Topic: Central Valley

Overview

Central Valley

The Central Valley is a vital agricultural region that dominates the center of California, stretching 40-60 miles east to west and about 450 miles from north to south.  It covers 22,500 square miles, about 13.7% of California’s total land area.

Key watersheds are located here: The Sacramento Valley in the north, San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin to the south. In addition, the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers drain their respective valleys and meet to form the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, which flows to the Pacific Ocean via the San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: New drought relief program for agricultural businesses

A coalition of agricultural associations and the Northern California Water Association have launched the CA Drought Grant Website – a portal for information on the CA Small Ag Business Drought Relief Grant Program. The site, agdroughtrelief.org, provides key information about the $75 million program, grant eligibility and the ability to sign up to receive instant program updates as it becomes available in the upcoming months. When applications are available, they can be accessed from the site as well.

Aquafornia news Fox 40 - Sacramento

Shrinking wetlands have an impact on migratory birds in the Sacramento Valley, biologists say

Every winter, millions of migrating birds come to the Sacramento Valley, but now these birds may find the marshes and flooded rice fields dry. The marshes and flooded rice fields here are a stopping point for the birds along the Pacific flyway, and scientists are now putting GPS trackers on birds to learn how they’re reacting to the dry environment. “A migratory pathway for waterfowl and shorebirds that are coming from northern areas, moving into the Central Valley and looking for spots to feed, to rest and continue on their journey farther south to warmer areas in the winter, and then heading back north again in the spring,” Samantha Arthur, Audubon California Working Lands Program Director, said.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Senators urge Agriculture secretary to help Western states in ’22-year mega-drought’

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is leading a letter signed by 14 other senators urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to help Western states survive what they are calling a “22-year mega-drought” that is threatening farms and ranches across the West. … The letter is the latest sign of growing economic pressure posed by the changing climate and the competition for federal money to help communities across the country cope with severe weather. … The senators argue that many existing Department of Agriculture programs “do not translate well to the needs of Western agriculture” and want the department to promote projects to help basins such as Colorado River Basin, the Rio Grande Basin, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Basin and the Columbia River Basin.    

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: Water and energy in California

California’s water system uses energy to pump, convey, treat, and heat water. Although agriculture uses roughly four times more water than cities, cities account for most water-related energy use. Water is also required for hydropower generation, thermoelectric power plants, and oil and gas extraction. Improving water use efficiency can reduce energy consumption; conversely, improving energy efficiency can reduce impacts on water supply and quality. … The water system uses approximately 20% of the state’s electricity and 30% of its natural gas for business and home use, according to data from 2001—accounting for more than 5% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquafornia news Fox Business

California’s drought disaster is turning into an economic disaster: ‘It’s unprecedented’

In the early hours of a cold fall morning, thousands of birds would sit in the puddles of water in the empty rice fields just outside the Sacramento Valley. At many of those fields this year, there isn’t a single bird that can be seen. It’s because there’s no water. There are no plants. The fields are empty and bone dry. They’ve become fallowed. The streams of water that once flowed to allow the beavers and deer feed and drink are gone. The ground looks like slabs of cracked concrete. Economists and farmers warn that there could be severe environmental and economic consequences that stretch beyond these dry fields that farmers are challenged with. California is now experiencing the driest three-year period since late 1800s.

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Aquafornia news National Integrated Drought Information System

Blog: Western snow season 2022-23 preview: a look at water supplies and the winter outlook in 10 maps

It’s hard to overstate how crucial this snow season is for the western United States. Regions such as the West that receive a great deal of their precipitation in the form of snow face a number of challenges when snow droughts occur, including shrinking water supplies. And western water supplies are truly shrinking as some states are facing their second or third drought year in a row and a large part of the region is stuck in a 20+ year megadrought. Hanging over all of this is climate change–influenced aridification in the Southwest that is increasing evaporative demand, causing water supplies to dwindle from rising temperatures even when there is adequate precipitation.

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Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

An idea that could help replenish California’s groundwater supplies

When drought strikes, California farmers often pump water from underground aquifers to water their crops. But increasingly dry conditions are straining that resource. … [David Freyberg of Stanford University] says many people are looking at ways to replenish the state’s dwindling groundwater supplies. In California, a lot of water typically comes from winter snow that falls high in the mountains. During warmer months, that snow melts and trickles down to farmland. But as the climate warms, more precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow. So it rushes into rivers and runs past many areas where it’s needed.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farm delegation advocates for ag in nation’s capital

As the nation learned that the midterm election led to a change in the balance of power in the next U.S. Congress, a delegation of California Farm Bureau leaders met with representatives during an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C., to discuss pressing issues affecting agriculture. … Farm Bureau executives, the organization’s Leadership Farm Bureau class and county leaders were joined by the organization’s federal policy team and met face to face with lawmakers Nov. 14-17 in the nation’s capital. Discussions focused on issues including California’s ongoing drought, water, labor and trade, as well as the next federal farm bill.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought-hit California cities to get little water from state

California water agencies that serve 27 million people will get just 5% of what they requested from the state to start 2023, water officials announced Thursday. The news of limited water comes as California concludes its driest three-year stretch on record and as water managers brace for a fourth year with below-average precipitation. But if the winter is wetter than expected, the state could boost how much supply it plans to give out — as it did last year when allocations started at 0% and ended the winter at 5%. Absent an end to the drought, water-saving measures are poised to continue, including calls for people to rip up decorative grass, limit outdoor watering, take shorter showers and run dishwashers only when full. 

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Why California’s $46 billion wine industry is better prepared for climate change than some of its competitors

Climate change poses a significant threat for all of agriculture, but it has particularly disruptive potential for the wine industry. This is because wine quality is closely linked to weather and quality is linked to value. … There are many potential impacts to consider. Climate Change will probably mean more frequent and severe droughts such as the one that the California is currently experiencing. The availability of ground or surface water varies greatly between regions in the state, but it is possible that this issue will inhibit any further planting and render some vineyards inoperable. Severe temperature spikes can lead to sunburning and yield/quality loss for the fruit and those events are likely to become more common.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Storm to bring widespread rain to Bay Area on Thursday, up to 3 feet of snow in Sierra Nevada

Boosting what has been a mediocre start so far to the winter season, a storm from the Pacific Northwest is expected to bring widespread rain to the Bay Area early Thursday and blanket the Sierra Nevada with up to 3 feet of new snow. …  The storm system would be the first significant rain or snow in Northern California in more than three weeks, and comes as the state is entering its fourth year of drought. A hoped-for storm fizzled last weekend, but this one is on track, forecasters say….California desperately needs a sustained pattern of rain and snow this winter. The last three years have been the driest three-year period statewide since records began in the 1800s.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Fifth of California water agencies expect drought shortages

Most of California’s urban water agencies believe they have enough supplies to last through another seven months of drought, but nearly 20% of them — including many in Southern California — say they could be facing significant shortages, according to a new state report. The California Department of Water Resource’s first annual water supply and demand assessment surveyed the state’s urban water agencies to see how they are managing tight supplies through conservation efforts and improved drought planning. … [Metropolitan Water District of Southern California] spokeswoman Rebecca Kimitch added that deteriorating conditions on the Colorado River mean the rest of Southern California could also see calls for increased conservation in the coming months.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

A strong winter storm is spinning into California this week. Here’s a timeline of its impacts

December is cutting in line and bringing its entourage of rain, wind and snow to Northern California this week. Bay Area residents are already getting a taste of this upcoming shift in the weather pattern as bitter, cold air sweeps into the region today. This cold air will be followed up by a winter storm that will bring strong winds and rounds of rain to most of Northern California…. The bitter cold air mass settling in Tuesday will help keep the snowline in the Sierra Nevada close to 1,000 feet through the rest of the week…. This means that parts of the Sierra Nevada, including Donner Pass and several ski resorts above 7,000 feet like Kirkwood and Palisades could end up seeing as much as 4 feet of snow between Thursday and Friday. 

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Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

CA solar canals could help fix 2 climate problems at once

California’s newest infrastructure project will hit two proverbial climate birds with one stone. And Los Angeles city officials just decided last week to try one of its own. The plan is to cover some of California’s exposed water canals with solar panels. It will prevent evaporation amidst the state’s historic drought. It will also create renewable energy as the state attempts to meet lofty decarbonization goals. The idea gained traction in California after researchers at UC Merced studied the possibility on the state’s canals last year.  “If we put solar panels over all 4000 miles of California’s open canals, we estimated we could save 65 billion gallons of water annually,” says Brandi McKuin, who led the study. “That’s enough for the residential water needs of 2 million people – enough to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland.”

Aquafornia news CNBC

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: U.S. warns California cities possible water cuts in fourth dry year

Federal water managers on Monday warned California cities and industrial users receiving water from the Central Valley Project to prepare for a fourth year of drought and possibly “extremely limited water supply” during 2023. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Interior Department that oversees water resource management, said drought conditions in California have persisted despite early storms this month, and warned of looming water conservation actions. … The agency said water storage is near historic lows in the reservoirs it oversees in the state, which irrigate more than 3 million acres of land in central California and supply major urban centers in the Greater Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas. The project’s water provides supplies for approximately 2.5 million people per year.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study: California drought causes economic losses

As California prepares for a fourth consecutive year of drought and farmland across the Golden State increasingly goes idle, growers continue to face mounting economic challenges. In a new report about the financial toll of the state’s extreme drought conditions, researchers estimated that the state’s irrigated farmland dropped by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, from 2019 to 2022. Fields meant to harvest rice, almonds and other crops are instead going unplanted, causing the level of fallowed land across California to surpass the prior peak seen during the state’s last drought that ran from 2012 to 2016. As a result, the researchers found, California crop revenues fell by $1.7 billion, or 4.6%, during that time …

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Adapting to California’s “weather whiplash” with Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations

California already has one of the most variable climates in the United States, and it’s getting more extreme. Our “weather whiplash,” as it’s becoming known, is increasingly marked by long periods of warm, dry conditions punctuated by stronger and wetter atmospheric river storms. … Recognizing the influence of atmospheric rivers on California’s changing climate, Yuba Water is working with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at UC San Diego, the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to implement Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations in the Yuba and Feather river watersheds. FIRO is a flexible water management strategy that uses improved weather and water forecasts …

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Agronomic minute: Potential of on-farm groundwater recharge

Drought conditions and the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are putting a squeeze on California growers. Principal Analyst with the Almond Board of California, Jesse Roseman said efforts to improve statewide water storage and conveyance are underway. However, those are more long-term solutions to current water constraints. Implementing groundwater recharge projects in almond orchards presents a more immediate option for helping to address water issues in California. … Implementing groundwater recharge projects in orchards can require frequent communication with local irrigation districts and Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. Roseman explained that projects can often require new water rights, permits, and new conveyance. However, the efforts can prove exceptionally beneficial when surplus water is available.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: ‘It’s a disaster.’ Drought dramatically shrinking California farmland, costing $1.7 billion

In the fall, rice fields in the Sacramento Valley usually shine golden brown as they await harvesting. This year, however, many fields were left covered with bare dirt. “It’s a disaster,” said rice farmer Don Bransford. “This has never happened. Never. And I’ve been farming since 1980.” … California has just gone through the state’s driest three-year period on record, and this year the drought has pushed the fallowing of farmland to a new high. In a new report on the drought’s economic effects, researchers estimated that California’s irrigated farmland shrank by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, in 2022 compared with 2019 — the year prior to the drought. That was up from an estimated 563,000 acres of fallowed farmland last year.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California winter looking like repeat of 2021 — dry and drought-plagued

As California enters a fourth year of drought, experts warn a likely drier-than-average winter means little relief for much of California and Nevada. Nearly 41% of California and 43% of Nevada is in extreme drought, according to the latest California-Nevada Adaptation Program report prepared by program manager Julie Kalansky. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that over the last month drought conditions have not changed very much. There was little to no precipitation throughout the region to start off the water year in October, though a system of storms in early November moistened the landscape and brought some snow to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  So far 2022 has been California’s driest and Nevada’s 8th driest in nearly 130 years of recordkeeping.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Help make an impact on water education in California and the West through workplace giving

As drought extends its grip on California and the West, the important work of educating about water becomes even more important. Since 1977, the Water Education Foundation has been a trusted source of water news and programming, putting water resource issues in California and the West into context. You can support the important work of our nonprofit by making a tax-deductible gift via a one-time payroll deduction or a set amount per pay period through your employer, whether you work for a federal or state agency or a private employer. 

Aquafornia news KTLA - Los Angeles

These are the driest reservoirs in California

Despite recent rain storms across the state, California’s historic drought shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. With the lack of meaningful regular precipitation, capacity at California’s reservoirs continue to decline, putting stress on the state’s water supply. Across the board, nearly all of California’s major water supply reservoirs managed by the California Department of Water Resources are well below historic averages. … Shasta, the largest state reservoir with a capacity of 4,552,000 acre-feet of water, is currently at 31% capacity. Historically, capacity at Shasta Lake is usually around 57% this time of year. Lake Oroville, which has a capacity of about 3,537,000 acre-feet of water, is in even more dire straits. As of Nov. 14, Oroville is at 29% capacity, almost half of the historic average of 58%.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Priorities for California’s water

In the last decade, California—along with the rest of the world—has entered a new phase of climate change. The changes that scientists predicted have started to arrive. California’s already variable climate is growing increasingly volatile and unpredictable: The dry periods are hotter and drier, and the wet periods—lately too few and far between—are warmer and often more intense. … The snowpack—that once-reliable annual source of water—is diminishing as temperatures rise. Water withdrawals during multiyear droughts are depleting the state’s reservoirs and groundwater basins. … This report considers the state of water in California: What changes are we seeing now, and what should we expect in the near future? 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Sustainable techniques bring concrete results: making DWR infrastructure carbon-friendly

With Governor Newsom’s recent pledge to invest $8 billion in water infrastructure, carbon-friendly concrete is increasingly in the mix in Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) infrastructure projects. This includes efforts to modernize California’s largest water delivery system, the State Water Project (SWP). … The cement industry produces about 7% of carbon emissions globally (about double the emissions from global air travel.) Over half of these emissions are from the chemical alteration of materials during production. The remaining emissions are from the burning of fossil fuels to generate the high temperatures needed to make concrete.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

California Drought: A look into snowpack data at the ’snow lab’

The latest drought monitor, released Thursday, showed some minor improvements in drought status. Most of these improvements came along California’s northern coast but the areas experiencing the worst of the drought, like the San Joaquin Valley, saw no improvement. The monitor stops collecting data for its weekly updates at 4 a.m. Pacific time, so much of the rain that fell from the early week storm was not accounted for on this week’s update. This means the state may be in a bit better shape on next week’s monitor, but still has a long way to go to escape drought.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Are native fishes and reservoirs compatible?

The question addressed in this blog comes from a new PPIC report that calls for reforms in management of environmental water stored behind dams in California. The report shows it is possible to manage water in ways that are compatible with maintaining a natural ecosystem in streams below and above dams (Null et al. 2022). An appendix to this report focuses on fishes (Moyle et al. 2022). It provides information on how dams and reservoirs affect native fish populations and supports the need for improved water management to avoid future extinctions.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Could agave spirits be a sustainable gold rush for California?

The bladed, Stegosaurus-looking plants that produce tequila might be associated with the deserts of Mexico, but researchers at UC Davis announced a $100,000 project in early September to study their viability in the state. Over the last eight years, Reynolds and several farmers have demonstrated that the crop can thrive on acres traditionally known for fruit, nuts and wine grapes. In an increasingly warm landscape, where severe droughts are predicted to be the norm and political battles over water are intensifying, agave could represent a game-changing possibility for the state. It’s generally dry-farmed in Mexico, meaning its water comes naturally from the sky for a few months, the rest of the year enduring the sun’s fiercest heatrays. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Efforts to protect groundwater are tested by drought

Balancing the state’s groundwater supplies for a sustainable future may not be easy due to severe drought and ongoing economic challenges facing farmers. “We’ve got the lowest prices and highest production costs and the least-reliable water supply that we’ve had since I’ve been farming,” said Bill Diedrich of Firebaugh, who farms row crops and permanent crops on the west side in Madera and Fresno counties…. Diedrich, who relies on groundwater for irrigating farmland in Madera County and surface water for ground in Fresno County, said farming at this time “is very difficult.” He said the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which tasks local agencies to balance groundwater supplies in affected basins by 2040 and 2042, means farmland must come out of production.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Massive storm to lash Southern California with rain and snow

Southern California’s first significant winter storm is expected to usher in three days of rain, mountain snow and gusty winds before tapering off Wednesday. The storm that originated in the Gulf of Alaska moved into the region Monday, with the first band of rain reaching San Luis Obispo County by the afternoon before moving south the rest of the day, according to the National Weather Service. Showers are light to moderate for most of Monday. Snow could fall Tuesday at elevations of at least 7,000 feet and Wednesday at 4,000 feet. … The storm is expected to peak Tuesday before winding down Wednesday morning to scattered showers. Los Angeles County is expected to see 1 to 3 inches of rain in the lower elevations; mountains will get between 2 to 3 inches.

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Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Northern California forecast: More rain and snow Monday, Tuesday

The first significant storm of the season is forecast to hit Northern California this week, KCRA 3 meteorologist Eileen Javora said, with Monday and Tuesday designated as KCRA 3 Impact Days for travel in the Sierra. The cold front with rain and snow arrives around midnight to 1 a.m. on Monday through the Valley. That’s also when the snow will start to pick up in the Sierra. Both rain and snow in the forecast are making Monday and Tuesday KCRA 3 Impact Days to highlight possible travel issues. Javora says the snow will start above 5,000 feet and will likely lower in elevation by early morning. Officials warn about potentially dangerous driving conditions through the Sierra.

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: California’s water strategy – a marvelous action plan for our climate future

Too much climate change resource planning is rooted in the present — which means it’s not adaptive to the threats and (dare I say it?) opportunities of a future under climate change’s increasing extremes. But now California actually has a water supply plan that prepares for that future. California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released California Water Supply Strategy reflects an adaptive approach that takes the state much closer to securing water in an age of climate extremes — not by managing for increasing water scarcity, but by exploiting the opportunities climate change gives us to create water abundance.
-Written by John Sabo, Director of ByWater Institute at Tulane University.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Report: New report highlights key factors affecting State Water Project deliveries

As California enters a possible fourth dry year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released its biennial report to help water managers better understand how key factors, like climate change and regulatory and operational considerations, affect the operation of the State Water Project (SWP) under historical and future scenarios. The State Water Project provides water to 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland throughout the state. In the State Water Project Final Delivery Capability Report 2021, there are estimates on the SWP’s water delivery capability for current and future conditions based on three major factors: The effects of population growth on … water supply and demand; State legislation intended to help maintain a reliable water supply; Impact of potential climate change-driven shifts in hydrologic conditions.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Why aren’t dams being built to store water in a drought?

Today’s Why Guy question comes from Tricia Towne: “Why hasn’t a dam been built in over 50 years?” This is a popular question to the Why Guy. The short answer is all the best sites to build dams already have dams on them. Most were built in the 40s, 50s and 60s to prevent catastrophic local flooding. The last regional dam built, the New Melones Reservoir north of Sonora was completed in 1980, about 42 years ago. Now, with extreme drought, we need dams to store water. Well, guess what? Looks like we’re getting a new dam at the Sites Reservoir just west of Maxwell in Colusa County. President Joe Biden just dedicated $30 million to the project, which is targeted for a 2024 groundbreaking.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

How unexpected California weather ‘decapitated’ fire season

Remnants of an atmospheric river brought Northern California its first solid storm of the year – rain splattered across the Bay Area and Central Coast, while some parts of Tahoe saw snowfall boosted to above average levels for this time of year. Despite a historic heat wave in September, weather unexpectedly turned colder and wetter. … Weather forecasts signal this is the beginning of a larger pattern of more rain and snow to come throughout November….If the pattern continues, the fast-moving, hot-burning, severe wildfires emblematic of California’s fire season, will go dormant.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Climate change is rapidly accelerating in California, state report says

Wildfires, drought, extreme heat and other effects of climate change are rapidly accelerating and compounding in California, according to a report from state scientists. The fourth edition of “Indicators of Climate Change in California,” released Tuesday, paints a stark picture of the escalating climate crisis and documents how global reliance on fossil fuels has had wide-ranging effects on the state’s weather, water and residents. Since the last update in 2018, weather extremes have intensified and become more erratic, officials said…. The warmer conditions have affected water availability in the state by causing more precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow, the report says.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Waterlogged wheat, rotting oranges: five crops devastated by a year of extreme weather

Just three crops – rice, wheat and corn – provide nearly half of the world’s calories. And this year rice had a particularly tough growing season. In California, rice farmers sowed the lowest number of seeds since the 1950s. According to the California Rice Commission, only 250,000 acres of rice will be harvested this year, about half of a typical season. … In August, the USDA forecasted that California would only grow 10.5m tons of tomatoes, down 10% from its estimates at the beginning of the year, as drought causes them to dry up on the vine. California usually produces about 30% of the world’s processing tomatoes – the tomatoes used in paste, sauce and ketchup. But researchers predict that the global supply of processing tomatoes could fall by 6% in the next 30 years due to climate change.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Wintry conditions to sweep through western US in coming days

Fall started off dry for many in the West, but as the wet season nears, a change in the weather is set to bring rain, mountain snow and cooler conditions…. The dry conditions have spread from Seattle… to Sacramento, California, where only 0.28 of an inch has fallen in the same time, a mere 33% of average…. Whether precipitation falls as rain or snow, the influx of moisture will help to improve the stubborn drought across the region…. More than 40% of California is in the throes of extreme drought, so rain and mountain snow are desperately needed in the Golden State.

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Drought expands east to the Mississippi river, where it’s really messing things up

Footprints, human and animal, dot stretches of the Mississippi River that have been underwater for as long as people remember, and eight barges have run aground this year. Rain has been scarce, with little prospect for more. Drought’s deadly fingers have moved east, from the dried-up wells of California’s Central Valley and into the American Midwest, where much of America’s food is grown, and even farther, into the Southeast. Its tentacles have parched parts of America’s most important river and now threaten a majority of the country — 52.7% by the U.S. Drought Monitor’s count, and 146 million people, 12 million more than a mere week ago. It’s the deepest national drought since 2012, and if nothing changes it’ll outpace that benchmark soon.

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Audubon advises taking steps against spread of avian flu

Audubon California is advising bird lovers to remove feeders and to empty bird baths as a precaution to spreading avian flu. “We know this comes at a time when drought-stressed birds need birdbaths and fountains more than ever. It is disappointing to many of us, but as this virus spreads, it’s important to keep birds healthy,” Gaylon Parsons, interim executive director of Audubon California, said in a statement released Thursday. … There have been cases of avian flu reported in 19 counties in the state, and cases in backyard flocks in Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Sacramento and Tuolumne counties. The most recent discovery was Sept. 29 in Calaveras County.

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As New Deadline Looms, Groundwater Managers Rework ‘Incomplete’ Plans to Meet California’s Sustainability Goals
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: More than half of the most critically overdrawn basins, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, are racing against a July deadline to retool their plans and avoid state intervention

A field in Kern County is irrigated by sprinkler.Managers of California’s most overdrawn aquifers were given a monumental task under the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Craft viable, detailed plans on a 20-year timeline to bring their beleaguered basins into balance. It was a task that required more than 250 newly formed local groundwater agencies – many of them in the drought-stressed San Joaquin Valley – to set up shop, gather data, hear from the public and collaborate with neighbors on multiple complex plans, often covering just portions of a groundwater basin.

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

California Spent Decades Trying to Keep Central Valley Floods at Bay. Now It Looks to Welcome Them Back
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Floodplain restoration gets a policy and funding boost as interest grows in projects that bring multiple benefits to respond to climate change impacts

Land and waterway managers labored hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore the state’s major floodplains.

Western Water By Alastair Bland

SIDEBAR: Creating A Floodplain Buffet for Salmon Smolts

Biologists have designed a variety of unique experiments in the past decade to demonstrate the benefits that floodplains provide for small fish. Tracking studies have used acoustic tags to show that chinook salmon smolts with access to inundated fields are more likely than their river-bound cohorts to reach the Pacific Ocean. This is because the richness of floodplains offers a vital buffet of nourishment on which young salmon can capitalize, supercharging their growth and leading to bigger, stronger smolts.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Red alert sounding on California drought, as farmers get less water

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.

Related articles: 

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

With Sustainability Plans Filed, Groundwater Agencies Now Must Figure Out How To Pay For Them
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: California's Prop. 218 taxpayer law and local politics could complicate efforts to finance groundwater improvement projects

A groundwater monitoring well in Colusa County, north of Sacramento. The bill is coming due, literally, to protect and restore groundwater in California.

Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in California spent months putting together plans to show how they will achieve balance in about 20 years.

Western Water Water Education Foundation

ON THE ROAD: Cosumnes River Preserve Offers Visitors a Peek at What the Central Valley Once Looked Like
Preserve at the edge of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes valley oak forests and wintering grounds for cranes

Sandhill cranes gather at the Cosumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento.Deep, throaty cadenced calls — sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands, farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the Cosumnes River Preserve, 46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Meet the Veteran Insider Who’s Shepherding Gov. Newsom’s Plan to Bring Climate Resilience to California Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Former journalist Nancy Vogel explains how the draft California Water Resilience Portfolio came together and why it’s expected to guide future state decisions

Nancy Vogel, director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, highlights key points in the draft Water Resilience Portfolio last month for the Water Education Foundation's 2020 Water Leaders class. Shortly after taking office in 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state agencies to deliver a Water Resilience Portfolio to meet California’s urgent challenges — unsafe drinking water, flood and drought risks from a changing climate, severely depleted groundwater aquifers and native fish populations threatened with extinction.

Within days, he appointed Nancy Vogel, a former journalist and veteran water communicator, as director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program to help shepherd the monumental task of compiling all the information necessary for the portfolio. The three state agencies tasked with preparing the document delivered the draft Water Resilience Portfolio Jan. 3. The document, which Vogel said will help guide policy and investment decisions related to water resilience, is nearing the end of its comment period, which goes through Friday, Feb. 7.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A UC Berkeley symposium explores approaches and challenges to managed aquifer recharge around the West

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.

That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.

Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

Bruce Babbitt Urges Creation of Bay-Delta Compact as Way to End ‘Culture of Conflict’ in California’s Key Water Hub
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Former Interior secretary says Colorado River Compact is a model for achieving peace and addressing environmental and water needs in the Delta

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gives the Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum.  Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Sustainability plans required by the state’s groundwater law could cap Kern County pumping, alter what's grown and how land is used

Water sprinklers irrigate a field in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County.Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.

Announcement

A Bounty of San Joaquin Valley Crops on Display During Central Valley Tour
Act now, our April 3-5 tour is almost sold out!

The San Joaquin Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket, grows a cornucopia of fruits, nuts and other agricultural products.

During our three-day Central Valley Tour April 3-5, you will meet farmers who will explain how they prepare the fields, irrigate their crops and harvest the produce that helps feed the nation and beyond. We also will drive through hundreds of miles of farmland and visit the rivers, dams, reservoirs and groundwater wells that provide the water.

Key California Ag Region Ponders What’s Next After Voters Spurn Bond to Fix Sinking Friant-Kern Canal
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Subsidence chokes off up to 60% of canal’s capacity to move water to aid San Joaquin Valley farms and depleted groundwater basins

Water is up to the bottom of a bridge crossing the Friant-Kern Canal due to subsidence caused by overpumping of groundwater. The whims of political fate decided in 2018 that state bond money would not be forthcoming to help repair the subsidence-damaged parts of Friant-Kern Canal, the 152-mile conduit that conveys water from the San Joaquin River to farms that fuel a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy along the east side of the fertile San Joaquin Valley.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Despite Risk of Unprecedented Shortage on the Colorado River, Reclamation Commissioner Sees Room for Optimism
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Commissioner Brenda Burman, in address at Foundation’s Water Summit, also highlights Shasta Dam plan

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanThe Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of California water industry people.

During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees that agreement can be reached.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

When Water Worries Often Pit Farms vs. Fish, a Sacramento Valley Farm Is Trying To Address The Needs Of Both
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: River Garden Farms is piloting projects that could add habitat and food to aid Sacramento River salmon

Roger Cornwell, general manager of River Garden Farms, with an example of a refuge like the ones that were lowered into the Sacramento River at Redding to shelter juvenile salmon.  Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.

And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Left unaddressed, salts and nitrates could render farmland unsuitable for crops and family well water undrinkable

An evaporation pond in Kings County, in the central San Joaquin Valley, with salt encrusted on the soil. More than a decade in the making, an ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of the Central Valley is moving toward implementation. But its authors are not who you might expect.

An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for years to find common ground to address a set of problems that have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually unusable for farming.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

As Decision Nears On California Water Storage Funding, a Chairman Reflects on Lessons Learned and What’s Next
WESTERN WATER Q&A: California Water Commission Chairman Armando Quintero

Armando Quintero, chair of the California Water CommissionNew water storage is the holy grail primarily for agricultural interests in California, and in 2014 the door to achieving long-held ambitions opened with the passage of Proposition 1, which included $2.7 billion for the public benefits portion of new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. The statute stipulated that the money is specifically for the benefits that a new storage project would offer to the ecosystem, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.

Western Water Space Invaders Gary Pitzer

It’s Not Just Nutria — Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has 185 Invasive Species, But Tracking Them is Uneven
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Delta science panel urges greater coordination, funding of invasive species monitoring

Water hyacinth choke a channel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation.

The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.

Western Water Water Education Foundation

ON THE ROAD: Cosumnes River Preserve Offers Visitors a Peek at What the Central Valley Once Looked Like
Preserve at the edge of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes valley oak forests and wintering grounds for cranes

Sandhill cranes gather at the Cosumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento.Deep, throaty cadenced calls — sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands, farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the Cosumnes River Preserve, 46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta

ON THE ROAD: Park Near Historic Levee Rupture Offers Glimpse of Old Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
Big Break Regional Shoreline will be a stop on Bay-Delta Tour May 16-18

Visitors explore a large, three-dimensional map of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley. Along the banks of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Oakley, about 50 miles southwest of Sacramento, is a park that harkens back to the days when the Delta lured Native Americans, Spanish explorers, French fur trappers, and later farmers to its abundant wildlife and rich soil.

That historical Delta was an enormous marsh linked to the two freshwater rivers entering from the north and south, and tidal flows coming from the San Francisco Bay. After the Gold Rush, settlers began building levees and farms, changing the landscape and altering the habitat.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

SPOTLIGHT: Putah Creek, Yuba River and environmental water for fish
Two legal settlements are cited as examples where water was set aside for environmental needs

Lower Yuba RiverDespite the heat that often accompanies debates over setting aside water for the environment, there are instances where California stakeholders have forged agreements to provide guaranteed water for fish. Here are two examples cited by the Public Policy Institute of California in its report arguing for an environmental water right.

Announcement

Central Valley Tour Offers Unique View of San Joaquin Valley’s Key Dams and Reservoirs
March 14-16 tour includes major federal and state water projects

Get a unique view of the San Joaquin Valley’s key dams and reservoirs that store and transport water on our March Central Valley Tour.

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.

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2017

The 2-day, 1-night tour traveled along the river from Friant Dam near Fresno to the confluence of the Merced River. As it weaved across an historic farming region, participants learn about the status of the river’s restoration and how the challenges of the plan are being worked out.

Announcement

Enjoy Local Bounty on Our Central Valley Tour
Itinerary includes local restaurants and winery

Our tours are famous for not only being packed with diverse educational opportunities about California water, but showcasing local culture. Our Central Valley Tour on March 8-10 lets you unwind at a few San Joaquin Valley treasures and hear stories that go back generations.

Announcement

Explore Diverse Wildlife Habitat on Central Valley Tour
See how water is managed in ecologically fragile areas

Our water tours give a behind-the-scenes look at major water issues in California. On our Central Valley Tour, March 8-10, you will visit wildlife habitat areas – some of which are closed to the public – and learn directly from the experts who manage them, in addition to seeing farms, large dams and other infrastructure.

Announcement

Winter Rain Increases Flows on the San Joaquin River
March Central Valley water tour will analyze drought impacts

The recent deluge has led to changes in drought conditions in some areas of California and even public scrutiny of the possibility that the drought is over. Many eyes are focused on the San Joaquin Valley, one of the areas hardest hit by reduced surface water supplies. On our Central Valley Tour, March 8-10, we will visit key water delivery and storage sites in the San Joaquin Valley, including Friant Dam and Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River.

Announcement

Go Deep into California’s Breadbasket to Explore Water Issues
First Foundation tour of 2017 traverses the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley has been hit hard by the six-year drought and related surface water cutbacks. Some land has been fallowed and groundwater pumping has increased. What does this year hold? Will these recent heavy storms provide enough surface water for improved water deliveries? 

Your best opportunity to see and understand this vital agricultural region of California is to join us on our annual Central Valley Tour, March 8-10.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to Flood Management

ARkStorm

Sacramento's K Street during the 1862 flood that inundated the Central Valley.ARkStorm stands for an atmospheric river (“AR”) that carries precipitation levels expected to occur once every 1,000 years (“k”). The concept was presented in a 2011 report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intended to elevate the visibility of the very real threats to human life, property and ecosystems posed by extreme storms on the West Coast.

Aquapedia background

Salinity

Excess salinity poses a growing threat to food production, drinking water quality and public health. Salts increase the cost of urban drinking water and wastewater treatment, which are paid for by residents and businesses. Increasing salinity is likely the largest long-term chronic water quality impairment to surface and groundwater in California’s Central Valley.

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

A man watches as a groundwater pump pours water onto a field in Northern California.A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.”

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Video

Overcoming the Deluge: California’s Plan for Managing Floods (DVD)

This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past, present and future of flood management in California’s Central Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand. Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic flood management plan for the Central Valley.

Video

Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley

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.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley (20-minute DVD)

A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul Rodriquez.

Video

Delta Warning

15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks, 16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

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 day issues.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

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.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters Groundwater Education Bundle

California Groundwater Map
Redesigned in 2017

California Groundwater poster map

Fashioned after the popular California Water Map, this 24×36 inch poster was extensively re-designed in 2017 to better illustrate the value and use of groundwater in California, the main types of aquifers, and the connection between groundwater and surface water.

Maps & Posters

California Water Map, Spanish

Spanish language version of our California Water Map

Versión en español de nuestro mapa de agua de California

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management
Updated 2009

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management explains the physical flood control system, including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the 1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and outlines ongoing flood control projects. 

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

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 conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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.

Maps & Posters California Water Bundle

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

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 River.

Sea to Sierra Water Tour 2014
Rolling Seminar on California Water Issues (past)

The 2014 tour was held April 10 – 11.

Travel across the state on Amtrak’s famed California Zephyr, from the edge of sparkling San Francisco Bay, through the meandering channels of the Delta, past rich Central Valley farmland, growing cities, historic mining areas and into the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Aquapedia background

Floodplains in California

With the dual threats of obsolete levees and anticipated rising sea levels, floodplains—low areas adjacent to waterways that flood during wet years—are increasingly at the forefront of many public policy and water issues in California.

Adding to the challenges, many floodplains have been heavily developed and are home to major cities such as Sacramento. Large parts of California’s valleys are historic floodplains as well.

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

Pacific Flyway

The Pacific Flyway is one of four major North American migration routes for birds, especially waterfowl, and extends from Alaska and Canada, through California, to Mexico and South America. Each year, birds follow ancestral patterns as they travel the flyway on their annual north-south migration. Along the way, they need stopover sites such as wetlands with suitable habitat and food supplies. In California, 90 percent of historic wetlands have been lost.

Aquapedia background

Mendota Pool

The Mendota Pool, located at the confluence of the San Joaquin River and Kings River in California’s Central Valley, is the terminus of a long journey for water from the Sacramento River.

After being diverted, the Sacramento River water heads south from the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta via the 117-mile long Delta-Mendota Canal.

Aquapedia background

Environmental Issues and Water

Environmental concerns have closely followed California’s development of water resources since its earliest days as a state.

Early miners harnessed water to dislodge gold through hydraulic mining. Debris resulting from these mining practices washed down in rivers and streams, choking them and harming aquatic life and causing flooding.

Aquapedia background

Central Valley Wetlands and Riparian Habitat

In the Central Valley, wetlands—partly or seasonally saturated land that supports aquatic life and distinct ecosystems— provide critical habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Western Water Magazine

Meeting the Co-equal Goals? The Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May/June 2013

This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

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 California.

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the challenges facing small water systems, including drought preparedness, limited operating expenses and the hurdles of complying with costlier regulations. Much of the article is based on presentations at the November 2007 Small Systems Conference sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources.

Western Water Magazine

It Can Happen Here: Assessing California’s Flood Risk
November/December 2005

This issue of Western Water examines the extent to which California faces a disaster equal to or greater than the New Orleans floods and the steps being taken to recognize and address the shortcomings of the flood control system in the Central Valley and the Delta, which is of critical importance because of its role in providing water to 22 million people. Complicating matters are the state’s skyrocketing pace of growth coupled with an inherently difficult process of obtaining secure, long-term funds for levee repairs and continued maintenance.

Western Water Magazine

Flood Management 2004: A System in Peril
September/October 2004

This issue of Western Water analyzes northern California’s extensive flood control system – it’ history, current concerns, the Paterno decision and how experts are re-thinking the concept of flood management.