The State Water Project’s most visible facility is the
444-mile-long California Aqueduct. The aqueduct, which parallels
Interstate 5 through the San Joaquin Valley, transports water
from Oroville Dam to Lake Perris in Southern California.
On a bright, blustery October day, a day that felt almost like
normal fall weather, I had a conversation with filmmaker Emmett
Brenner about his latest film, Reflection: A Walk with Water.
In the film, Brenner and fellow environmental advocates walk
the length of the Los Angeles Aqueduct to raise awareness about
the misuses of water in California and the acute effects it’s
having on the land.
This tour guided participants on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following
statement after her bill, Senate Bill 559—The State Water
Resiliency Act – passed the Senate 34-1 … The State
Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will allocate $785 million to
repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking
water to communities throughout California and water to sustain
the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to
fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major
portions of the California Aqueduct…
Demand for solar power is growing. And recent research suggests
that people should consider installing solar panels not only on
fields and rooftops, but above waterways as well. Brandi McKuin
of the University of California, Santa Cruz, says canopies of
solar panels can be installed over canals. The approach would
generate clean energy, and by shading the water, reduce
evaporation. Her research estimates that covering California’s
4,000 miles of open canals with solar panels could save about
65 billion gallons of water a year.
In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state
officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a
river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the
vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater.
The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when
the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the
Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to
the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in
2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile
delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the
brackish flows that push in from the bay.
The seven members of the Delta Stewardship Council were seated
in 2010. The Council appointed ten prominent scientists to the
Delta ISB. Over the next decade, the Delta ISB produced over 30
scientific reviews, averaging over 3,000 hours of work per
year. But in 2020, the work of the Delta ISB stalled. The Delta
Stewardship Council reduced funding for the Delta ISB by over
Sacramento-area residents were urged Thursday to cut water
usage by 10% as much of the state has been plunged into another
severe drought. Just three days after Gov. Gavin Newsom
declared the area officially in a drought, the Sacramento
Regional Water Authority asked for voluntary conservation
measures as its member agencies scramble to cope with drought
conditions that seemingly worsen by the day.
With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are
destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to
survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery
shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted
meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity.
Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows
melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought
brings a flood of concern.
Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to
declare drought in most of California, including here, is no
reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the
party hats. They know full well that words on a declaration
will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and
row crops. They also know that a drought declaration could take
some power over the water we do have from our locally elected
irrigation leaders — who represent institutions guiding us
through periodic droughts for more than 100 years — and hand it
to nonelected Sacramento bureaucrats.
On Monday May 3rd, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s
Associations (PCFFA), the West Coast’s largest trade
organization of small-scale commercial fishermen and women,
signed on to a letter asking Representative Katie Porter (D –
Ca 45th) in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on
Government Operations and Chair of the Subcommittee on
Oversight and Investigations, to open an investigation into
Reclamation’s manipulation of government cost accounting
standards and its own longstanding criteria for allocating
costs owed by Central Valley Project water and power
Every year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) relies on
data from monitoring stations strategically located across
California to provide information that will aid the
decision-making process regarding the flood control and water
supply operations of California’s State Water Project (SWP).
The Feather River watershed, located in Northern California’s
Sierra Nevada mountains south of Mt. Lassen, is a key location
for collecting data. It is the largest watershed in the Sierra
Nevada, covering 2.3 million acres or 3,200 square miles.
One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the
pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential.
During the coming few months, as California struggles through
another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed
public officials feel the same way. [A]n overarching, long-term
problem needs to be solved to make sure farm employees can not
just work safely, but can have jobs, period: water supplies.
Experts say a statewide drought declaration … could bring
significant consequences for the regulatory structure governing
California’s complicated water-delivery system. Many farmers
believe an emergency order could loosen environmental
regulations and free up water supplies for them. Environmental
groups fear the very same thing – that more of California’s
dwindling water supply could be directed to farming at the
expense of fish and wildlife.
Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the
western U.S. The region’s climate is warming, a severe
multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are
being overpumped in many locations. … About 4,000
miles of canals transport water to some 35 million
Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the
state. Covering these canals with solar panels would reduce
evaporation of precious water – one of California’s most
critical resources – and help meet the state’s renewable energy
goals, while also saving money.
Gold Rush communities celebrate their mining past but are
largely unaware of the lasting impacts of that era. For more
than 100 years public and private investors have purchased and
developed land for public uses seemingly unaware of the
presence and implications of the physical and chemical hazards
found on abandoned mine lands (AMLs). As a result, residents of
the Sierra Nevada’s Gold Country – the state’s headwaters – are
living on top of and surrounded by abandoned mines. The toxic
metals discharged by legacy mines continue to flow down river
and deposit into the San Francisco Bay Delta …
Today’s commentary breaks my heart. Why? Because
Restore the Delta is focused on water quality issues, flood
control issues, future planning, and training the next
generation of local water experts – for that is where hope
exists. We are focused on the future because in some ways
we have become very cynical about any positive meaningful
change to Delta management presently — from the lack of care at
the highest levels of government, to local pockets of Delta
communities that will not acknowledge the deterioration of the
estuary before their eyes.
-Written by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who serves on
the Executive Committee at Large for Restore the
In what may become an iconic image for drought-stricken
California, Gov. Gavin Newsom stood on the parched bed of Lake
Mendocino on April 21 to announce an emergency declaration for
Sonoma and Mendocino counties. … [T]he reservoir was at a
historically low 43% of capacity, the harbinger of what could
be a devastating drought cycle not only for the Northern
California counties that fell within his drought declaration,
but for most of the state — indeed, the American
West. -Written by Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times
Living in California means living with droughts – there’s no
getting around it. The devastating 2014-15 drought
resulted in water shortages for our communities, farms and the
environment, prompting California’s water leaders and
decision-makers to implement early planning, improved
collaboration, added conservation measures and new local supply
projects to help balance the water needs of people and fish in
preparing for the drought that is currently before us.
… Let’s improve storage and conveyance so we can better
manage our fluctuating and unpredictable climate. -Written by Chandra Chilmakuri, assistant general
manager of the State Water Contractors.
Concurrent efforts to address the needs of Central Valley
canals are moving forward. The Canal Conveyance Capacity
Restoration Act aims to restore the capacity of here San
Joaquin Valley canals. … More than $653 million in federal
funding would be provided to support repairs of the Friant-Kern
Canal, the Delta Mendota Canal, and the California
Aqueduct….The bill also includes $180 million to help restore
salmon runs on the San Joaquin River.
Solar canals: What if, instead of letting the sun dry up canals
in drought-prone California, we covered them with solar
panels? It may sound weird — but solar panels and canals
seem to make a brilliant combination. Instead of allowing the
sun to evaporate the water in canals, solar panels can shade
the precious liquid, while also capturing the sun’s energy.
On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water
Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our
2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward
to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared
vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin.
We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the
Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water
priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities
to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and
climate resilience throughout California for our communities,
the economy, and the environment.
There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101
Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know
to understand California water. One of our most popular events,
this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online
event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday,
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.
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.
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
The general manager for a local water utility company joined
the Board for the Delta Conveyance Design Authority. Palmdale
Water District announced on Monday that Dennis LaMoreaux has
been appointed as an alternate director for the Authority.
California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a
few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history
left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered
major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle
their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating
megafires. … Just four years since the state’s last
drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t
ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of
drought to come.
Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the
state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a
new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough
evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the
researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz
campuses of the University of California. The idea has
already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as
one of several options for boosting the solar part of its
Rain is scarce in much of California, and most of California’s
people live in water-starved regions. And yet the state is, by
some measures, the fifth largest economy in the world. How?
Because during the last century, California has built a complex
network of dams, pumps and canals to transport water from where
it falls naturally to where people live. But climate change
threatens to upend the delicate system that keeps farm fields
green and household taps flowing. In this episode of the UCI
Podcast, Nicola Ulibarri, an assistant professor of urban
planning and public policy who is an expert on water resource
management, discusses how droughts and floods have shaped
California’s approach to water…
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
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
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.
[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.”
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.
Shading California’s irrigation canals with solar panels could
reduce pollution from diesel irrigation pumps while saving a
quarter of a billion cubic meters of water annually in an
increasingly drought-prone state, a new study suggests. Pilot
studies in India and small simulations have shown that
so-called “solar canals” have lots of potential benefits:
Shading the water with solar panels reduces water loss from
evaporation and keeps aquatic weeds down.
In 2020 wildfires ravaged more than 10 million acres of land
across California, Oregon and Washington, making it the largest
fire season in modern history. Across the country, hurricanes
over Atlantic waters yielded a record-breaking number of
storms. While two very different kinds of natural disasters,
scientists say they were spurred by a common catalyst – climate
change – and that both also threaten drinking water supplies.
As the nation already wrestles with water shortages,
contamination and aging infrastructure, experts warn more
frequent supercharged climate-induced events will exacerbate
the pressing issue of safe drinking water.
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
A new analysis finds that covering water canals in California
with solar panels could save a lot of water and money while
generating renewable energy. Doing so would generate between
20% and 50% higher return on investment than would be achieved
by building those panels on the ground. The paper, published
Thursday in Nature Sustainability, performs what its authors
call a techno-economic analysis, calculating the impacts and
weighing the costs and benefits of potentially covering the
thousands of miles of California’s open irrigation system.
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
As March begins to drag on with little precipitation in the
forecast and few weeks left in California’s traditional wet
season, we are in another dry year. This is California’s second
dry year in a row since the 2012-2016 drought.
Statistically, California has the most drought and flood years
per average year than anywhere in the US. This
statistical fact seems to becoming increasingly extreme, as
predicted by many climate change models.
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
The California commercial salmon season, due to start May 1,
will be only about half as long as last year’s season, after
the Pacific Fisheries Management Council settled on three
proposals for the dates and months fishing can take place this
season. The main reason for the shorter season is
the smaller number of adult Sacramento River
salmon expected to be in the ocean this spring and summer.
While commercial fishing boats were permitted to go out for 167
days total last year, the three proposals for the 2021 season
would only allow fishing for a total of 78 days, 94 days or 104
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.
What does sexual harassment have to do with our water supply?
Far more than you might think. The Metropolitan Water District
of Southern California imports, stores and sells the drinking
water used by nearly half of the people in this state. As a
consequence, the MWD is at the center of the state’s battle
with ongoing drought, the agricultural sector’s demands for
irrigation water and the degrading natural environment’s
inability to sustain iconic species such as migrating salmon.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve an
extension of the county’s state water contract for 50 years,
saying it would ultimately save ratepayers money. … Eight
water agencies in Santa Barbara County, from the Carpinteria
Valley to the City of Santa Maria, presently import water
through the California Aqueduct. By 2035, their ratepayers will
have paid off the $575 million construction debt for the
pipeline that county voters approved in 1991 on the heels of a
six-year drought. It extends from the aqueduct in Kern County
to Lake Cachuma.
Despite taking two years off from Congress, David Valadao
(R—Hanford) is getting back to work by introducing new
legislation to help keep water flowing in the Central Valley.
Early this month, Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost
Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or
RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and
storage provisions of the WIIN Act. The RENEW WIIN Act would
extend the general and operations provisions of Subtitle J of
the WIIN Act and extend the provision requiring consultation on
coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State
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.
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.
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.
A government agency that controls much of California’s water
supply released its initial allocation for 2021, and the
numbers reinforced fears that the state is falling into another
drought. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that most
of the water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project
will get just 5% of their contract supply, a dismally low
number. Although the figure could grow if California gets more
rain and snow, the allocation comes amid fresh weather
forecasts suggesting the dry winter is continuing. The National
Weather Service says the Sacramento Valley will be warm and
windy the next few days, with no rain in the forecast.
As she promised, State Senator Melissa Hurtado has reintroduced
legislation that would provide fund to improve California’s
water infrastructure, including the Friant-Kern Canal. On
Friday, Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger whose district includes
Porterville, introduced the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021
that would provide $785 million to restore the ability of
infrastructure such as the Friant-Kern Canal to deliver water
at their capacity. The bill would also go to fund other
infrastructure such as the Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Canal
and California Aqueduct.
Threats associated with global water scarcity are increasingly
making news as continued growth in agricultural production,
expansion of urban boundaries, new industrial facilities, and
increased sensitivity to environmental needs drive increased
water demand. Supply side constraints for water are further
exacerbated by increasingly intense and frequent drought
events, such as the recent four-year (2016 to 2020) California
drought … Thus, a proliferation in wastewater
recycling over the coming decades could support a significant
lessening of water stress in many water-stressed areas.
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.
Has California overshot the runway? … There was a time
when our dams and aqueducts that allowed us to change the
course plotted by nature by not letting water be restricted to
water basins by physical barriers were considered a candidate
for of their wonders of the world. When it came to freeways, we
were the envy of the land. That was then and this is now. The
list of aging infrastructure that needs addressing is
Known as an engineering expert, water community leader, and
champion of the State Water Project (SWP), former
Department of Water Resources Director William
Gianelli served as DWRs third director from 1967 to 1973
and dedicated more than 30 years to public service in both the
state and federal government. (Gianelli also was one of the
founders of the Water Education Foundation, its second
president and the namesake of the Foundation’s Water Leaders
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
The State Water Project helped make Kern County the number one
agricultural county in the nation and ensures Bakersfield
always has a clean, high quality supply of drinking water while
protecting our region against drought. The State Water Project
reflects our past generation’s drive to make California the
great state it is today.
This event guided attendees on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
The paper, published in the Journal of Environmental
Management, suggests that eliminating outdoor landscaping and
lawns could reduce water waste by 30 percent.
It recommends importing water only when Los Angeles is not
in a drought, to build a surplus of water for dry years. The
paper also argues that groundwater basins that catch stormwater
could be used to recycle water. However, making these
improvements would require the cooperation of more than 100
We traveled deep into California’s
water hub and traverse the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a
720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the
state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and
ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay,
and included a ferry ride.
In 2017, eight people died in the aqueduct that passes through
San Bernardino County’s Victor Valley, which includes the
High Desert cities of Hesperia, Victorville and Adelanto and
the unincorporated communities of Baldy Mesa, Phelan and Pinon
Hills. The deaths comprised 57 percent of the 14 people who
died in the aqueduct in San Bernardino County over the past
five years, according to autopsy records and coroner’s reports.
Get a unique view of the San Joaquin Valley’s key dams and
reservoirs that store and transport water on our March Central
Our Central Valley
Tour, March 14-16, offers a broad view of water issues
in the San Joaquin Valley. In addition to the farms, orchards,
critical habitat for threatened bird populations, flood bypasses
and a national wildlife refuge, we visit some of California’s
major water infrastructure projects.
Faced with a shortage of money and political support after
seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is
working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects,
a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move
water from Northern California to the south.
This tour traveled deep into California’s water hub and traversed
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of
islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is
California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The
tour made its way to San Francisco Bay and
included a ferry ride.
For as long as agriculture has existed in the Central Valley,
farmers have pumped water from the ground to sustain their
livelihood and grow food consumed by much of the nation. This
has caused the ground in certain places to sink, sometimes
dramatically, eliminating valuable aquifer storage space that
can never be restored. The damage by subsidence extends to the
California Aqueduct, the 700-mile artificial river that conveys
water from Northern California to the valley and beyond as the
principal feature of the State Water Project.
Unchecked groundwater use is colliding with seesawing weather
patterns to produce a new act in California’s long-running
tragedy of the commons. According to NASA and European Space
Agency data released on February 8, parts of the California
aqueduct on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, near
Avenal, sank more than two feet between 2013 and 2016 as
farmers pumped records amounts of groundwater during the
state’s historic drought.
Even as California struggles with surface flooding, the state
is going dry underground, triggering sinking in parts of the
great San Joaquin Valley, according to a new NASA report
released by the Department of Water Resources.
Water Education for Latino Leaders is convening a statewide
educational water conference in Sacramento for California local
Local elected officials can make a difference for all
Californians by taking the necessary steps to understand the
dynamic of California water to assure adequate clean water for
our communities, protect our natural resources and our local
economies. WELL’s hope is to facilitate understanding towards
comprehensive long-term water policies that will sustain
California’s economy and quality of life.
The Water Education Foundation is an organizing partner.
The Colorado River Aqueduct, a
242-mile-long channel completed in 1941 by the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California, carries water from the Colorado River to urban Southern
California. The aqueduct is one of three conveyance systems of
imported water to Southern California, the other two being the
and the Los Angeles
A break in the California Aqueduct has halted the flow of water
in the canal that supplies millions of Southern California
residents, but there’s no concern that taps will run dry,
officials said Wednesday.
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor
will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have
health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in
the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses
a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality
and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential –
but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public
television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.
30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes
extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of
dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern
Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is
today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the
fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically
important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system,
there have been some critical events that had a profound impact
on California’s water history. These turning points not only
forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives
of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a
historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped
the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with
background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.
Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch
poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural
hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants,
rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation.
Excellent for elementary school classroom use.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an
excellent overview of the history of water development and use in
California. It includes sections on flood management; the state,
federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water
rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for
stretching the water supply such as water marketing and
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect
gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the
definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the
state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s
natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts
– including federally, state and locally funded
projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and
natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of
California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects,
wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the
text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water
projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado
Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (1905-1996) was California’s governor from
1959-1967, exemplified the best in public service and left a
wide-ranging legacy that featured first and foremost the State
Water Project (SWP) and California Aqueduct but also included the
Fair Housing Act, the Fair Employment Act, the Master Plan for
Higher Education and highway expansion.
One of two State Water Project aqueducts serving Southern
California, the East Branch Aqueduct stores water in Silverwood
Lake and Lake Perris.
After being pumped over the Tehachapi Mountains from the
Edmonston Pumping Plant, water for the East Branch Aqueduct
passes through Palmdale and Lancaster [see also West Branch Aqueduct]. The
water is then stored for distribution to Inland Empire cities
such as San Bernardino and Riverside.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues
associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the
water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of
whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they
might be provided.