groundwater resources outside of the state’s biggest urban areas are largely unprotected and unregulated… HB 2467, a bill that passed in the Arizona House and currently awaiting a final vote in the Senate, takes an important step forward to address groundwater challenges in Mohave and La Paz counties.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

As Nevada legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom

In the ceaseless conflict over how to use the state’s available water — and maybe then some — a varied group of water users and lawmakers sang a refrain older than Nevada: “Everyone is going to court in the end.” … The ghosts of litigation — past, present and future — loomed over the Thursday Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing that stretched until 8 p.m. and offered insight into why it’s so difficult to update Nevada water law.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

As PG&E dumps Potter Valley project, new suitors line up

California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water & Power Commission, and Sonoma Water have officially put a foot forward to explore a planning agreement for the project’s future. The coalition is championing a “two-basin solution” that could mitigate the effects of the Scott Dam on fish populations in the Eel River while ensuring that the Russian River basin doesn’t lose its water supply, which Potter Valley residents have relied on for over 100 years.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

Owens Valley groundwater basin goes low

Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low priority. That prioritization would have had an impact three years ago. Medium and high priority basins are required to form an agency and sustainability plan; low basins are not.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Commentary: Key conflicts roil California’s ever-evolving waterscape

The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the next few years will write an entirely new chapter in California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps shifting water from agriculture to urban users and environmental enhancement.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Latinos rely heavily on Colorado River water amid plans for cutbacks

This river provides water for one-third of Latinos in the United States. Latinos make up the bulk of agricultural workers harvesting the produce this river waters. We boat, fish, swim and recreate along its banks. We hold baptisms in its waters. Therefore, it is critical to engage the growing Latino population on water-smart solutions.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Regulation headed for Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, Wood River

Oregon Water Resources Department is in the process of validating a call on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including the Wood River, filed by senior water right holders — the Klamath Tribes — on April 18. … Water users that irrigate can call the watermaster’s office if they believe someone with a junior water right to theirs is irrigating with water that should be coming to them.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Interview with Wade Crowfoot: Implementing Newsom’s “One California” portfolio approach for water

When asked about his priorities, California’s recently appointed Natural Resources Secretary quickly rattles off a range of topics: climate change; strengthening water supply resilience; and building water capacity for communities, agriculture, and the environment, among them.

Aquafornia news UC Davis

Study: Maximizing use of water stored in soil could result in savings for farmers

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at using a “free” resource — rain water stored in the soil — and found that optimizing its use could go a long way to help meet demand for five California perennial crops. Their findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water News looks at challenges ahead in next round of Colorado River talks

Stakeholders throughout the Colorado River Basin just wrapped up arduous negotiations on a drought plan. There’s little time to rest, however. Stakeholders are expected to begin the even more difficult task of hammering out sweeping new guidelines for delivering water and sharing shortages that could re-imagine how the overworked river is managed.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Tribal groundwater rights and SGMA: A new underlying tension?

At the 28th California Water Policy conference held in April of 2019, a panel discussed how tribal lands and tribal representatives, as independent nations, can be integrated into SGMA implementation, what some of the obstacles to doing so are, and how those hurdles might be transcended.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: What does the Colorado River drought plan mean for California?

The DCP … provides assurance against curtailments for water stored behind Hoover Dam. This is especially important for the Southern California water agencies, whose ability to store water in Lake Mead is crucial for managing seasonal demands. Some significant challenges must still be addressed, however.

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Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Opinion: Drought recovery in Carpinteria

Because of the wet weather this winter, the district is proposing to lower its Stage Two Drought Condition to a Stage One Drought Condition, which would lift many mandatory drought water-use restrictions.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, environmental groups sue to stop Shasta Dam raise

The lawsuit against the Fresno-based Westlands Water District was filed in Shasta County Superior Court on Monday. State officials have for years maintained that raising the height of the dam would violate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because a higher dam would further inundate the McCloud River, in violation of state law.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom administration is getting closer to water deals

With the administration’s leadership, representatives of farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive negotiations on a complex package of actions that would increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is months away, but we are making progress.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Our Towns: National policies have local effects

Five years ago, Deb Fallows and I made the first of what became many visits to the farming town of Winters, California. … When we first visited five years ago, the main question for the area’s nut-tree farmers, and for California’s agricultural economy as a whole, was whether the state’s drought-ravaged water supplies could support such commercially valuable but water-intensive crops.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Newsom crafts smart water portfolio for California

In reality, the WaterFix could not increase water exports while protecting the Delta ecosystem. That’s because California’s snow and rainfall are highly variable, making it unlikely that existing supplies can meet increasing water demands reliably into the future. Plus, the science demonstrates that San Francisco Bay’s fish and wildlife need more water, not less, to flow from the Central Valley to the Bay.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

The massive snowmelt is coming. Are we ready?

Estimates vary, and can change as the water year progresses, but the Kern River basin, the rivers and streams that collect the water that flows into Isabella Lake and downstream toward Bakersfield, is estimated to be at 172 percent of normal, possibly more. And all that ice and snow is starting to melt, big time. Are local water managers ready?

Aquafornia news The Harvard Crimson

Opinion: Harvard’s investment in land and natural resources

For rural communities in the central coast region of California, the name “Harvard” does not connote excellence. For these communities, where water is scarce and becoming scarcer, it evokes greed and exploitation. As California takes its first steps to regulate groundwater in the midst of a worsening water crisis, Harvard’s endowment fund is investing millions into vineyards that pump inordinate amounts of water from California’s critically overdrafted groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Aspen Times

Colorado to make tough decisions when it comes to water usage in Drought Contingency Plan

The West is still in the midst of a long-term water shortage in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, primary reservoirs that serve 40 million people. For that reason, the Upper Basin states — Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico — have to also come up with their own drought contingency plans. That means Colorado might be heading into choppy waters as one of the requirements of a drought contingency plan — demand management — could pit communities and regions against each other …

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Coalition in Mendocino County forming to acquire Potter Valley Project

In Ukiah Thursday, at least two dozen people who depend on the Potter Valley Project for their farming operations gathered at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds to hear an update on the facility’s future. “New information to come shortly, and a lot of work still to do,” said Janet Pauli, chairwoman of the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, a Joint Powers Authority that is exploring the possibility of acquiring the facility that Pacific Gas and Electric owns, but has essentially abandoned.

Aquafornia news Western Water News

Friday Top of the Scroll: With drought plan in place, Colorado River stakeholders face even tougher talks ahead on river’s future

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict. … But as the time for crafting a new set of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the overworked Colorado River is managed…

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Listening to communities: A bottom-up approach to water planning in California

A Q&A with Valerie Olson, assistant professor, and Emily Brooks, post-doctoral researcher — both environmental anthropologists at UC Irvine. They have a new project aimed at getting a better understanding of how communities, particularly the underserved, think about and use their water, and how the agencies that provide water can better serve them.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Finally, California and IID reach agreement on Salton Sea access and liability

The Imperial Irrigation District board of directors voted Tuesday to allow access across its lands for critically needed state wetlands projects at the Salton Sea, designed to tamp down dangerous dust storms and give threatened wildlife a boost. In exchange, California will shoulder the maintenance and operations of the projects, and the state’s taxpayers will cover the costs of any lawsuits or regulatory penalties…

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Aquafornia news The Wildlife Society

Blog: Unique partnership preserves unique California ecosystems

Before California’s Central Valley became known as an agricultural powerhouse, it contained one of the largest expanses of streamside forest and wetland habitat in North America. … Much of that landscape has been transformed into farmland and urban areas, but at the Cosumnes River Preserve, a unique partnership of nonprofits and state, federal and local governments has conserved over 50,000 acres that provide resources for a variety of wildlife.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Groundwater recharge in the SGMA era

Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was always going to be tricky. Part of the necessary growing pains of SGMA is determining how the revolutionary statute interacts with traditional tenets of water law. As with any other sweeping legislative change, SGMA does not provide direct answers for every practical question which arises as the law is put into place.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

IID controversy: Assembly member Garcia proposes negotiations

State Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia says he wants to “facilitate” negotiations more than a decade early on a 99-year compromise between the Imperial Irrigation District and a Coachella water agency that spells out how IID provides electric power to Coachella Valley. IID President Erik Ortega, however, said he is not “comfortable” with Garcia’s sudden urgency…

Aquafornia news Mohave Valley Daily News

Bureau of Reclamation projects Lake Mead to stay above shortage trigger

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the snowpack in the Upper Basin is nearly 140% above average as of April 15 and it forecasts that seasonal inflow to Lake Powell will be at 128% of average. … “These developments may lessen the chance of shortage in 2020,” Terry Fulp, BOR’s Lower Colorado regional director, said in a prepared statement.

Aquafornia news The Aggie

Is vertical farming a solution for feeding our growing cities?

Vertical farming also brings potential for solving our current and projected water issues in California. By using hydroponic system technology, water is constantly recycled and uses 98% less water per item than traditional farming. Adopting this technology would be greatly beneficial for our future, considering that California’s agricultural sector uses 40% of our water.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

The Napa-Sonoma marshes are rebounding with wildlife

Once one of most extensive wetland areas in North America, the edges of the San Francisco Bay have become covered with farms, industry, and urban areas, squeezing out the marches and their animal and plant occupants. But at the lower end of the Napa River, a remarkable effort is underway to undo a century and half of damage to the once-thriving marshes.

Aquafornia news Physics World

Weighing water from space

By monitoring tiny changes to the Earth’s gravitational field, the GRACE satellites have been pinpointing the distribution of fresh water on our planet for almost two decades. But as Marric Stephens explains, a new follow-on mission is also helping with plans for a space-based gravitational-wave detector

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A little-known company is quietly making massive water deals

In the past several years, Los Angeles-based Renewable Resources Group has helped sell 33,000 acres of land to California’s most powerful water agency, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Documents obtained by Voice of San Diego raise fresh questions about those deals. Now, Renewable may be working on another deal that could rearrange the distribution of water in California forever.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Hundreds of California species at risk of extinction, United Nations report says — in addition to millions globally

In California, there are around 300 species at risk and 346 species in California, Nevada and Southern Oregon combined. A handful of plants and animals have already disappeared from the state, such as the Santa Barbara song sparrow and the the California subspecies of the Grizzly Bear. … About a dozen species are currently at risk of extinction, according to Dan Applebee, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Aquafornia news Western Water

With Colorado River drought plan in place, stakeholders face even tougher talks ahead on river’s future

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multi‐year drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict. But as the time for crafting a new set of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the overworked Colorado River is managed…

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Checking the water jug that is Lake Powell

The giant reservoir, formed by Glen Canyon Dam, was under 40 percent full the last week of April. And a lot of water is still being released from the reservoir, more demands on the water are expected, and the water supply above the reservoir, in the sprawling Colorado River system, is expected to decrease.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: The Delta twin tunnels project is dead

Gov. Gavin Newsom killed the divisive twin tunnels project Thursday, calming fears that have roiled the delta communities and dominated California water politics for more than a decade. It is a signature decision for the young administration.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

A spring ritual: Groundwater pumping discussions under way

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power released its operation plan, focusing on pumping volumes, April 20, kicking off a series of events that historically has ended with a volume at or near the proposed maximum. The water extractions will be used in the valley for irrigation, enhancement/mitigation projects and for export.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona’s water future largely depends on these people’s work

The drought contingency plan is in the can (well, mostly), and an unusually wet winter means we’ll likely avoid the water shortage declaration everyone was expecting in 2020. If this were the past, we’d take a few months off to revel in our success. But thank goodness we’re not living in the past. Arizona’s water leaders know that the drought plan didn’t solve anything.

Aquafornia news Westsideconnect.com

Residents reminded of water conservation rules

The winter was wet, and the memories of California’s record-setting drought years are receding. But as the weather warms and irrigation systems are once again operating, city officials remind local residents that Newman’s water conservation rules remain in effect.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Water is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue

DCP puts safeguards in place to help manage water use now and better deal with a potential shortage. Utah, Arizona and the five other Colorado River basin states wisely chose to include conservation measures in the DCP — and shared in their sacrifice to avoid costly litigation and imposed cuts. Congress and the states should be commended for this bipartisan, collaborative process.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Federal district judge rules in favor of water agencies on latest issues in Agua Caliente litigation

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a decision … finding that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians lacked standing to seek adjudication of its claim to quantification of its reserved groundwater right and its claim regarding groundwater quality.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom officially kills Jerry Brown’s Delta twin tunnels

The Newsom administration announced it is withdrawing permit applications that the Brown administration had submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and several federal agencies. Instead, the administration said it will begin environmental studies on a one-tunnel project.

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Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Experts weigh in on the snowpack, and how a new water treatment facility benefits the valley

There’s a need to use the available surface water from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs so the groundwater can replenish itself. That’s where the new Southeast Fresno Surface Water Treatment Facility comes in. … Michael Carbajal, Director of Public Utilities for the City of Fresno. says that before 2004, we used 100% groundwater to meet drinking water demand. “We’re hoping to get up over 50% meaning, 50% of our drinking water demand through surface water,” says Carbajal.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Water supply and quality challenges in the San Joaquin Valley

Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, testified today (April 30, 2019) before the Assembly Subcommittee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, at a hearing on balancing water needs into the future in the San Joaquin Valley. Here are her prepared remarks.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: It’s OK to stop, take a deep breath with state water policy

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call on Monday for a new comprehensive water plan for California looks like a smart timeout on one of the state’s trickiest and most intractable battlefronts. As with many political hot potatoes, there is no way to make everyone happy when it comes to water management, because the sides have mutually exclusive goals…

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water board faces lawsuit over new wetlands rules

With the Trump administration trudging ahead and re-writing another Obama-era environmental law, wary California regulators last month approved new protections for wetlands in the Golden State. … Hoping to freeze the new wetlands rules, a coalition consisting of several California water suppliers and the city of San Francisco sued the water board late Wednesday in state court. 

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Opinion: Permanent conservation regulations

Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606 established indoor and outdoor irrigation regulations, making water conservation a permanent way of life. This draconian and arbitrary rationing legislation tramples upon the personal rights of individuals to make choices regarding their beneficial use of water, undermines local conditions and local control, the state’s water rights priority system and area-of-origin water right assurances.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Imperial Irrigation District threatens Coachella Valley withdrawal

“3.1 million acre-feet of the (Imperial) Valley’s entitlement to Colorado River water is now up for grabs in Sacramento and it ought to concern all of us,” IID Board President Erik Ortega said Tuesday afternoon in El Centro. “That’s why I’m calling today for the general manager to bring back to this board a plan for the divestment of IID’s energy assets in the Coachella Valley.”

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California and Imperial Irrigation District near Salton Sea projects agreement

Imperial Irrigation District general manager Henry Martinez and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot have reached an agreement in principle that the state will be responsible for construction and maintenance of more than 3,700 acres of wetlands aimed at controlling toxic dust and restoring wildlife habitat. In exchange, the water district will sign easements for access onto lands it owns that border California’s largest lake.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Colorado River: NEPA looms over drought plan enthusiasm

Some lawyers say the Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, may be built on shaky legal ground and could be vulnerable to litigation — depending on how the Bureau of Reclamation implements it. One California water district has already sued to block it.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Experts tell how water availability affects land values

One of the most frequently recurring themes of last week’s business conference of California agricultural appraisers was the impact the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, known as SGMA, is having on land values. … Another recurring theme was the tight availability of farm employees and the rising costs associated with those employees. One result has been the increase in plantings of nut crops, which require fewer people to tend and harvest.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

State announces draft basin prioritization for 57 modified water basins; public comment period begins

The California Department of Water Resources has announced draft basin prioritization for 57 groundwater basins recently affected by basin boundary changes under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. For more than 75 percent of these basins, the results are a confirmation of prioritizations established in 2015.

Aquafornia news Mustang News

How a water conservation senior project turned into a company of 25 employees with nationwide reach

In the midst of the record-breaking California drought in 2014, three Cal Poly students decided to use their senior project to try to help stop water leaks. They began designing a device that would monitor a consumer’s water usage during the month and hoped it would inspire people to pay closer attention to their consumption.

Aquafornia news CityLab

The town that extended ’smart growth’ to its water

Westminster, Colo.’s, comprehensive plan estimates how much water each type of building would use. Then the city built GIS software that overlays water resources and infrastructure over the comprehensive plan—making it easy to see, for example, how much water a proposed strip mall might use. It’s a step up from the typical water-per-capita measure that most cities rely on… It also helps planners guide developers to smarter construction.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

A new effort to save birds pinpoints in amazing detail where they fly

As California’s Central Valley grew into the nation’s leading agricultural corridor, the region gradually lost almost all of the wetlands that birds depend on during their migrations along the West Coast. But a dramatic turnaround is underway in the valley. Dozens of farmers leave water on their fields for a few extra weeks each season to create rest stops for birds. The campaign has not only helped salvage a vital stretch of the north-south migration path called the Pacific Flyway but also tested a fresh model for protecting wildlife.

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Despite abundant snowpack, water still limited for some farmers

It’s an exceptional year for Sierra snowpack — 150 to 200% in some places. Mountain snow is the main water source for agriculture on the Valley’s west side. But those farmers are getting just 65% of their allocation… Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says it’s frustrating that in a water year this good, some farmers still can’t get enough of it to grow food.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Options sought for water users of destroyed canal

The Camp Fire destroyed thousands of homes and dozens of businesses, and also the water supply for an undetermined number of people. The fire destroyed or damaged the 9 miles of PG&E’s Upper Miocene Canal, which is the flume system along the West Branch of the Feather River. That also cut off water to ranches and homes along the Middle Miocene Canal … and the Lower Miocene Canal (or Powers Canal) along the west side of Table Mountain to Oroville.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Harder water bill a bipartisan effort

As a full Tuolumne River flowed behind them, a diverse set of government leaders and water stakeholders gathered alongside Congressman Josh Harder Wednesday afternoon in Modesto to unite under one important cause: protecting water in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Federal official blocks water for Walker Lake restoration, conservation group alleges

A federal official is attempting to “obstruct” the flow of water to restore habitat at Walker Lake, the conservancy responsible for administering federal restoration funds alleged in District Court last week. After years of litigation, lawyers for the Walker Basin Conservancy said that “at some point, the court must put a stop to the federal water master’s obstruction.” The receding desert lake outside of Hawthorne is fed by the Walker River, which rises in California and snakes through Western Nevada.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: Newsom offers a new approach to California’s water issues

By rejecting the twin tunnels proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom has sent an important message that new thinking is required to address California’s complex water issues.

Aquafornia news Valley News

Santa Ana River watermaster celebrates 50 years of cooperation and collaboration

In Riverside County, right along the Santa Ana River, local leaders and community members came together to commemorate 50 years of peace along the River. Nearly 100 people celebrated two 1969 court judgments for the water rights of the Santa Ana River that are still in place.

Aquafornia news Wired

How the Blockchain Could Protect California’s Aquifer

In Solano County, near Sacramento, [Alex] Johnson is working on what he says could be a model for parched ag regions around the state. … Last month, working with IBM and a company called SweetSense, Johnson’s team began deploying simple, solar-powered sensors, originally developed to monitor creaky groundwater pumps in East Africa. The sensors will be used to detect how much water is flowing in real-time. … Farmers will use that data to trade their water on (what else?) a blockchain platform.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Josh Harder unveils water plan for Central Valley

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years. His bipartisan water legislation unveiled Wednesday promises federal support for storage and innovation projects to address shortages that too often plague Valley agriculture and communities.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California fights Trump administration on water supplies, fish

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is taking unprecedented steps to combat President Donald Trump’s efforts to ship more water to his agricultural allies in the San Joaquin Valley. Saying Trump’s water plans are scientifically indefensible and would violate the state’s Endangered Species Act, the state Department of Water Resources on Friday began drawing up new regulations governing how water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state.

Aquafornia news Capital & Main

Growing awareness: Climate change and California’s crops

Last month the U.S. Drought Monitor declared California drought-free for the first time since 2011, thanks to a series of winter storms. But the long-term prognosis is for more droughts and severe weather, which will profoundly affect state agriculture. While farmers and lawmakers are taking notice, few see an immediate threat.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Judge dismisses parts of tribe’s lawsuit against local water districts

A federal judge has dismissed portions of a yearslong lawsuit brought by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians against the Coachella Valley’s local water districts, ruling against the tribe’s attempt to quantify its rights to groundwater. The judge ruled Friday that the tribe’s access to water has not been sufficiently harmed to adjudicate the matter.

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Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Westlands officials disappointed by water allocation announcement

While all other Central Valley Project contractors’ allocations were previously increased to 100% of their contract totals in recent months, the Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that agricultural districts South-of-Delta will receive only 65% percent of their historic water allocation. … In light of current hydrologic and reservoir conditions, Westlands Water District officials said this minor increase in water allocation is “astonishing.”

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Napa County watershed divide widens

On April 9 after three years and two unsuccessful ballot measures — Measure C failed by a razor-thin margin in June — the Napa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved greater protections for native woodlands from development and buffer zones for watersheds. But the contentious path to the Water Quality and Tree Protection ordinance vote may not be the last word from supporters and opponents of tougher rules, from inside and outside the wine business.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Environment report: Lawsuits are a weapon in major water conflicts

In court, the California Environmental Quality Act is a familiar obstacle to projects large and small — housing developments, solar projects, even bike lanes. It’s also lately become a weapon in the state’s major water conflicts.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Leafy greens marketing agreement announces new, more stringent food safety practices to prevent outbreaks

California leafy greens producers have strengthened the mandatory food safety practices required on their farms. The action is designed to protect consumers and prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks like the one associated with romaine lettuce last year.

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Earth Day begs the question: Is cannabis farming sustainable?

Independent farmers believe that the “marijuana Monsantos” that are muscling in are only going to make things perpetually more detrimental for the environment. The lack of sustainability, vast amounts of water and electricity necessary for cultivation is the elephant in the room of any smoke session.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: California lawsuit over the Salton Sea hurts Arizona, too

California’s inability to compromise and work together has put a big question mark on the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan. And that directly impacts Arizona’s ability to proactively plan for our new, drier water future.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Some springtime reading on California water

California is a wonderful place to study water. So many interesting and important problems, thoughtful and insightful authors, and much to be learned. Here is a selection of readings (updated from a 2012 post) on California water.

Aquafornia news Food Safety News

California growers say their new water rules mean safer romaine for everyone

The new requirements now include additional safeguards that ensure farmers categorize the source of their water; consider how and when water is applied to their crops; conduct testing to assure the water is safe for the intended uses; sanitize water if necessary; and verify that all of the precautions have been taken.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Restoring California’s great estuary

For centuries, the Delta was a dynamic and rich ecosystem of tidal wetlands, riparian forests, and vast seasonal floodplains. But about 98 percent of the native habitat disappeared after the Gold Rush and a population boom across the Golden State.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: As California’s Delta smelt spirals toward extinction, a future in captivity awaits

Despite a decades-long rescue effort, the tiny delta smelt appears closer than ever to vanishing from its only natural home, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Now, some worry it won’t be long before the only place the once-abundant species exists is within the confines of an artificial tank.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Eel River: Feds eye protection for Northern California trout

A trio of federal wildlife management agencies said Friday that listing the Northern California summer-run steelhead on the Endangered Species Act may be warranted, but said more public input is needed before a final determination is made.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

California has farmers growing weeds. Why? To capture carbon

For some, like almond grower Jose Robles of Modesto, climate change was an afterthought, if that. That’s something they talk about in Sacramento, he says, not where he lives and works. But in December, the ground under Robles’ almond trees was a carpet of green, full of mustard plant and clover. … His neighbors really don’t understand it.

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

Bay Area’s massive marsh restoration project takes root

By the 1930s, the Leslie Salt Company had consolidated over a dozen small producers into the world’s largest industrial salt production company, and half of the South Bay’s extensive marshes, whose ducks and salmon once far outnumbered humans, were gone. Now, the south San Francisco bay shoreline’s next mammoth transformation is well underway: a 50-year project to return the salt ponds back to the bay, restoring them once again into tidal marsh for the first time in 150 years.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

How much hip can the desert absorb?

Should the state of California honor a commitment made in 2003 to restore the Salton Sea, despite moving water away from the area to thirsty coastal cities? Or should this artificial, long-festering sea be left alone to dry up entirely? While politicians have dithered, Bombay Beach’s atmospheric decay has drawn filmmakers, novelists and other artists who marvel at the thriving community hidden inside seemingly derelict properties.

Aquafornia news Capitol Media Services

Arizona’s top water official not worried yet about lawsuit involving drought plan

Arizona’s top water official says a lawsuit filed Tuesday by California’s Imperial Irrigation District could pose a threat to the newly approved multistate drought contingency plan. But Tom Buschatzke, director of the Department of Water Resources, said he’s not worried the plan will fall apart — at least not yet.

Aquafornia news Tracy Press

Opinion: Environmental act not right for California water agencies

In SB1, State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins provides a compelling case to protect California’s air, navigable water, drinking water and workers. … However, despite our recognition that some in our state feel recent administrative rulings and legislative changes to federal law may not be the right prescription for California, we believe this legislation is overbroad, duplicative and unworkable.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: Rising waters of the state and receding waters of the U.S.

While you may have heard about the Trump administration’s attempts to narrow the scope of Waters of the United States (WOTUS), California is expanding its regulations, including broadening the definition of wetlands subject to permitting requirements. … Projects impacting California surface waters and wetlands that are outside federal jurisdiction will now need state authorization under new and more expansive rules. 

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Aquafornia news Grist.org

What drought? These states are gearing up to draw more water from the Colorado

There are at least six high-profile projects in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that combined could divert more than 300,000 acre-feet of water from the beleaguered Colorado River. That’s the equivalent of Nevada’s entire allocation from the river. These projects are in different stages of permitting and funding, but are moving ahead even as headlines about the river’s dwindling supply dominate the news.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID sues to halt Colorado River drought plan, says officials ignored Salton Sea

The petition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and names the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde and Needles water districts as well. It asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until a thorough environmental analysis has been completed.

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Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Opinion: Let’s cooperate on Coastside water, sewers

The dominant water issue facing our community and every community in California today is the insecurity of the water supply. The California Legislature is facing up to the serious need to take less water from the surface and groundwater for human use to preserve wildlife habitats and industries such as fishing. Both depend upon water filling the streams and waterways that ultimately find their way to the ocean.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

West-side water ticks up to 65% of allocation. will it hit 100%?

The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will supply South-of-Delta growers with 65% of their contracted water total. … Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), who is a grower and one of the top water policy experts in Congress, said that he expected the initial west-side allocation in February to be 50%, followed by a 75% revise.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump signs bill endorsing Colorado River drought plan

President Donald Trump signed a bill Tuesday authorizing a plan for Western states to take less water from the overburdened Colorado River. The president’s signing capped a years-long process of sometimes difficult negotiations among the seven states that rely on the river. … Next, representatives from Arizona and the other Colorado River basin states who had a hand in crafting the deal are expected to meet for a formal signing ceremony.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Fifteen AGs slam Trump move to limit federal authority under Clean Water Act

Attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday vehemently opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back a regulation known as Waters of the United States, a move they said would end federal oversight of 15 percent of streams and more than half of the nation’s wetlands.

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Aquafornia news Deseret News

Wet year means above average flows for Lake Powell

A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts a release of up to 9 million acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to Lake Mead this year, which means a possible shortage declaration looming in 2020 might be averted. The snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is about 130 percent of average, with flows into Lake Powell predicted to be 128 percent of average during the runoff season.

Aquafornia news Arizona PBS

Experts say Arizona tribes’ role in drought negotiations marks turning point for inclusion

Daryl Vigil, water administrator at Jicarilla Apache Nation, who worked on the study, said it’s relatively new for local and federal lawmakers to include tribes in national water policy conversations. “That conversation and that opportunity wasn’t available before,” Vigil said. “But now with the conclusion of this DCP and the inclusion of tribes in that dialogue, I think that sets the stage for that to happen.”

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Major conservation milestone: This water plan benefits 40 million Americans – and counting

Here’s something worth celebrating: In a rare bipartisan resolve to prevent a water crisis in the Southwest, Congress has authorized a plan to reduce consumption from the Colorado River – a major conservation milestone. It shows that when we work together as Americans, we can address some of the biggest challenges facing our nation today.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Blog: Temperance Flat Dam Could Minimize the Devastation of SGMA

If farmers cannot prove that they are replenishing the amount of groundwater as they are taking out, they are not going to be allowed to use the groundwater pumps. … Temperance Flat would provide additional storage opportunities—up to an additional 1.2 million acre-feet—and will allow farmers to have carryover water from year to year. This will carry the farmers through the dry years, and it will give the allowance to stabilize the groundwater condition.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Community participation is key to future of water supply

What the state requires our community to do is challenging. Land development, population growth and climate change make planning for the future very complicated. The new state law requires us to face these challenges and work together as a community to create a plan.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Effort to repair Friant-Kern Canal passes first hurdle

A bill moving through the state legislature looks to make repairs and enhancements to the Friant-Kern Canal. Senate Bill 559 was authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado, representing the 14th Senate District, and was co-authored by several other San Joaquin Valley lawmakers. The legislation recently advanced through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water with a vote of 7 to 0.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Central Valley is sinking as farmers drill for water. But it can be saved, study says

A team of Stanford University researchers believe they have identified the best way to replenish the shrinking aquifers beneath California’s Central Valley. … The study from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, published in the journal Water Resources Research, found that unless action is taken, the ground in that region will sink more than 13 feet over the next 20 years.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Drought Resistance Outreach Program for Schools rain garden celebrated at Ukiah High

Prior to the installation of the system, the rain garden was hardpan dirt, allowing all the rainwater—contaminated and polluted with oil, gas, sediment, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers—to drain directly into Orrs Creek and the Russian River. The new garden is 3- to 5-feet deep and composed of carefully constructed layers of soil and rock, allowing the water to be cleaned mechanically and biologically filtering the biocontaminants.

Aquafornia news Phoenix New Times

After historic drought deal, Arizona returns to older water issues

Congress passed an historic Colorado River drought deal on Monday, which is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature. That leaves Arizona back to wrestling with water issues that it mostly set aside during the two years it fixated on the negotiations for the Colorado River deal.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Los Angeles’ water supply in good shape for the year

The Eastern Sierra snowpack that feeds the Los Angeles Aqueduct was measured this month at 171% of normal and is expected to meet 70 percent of the city’s annual water needs. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Friday the aqueduct will flow at or near full capacity for much of the next 12 months, providing about 119 billion gallons (450.4 billion liters).

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Full water allocations hard to reach despite storms

Even as winter and early-spring storms have filled reservoirs to the brim and piled snow on Sierra Nevada mountaintops, state and federal officials say they’re limited in how much water they can send south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Removing the plants that clog the Salinas River

The tall, bamboo-like plants clustered in dense thickets along sections of the Salinas River in the Salinas Valley have long attracted the attention of those who have strolled in that area. Green and stately with long, sword-like leaves, they belong to a species known as Arundo donax, or more commonly, giant cane. … But the plant is a nuisance and local officials have decided to do something about it.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Fishy reasoning behind the state’s Stanislaus River water grab

Farmers, by trade, are experts in sustainability and by extension common sense. Growers along with 1.5 million Northern San Joaquin Valley residents could end up on the receiving end of an economic Armageddon perpetuated by the state Department of Water Resources on behalf of the threatened Chinook salmon.

Aquafornia news KCRA TV

How NASA technology is supercharging California’s snowpack data

2019 marks the sixth straight winter that scientists from NASA/JPL have been flying over portions of the Sierra range, using light-detection and ranging lasers called lidar to map and decode the snowpack. The Airborne Snow Observatory program, or ASO, is based on technology that NASA has been using for years to look at Mars and other planets.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Groundwater sustainability board backs off fees for rural well owners in Sonoma County

Facing a wave of opposition over proposed fees for using well water, the directors of a little-known public agency backed away from a decision Thursday and agreed to consider an alternative plan that would exempt rural residents and cost other groundwater users far less overall.

Aquafornia news Kaiser Health News

Heavy rains, end of drought could help keep West Nile Virus subdued — for now

The end of California’s drought, announced last month amid one of the rainiest winters in memory, could offer a surprising benefit: reduced transmission of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Longer term, however, more severe droughts associated with climate change could contribute to an increase in the number of infections in the state and nationally.

Aquafornia news Wyoming Tribune Eagle

New initiative aims to use clean wastewater in dry states

Statewide leaders in agriculture recently launched an initiative to clean oilfield wastewater for use in arid Western states, hoping to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and improve the lives of ranchers and farmers.

Aquafornia news KCET

Shadow of Drought: Southern California’s looming water crisis

While California recovers from the worst drought in state history, a myriad of impacts resulting from climate change threaten Southern California’s imported water supply. As a shadow of drought hangs over the region, this documentary explores the dire consequences of inaction that lie ahead.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Garbage in, garbage out: Sacramento’s Salton Sea restoration plan

At its core, the ill-advised attempt to “restore” the Salton Sea is nothing short of environmental malpractice. It will inevitably fail at a very high cost to both wildlife and taxpayers, succeeding only in perpetuating a hazardous condition.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Rapid urbanization increasing pressure on rural water supplies globally

An international team of researchers has carried out the first systematic global review of water reallocation from rural to urban regions—the practice of transferring water from rural areas to cities to meet demand from growing urban populations. … The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found North America and Asia are hotspots for rural-to-urban water reallocation,

Aquafornia news Western Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Bruce Babbitt urges creation of Bay-Delta compact to end ‘culture of conflict’ in California’s key water hub

When Babbitt speaks, people take notice, and he didn’t disappoint before a packed house at the annual Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 in Sacramento, offering thoughts on some of California’s thorniest water issues and proposing a Bay-Delta Compact, a kind of grand bargain to end persistent conflict surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Sanger Herald

State-ordered project will raise water bills

While the city struggles with the final phase of a state ordered rezone for affordable housing, it’s tackling the first phase of a possibly more complicated state ordered project based on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … Part of the increased cost would be for the purchase of water from Consolidated Irrigation District and part would go toward servicing a debt incurred for building the infrastructure and other capital costs associated with getting the project ready to go. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State wetlands policy returns to original intent

More than a decade in the making, a new state definition of wetlands will likely take effect early next year—as will procedures intended to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities. The State Water Resources Control Board adopted final amendments to the state wetland policy last week, after including changes that moved it closer to its original intent of limiting its application to agriculture.

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Why more California rain could mean bigger problems for your wine, vineyard business

While flooding is clearly a problem, the extra vegetation that thrives can lead to another problem. A hotter-than-average summer – such as one fueled by climate change – can cause vegetation to dry out faster. With all this natural kindling in place, it doesn’t take much to start a fire.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Commission: Using flood water for managed aquifer recharge

“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands, working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands for groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Central Valley assemblymember calls out Water Board for claim that contaminating drinking water in disadvantaged communities is not “significant”

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Water for irrigators: KWUA announces project delivery

Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office will deliver at least 322,000 acre feet of water — or a 92% allocation — rather than a full 350,000 from Upper Klamath Lake to the Klamath Project this summer and fall.

Aquafornia news KXTV

California may be drought free, but water conservation is here to stay

Let’s face it, the 2018-2019 water year has been awesome! … Even with this great news, the California Department of Water Resources says, “the days of taking water for granted is over.” Niki Woodard is the Deputy Assistant Director for California Department of Water Resources and she believes the small steps we take at home add up and can make a huge difference for our state.

Aquafornia news KRCC

Soil erosion in the West is getting worse and the air is getting dustier

Activities that remove vegetation and disturb the soil are the most harmful. “Things like energy exploration and development can do some of that as well as off-highway vehicles,” Duniway said. He said livestock overgrazing is another culprit, as well as droughts and wildfires. Climate models predict those conditions will only get worse.

Aquafornia news MyNewsLA.com

IID: Salton Sea is first casualty of drought contingency plan

Responding to congressional approval of a Southwestern drought pact, officials from the Imperial Irrigation District said Tuesday the Salton Sea is the untested plan’s “first casualty.” … IID had refused to sign the plan because it wanted a “firm commitment” of more than $400 million in state and federal funds to resolve environmental issues at the Salton Sea.

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Where can flooded fields help replenish groundwater?

In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure. … New research from Stanford University suggests a way to map precisely where and how to use groundwater recharge to refill the aquifers and stop the sinking.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Opinion: It’s time to push the pause button on the Cadiz water project

Cadiz says that the aquifer refills at the rate of 32,000 acre feet per year (not 50,000); but, renowned scientists working with the United States Geological Survey and the National Park Service say the refill rate is more like 2,000 to 10,000 acre feet per year — at least 40,000 acre feet per year less than the Cadiz plan. The math just doesn’t add up.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: State and federal experts discuss San Joaquin Valley’s water future

How can state and federal agencies help California’s largest agricultural region address its difficult water management problems? This was the theme of an event last week that brought together PPIC experts with top officials working on issues related to water, agriculture, and natural resources.

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Community participation in groundwater sustainability: The Borrego Valley

At its core, the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council exists to ensure that the town of Borrego Springs survives and benefits from the groundwater sustainability plan process. To that end, BVSC members are taking a more creative look at the town as the hospitality hub for the state park, relying on a geotourism program from National Geographic, and aggressively trying to buy out 70% of water from farmers.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Congress passes Colorado River drought plan

A bill that would authorize the federal government to enact a drought plan for Colorado River basin states in times of shortage has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for the president’s signature. … Its aim is to protect water users from deep losses and keep the reservoirs and river healthy.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Regional sustainable groundwater management forum hosted in Corning

Tehama and Butte counties teamed up Friday to host a Northern Sacramento Valley forum on sustainable groundwater held at Rolling Hills Casino. … The forum was a chance to look at neighboring agencies and see similarities and differences as well as how they are progressing in the planning, Fulton said. It was a place to connect with the agency in their area so they would know where to go if they had questions.

Aquafornia news Healdsburg Tribune

Opinion: Russian River Watershed Association: New agencies manage aquifers

You can’t see them. You can’t swim in them. But groundwater aquifers are one of the most important sources of water in the North Coast. … People who live in rural areas rely almost exclusively on groundwater, and while cities in Sonoma County get most of their water from the Russian River, groundwater provides a critical back-up source that is used during droughts or in emergencies.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Protect the state’s environmental legacy from Trump’s onslaughts

His departments and agencies have moved to weaken or eliminate dozens of protections, and the rollbacks are coming so fast it’s not always possible for the state to keep up. It’s not for lack of trying. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board approved new standards to protect California’s wetlands and seasonal streams and ponds that are slated to lose their current federal protection under the Clean Water Act as part of the Trump administration’s rollbacks.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Water board orders water prohibition for cannabis grows through October

On March 29, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that cannabis cultivators with water rights are not allowed to divert surface water for cannabis cultivation activities at any time from April 1 through October 31 of this year unless the water diverted is from storage. … It’s really just common sense because it prohibits using water from surface sources, such as streams, creeks, and rivers during California’s dry season.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

KID, KWUA sue agencies over water supply

Klamath Irrigation District has filed a lawsuit against Reclamation in federal court in Medford. Klamath Water Users Association will follow suit in a separate legal filing, jointly with Klamath Drainage District, Shasta View Irrigation District, Tulelake Irrigation District and individual farmers Rob Unruh and DuVal. Limitation to water supply stem from protections in the biological opinion for endangered sucker in Upper Klamath Lake and Coho Salmon in the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: San Diego is ready for some big water solutions

It might be tempting to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors, especially given all the rain and snow this winter. But our work is not done. In fact, the San Diego County Water Authority’s board leadership will ask the board of directors to consider options to leverage the investments we have made in decades past to meet the challenges and opportunities of decades to come.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand

Blog: After years of handwringing and negotiations, California Water Board adopts state wetland definition and procedures for discharges

Among other ramifications, the new procedures largely duplicate (and in some respects are inconsistent with) federal procedures, but add a significant new layer to the already byzantine regulatory process for permitting projects that involve fill of federal and state waters and wetlands.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: Preserving protection for California’s vital wetlands

Under the Clean Water Act, states are allowed to enforce rules more stringent than federal standards. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted rules that largely mirror the federal regulations the Trump administration plans to repeal. California’s new rules had been in the works since 2008, but the process took on added urgency when the Trump administration announced its intention to relax federal wetlands protections.

Aquafornia news KALW

The Bay’s colorful salt ponds are fading, and that’s a good thing

Almost everyone who flies into San Francisco or San Jose airport has seen it — a vibrant patchwork quilt of colorful water. … As part of a huge effort called the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the Cargill salt company has freed almost 16,000 acres of their salt ponds.  

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Harder asks EPA for close review of Delta Plan

Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. … “The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to the EPA misses the mark,” said Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who joined almost a dozen congressmen, including conservatives Kevin McCarthy and Tom McClintock, in sending a letter to the EPA.

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