Topic: Bay Delta

Overview

Bay-Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The Delta is formed by the Sacramento River flowing south to meet the north-flowing San Joaquin River just south of Sacramento, where the rivers mingle with smaller tributaries and tidal flows, and move out into San Francisco Bay.

More than a century ago, farmers began building a network of levees to drain and “reclaim” what was then a marsh. The lands were pumped dry and the marsh was transformed into productive island farms, mostly below sea level.

Today, the Delta is a 700-mile maze of sloughs and waterways surrounding more than 60 leveed tracts and islands. It is the hub of California’s two largest surface water delivery projects, the State Water Project  and the federal Central Valley Project. The Delta provides a portion of the drinking water for 25 million Californians and provides the $36 billion agricultural industry with irrigation to 4.5 million acres.

The Delta estuary is the largest on the west coast of North America with more than 738,000 acres in five counties. An estimated 80 percent of the state’s commercial fishery species live in or migrate through the Delta, and at least half of its Pacific Flyway migratory water birds rely on the region’s wetlands.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS – California farmers ordered to slash water use or face big fines

Water regulators on Friday formally ordered thousands of farmers across California to cut back their water use this summer or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. The State Water Resources Control Board began sending formal “curtailment notices” to the holders of 4,500 water rights permits that allow them to pull water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects Dr. Joshua Israel for new science division manager

The Bureau of Reclamation’s California Great-Basin Region announced today the selection of Dr. Joshua Israel as the new Science Division Manager for the Bay-Delta Office. This new position will increase support for the region’s science efforts. … Dr. Israel will provide support to the Bay-Delta Office Manager on managing the complex interagency and intergovernmental activities for the operation of coordinated state and federal facilities, as well as Reclamation’s restoration and recovery responsibilities. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Grab your ticket for virtual journey into California’s water hub

Join us for a Sept. 9 virtual journey into California’s most critical and controversial water region in the state, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and learn how the drought is impacting water quality and supply. The Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals, supports the state’s two large water systems – the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project – and, together with the San Francisco Bay, forms an important ecological resource. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Living with non-native fishes in California requires using the right words

Everywhere you go in California, people live in landscapes where non-native species are conspicuous:  European grasses turning the hills golden, earthworms tilling our garden soil, exotic trees providing shade, bullfrogs jumping into backyard ponds, starlings making tight maneuvers overhead. In this blog, I want to describe the language of our relationships with non-natives and the nature of those relationships as biological phenomena, using fishes and other aquatic organisms as examples.  

Aquafornia news Daily Californian

Researchers study impact of California drought, wildfires

As California grapples with the effects of an ongoing drought, UC Berkeley researchers are studying changes in the magnitude of streamflows and drought-induced tree mortality in order to advise climate change policy.

Aquafornia news North Bay Bohemian

Salmon suffer in a state of drought

Environmentalists say the San Joaquin watershed needs more water. So do state officials, who in 2018 ordered water users to give a large share of water back to the San Joaquin and its tributaries, notably the Tuolumne. But the fight to restore this ailing ecosystem has turned political, and environmentalists leading the effort are facing an unlikely foe the water service provider for one of the most liberal cities in the country.

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Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Independent Science Board: Bill to fix compensation passes Assembly

Senate Bill 821, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Delta Independent Science Board, was introduced by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in March to restore compensation for the Delta Independent Science Board members. The bill has been winding its way through the legislature. SB 821 was passed out of the Assembly on Thursday, July 15 with 70 ayes, 0 noes, and 9 not voting.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: New and transformative Delta research funded by state and federal agencies

After reviewing a record number of proposals submitted in response to the 2021 Delta Science Proposal Solicitation, the Delta Science Program is thrilled to announce that 16 proposals have been selected for funding to address critical biophysical and social science knowledge gaps in the Delta. The Delta Stewardship Council, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the State Water Contractors have contributed a combined $10 million to fund these innovative projects that will advance our knowledge and management on a diversity of topics.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: State, federal agencies award over $10 million for new Delta science

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are pleased to award over $10 million to fund 16 critical scientific studies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and Suisun Marsh over the next three years. … At its June 24 meeting, the Council voted to approve $9,611,012.75 to fund 16 projects, with Reclamation contributing over $3.42 million toward four of these projects. The State Water Contractors will co-fund one of these 16 projects, pushing the grand total awards to over $10 million.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Partnership

Cooking food in a Sacramento shipping channel?

The learned doctors attending the bedside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta agree on one thing: the patient is not doing well. What ails it, many students of the case suggest, is dehydration: the perennial artificial drought induced by withdrawals of water for human use, whether pulled from feeder rivers or extracted from the Delta itself. … Recently, though, attention has turned to what might be called a comorbidity: malnutrition. Delta waters simply don’t generate enough basic food, in the form of phytoplankton, to sustain the food chains … 

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Court decision upholds $2.8 million fine, clears path for long-awaited restoration of Point Buckler Island

The California Supreme Court has denied review of the February appellate decisions in Sweeney v. Regional Water Board and Sweeney v. Bay Conservation and Development Commission, leaving in place key administrative orders against the Point Buckler Club for unauthorized levee construction and other environmentally harmful activities at Point Buckler Island. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem. A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. 

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation continues increased flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

The Bureau of Reclamation is continuing increased flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with Delta outflow requirements. Additional flow releases began on the lower Stanislaus River on June 10. The increased flow of 1,500 cubic feet per second will occur for an extended duration. Increased river flow can create hazardous conditions including higher water levels, faster currents, colder water, and potential entrapment. … Recreationists and visitors should take safety precautions when near or on the lower Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: State water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board.   This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time. The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy. Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers.  Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow.  
-Written by Belinda Faustina, a strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Stewardship Council: Non-native species in the Delta, contemplating the future of the DISB, and Regional San treatment plant upgrade

At the May meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Steve Brandt, Chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, provided a brief background on the Delta Independent Science Board, reported on the Board’s recently completed review on non-native species in the Delta, and discussed the Board’s approach going forward in light of the recent compensation issues.  Also, Dr. Laurel Larsen spotlighted a recent study looking at the effects of the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District plant upgrade on phytoplankton.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California’s drought response will worsen harmful algae

Climate change has created new “seasons” that challenge communities across the nation. California now has a “fire season,” and sadly, we are embarking on harmful algal bloom (HAB) season again. NRDC has updated its national map of state-reported freshwater HABs, which tracks the HABs reported by states from 2008-2020 and shows that these toxic outbreaks are increasing across the country, making our rivers, lakes, and beaches unsafe for swimming, boating, and drinking. Between 2008 and 2020, over 44,000 HAB events were recorded across 38 states. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley

With the driest year in memory, the water resources managers and landowners in the Sacramento Valley are working hard to serve multiple benefits throughout the region with limited water supplies. This has required all hands-on deck and creative management within the region as all surface water supplies have been significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of farmland acres idled throughout the region, urban suppliers working with their citizens to implement various conservation measures to reduce water use and there will undoubtedly be challenges for domestic groundwater wells.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Stewardship Council guts independent peer review in the Delta Science Program

The seven members of the Delta Stewardship Council were seated in 2010. The Council appointed ten prominent scientists to the Delta ISB. Over the next decade, the Delta ISB produced over 30 scientific reviews, averaging over 3,000 hours of work per year. But in 2020, the work of the Delta ISB stalled. The Delta Stewardship Council reduced funding for the Delta ISB by over 90%. 

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Blog: Captive breeding of Delta smelt: Worthy experiment or well-intended folly?

Delta smelt have nearly ceased to appear in “pelagic” fish surveys carried out in their narrow geographic range in the upper San Francisco Estuary. As trawl-generated index values for delta smelt have declined over the past quarter century – understand there is no reliable estimate of the size of the delta smelt population — the chorus of voices advocating for captive rearing and releases of the species has grown louder. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

East Bay water officials have eyes on the future

East Bay Municipal Utility District officials have seen droughts come and go. But they seem to be coming more frequently this century. Climate change is stoking devastating wildfire seasons year after year, drying the state out and just making it more flammable the following year. State water officials say that means less water in the Mokelumne River Watershed, the main source for EBMUD and its 1.4 million customers. Last winter was the state’s driest since 1977, prompting the district to officially declare a stage one drought on April 27 and ask customers to cut ten percent of their water use. What can the East Bay expect moving forward?

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

California — already in the clutches of another drought emergency —  is looking over its shoulder at what happened last time, anticipating the worst and evaluating the strategies that worked and those that failed. So is California in a better position to weather this drought? Some things are worse, some better: Groundwater is still being pumped with no statewide limits, siphoning up drinking water that rural communities rely on. In northern counties, residents are reliving the last disaster as water restrictions kick in again, but in the south, enough water is stored to avoid them for now. … The upshot is California isn’t ready — again.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

As drought dries California rivers, salmon take truck rides to sea

During a typical spring, the silver young salmon swimming in long tanks at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery east of Sacramento would be released into the American River and then make their way out to the Pacific Ocean to grow to adulthood. But with extreme drought now gripping California and much of West Coast, the rivers are too warm for the salmon to survive. This week, the 3.5-inch (90-mm) smolt, as the young fish are known, embarked on a much different journey when they were loaded on to trucks and driven to the San Francisco Bay for release into cooler waters.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Fears of a massive salmon die-off this summer in Sacramento River water conflict

An entire run of endangered winter-run chinook salmon, as well as the fall-run salmon that make up the core of the California fishery, are in danger of being wiped out this year if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation keeps diverting water to farmers at its current rate. With state water resources constrained by the extreme drought, that’s the alarm that environmental, fishing and tribal groups are sounding after reports show the Sacramento River will reach dangerous temperatures during spawning season, based on federal scientific scenarios that analyze the bureau’s planned water releases. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Advancing flood-mar: What are the possibilities?

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, the Commission continued examining the state’s role in conveyance projects by hearing from two experts on flood-managed aquifer recharge, or Flood MAR. First, Dr. Graham Fogg, UC David professor emeritus of Hydrogeology, discussed scaling up Flood MAR and how that will likely present new conveyance needs.  Then, Jenny Marr, Supervising Engineer at the Department of Water Resources, outlined the state’s approach to flood Mar.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Gov. Newsom must resolve California and Stanislaus water wars

Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to declare drought in most of California, including here, is no reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the party hats. They know full well that words on a declaration will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and row crops. They also know that a drought declaration could take some power over the water we do have from our locally elected irrigation leaders — who represent institutions guiding us through periodic droughts for more than 100 years — and hand it to nonelected Sacramento bureaucrats.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation increases flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a plan to increase flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with meeting Delta salinity and outflow requirements. Additional flow releases will begin on the lower Stanislaus River on May 10 and will reach a total flow of 1,000 cubic feet per second and again on May 11 to reach 1,500 cfs. This increased flow of 1,500 cfs will likely occur for an extended duration. During the increased releases, water levels will be higher and currents faster. Visitors should use caution when near or on the Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Voluntary agreements are a bad deal for California’s fish and wildlife

On Friday, a coalition of conservation groups, fishing organizations, stakeholders in the Delta, and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe sent this letter to the Biden Administration, urging the Administration not to endorse the so-called “Voluntary Agreements” for the Bay-Delta watershed. Unfortunately, the State of California continues to negotiate backroom deals with the biggest water users in the State that fail to protect and restore water quality in the Bay-Delta, threatening thousands of fishing jobs, farms and communities in the Delta, and the health of this watershed and its native fish and wildlife. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Conveyance and water rights; Considerations for conveyance across the Delta

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, as part of their continuing work on examining the state’s role in financing conveyance projects that could help meet needs in a changing climate, the Commissioners heard from a panel of speakers about state policy considerations for conveyance and the cross-cutting issues of flood-managed aquifer recharge (flood-MAR), green infrastructure, collaborative partnerships and governance, and innovation. … Michael George, Delta Watermaster, … pointed out that it’s physically, ecologically, and economically impossible to squeeze water out of the Delta for export. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: River flows helps CA Delta estuary, fish — not wasted water

It’s that time of drought again. During one of the driest years on record, once again curtailing water deliveries to local farms, Fresno-area lawmakers wasted little time trotting out one of their favorite falsehoods. That every year, including the parched ones like 2021, California “wastes” millions of gallons of water by “flushing it to the ocean.” Central San Joaquin Valley residents have heard this declaration so often and for so long, from the mouths of politicians and parroted on talk radio, that many of us believe it’s true. 

-Written by Marek Warszawski

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Aquafornia news Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations

News release: Did BOR shift economic burden from water contractors to taxpayers?

On Monday May 3rd, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the West Coast’s largest trade organization of small-scale commercial fishermen and women, signed on to a letter asking Representative Katie Porter (D – Ca 45th) in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations and Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to open an investigation into Reclamation’s manipulation of government cost accounting standards and its own longstanding criteria for allocating costs owed by Central Valley Project water and power contractors (Contractors).

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Reclamation halts water deliveries to Northern California farmers

More than a month after announcing it was suspending water deliveries to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the Bureau of Reclamation delivered equally bad news to farmers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Their water supplies, tabbed at 5 percent of their contracted amount, were not available for delivery via the Central Valley Project due to limited supply. 

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Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

California drought forces trucking of young salmon to Pacific Ocean

California’s drought is forcing hatcheries to truck young salmon to the San Francisco Bay because the fish would otherwise likely die trying to swim on their own downstream to the Pacific Ocean. The Coleman National Fish Hatchery along Battle Creek in Shasta County plans to drive about 950,000 fall chinook salmon smolts in May to increase their chances of survival.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Anticipating and addressing the impacts of the drought

California’s current drought is already off to a strong start, with some major challenges already looming just two years in. Compared to the drought of 2012‒16, the normally wetter Sacramento and North Coast regions have been hit much harder than the rest of the state. Beyond the local challenges this poses, drought in the Sacramento region is already having statewide implications, given its key role in supplying water to farms and cities further south. 

Aquafornia news California Farm Bureau

Blog: President’s message – Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential. During the coming few months, as California struggles through another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed public officials feel the same way. [A]n overarching, long-term problem needs to be solved to make sure farm employees can not just work safely, but can have jobs, period: water supplies.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought declaration would trigger war over water supply

Experts say a statewide drought declaration … could bring significant consequences for the regulatory structure governing California’s complicated water-delivery system. Many farmers believe an emergency order could loosen environmental regulations and free up water supplies for them. Environmental groups fear the very same thing – that more of California’s dwindling water supply could be directed to farming at the expense of fish and wildlife.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Beavers are firefighters who work for free

The beaver does more to shape its environment than nearly any other animal on Earth. They can cause incredible amounts of destruction to infrastructure; downing power lines, and blocking and rerouting waterways. But their dam-building also can improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and create the conditions for complex wetland habitats to form —providing refuge for wildlife and storing carbon in the process. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s latest drought in 4 charts

California is grappling with drought again, facing many of the same conditions and challenges that were features of the 2012–16 drought—including stressed ecosystems, depleted reservoirs, hard-hit farms and rural communities, threats to urban water supplies, and the potential for extensive wildfires. Knowing what’s different and what’s similar to our last major drought can help us better prepare the most vulnerable sectors for ongoing dry times. To put this drought in context, this is only its second year. Historically, droughts have lasted up to six years. Our most recent one lasted five. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Do largemouth bass like droughts?

As we rapidly enter another drought, long-standing questions on ecological impacts of increased temperatures, reduced water levels and flows re-emerge. This reality recently reminded me of some of my own previous work looking at growth rate variations of largemouth bass in response to droughts in the southeastern USA (Rypel et al. 2009). Results from this work may be useful/interesting for biologists and managers in California considering similar questions.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California to truck young salmon to the Pacific because of low river levels

California officials will again truck millions of young salmon raised at fish hatcheries in the Central Valley agricultural region to the Pacific Ocean because projected river conditions show that the waterways the fish use to travel downstream will be historically low and warm due to increasing drought. Officials said the massive trucking operation is aimed at ensuring “the highest level of survival for the young salmon on their hazardous journey to the Pacific Ocean.”

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Watching for harmful algal blooms in a dry year

With the dry year facing California, there is increased awareness about water quality issues and particularly harmful algal blooms. The Natural Resources Agency in its Report To The Legislature on The 2012–2016 Drought provided that “the drought’s most visible water quality impact was harmful algal blooms (HABs), which were reported more frequently during the 2012–2016 drought than during prior droughts.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom promises while the Delta dies

The West Coast’s most important estuary is dying, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has hastened its demise. As he took office two years ago, Newsom promised to generate voluntary agreements among farmers, environmentalists and government officials on the rules for allocating water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … [C]onditions in the delta have grown so dire that in March the National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that high water temperatures could kill 90% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River this year.
-Written by Jacques Leslie.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Opinion: Recall politics? No thanks, because the Delta keeps losing either way

Today’s commentary breaks my heart.  Why?  Because Restore the Delta is focused on water quality issues, flood control issues, future planning, and training the next generation of local water experts – for that is where hope exists.  We are focused on the future because in some ways we have become very cynical about any positive meaningful change to Delta management presently — from the lack of care at the highest levels of government, to local pockets of Delta communities that will not acknowledge the deterioration of the estuary before their eyes.

-Written by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who serves on the Executive Committee at Large for Restore the Delta. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Putting wetlands to work for disaster recovery

No one will forget the intense challenges that 2020 brought us, from record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires to a global pandemic that devastated our economy and public health. As Congress and the Biden administration look to help our country rebuild and recover from these compounding crises, investing in nature presents an opportunity to deliver multiple benefits for communities, birds, and other wildlife. Audubon presents a new suite of policy recommendations for making our communities and wildlife more resilient to climate change, by putting our wetlands, barrier islands, and other ecosystems to work.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Federal agencies announce final schedule for Clear Creek spring pulse flows

The Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their plan today for pulse flow releases from Whiskeytown Dam into Clear Creek in May. Pulse flows are rapid increases and decreases in dam-released flows occurring over a short time. The release of water aims to advance recovery of threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon by attracting adult salmon to move upstream to take advantage of cooler summer water temperatures and improved habitat. Flow releases for the pulse will begin on May 7 and reach a peak of 900 cubic feet per second May 8 to 11. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Revitalizing California’s floodplains benefits people and wildlife

Throughout California’s history, rivers have been diverted, rerouted and contained by concrete. While these actions have brought agriculture and communities to arid land, and reduced large-scale flooding, it has also eliminated some of the natural benefits provided by untamed rivers. Today, efforts are underway to restore some of the natural riparian areas to the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: How dry is California? What should we prepare for?

California is in the second year of a drought. Governor Newsom this week made his first drought declaration. Just how dry is this drought, so far?  What are some likely implications?  And what might State and local governments do about it?

Aquafornia news Oakdale Leader

Conditions foil proposed OID, SSJID water release

An unseasonably dry March and lack of sufficient water supplies have foiled a proposed water release by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts that would have boosted Stanislaus River flows beginning this past week for the benefit of out-migrating salmon, and also supplied water to farms and communities in the San Joaquin Valley most vulnerable to extreme drought conditions. The plan would have sent up to 100,000 acre-feet of water down the river between April 15 and May 15 in what are known as “pulse flows” to help young salmon navigate their way toward the Delta and, eventually, out to sea. 

Aquafornia news Rediscovering the Golden State

Blog: Adventures of a water drop, California style

Let me introduce myself. I am a California water drop. I condensed from billions of water vapor molecules in the air above the North Pacific Ocean to become embedded in the clouds that evolved into a large storm system. Through alternating ups and downs, and freeze and thaw cycles, I was carried in a rotating middle latitude wave cyclone as it drifted southeast and toward California. As the storm swept across the Golden State, I was forced to rise higher over the mountains and I grew as a giant ice crystal until I fell as a fluffy-turned-heavy snowflake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Aquafornia news Bay City News Service

EBMUD seeks public input on water supply plan

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is asking for public input from residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties for an update of its water supply plan, which is updated every five years. The plan assesses water supplies against expected water needs for a 30-year planning horizon. A virtual public comment meeting will be held April 29 and a virtual public hearing on May 11, during the regularly scheduled EBMUD board of directors meeting.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Virginia Madueño appointed to the Delta Stewardship Council

California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Virginia Madueño to serve as a member of the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) effective April 14, 2021. The compensation for this position is $50,497.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: The Bay-Delta salmon crisis that didn’t have to be

The state and federal agencies tasked with protecting our fish, wildlife, and natural resources are once again scrambling to avoid wiping out this year’s cohort of chinook salmon that spawn below Shasta Dam. If this sounds familiar, it is because this scenario is a repeat of attempts to “manage” Shasta operations in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in over 75% of the eggs and fry of endangered winter run chinook salmon being destroyed in both of those years, solely from the lack of sufficient cold water being released from Shasta Dam …

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Rain forecast for this weekend — not a joke!

It won’t solve California’s drought problems, but it’s better than nothing. The first rain in a month could wet the Bay Area and much of Northern California this weekend, forecasters say, as a late-season storm from the Gulf of Alaska appears to be headed toward the region. Computer models show the rain will begin late Saturday in the North Bay, spreading across the wider Bay Area and Santa Cruz Mountains on Sunday. … The weekend system also could bring snow to the Sierra Nevada on Sunday.

Aquafornia news Red, Green, and Blue

Blog: Yurok and Karuk Tribes respond to Klamath Operations plan during severe drought

The Klamath River Basin is in a dire situation this year. The plan curtails irrigation diversions to less than 10% of demand while failing to meet the biological needs of salmon and other fisheries downstream. … Reclamation also announced $15 million in immediate aid to the Klamath Project through the Klamath Project Drought Relief Agency, an additional $3 million in technical assistance to Tribes for ecosystem activities in the basin, as well as funding for groundwater monitoring in the basin.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Changes to Shasta water release designed to protect salmon

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin releasing warmer water from the upper layers of the Shasta Reservoir directly into the Sacramento River to maintain flows, while saving colder water for the winter-run Chinook salmon migration.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Suisun Marsh fishes in 2020 – Persistence during the Pandemic

Suisun Marsh is central to the health of the San Francisco Estuary. Not only is it a huge (470 km2) tidal marsh in the center the northern estuary (Figure 1), but it is an extremely important nursery area for species such as splittail, striped bass, longfin smelt, and, formerly, delta smelt. Since January 1980, a team from The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), has systematically monitored the marsh’s fish populations. The team had been sampling the fish and invertebrates every month with trawls and beach seines, with a nearly unbroken record. Then Covid-19 restrictions settled in…

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation adjusts Sacramento River operations to benefit salmon amid drought conditions

Reclamation announced today that spring-time operations at Shasta Dam will adjust to benefit endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River during this critically dry water year. … No additional water from Shasta Reservoir will be released during this temporary adjustment—only the withdrawal elevation and timing of water releases will change.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California gold fever still reigns. New prospectors seek to reopen giant mine

For the past four years, a Canadian mining company has been in Nevada County, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, collecting samples of what it suspects is one of the world’s highest-grade underground gold deposits, potentially worth billions. … The legacy of gold, while widely celebrated, is not something that many in this area, now home to more retirees and Bay Area transplants than men in hard hats and overalls, want to revisit. … [T]he scars it left on the landscape remain visible, and unwanted. Creeks still get mucked up with iron and sulfuric acid from old mines. Soils contain arsenic left over from drilling. …

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Harmful algal blooms in the Delta (and elsewhere)

Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when colonies of algae, under the right conditions, grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. Every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state experiences harmful algal blooms. In California, reports of harmful algal blooms have increased from 91 in 2016 to 241 in 2019. In 2020, Stockton experienced a severe harmful algal bloom; it marked the first year that algal blooms spread into the San Joaquin and Calaveras Rivers so early in the summer and fall months. Drought and heat are factors that increase harmful algal blooms …

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration declares California drought disaster. What is Newsom waiting for?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 California counties as natural disaster areas last month because of the drought. And, over the weekend, Fresno Congressman Jim Costa said on KSEE-24’s Sunday Morning Matters program that Gov. Newsom should declare a statewide emergency because of the dangerously dry conditions. …Yet, Newsom… last week rejected a request from a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers from the Valley to declare a statewide drought emergency. 

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Suisun Marsh drilling plan re-evaluated after backlash

The Suisun Marsh — known as the largest swath of contiguous wetlands on the West Coast and a haven for thousands of migrating waterfowl — has become the Bay Area’s latest battleground between fossil fuel producers and environmentalists hellbent on fighting climate change. A Brentwood company, Sunset Exploration Inc., announced in January it wants to explore for natural gas by drilling a section of the 116,000-acre marshland about 9 miles southwest of Suisun City in an area known as Hunter’s Point, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Aquafornia news Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

News release: Nancy Vogel named Deputy Secretary for Water at California Natural Resources Agency

Nancy  L. Vogel of Sacramento has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Water at the California Natural Resources Agency, where she has been Director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program since 2019 and was Deputy Secretary of Communications from 2015 to 2017. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Delta tunnel authority changes leaders as Newsom fights the recall by turning to billionaire champions of the project

The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work through the most dangerous part of the pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California wages uphill battle against invasive species

It’s nothing less than an invasion. Interlopers are coming into California by land, by sea…and by FedEx. That’s what happened with the European green crab, a voracious cannibal that stowed away in packages of worms sent by overnight delivery to commercial fisherman in California. Unknown to anyone, the tiny crustaceans were concealed in seaweed that wrapped the cargo and were freed into the Pacific when fishermen tossed it overboard. … California spends $3 million a year attempting to eradicate nutria, a large, homely, orange-toothed rodent that destroys wetlands and bores holes into levees. Another $3 million a year goes to educating boaters about quagga mussels, which hitch rides on hulls and cling to equipment in the state’s vast water transport system.  And, for the last 20 years, authorities have spent more than $34 million to manage Atlantic cordgrass in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Cities with the most properties at risk of flooding

Here’s a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding, according to 2020 data from the First Street Foundation’s First National Flood Risk Assessment. Flooding is a huge problem in America and is only getting worse as global warming increases the frequency and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes, and the warmer atmosphere holds more water, leading to more rainfall. Warmer temperatures also trigger winter snow to melt faster and earlier. Flooding in the United States is likely to cause some $20 billion in damages this year and cost as much as $32 billion by 2051, according to research from First Street. Sundae took a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding… #10. San Jose … #5. Fresno … #3. Sacramento…

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: SWRCB adopts resolution approving state wetland definition and dredge and fill procedures

On April 6, 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) approved the application of the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures) as a water quality control policy, carefully avoiding the scope of a recent court order.  This resolution will allow the Board to directly apply the water Procedures to waters of the State as an exercise of its policy-making authority rather than the water quality control planning process.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SF Baykeeper sues Biden administration to list local longfin smelt as endangered species

A tiny silver fish few people in the Bay Area have heard of could be a new symbol of the state’s continuing battle over water resources. San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Biden administration on Thursday to list the local population of longfin smelt as an endangered species. The environmental group’s legal action comes nine years after the federal government first declared that the fish warranted that status. Once an important source of food for marine mammals, birds and chinook salmon, the local population of the longfin smelt has dropped by 99.9% since the 1980s. Scientists and environmentalists say that reduction is a direct result of too much water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system being diverted to farms and other water users rather than flowing through the bay to the Pacific.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Updated Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project hot off the press

Our Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project has just been updated to reflect the latest developments affecting California’s largest surface water delivery system. The 24-page guide explores the history of the Central Valley Project, from its roots as a state water project that stalled amid the Great Depression to its development as a federal project that stretches from Shasta Dam in far Northern California to Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California legislators want Gov. Newsom to declare state of emergency over water ‘crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas] Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Q/A with Delta Conveyance Project Executive Director Tony Meyers

In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in protecting the security of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

SSJID, OID still waiting for federal approval of plan to help threatened fish & stressed farmers

OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water — have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated 1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5 percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the Delta.  

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water for multiple benefits – Why spring diversions on the Sacramento River are important

As we begin spring in the Sacramento Valley, the region illuminates – we see the brown landscape turn verdant, and the Valley bustles with activity as people share the hope of a new year and collectively cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. With the dry year in Northern California, the water resource managers are working overtime to carefully manage our precious water systems including rivers, streams, reservoirs and diversions to serve multiple benefits. To effectively do this, water resources must be managed in an efficient manner, with the same block of water often used to achieve several beneficial uses as it moves through the region’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion – Are water wars about to boil?

Not counting long and ugly court battles, the two most likely solutions to California water wars are voluntary agreements or involuntary edicts. Our Modesto Bee Editorial Board long has favored voluntary agreements, or compromises negotiated mainly between local irrigation districts (representing our farmers) and state and federal officials. The other side, chiefly represented by environmental and fishing interests, would prefer that the California State Water Board simply take huge amounts of water from our Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, mostly to benefit fish — what could be called involuntary edicts. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s opinion editor.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: The dam problem for the Bay-Delta estuary

The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers and putting business in front of the environment.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Drastic measure to meet Delta outflow

For seven days in mid-March 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation substantially increased Folsom Lake storage releases. Roughly, the releases tripled in volume (Figure 1). The release of over 20,000 acre-feet of water is significant for a year in which Folsom storage is not much better than it was in the worst year on record – 1977 (Figure 2).1 With the release in mid-March, the lake level dropped 3 feet. Yes, there was rain in the forecast and a decent snowpack, but certainly no flood concerns. So why? The reason was to meet state water quality requirements for Delta outflow. Delta outflow increased from 7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days (Figure 3).

Aquafornia news The Hill

Third-driest year reported in California

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has marked 2021 as the third-driest water year, a period marked from October to March, on record for the Golden State, potentially setting up another deadly wildfire season after last year’s record setting blazes. The department’s annual snow survey released this month recorded precipitation levels at 50 percent the annual average for the water year.  The dry conditions can also be seen in the state’s water supply, with the department reporting that California’s major reservoirs are at just 50 percent of overall capacity.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Ensuring the reliability of the State Water Project, Part 1: Strategic Priorities and Programs

One of the California Water Commission’s statutory responsibilities is to conduct an annual review of the construction and operation of the State Water Project and make a report on its findings to the Department of Water Resources and the Legislature, with any recommendations it may have.  Having just finished the 2020 State Water Project review, the Commission has launched its 2021 State Water Project review with a theme focused on creating a resilient State Water Project by addressing climate change and aging infrastructure to provide multiple benefits for California. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Complexities – Thinking about the San Francisco Estuary during the 2021 Bay-Delta Science Conference

In anticipation of this week’s Bay-Delta Science Conference, I thought it would be useful to consider some of what it takes to understand a complex ecosystem like an estuary and to encourage everyone working in the San Francisco Estuary – scientists, policymakers, and local stakeholders – to continue shifting our ecosystem management focus from the simple to the complex. I’ll explain why in a moment. Here are four suggestions for improving ecosystem management in the San Francisco Bay-Delta:

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Fishermen worried over salmon season

With commercial salmon fishing in California likely headed toward a shortened season starting in late June, fishermen out of Half Moon Bay remain worried about what a short season means during an already down year. … The shortened season will be set based on an estimated low stock of chinook salmon derived from statistical modeling. An ocean abundance forecast of adult salmon estimated the Sacramento River in 2021 to have around 271,000 salmon, while the Klamath River had around 181,500, both lower than their 10-year averages of 487,600 and 449,000, respectively, Morgenstern said.

Aquafornia news California Department of Justice

News release: California Department of Justice expresses concern over proposal to allow exploratory drilling in the Suisun Marsh

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) filed comments with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) regarding Sunset Exploration’s proposal to drill for natural gas in the Suisun Marsh. Located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this 88,000-acre wetland is home to a number of endangered and threatened species, including California Ridgway’s rail, black rail, and Chinook salmon – and is just a few short miles from environmental justice communities in Solano County…. DOJ urges the Army Corps to fully consider the proposal’s significant environmental impacts, including harm to these communities and protected species, as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions, before deciding whether to grant the requested permit.

Aquafornia news Western City Magazine

Cities of San José and Ukiah lead the way on critical water infrastructure projects

Much of the state’s water infrastructure was designed decades ago and was built to serve half the size of our current population. Faced with aging infrastructure, California cities have taken innovative approaches to modernizing water treatment and recycling systems to meet the needs of a growing population and a changing climate. One infrastructure need that many residents take for granted is wastewater treatment. … The San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the Western United States. Originally built in 1956, today it serves more than 1.4 million residents and 17,000 businesses in eight cities in Silicon Valley and unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. Using a treatment process that simulates the way nature cleans water, the facility treats an average of 110 million gallons of wastewater per day.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: With San Francisco Bay on life support, Newsom withholds the cure

San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet, with another drought looming, federal and state water managers still plan to divert large amounts of water to their contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer. Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov. Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future precarious. 
-Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF Baykeeper.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Council hires new Chief Deputy Executive Officer

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) announced the hiring of Ryan Stanbra, the Council’s legislative and policy advisor, to the key post of chief deputy executive officer. … Appointed by Governor Brown in 2015, Ryan joined the Council in the role of legislative and policy advisor. He has played a pivotal role in advising on critical Council initiatives like implementation of reduced reliance on the Delta, interagency coordination and outreach for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy, increasing funding for critical science investments, and more. He has served in the acting chief deputy executive officer role since January.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

April Fools Blog: Looking for a new challenge? Retrain as a Delta Smelt

The Federal government is beginning a program for the unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.  Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water trawls. Major California water projects and water users are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year non-renewable contracts. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta bundle features map and layperson’s guide at a special price

Explore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of California’s most vital ecological and water resources, with a special discounted education bundle that includes our brand-new Delta Map and our recently updated Layperson’s Guide to the Delta. Purchased separately, the map retails for $20 and the guide sells for $15. But with our Delta Education Bundle you can get both items for just $30.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California and feds still plan to drain reservoirs & kill salmon

Updated water supply allocations announced last week would still drain upstream reservoirs in order to deliver 4.5 million acre feet of water to the contractors of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP), devastating fish and wildlife. This week, the fisheries biologists at the National Marine Fisheries Service projected that these planned operations are likely to result in lethal water temperatures that will kill 89% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam this year. This mortality estimate is even worse than what was observed in 2014 and 2015, when salmon populations were devastated by warm water in their spawning grounds. 

Aquafornia news KCRA

Lessons learned from previous California drought helpful in ‘dry years’

As the rain season comes to a close across Northern California, water districts are keeping a close eye on rain totals that are below average, and water managers are explaining what another “dry water year” means for our region. According to California’s Department of Water Resources, or DWR, the state is well into its second consecutive dry year. That causes concern among water managers. However, it comes as no surprise. … With the memory of drought years between 2012 and 2016 not too distant, [DWR information officer Chris] Orrock explained how lessons learned from that time period are still being implemented.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Strong state oversight needed to ensure California’s wetlands are protected

When the first European explorers arrived in California’s Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields, they support millions of migrating waterbirds each year. According to a just-released study from Audubon, tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California – have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers. 
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program Director at Audubon California and a member of the California Water Commission.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Blog: Refreshing the Estuary Blueprint

The San Francisco Estuary Partnership’s next update to it’s 2016 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the Estuary—or Estuary Blueprint—will bring a new focus on equity and environmental justice to ongoing efforts to restore and protect the Bay and Delta.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Water shortages and fires loom after a dry winter

The lack of rain and snow during what is usually California’s wet season has shrunk the state’s water supply. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water as it melts over the spring and summer, is currently at 65 percent of normal. Major reservoirs are also low. Two state agencies warned last week that the dry winter is very likely to lead to cuts in the supply of water to homes, businesses and farmers. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also told its agricultural water customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to expect no water this year.

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Aquafornia news The Press

California seeks input on Delta benefit program

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced a series of workshops intended to solicit public input on the development of a community benefit program associated with the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). According to DWR, community benefit programs go beyond traditional concepts of mitigation. They attempt to provide greater flexibility in addressing possible community impacts associated with the major construction projects.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Below-average winter prompts California water conservation

The second consecutive dry winter has prompted state water managers to reduce allocations to the state water project that supplies millions of Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. The state Department of Water Resources announced this week that it will only be able to deliver 5% of the requested allocations following below-average precipitation across the state. That figure is down from the initial allocation of 10% announced in December. Many of the state’s major reservoirs are recording just 50% of average water storage for this time of year, and won’t see a major increase due to a snowpack that is averaging just 65% of normal, according to state statistics..

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Friday Top of the Scroll: Delta study predicts stronger floods and less water supply

[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000 people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together. … The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water: drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”

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Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and water sources have seen steep declines in the past century. 

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Water war continues to affect salmon run

The upcoming salmon season doesn’t look promising for recreational and commercial fishermen on the Coastside. But environmentalists from the Central Valley are hoping to change that in the future by easing the movement of salmon between the Pacific Ocean and inland rivers. One of those rivers is the Tuolumne River. Its stewards at the Tuolumne River Trust are sounding the alarm over the river’s health and say that committing more water to this distant river will help the salmon populations more than 100 miles away in places like Coastside fisheries.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year, alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta. Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to southern cities and farms are creeping ahead. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought is real and California is now facing water restrictions

State and federal water officials have delivered their most dire warning yet of California’s deepening drought, announcing that water supply shortages are imminent and calling for quick conservation. Among a handful of drastic actions this week, the powerful State Water Board on Monday began sending notices to California’s 40,000 water users, from small farms to big cities like San Francisco, telling them to brace for cuts. It’s a preliminary step before the possibility of ordering their water draws to stop entirely. 

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Aquafornia news California Division Of Boating And Waterways

News release: Division of Boating and Waterways begins control efforts in the Delta for aquatic invasive plants

The Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) today announced plans for this year’s control efforts for aquatic invasive plants in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its southern tributaries. Consistent with COVID-19 safety protocols, DBW personnel started herbicide treatments today to help control several invasive plants found in the Delta. … The invasive plants include water hyacinth, South American spongeplant, Uruguay water primrose, Alligator weed, Brazilian waterweed, curlyleaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, hornwort (aka coontail), and fanwort.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Water use in California

California’s water use varies dramatically across regions and sectors, and between wet and dry years. With the possibility of another drought looming, knowing how water is allocated across the state can make it easier to understand the difficult tradeoffs the state’s water managers must make in times of scarcity. The good news is that we’ve been using less over time, both in cities and on farms. While there are still ways to cut use further to manage droughts, it won’t always be easy or cheap to do so. California’s freshwater ecosystems are at particular risk of drought, when environmental water use often sees large cuts. Watch the video to learn how Californians use water.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

20 hotspots to start fixing nitrogen pollution in agriculture

Nitrogen pollution is one of agriculture’s biggest and most intractable problems. Crops can’t grow without the critical nutrient, and because sources of nitrogen are easy to come by—synthetic fertilizer is cheap and manure from large animal agriculture operations is plentiful—farmers often apply too much, to try to ensure the highest yields. Because plants can’t use it all, the excess makes its way into groundwater and washes into waterways where it contaminates drinking water and creates vast dead zones in oceans and lakes. … California’s largest hotspot unsurprisingly includes 21 counties that cover the Central Valley, America’s produce capital.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative habitat creator

When Ann Hayden first joined EDF in 2002, shortly after finishing her own stint in the Peace Corps in Belize and graduate school where she studied environmental science and management, she was immediately thrown into one of California’s thorniest water debates: the restoration of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Bay-Delta, the hub of the state’s water supply. She hit the jackpot when she was hired by Tom Graff, founder of EDF’s California office and a renowned water lawyer, and Spreck Rosekrans, who garnered the respect of the water community for his ability to understand the state’s hypercomplex water operations.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Fish in hot water – Moments that write history #7

As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and cultural significance by local communities, and for their recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And perhaps an even better question: what can be done about it? 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Highlights from the Peter B. Moyle and CalTrout Endowed Professorship

The Peter B. Moyle and California Trout Endowed Professorship was established by a group of donors concerned with the conservation and management of coldwater fishes in California. The endowed chair honors Peter Moyle and the historical and productive working relationship between CalTrout and UC Davis, with an endowment fund resting at over $2 million. Dr. Andrew L. Rypel was appointed to this professorship as the inaugural holder in 2017, therefore this report reflects year-3 work on behalf of the chair. A total of 13 peer-reviewed scientific publications were produced by the Rypel Lab at UC Davis in 2019-2020.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water on our floodplains for multiple benefits: the proof is in the projects

Through collaborative projects, birds and endangered fish are returning to areas they once reared in more than 100 years ago. Partnerships among farmers, conservationists, universities, and state and federal agencies are proving that by reactivating our historic floodplains and using our bypasses during key times of the year, we can create high-quality habitat that produces safe haven and up to 149 times more food for salmon than the river. These key projects demonstrate some of the work being done on the wet-side of the levee.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Feds may look at spring-run chinook salmon as genetically distinct

The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering whether the spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon that occupy the rivers of Northern California and southern Oregon are genetically distinct.  The decision … would almost certainly result in a listing under the Endangered Species Act if seen as a separate species. … [T]he dams and reservoirs that have been installed at various points throughout the rivers of the West Coast create problems for spring-run Chinook that are unique and separate from their closely related cousins. It also allows the fall-run species to outcompete the spring run since they both are able to reach the same spots in the river to reproduce. 

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Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 GM Pryor to appear on statewide water panel discussion

A trio of briefings on aging infrastructure and climate change from the State Water Project will open with a stakeholder panel discussion featuring Zone 7 Water Agency General Manager Valerie Pryor during the California Water Commission’s meeting on Wednesday (March 17), starting 9:30 a.m. The meeting agenda includes three briefings under Item No. 9 including an overview of the State Water Project and updates on the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and the California Department of Water Resources’ “efforts to address issues related to aging infrastructure.”

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: As drought alarms sound, is California prepared?

We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water management throughout the state.  Are we ready to manage our freshwater ecosystems through another drought?
-Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow, and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘We’re getting hit left and right’: Dwindling salmon runs to restrict 2021 commercial season

Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the long-term average. During a press briefing on Friday morning, John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial fishermen.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Watermaster update: Preparing for a dry year in the Delta; addressing problems in the south Delta

At the February meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Watermaster Michael George updated the councilmembers on the efforts underway at the State Water Board to prepare for the increasing possibility of 2021 being critically dry.  He also gave an update on the efforts to address the deteriorating conditions in the south Delta.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area salmon season is expected to be much shorter this year, bringing higher prices

Bad news for salmon lovers: The quantity of fish in Bay Area coastal waters this year is expected to be far lower than in 2020. And fewer fish means less work for local fishers and fewer salmon in stores. The number of adult king salmon from the Sacramento River fall run is projected to be 271,000 this spring and summer, compared with last year’s estimate of 473,200….The limited season reflects a downward trend in the population of king salmon, also known as chinook, over the last decade because of drought and state policies that have limited the amount of water allotted to the parts of the Sacramento River basin where the fish spawn and juveniles spend their early months. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Hot off the press! Our map of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has a new look

Our map of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has been updated with a fresh, new look and new text and images to better tell the story of one of California’s most important ecological and water supply resources.  The new map explores the Delta’s importance as a haven for birds, fish and other wildlife, its vital role in moving water to farms and cities across California, and the array of challenges facing the Delta’s present and future.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom should kill plan to drain state reservoirs

On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be saving water, not wasting it. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions

New research: Blue carbon California – Incorporating blue carbon science into climate policy solutions

California is home to a diversity of coastal ecosystems like tidal marshes, seagrass beds, and estuaries. These ecosystems provide flood and storm protection, healthy habitats for fish and birds, and recreational spaces. They may also play an important role in addressing climate change. A new COS and Natural Capital Project study in Global Environmental Change investigates the carbon sequestration potential of habitats along the California coast and details pathways incorporating carbon-capturing habitats into climate change policy.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Crowfoot calls for patience with voluntary agreements

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the Delta flows issue has been decades in the making and “it’s going to take some time to figure this out.”

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Road trip through the Delta for river towns, history, food and more

Today’s road trip features the Delta “super highway” of the 1800s, with plenty of water, quaint river towns, history and food along the way. From Stockton, you’ll travel a little more than 100 miles, so plan for a fun day-long outing. You’ll see every type of agriculture, levees built by Chinese labor after the early railroads were constructed, and boats and cargo ships travelling the same sloughs as did old steamboats and sailing packets. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Multi-agency collaboration restores critical habitat for endangered Delta smelt, other native species

Native fish, including smelt and salmon, in the southern Yolo Bypass in Yolo County have new sources of food and shelter thanks to a project that successfully restored more than 1,600 acres of former cattle pasture. The Lower Yolo Ranch Tidal Restoration Project is a collaboration between multiple agencies including the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Westlands Water District (Westlands) which serves western Fresno and Kings counties. The agencies are working together to meet a portion of state and federal requirements to restore 8,000 acres of tidal wetland habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map
Published March 2021

Delta Map for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

This beautifully illustrated 24×36-inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, highlights the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, its place as a center of farming, its importance as an ecological resource and its vital role in California’s water supply system. 

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization, farming, fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news Patch

$2.8m fine faced for illegal Suisun Marsh levee work

A man accused of illegally repairing a levee and damaging sensitive aquatic habitat in the Suisun Marsh is facing a $2.8 million fine following a California appeals court decision last month. John Sweeney, who ran a kiteboarding club on Point Buckler Island in Solano County after buying it in 2011, must also abide by a clean up and abatement order that requires him to restore the marshlands and tidal channels damaged during the levee work.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

New research: Oaks adapt drought resistance to local conditions

As climate change brings an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts, forest dieback is a key cause for concern: forests act as reservoirs of biodiversity and also allow vast amounts of carbon to be stored, reducing the so-called greenhouse effect. Oak trees, iconic veterans of European and American forests, have previously been thought to be highly vulnerable to drought. Now, thanks to a novel non-invasive optical technique, scientists from INRAE and the University of Bordeaux in France, with their colleagues from University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University have studied a range of oak species in North America to find out more about their resistance to drought.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Saving fish from extinction

A recent global assessment, released by 16 conservation organizations, of the world’s freshwater fish species found that nearly a third are at risk of extinction. Overfishing and climate change are the most significant and pervasive drivers of the global decline in freshwater biodiversity, but the blockages created by dams and the introduction of non-native species have also played significant roles. The news is distressing, yet CalTrout sees this as a call to action. Our organization works diligently to ensure resilient wild fish thrive in healthy waters. 

Aquafornia news The (Vacaville) Reporter

Online public meeting planned to discuss groundwater sustainability

A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville, Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving the health of California’s freshwater ecosystems

California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution, habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits. And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for improving their condition to secure these benefits for future generations.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California’s wet season nears an end with big concerns about drought

A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area, water users are already being asked to cut back. The state’s monthly snow survey on Tuesday will show only about 60% of average snowpack for this point in the year, the latest indication that water supplies are tightening. With the end of the stormy season approaching, forecasters don’t expect much more buildup of snow, a key component of the statewide supply that provides up to a third of California’s water.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Bad news – CVP and SWP plan to drain CA’s largest reservoirs

The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources plan to allocate approximately 5 million acre feet of water this year – as long as California allows them to effectively drain the two largest reservoirs in the state, potentially killing most or nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon this year, threatening the state’s resilience to continued dry conditions, and maybe even violating water quality standards in the Delta.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

More than half of California in ’severe’ drought mode, 31% in ‘extreme,’ including parts of North Bay

Ninety-nine percent of the state is dry, according to ABC Seven News Meteorologist Mike Nicco. More than half of the state is in severe drought mode and 31% is in the extreme drought conditions which includes part of the North Bay. The Bay Area is abnormally dry right now, but that should have changed in January and February as they are typically our wettest months.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Reporter

Congress passes Garamendi bill to expand National Heritage Area into Rio Vista

Approximately 62 acres of land in Rio Vista, including the former Army Reserve Center, have been incorporated into legislation by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, to increase the boundaries of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area. This bill, known as House Resolution 1230, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday and will move on to the Senate. The bill is an expansion of bicameral legislation by Garamendi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that was signed into law in 2019 to provide $10 million for community-based efforts to preserve the Delta’s cultural heritage as well as its historical landmarks. 

Aquafornia news WHYY

A tiny fish is on the brink of extinction. Does it matter that another just like it is thriving?

[S]cientists were having a hard time telling delta smelt apart from a fish species from Japan called wakasagi. … Wakasagi were introduced by the government in the 1950s. There’s no shortage of them here or in Japan. Especially when they’re young, to the naked eye they look virtually identical to deltas. They’re so similar, in fact, to the nearly extinct fish that scientists were worried about hybridization — that this plentiful species and the delta smelt would start hooking up, making mixed-species fish babies.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: The SFPUC is tarnishing SF’s record as an environmental leader

San Francisco has long been an international leader on environmental issues. However, water policy has been a stain on that record. … Many California rivers are overtapped by excessive pumping, but few are in worse condition than the Tuolumne River. In drier years, more than 90% of the Tuolumne’s water is diverted. On average, 80 percent of the river’s flow never makes it to the Bay. It’s not a surprise that the river’s health has collapsed. …
-Written by Bill Martin, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Water Committee, and Hunter Cutting, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group Executive Committee

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California must face water quality challenge in federal court

The Department of Justice can proceed with its claims that California violated state law when it changed its water quality control plan for the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system in federal court, the Ninth Circuit ruled. Granting a partial stay of the state law claims in federal court is allowed in limited circumstances, but the federal government’s actions here don’t amount to the type of forum shopping that justifies a stay, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Magazine

Christy Smith appointed to Delta Stewardship Council

Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Assessing climate change vulnerabilities

As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts climate change resilience initiative in 2018. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: A remembrance of George Basye

Many of my best days as a lawyer were spent driving through the Sacramento Valley and north Delta with George Basye (always in his Volvo).  As George neared his retirement, he wanted to ensure that I, as the successor to a number of his clients, understood the foundations of his client relationships.  George seemingly knew the history of every quarter section of land up and down the Valley.  He had a deep affection not only for the landscape but, most important to George, for the individuals and families who had settled and reclaimed the land and built the agricultural economy of the region.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Smoothing the bumps in the road to ecosystem restoration

California’s environmental permitting system was developed to prevent bad things from happening to the environment, but it often slows efforts to do good things, too. How can California improve regulatory processes to make them more efficient and effective? The PPIC Water Policy Center recently discussed these issues with a group of experts…

Aquafornia news East County Today

City of Antioch breaks ground on water project in Delta

On Friday,  the City of Antioch, along with local and State dignitaries, broke ground on their new and historic Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million, the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Obituary: George Basye, long-time water law practitioner

In 1955 he joined Downey, Brand, Seymour and Rohwer in Sacramento, becoming a partner in 1958 and specializing in water and natural resources law. He represented the California Central Valley Flood Control Association and over 30 reclamation, levee, water, and irrigation districts and mutual water companies in the Sacramento Valley. He was actively involved in negotiations leading to the water right settlement agreements between the Sacramento River water users and the United States in 1964. He formed the North Delta Water Agency and negotiated the agreement in 1981 between that Agency and the State of California, protecting water quality and uses within the northern half of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news The Press

Delta Stewardship Council holds resilience scavenger hunt

Climate change is impacting the whole Earth, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There are some big challenges ahead as the region changes over the next 30 years. In order to adapt to a world with increased flooding, drought, wildfire and intense heat, we need to start by understanding what’s going on. But where to begin? The Delta Stewardship Council is hosting a climate resilience scavenger hunt as part of its Delta Adapts initiative…. Now through Feb. 26, participants can complete as many activities as possible and submit their findings online. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Our future in the Sacramento Valley – Serving water for multiple benefits

There has been recent commentary and discussion around a commodity futures market for water in California. In the Sacramento Valley, we are not involved in this process; nor are we participating in these contracts. Although we are not entirely clear on this market or what is being traded, it is clear that this new market does not involve real/wet water–which is our focus in the Sacramento Valley. We will continue to focus on serving water for cities and rural communities, farms, fish, birds, other wildlife and recreation.

Aquafornia news The Press

Delta study examines climate change effect

For the better part of the last two centuries, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been modified in any number of ways to meet the demands of Californians. But a new wide-ranging study looks at what might be the most serious Delta threat that doesn’t come in the form of an excavator – global warming. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Eat prey loon – lessons from juvenile loons in Wisconsin

Identifying familiar habitats can be beneficial, but which habitat traits actually matter? A new study examines this question for juvenile common loons (Gavia immer) in lakes in northern Wisconsin. In central California we generally see loons in the winter, mostly in coastal ocean waters and also at some large reservoirs in Solano and Yolo County. But in summer, these large birds are icons of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, New England, and Canada.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

City of St. Helena reaches agreement with water watchdog group

The City of St. Helena has agreed to monitor local groundwater levels and stream flows, averting a potential lawsuit from an environmental advocacy group. Following months of negotiations, the city and Water Audit California released a joint statement Friday announcing the city will collect monthly water levels and annual extraction totals for local wells and provide a public, “scientifically useful” summary of the data. The city will conduct a comprehensive review of its water system, develop new protocols for using the city’s own Stonebridge wells, and work with Water Audit on the installation of new stream gauges along the Napa River, York Creek and Sulphur Creek. 

Aquafornia news Lexology

Blog: Regulatory changes on the horizon for California State Water Resources Control Board

On December 17, 2020, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a ruling limiting the ability of the California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) to implement its adopted statewide wetlands and Waters of the State (“WOTS”) regulations. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog Q&A: How is the Delta conveyance project financed?

In the latest Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video, we take a look at the financing mechanisms that make the project possible, both now, in the initial planning stages, and in the future if the project is approved. It might not sound like the most exciting aspect of the project but it’s certainly one area where there’s a lot of public interest and concern. With a project of this scale (the most recent estimate of the total cost is around $16 billion) it’s not surprising that people want to know who’s footing the bill.

Aquafornia news California Waterblog

Blog: Can Japanese smelt replace Delta smelt?

A question I get asked on occasion is: Why all this fuss about endangered delta smelt when there is another smelt that looks just the same that can takes its place? The smelt being referenced is the wakasagi (Hypomesus nipponensis), which is indeed similar to the delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus). In fact, both species were once thought to be a single species (H. olidus), the pond smelt, with populations scattered along the Pacific Rim, from California to Japan.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Citing support for a grand bargain, Water Board member calls it quits

State Water Board Member Tam Doduc believes the board will approve a Bay-Delta Plan that includes voluntary agreements with agricultural water interests.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Environmental groups file appeal to stop 469-home development near Newark wetlands

Environmentalist groups aiming to stop a major controversial housing development at the edge of Newark’s wetlands are appealing an Alameda County court decision that would allow the project to go forward, marking the latest volley in a decades-long fight over the best use for the land. The Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Center for Biological Diversity … said the development “would contribute to the loss of Bay wetlands and wildlife habitat,” such as the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, and could worsen flooding in nearby areas.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Can Newsom end California water wars now that Trump is gone?

Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water rushing through California’s major rivers and the critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and environmentalists. … [C]oming to an agreement as promised will require Newsom’s most artful negotiating skills. He’ll have to get past decades of fighting and maneuvering, at the same time California is continuing to recover from the worst wildfire season in modern state history and a pandemic that has since killed more than 42,000 state residents.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

What role can vineyards play in conserving California’s biodiversity?

For years, Gamble Vineyards has worked to create a more biodiverse habitat on vineyard land, including establishing animal sanctuaries throughout the property and donating acreage to the Napa River Restoration project. Now the river’s growing beaver population is chewing the trees that Gamble has planted over the last 20 years.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save the date for our virtual Water 101 workshop in April

Curious about water rights in California? Want to know more about how water is managed in the state, or learn about the State Water Project, Central Valley Project or other water infrastructure?  Mark your calendars now for our virtual Water 101 Workshop for the afternoons of April 22-23 to hear from experts on these topics and more.

Aquafornia news The Reporter

New federal law may boost Delta, Bay restoration, protection

The major Northern California waterways may be getting a renewed lease on their ecological and economic lives, as federal support for protection and restoration of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary could nearly double in coming years following enactment last month of the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act. As one of 28 “estuaries of national significance” eligible for funding through the new law, the San Francisco Estuary and other estuaries along every U.S. coast each may now receive as much as $1 million a year in federal aid…

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Advanced metering, desalination would bolster water supply amid construction mandates

If the natural water supply doesn’t meet the water needs of an increased population, Marin is going to have to revisit the idea of building a desalination plant. Currently, the largest U.S. desalination plant in San Diego produces 50 million gallons daily at a cost of one cent per gallon. That cost is kept low given the San Diego’s plant is adjacent to a power station. If Marin had to draw its power from MCE or Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the cost would rise to 1.33 cents per gallon or $10 per billing unit over and above normal water charges. 
-Written by Rick Johnson, who worked 40 years with the San Francisco Water Department as a senior inspector and revenue recovery project manager.

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Bay Area sewage systems at risk as seas rise

An NBC Bay Area investigation found 30 out of 39 sewage treatment plants located around San Francisco Bay Area are at risk of flooding as sea levels rise due to climate change. Four of those plants could flood with as little as 9.84 inches of sea level rise. That’s an amount that state analysts say is a possibility by 2030. If and when that happens, toilets won’t flush, and in some cases, sewage could back up into homes, whether residents live in the hills or along the coast.  

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: Salmon dwindling while SFPUC fiddling

While wetter streets and a greener White House may offer San Franciscans some hope for the future, the situation remains dire for salmon in the Tuolumne River. … [I]t’s hard not to feel that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s water policies are partially to blame. Californians are significantly reducing or eliminating dependence on river water. But the SFPUC continues to side with agricultural users to fight limitations on the water it takes from the Tuolumne. 
-Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney, blogger and activist

Aquafornia news Smithsonian Magazine

California’s Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta are epicenters for North America’s migratory birds

Migratory birds have followed the same flight patterns for millennia, searching for abundant food resources. The journey is often risky, and birds undergo harsh weather patterns—from storms that can throw them off course to dry arid landscapes that provide little to no food resources. A new study published this week in Ornithological Applications found tens of millions of birds depend on the river and wetland habitats weaved within the Colorado River Delta and California’s Central Valley while they make their journey across the dry western landscapes, reports Corryn Wetzel for Audubon.

Aquafornia news The Signal

SCV Water hosts meeting on water-shortage plan

In a year when California has only received approximately half its average rainfall, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency hosted a virtual public meeting to inform residents of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan and gather community input Thursday. The large amount of rain and snow that fell in recent days were the result of the state’s first major atmospheric river this winter, changing drought predictions, according to Thomas Chesnutt, a consultant from A&N Technical Services. However, according to data released Jan. 19, drought conditions have returned to California, with much of Los Angeles County in moderate drought conditions. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Reflections on 2020 as We Move Forward in 2021

The year 2020 was an earth-shaking year that forced us to examine what really matters in our lives. Although much of the year was arduous, I’m heartened by our fortitude, tenacity, and professionalism, which allowed us to advance California’s coequal goals. At the Council, our information technology department was vital to our rapid transition to teleworking. In response to Governor Newsom’s March 19 stay at home order, our team transitioned from almost zero teleworking to 100 percent by April. This timely transition allowed us to focus on initiatives imperative to implementing the Delta Plan.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

Going against the flow, City Council member draws rebukes for position on water plan

When Palo Alto officials adopted a position in 2018 in support of the Bay-Delta Plan, which aims to protect the Yosemite ecosystem by restricting how much water cities can draw from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, they knew were swimming against the prevalent political tide. Prompted by water conservationists and environmentalists, the City Council went against recommendations from the city’s Utilities Department staff and its water supplier, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which relies on the Tuolumne River for much of its water. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Feds ’shortchange’ San Francisco Bay – local Congress members want money for restoration

San Francisco Bay is dwarfed by the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and other treasured estuaries when it comes to federal funding, and California lawmakers want that changed. On Thursday, a contingent of Bay Area members of Congress introduced legislation that would boost federal money tenfold for restoration of the region’s signature waters. Under the proposal, $50 million a year for five years would flow to bay projects that reduce water pollution, support wildlife, revive wetlands and protect shoreline communities from sea level rise.

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Plans call for raising Los Vaqueros Reservoir dam height

An expansion project [at Los Vaqueros Reservoir] started in 2010 and completed in 2012 raised the dam height 34 feet to 224 feet. It increased the storage capacity 60 percent to 160,000 square feet. It also expanded recreational uses and stepped up habitat protection. The surface covers 1,400 acres and has an elevation at capacity is 524 feet. Los Vaqueros is also where the next significant increase in California reservoir storage could be in place by 2028. The $915 million project will raise the dam 55 feet to 273 feet. It would increase storage from 160,000 acre feet to 275,000 acre feet.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: San Francisco – Save the river you drink from

San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive, visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values. San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley rivers that feed it are in steep decline…
-Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Environmental turnaround — 8 issues that will pivot in California’s favor under Biden

As wildfires, heat waves, water scarcity and threats to wildlife intensify in the West, California’s effort to confront these environmental crises now has support in Washington, a stark change from the past four years. Even as former President Donald Trump spent his final days in office on the sidelines, lamenting his election loss, his administration continued to roll back environmental conservation and gut climate regulations. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A Swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California

California water issues are notoriously complicated by a massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations in California.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Friday Top of the Scroll: California water operations among Biden agency review plans

California’s tussle with federal authorities over water operations will get a second look under the new administration of President Joe Biden. The 46th president plans to sign a number of executive orders, including one that instructs agency heads to review actions taken under President Donald Trump that “were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.” On the list for both the departments of Commerce and Interior is a review of new biological opinions adopted in 2019 governing water delivery in California. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Market Screener

California Water Service completes water infrastructure upgrade to support Stockton customers

California Water Service (Cal Water) has completed a multiphase infrastructure project in the Magnolia area of Stockton that will keep critical water infrastructure in the area safe and reliable. The upgrade will ensure customers, firefighters, and nearby medical facilities continue to have the water they need for their everyday and emergency needs.

Aquafornia news California Farm Water Coalition

Blog: Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction – We can change that

Recent fish surveys confirm what many biologists, ecologists, and water experts have known for some time – Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction. Zero Delta smelt were found in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent Fall Midwater Trawl Survey. Even the Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring Program, which is specifically designed to capture the tiny fish, only successfully caught two Delta smelt from September 8 to December 11, 2020.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley are preparing for a dry year

While they remain hopeful the rest of winter will provide much more rain and snow, water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley are preparing for the potential for a dry year. While the prospect of a dry year is always jarring and challenging, we have confidence in the experience and knowledge that our water resources managers gained in 2014-15, and the strategies this region has implemented since that time to prepare for a dry year.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Survey yields no Delta smelt for third year

For the third year in a row, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found zero Delta smelt in the agency’s 2020 Fall Midwater Trawl Survey throughout the Delta.  The 2- to 3-inch-long Delta smelt, found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is an indicator species that reveals the overall health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. It was once the most abundant fish in the entire estuary, numbering in the millions. Now it’s on the verge of extinction in the wild. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Carbon capture in the Delta is up; recreation in the Delta, not so much

Under Proposition One, passed by the voters in 2014, the Delta Conservancy was allocated $50 million for ecosystem restoration in the Delta. Currently, the Conservancy has awarded funding to 29 projects for about $39 million of that $50 million with a potential ecological benefit on up to 8,000 acres as a result.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Biden election offers hope for preserving the Delta

The forthcoming Biden administration is California’s best — and perhaps only — hope for solving vexing water issues that have largely been put on hold for more than a decade. It should be clear that state leadership is incapable of crafting a comprehensive water strategy. The California Department of Water Resources continues to push for pumping additional water from the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta at the expense of its immediate and long-term health.
-Written by the editorial board of the San Jose Mercury News

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California’s $16 billion climate-hardy water tunnel moves ahead

California’s plans to build a new tunnel to move water from the northern Delta to the thirsty, populous south of the state advanced a step Tuesday, when a key partner agreed to help fund some of the effort.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Delta Science Program

Survey: Delta Independent Science Board Assessment

The Delta Science Program is conducting a survey to understand perceptions of the Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) and usage of Delta ISB reviews among Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta stakeholders.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Funding for the proposed delta tunnel could be slipping

The Metropolitan Water District likely won’t pick up the slack to cover planning costs for the proposed Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel. That’s a huge shift from MWD’s “all in” support of the previous tunnel project.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Delta tunnel would be costly and an ill-conceived response to today’s challenges

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel plan has nothing to do with ecosystem restoration or environmental justice. It would burden environmental justice communities and increase water bills in the State Water Project service areas. Another massive over-budget state mega-project based on 19th century thinking cannot address current challenges. Persisting in this $16 billion-plus, 20-year construction folly will only further degrade our waterways, ecosystems and communities. 
[Opinion column written by Kathy Miller and Chuck Winn, San Joaquin County supervisors.] 

Aquafornia news Bay City News Service

Over $10 million granted to preserve salmon in California

Over $10 million in grants was awarded to 27 projects dedicated to benefiting the state’s salmon habitats, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Functional flows can improve environmental water management in California

Over the past three years, a team of scientists from universities, NGOs, and state agencies across California have been working to provide guidance on how to better manage river flows for freshwater ecosystems throughout the state. A key product of this effort is the California Environmental Flows Framework (Framework), a guidance document and set of tools to help managers and stakeholders develop environmental flow recommendations for California’s rivers.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta By Gary Pitzer

Is Ecosystem Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Outpacing the Ability of Science to Keep Up?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Science panel argues for a new approach to make research nimbler and more forward-looking to improve management in the ailing Delta

Floating vegetation such as water hyacinth has expanded in the Delta in recent years, choking waterways like the one in the bottom of this photo.Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.

Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

He lives in a 65-year-old cruise ship idling in the California Delta. The life isn’t easy

California leaders are considering fixes including a massive water tunnel endorsed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to stabilize exports. But local communities, where livelihoods such as farming, fishing and tourism are wed to the water, don’t welcome the intervention. They feel under attack.  So do the dreamers, dropouts and unconventional sorts who have made this outpost their home.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Congress passes Harder bill aimed at invasive rodent

Congress has given final approval to a bill that would take on nutria, a giant rodent threatening waterways in the Central Valley and beyond. … The measure, HR 3399, would provide $12 million to California and several other affected states for nutria control, research and related efforts.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta conveyance update: Preliminary cost and benefits, mechanics of opting out, and more

In December, the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors will be asked to support a motion to fund a portion of the planning costs for the Delta Conveyance Project. In preparation for the upcoming vote, staff began a series of presentations for the special committee on the Bay-Delta to prepare the directors for the vote.

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

Restoring a watershed for wildlife at Marsh Creek

Called the Three Creeks Parkway Restoration, the $9 million project will yield two acres of floodplain and a canopy of riparian trees set in nearly 4.5 acres of grassland and oak woodland. Construction began in May and is scheduled for completion at the end of the year…

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Audio: How fish interact with wetland topography

In this podcast, reporter Alastair Bland and UC Davis PhD student and fish researcher David Ayers discuss the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, its fish, its marshlands, its flows, and its future.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Meet Luna: DWR’s four-legged resource for protecting California’s waterways

Through a partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division – DWR is able to provide funding for Luna, a seven-year-old German Shepard who is trained to protect her handler, apprehend suspects, and detect various threats to Delta species and environments.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Makeover for Delta weed patch & salt trap?

The collaborative design process for the Franks Tract Futures project brought initially skeptical local stakeholders on board and is being hailed as a model for future initiatives. Yet major uncertainties remain as interested parties explore the challenges of implementing a complex redesign of a big chunk of the Delta.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: DWR is suing everyone for a blank check for a Delta tunnel

In the middle of a pandemic, an economic recession, and everything else that 2020 is throwing at us, in early August the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a lawsuit against every Californian to authorize spending an unlimited amount of money … for an as yet undefined Delta tunnel project.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

The Delta’s blooming problem

Bright-green blotches of algae have been popping up all over the Delta since early summer, from Discovery Bay to the Stockton waterfront, befouling the air and poisoning the water with toxins that can sicken or even kill humans and animals. Veteran Delta watchers believe that this year’s harmful algal blooms may be the worst ever, and worry that some features of Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released Water Resilience Portfolio for California will aggravate the problem.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: The Gulf hurricane is a call to action to protect Californians from catastrophic floods

No California communities are more shaped by water than those in the Delta.  Water surrounds communities like Stockton.  Water shaped our history and still shapes our economy, quality of life, culture, and is essential for a healthy environment.  And for our communities, water-related disasters are devastating. We see proof of that every day.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

News release: How changing climate will impact the flow of sediment to the San Francisco Bay‐Delta

Results from the model showed potential increases in large flow events and sediment transport over the next century. While increased suspended sediment loads may have some negative effects, such as contaminant transport, increased sediment can improve fish habitats and help sustain wetlands in the Bay‐Delta.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: From “wicked” to “complex”: A new lead scientist’s outlook on growing our understanding of Delta science

First in the Everglades and now in California, I aspired to be a part of the team of scientists peering into and unraveling that complexity, such that water management decisions could be made with improved awareness of likely outcomes.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Nursing salmon on flooded farms

In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next steps in managing floodplains for salmon.

Aquafornia news State Water Contractors

Blog: California water managers need more flexibility to move water when & where it’s needed most

For this reason, public water agencies and DWR have publicly negotiated amendments to their long-term water supply contracts in order to better plan the future of their local water supply portfolios. … The State Water Contractors applaud this coordinated and collaborative effort, which provides flexibility for single and multi-year non-permanent water transfers and exchanges.

Aquafornia news SciTechDaily

OpenET: Transforming water management in the U.S. West with NASA data

California’s Delta Watermaster Michael George is responsible for administering water rights within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies drinking water to more than 25 million Californians and helps irrigate 3 million acres of farmland. For him, the development of OpenET signals an exciting opportunity for the future of water in the West.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Senate hearing spotlights new ESA rewrite proposal

The perennial push for a new and, some say, improved Endangered Species Act resumes this week when a Senate panel examines the latest ambitious rewrite.