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 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 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 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 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 Gary Pitzer 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 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 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

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 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 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 California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Why floodplains are important for California salmon

Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo Bypass…

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.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water board must establish a state water budget that California can afford

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the “political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse to make.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Press

Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion moves ahead

A major expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir took a step forward with release of the final feasibility report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that concluded the initiative is economically viable. The reservoir is owned and operated by the Contra Costa Water District, and the project will increase its capacity by more than 70% when complete.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Independent Science Board: 10 years on

At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board, the new members joined with the outgoing members for reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Climate change may bring unexpected benefits to San Francisco Bay-Delta

The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself, development and other land use changes have left only a tiny fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Making the most of water for the environment

Restoring specific “functional flows” would better support fish migration and spawning, water quality, dry-season base flows, and physical conditions that support aquatic species. A panel of experts, moderated by PPIC senior fellow and study coauthor Jeff Mount, discussed how to put this approach into practice. We invite you to watch the event video.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

News release: Scientists collect water quality data prior to wastewater treatment plant upgrades

The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) is currently completing major upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant. In anticipation of these upgrades, USGS scientists are gathering data to establish baselines for current nutrient levels and dynamics in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta).

Aquafornia news YubaNet.com

Study: Climate change could deliver more sediment and pollution to the San Francisco Bay-Delta

Climate change could deliver more silt, sand and pollution to the San Francisco Bay-Delta, along with a mixed bag of other potential consequences and benefits, according to a new study in the AGU journal Water Resources Research, which publishes research articles and commentaries providing a broad understanding of the role of water in Earth’s natural systems.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

EcoRestore update: Five years in, program makes big gains on Delta habitat restoration

California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has been made over the past five years.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: In a California landscape defined — and divided — by water, a single issue unites people who live in the Delta: Digging in against the tunnel

Gov. Gavin Newsom, like governors before him, wants to overhaul how water moves through the delta. He’s proposing a 30-mile tunnel that would streamline the delivery of water from the Sacramento River, a bid to halt the ongoing devastation of the delta’s wetlands and wildlife while ensuring its flows continue to provide for the rest of the state. The pressures of climate change on water supplies have only increased the urgency to act. And the coronavirus pandemic and months of shelter-in-place orders haven’t slowed the planning. ….The tunnel, as much as anything, is the very symbol of the state’s never-ending water wars.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Franks Tract planners seek comments on final restoration proposal

Residents have until Wednesday to comment on a proposal for restoring Franks Tract, a 3,000-acre flooded island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, to marshlands. … The preferred concept that’s emerged after several public meetings would restore about 1,000 acres to tidal marsh habitat and deepen other areas to provide fill for the marsh. Community concerns regarding navigation and recreation would also be addressed…

Aquafornia news Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing

Audio: A historian’s view of the Delta

Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the western coast of the North American continent will be damaged. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: New $15.9b Delta tunnel cost estimate: Revisiting DWR’s 2018 analysis with updated costs shows it is a bad investment

Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in 2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to 0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse than that.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Bruce Babbitt: Gov. Newsom must clarify his Delta tunnel plan

Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer is: we will leave that to the experts.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Planning on playing in local waterways? Avoid the blue-green algae blooms

Public health officials are urging boaters, swimmers and recreational water users to be on the lookout for hazardous blue-green algae blooms as warm temperatures persist. San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department officials posted advisory signs at local marinas warning people to stay out of the water where toxic algae is present.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California says Delta tunnel project will cost $15.9 billion

After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger, twin-tunnel plan…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

California’s war against nutria is getting bloodier. But it’s unclear who’s winning

Because the invasive 20-pound rodents pose a unique threat to California’s wetlands, the state has expanded the Nutria Eradication Program over the past year to a staff of 26 field operatives 100% dedicated to exterminating the swamp rat. Unlike just about everything else in the state, the war against nutria has been almost entirely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Proposed single Delta tunnel could cost $15.9 billion

A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance Authority meeting on Thursday.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: How far we’ve come: A reflection by outgoing Delta Lead Scientist Dr. John Callaway

Despite challenges that remain in the Delta, we have made progress over the last three years. I say we because it’s the exceptional staff and broader Delta community who have made such progress possible. Whether it be through collaborating, funding science, integrating social science, embarking on climate change initiatives, conducting independent peer reviews, or communicating scientific findings, oh how far we’ve come.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Kings of the river: Meet the water baron you (likely) haven’t heard of

You may have never heard of John Vidovich, but his impact on the day-to-day life of the average southern San Joaquin Valley farmer is difficult to be understated. Vidovich is the owner of Sandridge Partners, LP – a farmland investment firm that has undertaken more than 100,000 acres of Valley farmland.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Saving native Central Valley salmonids

One survival bottleneck that needs opening for salmon and steelhead in the Central Valley is predation by non-native fish. There is a long list of non-native and native predators from which native fish need protection. The best protection is to minimize native-nonnative habitat interactions. That can best come from adequate physical-geographical habitat and habitat water quality for natives while minimizing non-native fish habitat.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Fish surveys in the estuary: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish populations. These surveys help scientists understand how fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to the Estuary.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Supreme Court lets stand decision upholding Council’s authority for sustainable management of the Delta

As a result, the appellate decision, which upheld the central role of the Delta Stewardship Council in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water management and land use planning, remains intact and is governing law.

Aquafornia news East County Today

Video: Ironhouse Sanitary District recycled water fill station

The Ironhouse Sanitary District has released a video of how residents of the City of Oakley and Bethel Island can utilize the Recycled Water Fill Station. The station is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Recycled water can be used for the irrigation of lawns, plants, trees, and vegetable gardens.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Environmental groups say Newsom’s water plan will worsen toxic threat in the Delta

At the end of July, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his revised plan for bringing long-term water security to all Californians. But his announcement was overshadowed by San Joaquin County and several Delta communities scrambling to confront the worst cases of toxic algae blooms ever seen on local sloughs and rivers.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Delta tunnel plan poses threat to N. San Joaquin Valley

The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an environmental impact report on the project. At the same time they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.

Related article:

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, 2012–2016: Environmental review and lessons

Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had no less precipitation and was no longer than previous historical droughts, but came with record high temperatures and low snowpack, which worsened many drought impacts.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: How sheds help ensure healthy water quality for millions of Californians

You may have noticed them on trips down the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, small buildings, just 10 feet by 12 feet, sticking up out of the water. Resembling sheds that you typically see in a backyard; these buildings provide protection for something slightly more important than the family gardening tools and lawnmower.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta lead scientist report: New research papers focus on habitat, flow, predation

At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Lead Scientist Dr. John Callaway updated the Council on the latest scientific developments, discussing three papers that highlight the multi-faceted approach that is needed to address the Delta’s ecosystem; he also previewed upcoming events and provided the By the Numbers Report.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom lays out big dreams for California’s water future

Gov. Gavin Newsom released strategies Tuesday to improve drinking water quality, revive a stalled multibillion-dollar tunnel and build new dams. Newsom says the sweeping water portfolio will help the Golden State prepare for global warming by reinforcing outdated water infrastructure and reducing the state’s reliance on groundwater during future droughts.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Bill that allows California to apply for swamp rat-eradication funding passes House

In 2003, Congress passed The Nutria Eradication and Control Act, which established a fund to help Maryland and Louisiana battle the animals. Recently, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation that now allows California to also receive support. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

MID and TID reach key milestone on Tuolumne River fish flows

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.

Aquafornia news Fox40

Toxic algae blooms in and around Stockton worst they’ve ever been, Delta advocate says

Toxic sludge is collecting in corners, around boats and floating in patches through the Delta, turning the water bright green. “We’re watching it every year, with climate change becoming worse and worse,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla with Restore the Delta. Barrigan-Parrilla said this year’s bloom is the worst it’s ever been.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Blog: An early success story in the Delta

A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100 years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Water hyacinth acts like ‘plastic wrap’ on the Delta

Looking at the water hyacinth’s lovely lavender flowers and lush green leaves, it’s easy to see why it was brought here from South America. But too much of a good thing can cause trouble, and few things turn into “too much” as quickly as water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes).

Aquafornia news Rep. John Garamendi

News release: Garamendi secures wins for Delta and Central Valley in Water Resources Development Act

“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local needs.”

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Reclamation’s Burman urges cooperation on water

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological opinions governing the management of their respective water projects.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Phil Isenberg: Challenging conventional water wisdom

In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist, chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the Delta Stewardship Council. … In a two-part oral history with Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the myths and complexities of California water politics.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

News release: Scientists launch two-pronged approach to map cyanotoxins in Bay-Delta

Over the last few decades the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has experienced declines in phytoplankton productivity and a shift in species composition resulting in observed increases in harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Fremont Weir upgrade successfully balances need for infrastructure and ecosystem preservation

The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of operations.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Without agreements on water, California needs to set new objectives and protections for the Delta

For more than a decade, California’s governors have pushed for “voluntary agreements” to establish rules for water diversions by major urban and agricultural water districts, and to redress their environmental impacts. Voluntary agreements crumbled recently, after the state’s largest water districts walked away from the table.

Aquafornia news The Press

Franks Tract project sponsors seek input

The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality, providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: DWR relaunches its research vessel monitoring program after COVID-19 delays

After being docked for three months due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Department of Water Resources relaunched its research vessel monitoring program, the Sentinel. It was the first time since the 1970s that DWR didn’t have a monitoring vessel taking field samples in the waters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: An experiment in governance: Marking ten years of the Delta Stewardship Council

The creation of the Council was, in many ways, an experiment in governance by the California State Legislature and Schwarzenegger administration to address years of gridlock over how to manage the Delta’s limited natural resources and chart a science-based path forward for future management. After ten years with the Council, I can say, with conviction, the experiment is working.

Aquafornia news Estuary Magazine

Sinking islands capture carbon credits

Encouraged by a recently vetted new method for creating carbon offsets from wetlands, a flurry of new climate adaptation projects on publicly owned islands strewn along the central Delta corridor aim to defend against sea-level rise, restore habitat, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Delta dispute casts shadow on water supplies

With supplies curtailed from California’s largest water projects, farmers have been reducing acreage, water districts have been working to secure additional supplies, and everyone has been keeping an eye on the continued dispute between state and federal governments on managing the Delta.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: EcoRestore: 5 years, thousands of acres of restored habitat

This spring marked the fifth anniversary of the California EcoRestore initiative, a coordinated effort across state agencies to deliver 30,000 acres of restored fish and wildlife habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an immensely important landscape that five years ago only had 5 percent of its native habitat remaining.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State, feds in talks over water

California and federal water regulators are trying to quickly resolve their legal dispute over competing biological opinions governing the management of their respective water projects, a top state official says. The talks are proceeding after Gov. Gavin Newsom filed suit in February to nullify new federal opinions that would ease restrictions on surface water for San Joaquin Valley growers.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Opinion: ACWA urges state and federal officials to resume Delta voluntary agreement talks

In letters addressed to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Association of California Water Agencies is urging state and federal officials to rejoin talks on voluntary agreements to address ecosystem needs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Related articles:

Can Carbon Credits Save Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Islands and Protect California’s Vital Water Hub?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: An ambitious plan would use carbon credits as incentives to convert Delta islands to wetlands or rice to halt subsidence and potentially raise island elevations

Equipment on this tower measures fluctuations in greenhouse gas emissions for managed wetlands on Sherman Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.The islands of the western Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are sinking as the rich peat soil that attracted generations of farmers dries out and decays. As the peat decomposes, it releases tons of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere. As the islands sink, the levees that protect them are at increasing risk of failure, which could imperil California’s vital water conveyance system.

An ambitious plan now in the works could halt the decay, sequester the carbon and potentially reverse the sinking.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Citizen

Fairfield spends $4 million on hardening project for wastewater treatment plant

The town of Fairfield is moving forward with a project to better protect its wastewater treatment plant from large storms and sea level rise. According to a press release from First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick, the project will cost a total of $7.4 million but $3.33 million will be funded through a grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Developments’ (US HUD) Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery.

Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

We’ve been systematically underestimating sea otters’ historical habitat

Before the fur trade wiped out the majority of California’s sea otters, thousands inhabited the west coast’s largest estuary—San Francisco Bay. … It is well known that otters perform an important role in coastal kelp forests by keeping herbivorous sea urchins in check. According to a new study, they have an equally important job in estuaries. The finding suggests that reintroducing sea otters to estuaries could benefit those ecosystems.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Bill Summary: H.R. 1132, San Francisco Bay Restoration

A San Francisco Bay Program Office would be established at the Environmental Protection Agency to make grants for estuary conservation and other water-related initiatives under a modified version of H.R. 1132. The bill would authorize $25 million annually for the office for fiscal 2021 through 2025.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Viewing estuaries from a ‘macroscope’: How global, regional, and local processes affect the San Francisco Bay and Delta

Dr. Jim Cloern is a recently retired senior scientist emeritus at the US Geological Survey who has spent his career learning how estuaries respond to human activities and variability of the climate system. In this brown bag seminar, Dr. Cloern gives specific examples of how local, regional, and global scale processes affect the San Francisco Bay and Delta.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: New maps show how little is left of West Coast estuaries

The study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One, documented dramatic decreases in wetland habitat around San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and nearly 450 other bays, lagoons, river deltas and coastal creek mouths throughout the West.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Capital & Main

Rising sea levels leave coastal cities with hard choices

In the past, California city planners have been largely reactive, reconstructing boardwalks lashed by winter storms. Now, with the long-term outlook for the coast coming into focus, the California Coastal Commission is urging communities from San Diego to Humboldt counties to revise their local coastal programs to take comprehensive adaptive approaches…

Aquafornia news Los Altos Town Crier

Lehigh faces water board, county violations for Permanente Creek pollution

Lehigh Southwest Cement Co. has until August to address the unauthorized discharge of mining waste into Permanente Creek, which flows through Los Altos and Mountain View. San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and Santa Clara County officials discovered the pollution during inspections of Lehigh’s Yeager Yard conducted in April and May…

Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

The legacy of The Blob

In 2013, a mass of unusually warm water appeared in the Gulf of Alaska. Over the next three years, the Blob, as it became known, spread more than 3,200 kilometers, reaching down to Mexico. … As a result, there is now a void in the populations of some species that were in their larval stages when the Blob hit its crescendo.