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 Manteca-Ripon Bulletin

Opinion: Of rising oceans, 200-year floods & the California double standard

The California Natural Resources Agency in 2009 and again in 2013 issued reports on existing and anticipated climate change impacts based on peer reviewed science. Assessments from those reports have become part of the foundation as to why the California Legislature has established policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and therefore the projected impacts of climate change.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, Columnist for the Bulletin.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Much-needed rain finally falling in the Bay Area; snow headed to the Sierra

Light rain started falling Sunday evening in the Bay Area, as a week of much-needed precipitation was forecast for the parched Northern California landscape. One to 2 inches of rain is expected to fall across the Bay Area over the next week, and even more could fall across the North Bay as a series of storms dives in from the northwest, said Rick Canepa, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. To the east, parts of the Sierra Nevada could see more than a half-foot of snow by Monday morning. 

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Aquafornia news Newsy

Megadrought forcing farmers to abandon fields

Farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley are struggling with the megadrought. It is the most productive agricultural region globally, where farms grow 250 different crops on 17% of the nation’s irrigated land. … California regulators cut farmers’ water allotments by a third due to low reservoir levels.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Opinion: Democrats’ new strategy to winning Calif. water wars? Flush the science

In October of 2019, the desire of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) desire to update the biological opinions governing the Sacramento-San Joaquin was met after more than a decade of detailed data on water management, fish species management, and flows in relation to both were compiled. New biological opinions, issued in 2019, were the result of the very latest scientific information. … Now, a mere two years later, the Biden Administration and Governor Newsom have unilaterally decided to throw that work away and start over.
-Written by Wayne Western Jr., SJV Sun contributor.

Aquafornia news CNN

California drought: This summer was the most extreme on record

The West’s historic, multi-year drought is threatening water supply, food production and electricity generation. It has drained reservoirs at incredible rates and fueled one of the most extreme wildfire seasons the region has ever experienced. In California, drought conditions this summer were the most extreme in the entire 126-year record — a clear sign of the role climate change plays in the perilous decline of the state’s water resources. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that drought months are becoming the new normal, with rainy months becoming fewer and farther between.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Central Valley Project begins 2022 water year with 3.21 million acre-feet of storage

As severe drought conditions continue, the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project began the 2022 water year with 3.21 million acre-feet of water—one of the lowest starting points in recent years. CVP major reservoirs include: Trinity, Shasta, Folsom, New Melones, Millerton, and the federal share of San Luis Reservoir—approximately 52% of a 15-year average. The water year begins Oct. 1 each year and ends Sept. 30.

Aquafornia news AgriPulse

Energy needs to be part of SGMA conversation, new report says

As California plans for continued climate change, including the need to manage agricultural water use to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a new report finds the intersection of energy with water and climate may not be getting as much attention as it deserves, especially in farm country.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Late October rain could dampen California wildfires

A wetter than average forecast for late October could dampen wildfires burning in Northern California and help ease drought conditions, according to the National Weather Service. The latest weather outlook for the latter part of this month calls for above-normal precipitation in California, with possible high-elevation heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades. There is also potential for an atmospheric river between Oct. 21 to Oct. 27, forecasters said.

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Aquafornia news South Valley Water Association

Blog: SB 559 & Friant Canal Fix

It seems that every time there’s a proposal in the Legislature to help repair the Friant-Kern Canal, something goes wrong. It happened again last month. Senate Bill 559 would have directed state money toward repairing the Friant-Kern Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct, which are sinking due to land subsidence. The damage is hurting their ability to move water. But the bill got tripped up in the Assembly.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Biden pursues reversal of rules for water projects

The struggle over management of water supplied through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta continues as the Biden administration seeks a reversal of rules put in place by agencies under the Trump administration. Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sent a letter to federal fisheries agencies and announced it is reinitiating consultation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service 2019 biological opinions related to the coordinated, long-term operation of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

White House seeks to improve flood standards and access to climate data

The White House announced Tuesday that it would work to revise building standards for flood-prone communities across the country in the face of climate change, while launching tools to make climate information more accessible to the public. The move is part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to push the United States to reckon with the costs of global warming by factoring in the long-term consequences of decisions being made today.

Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

News release: New analysis details immense scale of corporate water abuses in California

The national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch released “Big Ag, Big Oil and California’s Big Water Problem,” a report detailing for the first time California’s most egregious corporate water misuses. The piece pinpoints industrial agriculture as among the worst offenders, swallowing large portions of California’s water resources and exporting billions of gallons of water overseas through heavily irrigated crops like almond and alfalfa as well as dairy.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Will climate change lead to floods in Sacramento?

Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists and journalists who research and report on climate science, released new visualizations and data that show how rising sea levels from climate change could impact Sacramento. One of the graphics projects dramatic flooding at the state Capitol Building in the next hundreds of years if carbon pollution continues to go unchecked and, in turn, causes a 4-degree Celsius increase in global temperature. Climate Central also released an interactive map of Sacramento, depicting areas in the region that would flood in the future due to rising sea levels. But these visuals do not consider one important element — levees.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California’s wildly inequitable water rights system

Prior appropriation, or the notion of “first in time, first in right,” has been a prime directive of California water law for well over 150 years. It has brought us a system that is so inequitable in its impacts that more than one million residents of California lack access to safe drinking water, while industrial agriculture used more water to grow almonds and pistachios during California’s last drought than all of California’s residents.

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Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Trump-era water opinions in the air as Biden considers new plan

Following nearly two years of litigation regarding Trump-era water policy, the federal government has until Oct. 14 to come up a plan to balance competing needs for the precious resource. … On Sept. 30, Ernest Conant, regional director of the Department of the Interior’s Region 10, penned a letter to officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to begin reevaluating the environmental impact of water allocations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: Is California’s wildfire season already winding down?

The nation’s firefighters spent a record 69 days this year at their highest level of alert, the dreaded level 5, rushing from one drought-driven wildfire to the next. Now they’re finally getting at least somewhat of a break. Last week, federal fire managers downgraded the National Preparedness Level to 3 after a handful of September storms smacked the Pacific Northwest and residual rain fell in California’s far north.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Visit Oroville and Shasta dams, rice farms, wetlands and more during our online Northern California Tour

Register now for next week’s virtual Northern California Tour on Oct. 14 to explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply, including the drought now gripping California. During the afternoon online event, you’ll visit rice farms and wetlands in the Sacramento Valley and hear from farmers and environmentalists about efforts to restore runs of endangered chinook salmon and help birds along the Pacific Flyway.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Biden action puts a hold on Trump administration biological opinions

The water wars continue. Not surprisingly on Friday President Joe Biden’s administration took action to essentially place on hold an action taken by former President Donald Trump in early 2020 designed to ensure more water would be delivered to the Central Valley. The issue involved is biological opinions issued in 2019 by the Trump administration to be used when it comes to how water is managed. But a letter issued by the Bureau of Reclamation stated new biological opinions were anticipated. So not surprisingly California Republicans in Congress criticized Biden’s action.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Corps of Engineers considers nature-based flood control

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is known for damming rivers and building levees to keep waterways at bay. But a new initiative seeks natural flood control solutions as climate change brings increasingly frequent and severe weather events that test the limits of concrete and steel. … In Northern California near the state capital Sacramento, the Corps built the Yolo Bypass nearly a century ago to divert floodwaters. Its 59,000 acres (24,000 hectares) have also become habitat for native and endangered species, including Chinook salmon and steelhead.

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Aquafornia news Stockton Record

As drought continues, state and federal experts call for water conservation

San Joaquin County communities are having their woes compounded as they struggle with the effects of one historic drought while still struggling with the effects of another. With constituents concerned about the ongoing drought and resources available, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, hosted a panel of state and federal experts to discuss the critical situation, its statewide effects and best water practices.

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Aquafornia news NPR

California farmers find ways to save water

Aaron Fukuda admits that the 15-acre sunken field behind his office doesn’t look like much. It’s basically a big, wide hole in the ground behind the headquarters of the Tulare Irrigation District, in the southern part of California’s fertile Central Valley. But “for a water resources nerd like myself, it’s a sexy, sexy piece of infrastructure,” says Fukuda, the district’s general manager. This earthen basin could be the key to survival for an agricultural community that delivers huge quantities of vegetables, fruit and nuts to the rest of the country — but is running short of water. The basin just needs California’s rivers to rise and flood it.

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Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Climate anxiety takes a growing toll on farmers

As climate change-fueled extreme weather events such as storms and droughts become more frequent and intense, farmers and others in the agriculture community across the country are increasingly feeling the brunt and contemplating a dark future. Beyond the inherent stress of farming, they face anxiety, depression, and grief linked to a fast-changing natural environment on which they’ve staked their livelihoods—at a time when few mental health-related resources are available to them.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Water wells dry up as California towns, homeowners face drought

As California officials brace for a possible third year of drought — Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources, recently warned of “a worst-case scenario” for 2022 — the drought disaster is already in full force for many Californians. With underground water tables plummeting, more than 700 residents have notified the state that their wells have gone dry this year — a 700% increase from 2020. They’re being forced to use bottled water, install storage tanks in their yards and wait for new wells to get drilled. They’re learning, the hard way, to be patient.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif. regulators buckle up for the potential of 0% water allocation for 2022

California’s reservoirs are so dry from a historic drought that regulators warned Thursday it’s possible the state’s water agencies won’t get anything from them next year, a frightening possibility that could force mandatory restrictions for residents. This year, unusually hot, dry conditions caused nearly 80% of that water to either evaporate or be absorbed into the parched soil — part of a larger drought that has emptied reservoirs and led to cuts for farmers across the western United States. 

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water situation bleak as new rainfall year begins

Thursday marks the final day of the water year in California, and it was one for the record books — and not just because much of the state saw less than 50% of average rainfall. … California received about 24 inches of water during the water year that began Oct. 1, 2020, according to the 8-station index. It’s 46% percent of the average, which is about 51.4 inches and is drier than any of the years that produced the last prolonged drought that began roughly in 2011.

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Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Balancing birds, water and farms in California’s agricultural heartland

This year though, those cranes, geese and the millions of waterbirds that have followed the same pathway for thousands of years, are finding a stark landscape in the Central Valley, which stretches nearly 450 miles up California’s middle and hosts some of the nation’s richest farmland. With the vast majority of the state in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the habitat that these birds rely on in the Central Valley – our last remaining wetlands and the surrogate habitat created in agricultural fields like rice and alfalfa – have seen major cutbacks in water.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: CA must cancel San Joaquin County’s water right application

When the Water Forum Agreement was signed over 20 years ago, the occasion marked an unprecedented show of regional cooperation and an end to the water wars that had plagued the Sacramento region for decades. … Now, a decades-old application by San Joaquin County is threatening to ignite a new era of water conflict by petitioning California to take 147,000-acre feet of water from the American River — an amount of water equal to 15% of Folsom Lake when full.
-Written by Jessica Law, executive director of the Water Forum.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California vineyards can still make great wine even with limited water supply and droughts

While climate change and drought loom as existential threats to California agriculture, there’s one farming sector that may come out ahead: wine grapes. Many California winegrowers have had to cut back on irrigation this year, but using less water for a limited period doesn’t necessarily hurt quality. In fact, some of the best recent vintages were from 2012 to 2014, during the last drought, and many vintners are saying grape quality is looking excellent so far during the current harvest, despite the record-breaking drought this year and last.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Salmon Festival focuses on community and fish

For many Butte County residents, the Salmon Festival is a chance to enjoy local vendors and activities. For others, the festival is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the salmon and wildlife culture in the Feather River. To kick off the festival, the Maidu Konkow Valley Band from the North Fork of the Feather River performed a series of opening ceremony dances. Wallace Clark, a member of the Maidu and a “noponi,” the carrier of traditions, helped host and lead the opening ceremony alongside the traditional dancers.

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Aquafornia news Galt Herald

Cosumnes area groundwater subject of workshop

Area residents reviewed and learned about strategies for groundwater sustainability on Sept. 16 at a pair of public workshops. Representatives of the seven jurisdictions, including Galt, that overlie the Cosumnes Subbasin set up stations explaining the water situation in the region and the methods proposed for stabilizing groundwater levels. Mark Clarkson, Galt’s deputy public works director, attended the meetings. He said Galt is in a position to “make a major impact” on its area of the subbasin, given its more centralized water infrastructure.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Contamination a ‘huge challenge’ for affordable drinking water in California

Francisco Diaz remembers when the water piped to his home in the Central Valley community of Monterey Park Tract made everything smell rotten, including himself. … Unsurprisingly, the water was undrinkable. Agricultural run-off, heavy in potentially toxic nitrates, had contaminated both wells that supplied water to Monterey Park Tract, nestled amid the crop fields and dairy farms of Stanislaus County. The small community of some 200 people had few options. And so about five years ago, it started sourcing its water from the City of Ceres, a suburb of Modesto about four miles away.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Dry years in California: Those in the arena

With the dry years in California there is the expected increased commentary on water issues. This commentary is across the board from all sectors, and ranges from very factual reports to significant hyperbole. As policy makers sort through all this commentary, a famous passage by Theodore Roosevelt referred to as “The Man in the Arena” may be helpful.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Developing rural water leaders as drought and water scarcity intensify

An immigrant who left Mexico when he was young to make a new life in California. The owner of a small family farm who grew up in the Central Valley. A water utility operator who served in the Navy. These are among the diverse participants who graduated at the end of July from our fourth cohort of the Water Leadership Institute, a program developed to help rural communities more effectively participate in water decision-making and policy.

Aquafornia news Water Forum

Blog: Drought report offers sobering assessment and call to action

The Water Forum has been working closely with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to coordinate a response to drought conditions and reduce impacts to regional water supplies and the health of the Lower American River. We recently welcomed Kristin White, Operations Manager for Reclamation’s Central Valley Project, to provide an update on drought conditions in California and across the Western United States at the Water Forum Drought Plenary. What she shared was both stark and sobering. It was a glimpse into the problems facing federal and state water managers during this extraordinarily challenging water year.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: As California’s drought deepens, water use drops only 1.8%

Californians reduced their water use at home by a meager 1.8% statewide in July compared to last year, even after Gov. Gavin Newsom urged residents to conserve 15% and drought continues to spread across the state.  Officials today warned water providers south of the Delta who rely on state water allocations — already slashed to 5% this year — to brace for the possibility of zero supply next year.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Agencies planning a disaster for California salmon if 2022 is dry

If next year is dry in California, modeling from the Bureau of Reclamation (linked here, dated July 6, 2021) shows that Shasta Reservoir would store nearly 750,000 acre feet less water in April 2022 than it did in April 2014 – a year that was an unmitigated disaster for fish and wildlife.  The operations presented in Reclamation’s modeling could lead to extinction for winter-run Chinook salmon and other threatened and endangered fish populations if next year is dry. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Why California’s congressional delegation must lead on infrastructure bill

With the House of Representatives back in session, we are pleased that one of the first items on its agenda will be consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate last month. We hope our congressional representatives used their summer break to experience firsthand the desperate situation all Californians face. Wildfires threaten communities, homes and lives; devastating drought is hurting businesses, the environment and the farms Californians count on to grow healthy food. -Written by Dan Errotabere, a farmer in the San Joaquin Valley town of Riverdale, and John Monroe, who farms near the town of Arbuckle in the Sacramento Valley.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Dangers of pulling more water from Central Valley are obvious

For the Marin Municipal Water District directors to suggest we build a $65 million pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to harvest water from the Central Valley tells me they are walking around with blinders on. We can’t keep expecting to get water from somewhere else. You don’t have to go far to see the impacts of the drought in the Central Valley. The water is so low at Lake Oroville, the hydro plant may have to close.
-Written by independent filmmaker Kristi Denton Cohen, a Mill Valley resident. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces Notice of Funding Opportunity for agricultural water conservation and efficiency projects

The Bureau of Reclamation is collaborating with Natural Resources Conservation Service to make federal funding available to improve the efficiency of agricultural water use throughout California. The projects funded through this partnership will help communities build resilience to drought through the modernization of water infrastructure and efficient use of water resources.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drenching rains to visit Northern California, Pacific Northwest

Parts of the Pacific Northwest are under a fire weather watch through Friday, when a combination of dry conditions, high temperatures and low humidity are creating a breeding ground for flames should any small fires ignite. But in just 48 hours’ time, those conditions will pull a meteorological U-turn as a show of drenching rain arrives in coastal Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

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Aquafornia news Village News

Opinion: California lawmakers waste water

Here we go again. We are being told California water supplies are at risk and we need to start using less water under threat of more mandatory water use restrictions. In 2019, we had one of the wettest years on record. At the end of the 2019 water year, major water storage reservoirs in California were at 125% of average capacity. That was just two years ago. In 2019, California had enough rainfall and snow pack to satisfy several years of water supply demands if we had dams and reservoirs of sufficient capacity to capture this life-giving resource.
-Written by Steven Smith, Village News contributor.

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Aquafornia news UC Davis Magazine

Blog: Who is to blame for California’s drought?

Social media users are playing the blame game when it comes to California’s drought. Read enough comments online and you’ll see many similar responses blaming the state government for its management of water: California should have more water storage. California dumps water into the ocean. Northern California sends too much water to Southern California. UC Davis experts said those assertions are incorrect.

Aquafornia news CNN News Wire

The West’s historic drought in 3 maps

More than 94 percent of the West is in drought this week, according to the US Drought Monitor, with six states entirely in drought status: California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana. Parts of the West saw record-setting rainfall that brought some slight relief to the region, but most areas remain dry. Against the backdrop of climate change-fueled drought, wildfires have charred nearly 6 million acres of vegetation across the region. Fire experts say that dry and windy conditions create a prime environment for wildfires to spark and spread.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Downsized almond industry proceeds with harvest

Almonds in California are no longer sustainable at current levels. That’s the consensus of recent headlines describing the prolonged historic drought — and increasing restrictions on water use — currently impacting the state’s $6 billion industry and its efforts to produce 80 percent of the world’s almonds.  The U.S. Drought Monitor is showing California to be slowly approaching 90% of the state categorized as being in ‘extreme’ drought —especially in the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: A holistic approach to water management in the Sacramento River basin – Ridgetop to river mouth water management

Water resources managers and the leaders in Northern California continue to advance Ridgetop to River Mouth water management … There are unique opportunities in the Sacramento River Basin to advance ridgetop to river mouth water management, which can best be envisioned by looking holistically at: 1) headwaters and forest health, 2) floodplain reactivation for public safety and fish and wildlife, 3) sustainable groundwater management (including groundwater recharge and banking), 4) healthy soils and farms; 5) safe drinking water; and 6) vital rivers and streams.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: New opportunities for trading surface water in the Sacramento Valley under SGMA

New groundwater agencies in the Sacramento Valley are currently finalizing plans to manage their groundwater basins for long-term balance, as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Successful stewardship demands good information not only about groundwater conditions, but also about surface water availability. To help build shared understanding of surface water for agriculture—the valley’s main water-using sector—we produced a new dataset showing how access to this vital resource varies across irrigated farmland in the Sacramento Valley and the Delta. 

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

One Planet: CA Democrats fail to pass climate legislation as wells dry up

About 2,700 wells across the state are projected to go dry this year. If the drought continues, 1,000 more will go dry next year. In 2014, the California Legislature enacted a package of new laws that aimed to stop groundwater over-pumping, but as CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports seven years later, little has changed for Californians relying on drinking water wells. Depletion of their groundwater continues. Pumping is largely unrestricted, and there are few, if any, protections in place.

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Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: California budget — funding for fish, water, & people

The California Legislature released the final budget language late on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. CalTrout remains critical of the unnecessary delay in releasing critical budget items like emergency drought funding, wildfire relief, and climate resilience packages. As water curtailment orders go live throughout the state, the legislature is still waiting to officially approve these critical funding packages to combat the effects of climate during this year’s especially dry drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: Biden just handed a bone to big almond

To fill the post of chief agricultural negotiator at the United States Trade Representative’s office, the Biden administration dipped into California’s hot, dusty, drought-plagued San Joaquin Valley and plucked out an almond-industry lobbyist. … Biden is favoring the $6 billion almond industry at a particularly fraught time in its history. The ever-expanding groves of California’s Central Valley churn out nearly 80 percent of the globe’s almonds.
-Written by Mother Jones reporter Tom Philpott. 

Aquafornia news Nature Climate Change

Opinion: Climate change and the future of western US water governance

Water management in the western United States is rooted in an adversarial system that is highly sensitive to climate change. Reforms are needed to ensure water management is efficient, resilient and equitable moving forward.
-Written by Dylan R. Hedden-Nicely, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Native American Law Program, University of Idaho College of Law.

Aquafornia news KQED

Central Valley farmers weigh in on California’s historic drought

Unless you have a personal connection to the Central Valley or work in agriculture, chances are you haven’t been able to speak directly to a farmer about how they’re experiencing this year’s historic drought. Recently on  KQED Forum, three farmers from the Central Valley, where roughly 40% of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown, shared just how little water they have to work with, how they’re adapting, and what the drought means for their industry long term.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Infrastructure bill includes billions for Western water projects

A $1 trillion infrastructure bill that received bipartisan support in the Senate last month includes billions of dollars for Western water projects and programs. The Biden administration has called the infrastructure bill, which includes $8.3 billion for Western water infrastructure, “the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.” Of the $8.3 billion dedicated to Western water, $450 million is set aside for a competitive grant program to fund large-scale projects that advance water recycling….That program could help pay for a massive recycling project in California that would leave Nevada with access to more water in Lake Mead.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Partnership

DWR’s Ted Sommer to retire

A few months before his retirement in October 2021, Ariel Rubissow Okamoto asked Ted Sommer, lead scientist for the California Department of Water Resources, to reflect on his accomplishments and hopes for the future. Sommer is a leading researcher on native fishes, and has published more than 60 research articles in peer-reviewed scientific publications since 2001.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s Chinook salmon population is disappearing

For centuries, spring-run Chinook salmon, among California’s most iconic fish, would rest for weeks in these historically cold waters after their brutal upstream journey. Then they would lay eggs and, finally, perish to complete one of nature’s most improbable life cycles. No longer. What once was a place where life began is now one of untimely death. The creek is simply too warm, an astounding 10 degrees warmer than average in some parts of these spawning grounds.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects Levi Johnson for Central Valley Operations Deputy Manager

The Bureau of Reclamation’s California Great-Basin Region announces the selection of Levi Johnson as the Deputy Manager for the Central Valley Operations Office. CVO oversees water and power operations of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project, one of the world’s largest and most complex water storage and delivery systems. The CVP comprises 19 dams, 18 reservoirs, 11 powerplants, and over 500 miles of canals and aqueducts within California’s Central Valley.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: California summer the hottest ever as climate change accelerates

Drought. Wildfires. And, for the country as a whole, temperatures worse than the Dust Bowl. In a further bit of evidence of the reality of climate change, California has just experienced its hottest summer on record, according to data released this week by the federal government. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average temperature in California reached 77.3 degrees from June to August. That topped the previous record of 76.5 degrees in summer 2017.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California records hottest summer as U.S. West sizzles

California and several other Western states endured the hottest summer on record, according to federal data released Thursday, underscoring the ways rapid climate change is unleashing unprecedented wildfires, deadly heat waves and drought conditions. In addition to California, officials said Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah also set all-time heat records for the meteorological summer, spanning June through August. Sixteen other states also saw a top-five warmest summer on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which issued its findings Thursday.

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Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

News release: Researcher honored for work in UCSC-NOAA Fisheries Collaborative Program

James Gilbert, an associate project scientist in the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) at UC Santa Cruz, was recognized by the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) with its Staff of the Quarter award for the third quarter of fiscal year 2021. … The award recognizes his work as part of the FCP’s Central Valley Salmon project.

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Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

California governor recall election: Republican candidate Larry Elder discusses drought while visiting Central California farmers

The California recall election is fast approaching, and candidates are not wasting time. GOP frontrunner Larry Elder made a second stop in the Central Valley this week, focusing on crime and water shortages during a one-on-one with farmers. … Jacobsen said farmers are hurting across the Valley and want state leaders to take action and help solve the water crisis. With the gubernatorial recall election looming, the Republican contender Elder said he wants them to know he’s listening.

Aquafornia news ABC 10-Sacramento

California drought: Dangerously low water levels at Shasta Lake

Dangerously low water levels at Shasta Lake were captured on drone video by ABC10 reporter John Bartell and photojournalist Tyler Horst on Tuesday.  Shasta Lake is California’s largest reservoir, capable of holding 4,552,000 acre feet of water. Right now, it has 1,186,057 acre feet of water stored. Breaking that down into percentages, the reservoir is at 26% capacity and 42% of average for this date.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

‘Deadbeat dams’ and their impact on cold-water ecosystems

As drought-stricken California considers constructing new dams, a new study finds that many of the state’s existing structures— despite efforts to prioritize healthy water temperatures— are failing the cold-water ecosystems that depend on them. The study, published in PLOS One, crunched data from 77 cold-water streams across California to characterize their “thermal regime” — that is, their annual temperature fluctuations over an eight- to 12-year period. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: San Francisco, agriculture suppliers want their water, sue state over drought restrictions

San Francisco, along with a handful of Central Valley irrigation districts, is suing the state for enacting drought restrictions that are keeping thousands of landowners and suppliers from drawing water from rivers and creeks. The lawsuit, filed late last week in Fresno County Superior Court, claims that the State Water Resources Control Board — drought or no drought — does not have the authority to suspend the draws of those with the most senior claims to California’s water.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Notice of funding opportunity for Central Valley Project Improvement Act fisheries habitat and facilities improvement now available

The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity for projects that enhance Chinook salmon and steelhead trout production and associated habitats in the Central Valley, consistent with the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Reclamation and the Service plan to award up to $40 million (subject to appropriations) in fiscal year 2022 through multiple grants or cooperative agreements to projects prioritized by the CVPIA Near-Term Restoration Strategy.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

September will be hot. Here’s how to protect your pets (and yourself).

For much of California, the arrival of September has brought extreme, scalding temperatures. Sunday was the hottest day in Los Angeles in nearly 11 months, according to AccuWeather. Temperatures in the Inland Empire and the Sacramento region soared into the triple-digits over the long weekend. And in the next few days, dangerous heat waves are projected for large swaths of the state, weather officials warn.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought takes toll on Central Valley farmworkers

For decades, farm labor has kept unincorporated communities alive throughout the Central Valley. But the drought is making it hard to stay. The dearth of essential resources — clean water, adequate housing and fair employment wages — has crippled towns that are easily overlooked and triggered a slow exodus to bigger places.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How drought, climate change impact California almond agriculture

First came the asparagus field. Then came the melons. And now Joe Del Bosque is considering the unthinkable: tearing out a sprawling almond orchard bursting with healthy, nut-producing trees. … Two decades of almost unrelenting growth vaulted almonds into the upper ranks of California agriculture. Now, though, the state’s $6 billion-a-year industry is being humbled by a devastating drought. Farmers have slowed the pace of new orchard plantings and, in a few cases, have plowed up trees still capable of bearing almonds.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Deadly East Coast hurricane, California downpours tied to climate change

As Tropical Storm Ida cripples New York City and flooding takes dozens of lives along the East Coast, California suffers from a two-year drought that has curtailed water supplies and spawned wildfires scorching nearly 1,000 square miles. One side of the nation gets far too much water, the other side far too little, The common element is climate change and it would be folly for Californians to yearn — even with flames approaching Lake Tahoe, the jewel of the Sierra — for a portion of the rain falling 3,000 miles away. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study shows California groundwater quality threatened by drought

Researchers have suspected for years that drought conditions worsen groundwater quality, but a study published this week provides strong evidence proving the long-held assumption. While previous studies have focused on the risk of wells being overdrawn and run dry during drought, the study from the United States Geological Survey and the California State Water Resources Control Board is the first to directly link drought to deteriorating water quality on a regional scale. The study looked at 30 years of data from California’s Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Exasperated by drought, farmers could be critical in Newsom recall fight

Like many farmers across California, Zack Andrade’s business is being choked by an extraordinary two-year drought. Water cuts could soon erase about a quarter of the irrigation he depends on to grow leafy greens, carrots and beets on his family’s farm in the rolling hills south of Silicon Valley, near Morgan Hill. Andrade said the crisis has been made worse by successive governors, including Gavin Newsom, who he says have punted on damming rivers and building new reservoirs to help California store more water during wet years.

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Aquafornia news NPR

Water in the West: Bankrupt?

The climate crisis is making wild weather much more common. Since Sunday evening, we’ve seen all kinds of destruction in New Orleans as Hurricane Ida hit – winds, flooding, way too much water. And meanwhile, in America’s West, they’re dealing with fires and a historic drought – not enough water. And as the West gets drier and drier, how water is used attracts a lot of controversy.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA study spotlights racist past of ‘junk fish’ in the U.S.

Andrew Rypel grew up fishing on Wisconsin’s pristine lakes and rivers. With just a worm on his hook, he caught suckers, gar, sunfish and other native fish he never saw in his game fishing magazines. From a young age, Rypel loved all the fish species and it surprised him that others paid little attention to the native fish in his area. … Now working as an associate professor at UC Davis, Rypel … and 10 of his colleagues discovered something that he’d known since his youth: Most fishing regulations are biased against native fishes.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Dammed hot – California’s regulated streams fail cold-water ecosystems

Given the current drought, it’s no surprise that California’s dams are struggling to provide cool water habitats to support native freshwater ecosystems. But what if they were never able to support them under any conditions? New research shows how current stream management fails to provide the patterns of cool water that California’s native ecosystems need. The challenges stem from two issues: an oversimplification of stream temperature targets and the assumption that dam regulation can replicate desirable cold water patterns.

Aquafornia news The Motley Fool

Droughts are making water, Earth’s most vital liquid, an increasingly solid investment

It’s been almost nine months since Wall Street turned on the taps — with the launch of the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index on December 7th, 2020, investors have been able to bet on the price movement of water. The real-world droughts that followed have made for an oasis of opportunity. … As droughts and wildfires hammered the U.S. West Coast, California declared a state of emergency in April, and last month asked residents to cut their water use by 15%. As of July 31, California’s major reservoirs held just 53% of their historical averages. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Editorial: Wake-up call – California’s water is running out

Mandatory limits on water use are likely to be imposed in the near future on California residents, businesses and farms. Get ready. You can’t change the weather, which has deprived the state of its necessary rain and snowfall. But you can change your response. After examining the state’s shockingly low reservoirs, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters recently that a statewide limit on water use may be needed to head off a supply crisis caused by California’s historic drought, which continues to worsen.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

The environmentalist case for fish farms

This summer, tens of millions of salmon have been cooked in California in their own native habitat. Record-breaking heat and drought have drawn down the water flows and turned up the temperatures of the state’s streams and rivers. The heat shock, along with the impacts of parasites and fungal blights that are fueled by warmer waters, has decimated the wild salmon populations. To stem the crisis, scientists have literally gone above and beyond, hurling salmon over dams via pneumatic cannons and trucking millions of fish to the Pacific Ocean to bypass unlivable rivers. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: A pipeline to the Mississippi? Silly as the recall

The award for dumbest idea of the recall election goes to the rookie Democrat who proposed building a water pipeline from California to the Mississippi River. It’s nutty economically and politically. … The wacky proposal seems emblematic of the nonsensical recall effort itself — the notion of wasting $276 million in tax money on a special election because opportunistic Republicans want to oust the Democratic governor one year before his term expires and he must run for reelection anyway.
-Written by George Skelton, LA Times columnist.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s ‘Cantaloupe Capital’ struggles as drought pummels agriculture across West

This small town [Mendota] in California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley advertises itself as the “Cantaloupe Center of the World.” But as relentless drought punishes California and the West, the land is drying up and the cantaloupes are disappearing. Farmers have let large portions of their melon fields lie fallow as they struggle to get by on dramatically curtailed water supplies. Some are giving their vines barely enough water to stay alive in an effort to conserve. In other cases, fields that have already been planted will never get harvested because there’s not enough water for the fruit to survive.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

A water pipeline to the Mississippi River? Democrat stirs up recall debate with unusual ideas

There was an unusual twist at Wednesday’s gubernatorial recall debate in Sacramento: A Democrat participated for the first time. And that Democrat, 29-year-old millionaire Ventura County real estate investor Kevin Paffrath, jump-started the hour-long debate with some unusual ideas. Paffrath, who has never held elective office, proposed to solve California’s water shortages by building a pipeline to the Mississippi River…. As California falls deeper into an extraordinary drought, all three GOP candidates threw shade on Newsom approach of encouraging conservation. It was one of their most detailed debate exchanges about water policy to date, yet yielded few ideas for immediate action.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Explore California’s vital water hub during Sept. 9 virtual journey

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast, is a vital hub in California’s complex water delivery system as well as a rich farming region, an important wetlands area – and often, a source of conflict. Join us for an engaging online journey on Sept. 9 to go deep into the Delta and its 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s two large water systems - the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Science Daily

New research: Dams ineffective for cold-water conservation

Dams poorly mimic the temperature patterns California streams require to support the state’s native salmon and trout — more than three-quarters of which risk extinction. Bold actions are needed to reverse extinction trends and protect cold-water streams that are resilient to climate warming, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE by the University of California, Davis.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Proposed north Butte County water district stirring controversy

A proposal for a new Butte County water district is wending its way through the approval process, and not everyone is happy about that. The Tuscan Water District would cover most of the northwestern county, excluding Chico. The area is dependent on well water. Under a recently approved state law, the amount of groundwater currently being pumped in the area will have to be reduced. Each well owner is currently on their own. No entity speaks for them as a group. 

Aquafornia news Merced County Times

Opinion: Dreadful drought can show us a thing or two about our past

Does time travel exist? Probably not, but let’s take a shot. The California drought may give us a unique chance to go back to 1955. That’s when the Folsom Dam was built, during they heydays of dam building from the 1950s to the ’70s. California, along with the rest of the United States, experienced major population growth with the “Baby Boomer” era following World War II. Agencies seeking to meet water demands constructed most of the major dams in California including Oroville, Don Pedro, San Luis, and Trinity Dams — all of which are over 2 million acre-feet.
-Written by Tom Frazier, a Merced writer, columnist, photographer and supporter of the arts.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How climate change is affecting California with wildfires, drought

Welcome to the summer of climate change. No longer a distant phenomenon — something to worry about in a few decades — the consequence of a warming planet has arrived in a resounding fashion. Most Californians probably didn’t need to read the recent doomsday report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to know that their lives are being upended already by climate change. Now they must fret about their electricity being shut off, their faucets running dry and their houses catching fire.

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Aquafornia news Winters Express

Nature Nearby - What’s happening with this ‘extreme’ drought?

Summer is underway and that means splashing around Putah Creek, hiking, camping, and… heat domes? With this excessive heat, the thought on everyone’s minds is likely how does this severe drought affect water resources throughout California? The extreme temperatures coupled with the low snowpack in the Sierra have meant fast evaporation in many of the state’s reservoirs; not to mention a heat dome that has descended upon much of the United States bringing record breaking heat to even the most mild summer climates.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: The drought is drying up California’s economy: Who’s responsible for opening the floodgates?

Cropless fields, fishless rivers, burning forests, empty reservoirs and powerless dams — either you’ve seen the headlines, or you’re living it. America’s West has run out of water. For most of us, this is a reckoning moment. Water exists in abundance. It’s cheap, free-flowing and limitless. We’re quite literally swimming in the stuff. But suddenly, that’s no longer true. California’s surging population and farming-dependent economy, coupled with sustained drought, means that demand has completely drowned out supply.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

California reservoirs: dropping daily

California’s fifth largest reservoir — San Luis — is now at 16 percent of capacity. The nation’s largest off-stream reservoir with the ability to hold 2,041,000 million acre feet exists to divert excess winter and spring river flows headed for the Pacific Ocean. As such it underscores the fact the entire Central Valley, the southern Sierra, the North Bay, and the East Bay are in exceptional drought — the worst designation of the United States Department of Agriculture drought monitor. Historically on Aug. 16 San Luis would be at 36 percent of capacity.

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Aquafornia news Escalon Times

News release: Voluntary drought initiative designed to protect fish

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries announced a Voluntary Drought Initiative recently designed to protect populations of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon from the effects of the current unprecedented drought. The initiative provides a framework for water users to enter into individual agreements with the two agencies to maintain enough water for fish spawning and survival, and implement other collaborative actions like fish rescue, relocation, monitoring, and habitat restoration.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Water projects in West benefit from infrastructure bill

With vast swaths of the West experiencing exceptional or extreme drought conditions and more than 90 active wildfires, a national coalition led by the California Farm Bureau has helped secure Senate approval for major federal investments in critical water projects. California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson applauded the Senate’s passage of legislation to fund $550 million in infrastructure spending over the next five years. As drought conditions continue to worsen throughout the West, he said, “now is the time to invest and make timely improvements in our nation’s water management portfolio.”

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Rejuvenating our lands – Healthy soils in the Sacramento Valley

With an increasing focus on the multiple benefits of healthy soils, the Budget Act of 2021 recently appropriated $50 million in one-time funding from the General Fund to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for implementation of the Healthy Soils Program and $40 million for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) to reduce greenhouse gases and save water. The CDFA’s Healthy Soils Initiative promotes the development of innovative farm and land management practices that increase water retention and infiltration …

Aquafornia news The Hill

Experts say record-setting heat and wildfires just a taste what’s coming in our future

Extreme weather events in recent headlines, including wildfires, heat waves and flooding, could offer a preview of what to expect in forecasts of the near future, experts suggest. … Already, historic heat waves have ravaged the Pacific Northwest, wildfires blaze across California and Oregon and agencies are recording some of the hottest months on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week that July was the hottest month ever recorded.

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Aquafornia news The Economist

Why pumping groundwater isn’t a long-term solution to drought

Signs of drought proliferate across the American West. California is rationing water for farmers in the state’s Central Valley. Salmon are dying en masse in the Pacific Northwest as river temperatures climb. Lake Mead, on the border of Nevada and Arizona, is drying up. … Groundwater is the source of drinking water for half of Americans, and nearly all of the country’s rural communities. … But groundwater has become dangerously depleted in places where pumping has exceeded the rate at which aquifers are naturally replenished.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

The face of California’s water world is changing

In California’s water world, long dominated almost exclusively by men, women are blazing a path — sometimes straight to the top. … Karla Nemeth [director of California’s Department of Water Resources] … said law and engineering backgrounds used to be strictly prioritized in water, but the field is opening up to other disciplines and collaborative skills. Nemeth, arguably one of the state’s most powerful water leaders, helms DWR, which manages California’s water resources, infrastructure and systems. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: Why drought should have California’s almond, alfalfa farmers deeply worried

Like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — arid nations with limited water supplies — California should consider banning or limiting the cultivation of water-intensive crops. At a time of severe water shortages, it makes sense to end the cultivation for export of crops like almonds and alfalfa, a plant mostly used to feed cows. Where does the world get 80 percent of its almonds? The Golden State. Where does Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (and Japan and China) get much of their alfalfa? You guessed it. California.
-Written by San Diego U-T columnist Chris Reed.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation re-announces 60-day comment period for Central Valley Project Delta and Friant draft contracts

Due to technical difficulties the Bureau of Reclamation re-announced today ongoing congressionally mandated contract conversions pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. Today’s release includes draft repayment contracts from the Central Valley Project Delta and Friant contractors for a 60-day public comment period. These represent seven of over 80 repayment contract conversions requested by federal CVP contractors. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Water? Housing? Sewers? Debate over which Stanislaus pocket-area projects to fund

As Stanislaus creates a framework to spend millions of dollars on improving county islands and urban pockets, there’s disagreement among residents on how and where the money should be invested. Some community leaders want housing to be the priority, others are desperate for water. … People living in unincorporated county islands in Stanislaus have long gone without basic needs. Dark streets, unpaved sidewalks, lack of sewer and potable water systems are everyday realities for many residents.

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Aquafornia news Edhat

Biodiversity imperiled

Woodlands along streams and rivers are an important part of California’s diverse ecology. They are biodiversity hotspots, providing various ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and critical habitat for threatened and endangered species. But our land and water use have significantly impacted these ecosystems, sometimes in unexpected ways. A team of researchers, including two at UC Santa Barbara, discovered that some riparian woodlands are benefitting from water that humans divert for our own needs.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State agencies announce first round of commitments for $200 million in drought funding to support small communities

Moving to provide immediate support to communities facing water supply challenges, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Wednesday announced the first round of funding commitments for $200 million available through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. DWR, in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, is directing $25 million to 10 small water systems in Tulare, Siskiyou, Shasta, Lake and Kern Counties.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California just recorded its hottest July ever. Charts show it’s part of a trend

California just closed the books on its hottest July on record, a whopping 5.3 degrees above normal. It was the latest in a rash of record-setting months over the past year, as the state saw its hottest July, June, October, September and August in history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA data shows that the average monthly temperature in July was 80 degrees, 5.3 degrees above normal, or the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. June’s average temperature was 75 degrees, 6.8 degrees above normal.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Lake Oroville levels reach historic low, impacting recreation

In a year already plagued by pandemic and wildfires, Californians are also entangled with the crippling effect of drought. … In 2017, hundreds of thousands of lives were threatened when massive flooding damaged the Oroville Dam. Today, changing weather conditions have created a stark contrast from years ago: Hot temperatures and low rainfall have left miles of dusty, cracked shorelines exposed.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Blog: West faces catastrophic water and power shortages

Buried in an hours-long State Water Resources Control Board hearing recently was the admission that California experts overestimated the spring inflow by 800,000-acre feet. Put another way, the state banked on water that never came. That admission, coupled with public policy that favors environmental uses of water over human needs, led to California’s recent curtailment of the most senior of water rights – a private property right that once had value in California and threatens to ripple far and wide.

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Aquafornia news Weather West

Blog: Another major heatwave for PacNW & interior NorCal; rising fire weather concerns due to heat, then possible lightning, then possible wind

The overall pattern over California has been remarkably consistent thus far this warm season: exceptional, unrelenting, and record-breaking heat across interior and higher elevation areas (especially in NorCal), but relatively unremarkable temperatures along the immediate coast that have actually felt pretty chilly at times. It has been a summer of incredible contrasts between the beaches and…virtually everywhere else in California.

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Aquafornia news Boise State Public Radio

Climate change could mean almond production moves north to Idaho from California

Virtually all almonds in the U.S. are produced in a 20,000 square mile area in the middle of California. The hot and dry Mediterranean climate there helps produce $17 billion worth of crops every year. … Temperatures rarely dip below freezing and historic rain levels have created rich soil, providing an environment suitable for almond growth. … Some researchers are starting to look north and ask: Could the Potato State become a hub for almonds? University of Idaho researchers are finding commercial production could thrive here.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation and state of California announces negotiation with Central Valley Project Cross Valley contractors

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a public negotiation session with seven Cross Valley contractors on a long-term conveyance contract for delivery of federal Central Valley Project water through state-owned facilities. Reclamation, DWR, and the contractors have previously entered into successive, short-term interim renewal contracts pursuant to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which included both federal water service and state conveyance terms and conditions. 

Aquafornia news ABC News

Lawn renovations could play major role in conserving water in West, experts say

Lawmakers and water utilities in the West are urging residents to conserve water as reservoirs hit record lows amid climate change-driven megadrought. Among the calls to action is a reminder for residents to make choices that lessen use of municipal water when it comes to maintaining landscaping in desert surroundings. About 30% of water usage for the average American family is used for the outdoors, such as watering lawns and gardens, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Big battle looms over California water rights

California doesn’t have enough water to meet all demands even in wet years, and when drought strikes the competition becomes, to put it mildly, intense. State and federal officials who must ration the restricted supply are beset with pleas from farmers, municipal water systems and advocates for the environment. However, water managers must also contend with a bewildering array of water rights, some of which date to the 19th century, as well as long-standing contractual obligations and laws, both statutes and judicial decrees, on maintaining flows for spawning salmon and other wildlife.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

West Nile virus: another alarming side effect of US drought

The West Nile virus was once associated with higher humidity and moisture, conditions that help mosquitoes thrive. But a growing body of research has found that drought conditions – such as those being felt across the American west – could amplify its effects. States are already on alert. California reported its first death of the year in July. By the end of that month, the state’s department of public health (CDPH) had documented the virus in 4 people, 94 dead birds, 563 mosquito samples, 10 chickens and 1 horse.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thieves are stealing California’s water – watch how it happens

Known for its starry skies, Joshua Trees and 100-plus-degree heat, California’s vast desert has recently become a hotbed of something else: thieves stealing California’s water. So who’s on the receiving end of all this theft? Local investigators say it’s often illegal pot farms. And with the parched state in a withering drought, water managers are doubling as amateur detectives.

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Aquafornia news Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Climate change forces California winemakers to reconsider what grapes grow where

For decades, California winemakers have long thought of the Winkler Index as gospel. Developed in the 1940s by two professors at the University of California at Davis (U.C. Davis), the Index uses regional climate conditions to determine the best places to grow a wide range of wine grapes. With increasing pressures from heat and drought bearing down on the state, however, the Index may currently be horribly out of date. On July 22, U.C. Davis announced it would update the Index for the first time in more than 75 years. 

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

California salmon: ‘Witnessing the Collapse’

A deeply troubled group of high-ranking state officials, tribal leaders, environmentalists and fishermen met July 27 to discuss the triple whammy that is threatening some species of Pacific salmon with extinction — a combination of record-breaking heat, drought and disastrous federal water policies — particularly those of the Trump administration, which drained mountain reservoirs of cold water, sending it to the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

10 charts and maps that explain California’s drought

A historic drought is spreading across California and much of the American West. How bad is it? Which places are most affected? What does it mean for our water supply and wildfire risk? These 10 maps and charts tell the story.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Updated computer models released for key California water projects

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released the next versions of two computer models that simulate operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP). Water managers use the models – CalSim II and CalSim 3 – to examine project operations under various assumptions for hydrologic conditions, project  facilities and regulatory requirements.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation launches website with real-time information, interactive resources on drought

The Bureau of Reclamation launched a new web portal today that provides real-time drought-related information and details of drought actions taken in collaboration with stakeholders and partners. The science-based web portal is designed to increase public and media understanding of drought conditions and the all-of-government efforts to mitigate these conditions by the Biden-Harris administration. 

Aquafornia news ABC7

California recall candidate Larry Elder ‘not sure’ climate change is reason for state’s wildfires

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder is currently leading the pack of Republicans hoping to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in California’s recall election. A new poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that among voters most likely to participate in the recall, Elder has the most support, followed by San Diego businessman John Cox, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and Assemblymember Kevin Kiley.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The California water model – Resilience through failure

A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past mistakes.  California’s highly variable climate has made it a crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.  Similar water imperatives have led to advances in water management in other parts of the world.  A close look at California’s water model suggests that “far-sighted incrementalism” is a path to progress. 

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Better water management needed to restore salmon populations: experts testify at CA joint committee meeting

Fish, farms or people? Water managers are facing hard choices about who gets first dibs on an ever dwindling supply of water in the state’s reservoirs resulting from severe drought conditions. Fish have historically been last on the priorities list in drought years and that’s had negative ripple effects across tribal and coastal communities, according to testimony presented July 27 at a Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture chaired by North Coast State Sen. Mike McGuire.

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Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Report: Valley could see 6-9 degree temperature increase by 2100

Climate change projections show the Central Valley will see more hot, dry years like 2021, but also some dangerously wet years as well. This year has already seen high temperatures, drought and high fire risk for Central Valley residents, and Jordi Vasquez, environmental scientist for the California Department of Water Resources, said climate models show the Central Valley heating up 6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. … The biggest impact for Central Valley communities like Hanford will be water management, Vasquez said.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Sen. McGuire talks salmon species ‘collapse’ amid drought in West

“Bleak” and “grim” were words frequently used Tuesday morning as part of a joint legislative hearing on the crisis in California’s salmon fisheries amid the historic drought. How bad it is during the current drought in the West, however, was up for debate. “There is no way that this year isn’t going to be worse than it was in 2014-15, when we saw 95% (of salmon) dying off,” said North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire, who was the chair of the hearing.

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Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Why has western heat been so intense? 5 reasons

No other region in the country is warming faster than the western United States when it comes to increasing daytime highs, a trend that became apparent with the unprecedented and record-shattering heat wave that took over the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer. Heat has been building all across the west this year. In June, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California all had record heat statewide. Salt Lake City had its warmest June in 74 years of records with an average temperature of 80.2 F, which is 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

With record-low inventory going into the pandemic, California tomatoes wither under drought and limited irrigation water

Tomato sauce is feeling the squeeze and ketchup can’t catch up. California grows more than 90 percent of Americans’ canned tomatoes and a third of the world’s. Ongoing drought in the state has hurt the planting and harvesting of many summer crops, but water-hungry “processing tomatoes” are caught up in a particularly treacherous swirl (a “tormado”?) of problems that experts say will spur prices to surge far more than they already have. The drought threatens to imperil some of Americans’ favorite ingredients — pizza sauce, marinara, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes and ketchup all hang in the balance.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s water crisis comes for the birds

Empty wells. Salmon die-offs. Water thieves. The uncontrollable flames of monster wildfire.  In California, one of the worst droughts on record has touched off a kaleidoscopic range of emergencies, amplifying age-old resource conflicts as leaders call for conservation by cities, curtailments to farmers and coordination across the board. The interconnectedness of the state’s hydrology is especially apparent in one corner of the Sacramento Valley, where scarce water for farmers will also mean less for the migrating birds that make use of the same land. 

Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Court ruling finds FERC 401 waiver not justified – important implications for California hydropower project licenses

On July 2, 2021, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, overturning an Order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  FERC’s Order had found that the state of North Carolina had unlawfully “coordinated” with the license applicant to delay the state’s certification that a new FERC license for the Bynum hydroelectric project complied with state water quality laws.  FERC found that North Carolina’s participation in the delay meant that the state had “waived” its authority under Section 401 to issue the certification.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California senators press Congress for $1 billion to prep for future drought

With rural wells running dry and reservoir levels dwindling amid the Western drought, California senators are pressing Congress for an infusion of cash to renovate the state’s collapsing drinking water system. But instead of new dams or desalination plants, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla want … to boost stormwater capture, groundwater recharge and water recycling efforts in the Golden State and throughout the U.S.

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Aquafornia news KCRW

‘Drought isn’t nature, drought is man,’ says journalist Mark Arax

Through fierce reporting and captivating prose, journalist Mark Arax paints a vivid and complex portrait of California and its water. Born into a family of farmers in Fresno, Arax has witnessed firsthand the cyclical nature of droughts and floods in the state. He delves into the history and future of agriculture and water in his 2019 book “The Dreamt Land.” Arax joins Evan Kleiman to talk about the lessons gleaned from the state’s fraught water history, and what they might mean for its present and future.

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Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Happy Valley resident says their small farm is struggling with the water crisis

In the town of Happy Valley, residents are dealing with a crisis. California is experiencing an extreme drought, and Happy Valley says there is a meager amount of water left in the community. Coleen Wogoman, a resident of Happy Valley said their small farm, Wogoman’s Farm, is struggling to stay afloat as the lack of water striking hard for her family and their livestock. A mix of emotions is expressed from Wogoman as she looks upon her farmland and home for over 15 years.

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Aquafornia news Ripon Advance

Valadao water amendments to appropriations bill nixed by Democrats

U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) last week introduced three amendments to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations fiscal year 2022 bill that aimed to alleviate California’s ongoing drought, but House Appropriations Committee Democrats voted down all three of them during a July 16 markup. The congressman’s first amendment would have extended California water storage provisions of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act for one year …

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Blog: Has water scarcity caught up with almonds?

Has double-digit growth within the California almond industry ended? Will last year’s 3.1-billion-pound crop be the largest on record? Is the industry ready to open a new chapter centered around something other than year-over-year record crops? Every year the news was pretty much the same from the Almond Board of California – predictions of double-digit annual growth as industry insiders talked up new markets and pointed to impressive numbers from the monthly position reports.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Seizing the moment – Preparing for next year with groundwater recharge opportunities

As water resources managers work hard this summer to deliver limited water supplies to cities, rural communities, farms, refuges and fisheries–while also providing essential hydropower for the state’s energy grid–there is increasing attention to prepare for the next water year. … As we think about water management opportunities for next year, there is an increasing focus on groundwater recharge … 

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Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 4

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey 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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drone photos show the shocking state of California drought

As the West descends deeper into drought, climate and water experts are growing increasingly alarmed by California’s shriveling reservoirs. Photos of Lake Oroville, Folsom Lake, Trinity Lake and Lake Shasta, taken by Times photographer Brian van der Brug using a drone, unveil the harsh reality of the Golden State’s not-so-golden drought. On Wednesday, Lake Shasta — the largest reservoir in the state — held a scant 1.55 million acre-feet of water, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, or about 34% of its capacity.

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Aquafornia news The Street

The water risks facing California: New index offers future price visibility

A new futures contract based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index provides longer-term visibility into the price of water, according to Roland Fumasi of RaboResearch. California is facing another dry summer in 2021, and for agricultural producers, that means a difficult growing season. … The situation has put a strain on the state’s traditionally fragile water resources, resulting in water price spikes for producers looking to sustain their crops.

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: CDFW rolls out guidance for fishing during the drought

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking recreational anglers to voluntarily change how, when and where they fish to minimize stress and mortality among fish populations suffering from drought conditions. CDFW is advising anglers not to fish past noon on certain inland waters as even catch-and-release angling during the hottest parts of the day can greatly increase fish stress and mortality. … Coldwater species such as trout, salmon and steelhead have the greatest likelihood of being affected by the drought this year but low water levels and high-water temperatures can potentially affect all inland aquatic species.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Heat waves and climate change pose huge risk to workers

Surging temperatures across the West Coast this summer are exposing another way that the changing climate threatens the country’s future: the danger it poses to workers, particularly those who work outside and in warehouses. The issue has become such a concern that the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has put a new heat illness rule on a list of agenda items for the Biden administration to consider, calling it a top priority. … After a series of deaths in the fields, California instituted what were then the country’s most stringent protections for farmworkers, in 2005, and has updated those laws since.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

NASA satellite photos show severity of California drought

As the West descends deeper into drought, climate and water experts are growing increasingly alarmed by California’s severely shriveling reservoirs. On Monday, Shasta Lake — the largest reservoir in the state — held a scant 1.57 million acre-feet of water, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, or about 35% of its capacity. A series of satellite images captured by NASA show just how dramatically the water level has fallen.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Monday Top of the Scroll: Unpaid utility bills? California will pay $2 billion to stop shutoffs

Official estimates of unpaid water and energy bills accumulated during the pandemic verge on $2.7 billion, affecting a few million Californians — and those figures have been growing rapidly. The state has so far prioritized rent relief — keeping people housed — over utilities relief. [O]f the $158 million distributed as of July 16, less than $40,000 had gone to utilities relief. Utility debt makes up about 6% of all assistance requested so far. On July 11, lawmakers revealed a plan to use one-time federal relief money to address the debt. … But it doesn’t extend current shutoff moratoria past Sept. 30. 

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Megadrought poses ‘existential’ crisis in California and the West

The American West was once seen as a place of endless possibilities: grand vistas, bountiful resources and cities that somehow grew out of deserts. Now, manifest destiny has become a manifest emergency. A scorching drought made worse by climate change is draining reservoirs at an alarming pace, fueling massive wildfires and deadly heat waves and withering one of the most important agricultural economies in the country.

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

In first Valley visit, U.S. senator gets pushed on farm water

Alex Padilla made his first official visit to the Central Valley as U.S. Senator, holding several discussions about water. Padilla, along with other elected officials, held a media availability at his only public event of the day — a tour of the Dos Palos water treatment plant. There, he spoke about the need to upgrade infrastructure for drinking water, as well as water for farmers. Padilla says the infrastructure bill being debated in the Senate will help with water, especially in underserved areas.

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Aquafornia news State Water Contractors

Report: SWC Annual Science Report

Science is about more than data and research, it’s about teamwork. Collaboration is key, and the State Water Contractors are committed to working together with our partners in academia, government, non-profit and the private sectors to invest in California’s water future. The SWC and Member Agencies participated in multiple interagency and stakeholder working groups tasked with determining how to implement permit requirements, including the Spring-Run Chinook Salmon Juvenile Production Estimate Core Team and Delta Coordination Group for summer-fall habitat actions for Delta Smelt.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Poor Klamath River water conditions, deadly parasite, prompts fish hatchery to delay salmon release

For the first time in its 55 year history, the Iron Gate fish hatchery, which raises salmon and steelhead, will not release its salmon smolts into the Klamath River this summer. Due to poor water conditions and an increase in a parasite called C. Shasta in the river, the hatchery, located in Hornbrook, California, will keep the tiny fish until fall. Now, the hatchery is dealing with the logistics of moving millions of fish to other facilities because they cannot accommodate all of the growing salmon.

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Aquafornia news ABC 7 News

Could meters be the key to conserving water in California agriculture? Watsonville growers explain

As he set goals last Thursday for the Bay Area to conserve water, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the lack of metering provides no sense of how much water is used by California agriculture. Growers in the Watsonville area in Santa Cruz County, however, are metered, and the meters have resulted in significant water conservation.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Wildfires, drought and record heat: Numbers reveal impact in the West

The American West is baking, burning and drying in intertwined extreme weather. Four sets of numbers explain how bad it is now, while several others explain why it got this bad. The West is going through “the trifecta of an epically dry year followed by incredible heat the last two months and now we have fires,” said University of California Merced climate and fire scientist John Abatzoglou. “It is a story of cascading impacts.” And one of climate change, the data shows.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Waterfowl across Sacramento region threatened by California drought

The future of millions of waterfowl that visit the region each fall could be up in the air if dry conditions continue. Fourth-generation rice farmer Brian McKenzie farms about 4,000 acres and his fields are filled with wildlife. … This year’s drought has decreased the number of birds and the number of acres farmed. … And that has many worried about what will happen to what is known as the Pacific flyway this fall.

Aquafornia news LA Weekly

Water crisis: The California drought is drying up our local farmers markets

Flora Bella Farms has been a fixture at the Santa Monica Farmers market since it opened in 1991. James and Dawn Birch have been a favorite stop for local chefs ever since they made their first sale to Nancy Silverton. Because of the lack of water in this year’s drought and the loss of most of their crops, next Wednesday, July 21 will be their last day at the market with no return day in sight. We talked to Dawn at the market Wednesday, who told us that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Californians will adapt to living with drought, as we always have

Climate change is exacerbating droughts and accelerating the transformation and decline of California’s native forest and aquatic ecosystems. As a state, we are poorly organized to manage these effects, which need extensive focused preparation. We need to adapt (and we will make mistakes in doing so). Our human, economic and environmental losses will be much greater, however, if we manage poorly because of delay, complacency or panic.
-Written by Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Davis. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Northern California farmers bracing for drastic water restrictions

Farmers are facing a water shortage right as we head into peak growing season…. Solano County farmer Spencer Bei shows us one of the wells his family uses to farm 15,000 acres. He says he is losing pressure now as he is pumping because he is pulling more from the aquifer due to a lack of surface water and no rain in sight. He is one of many farmers feeling the heat after the State Water Resources Board sent out letters to 4,300 water-right holders saying there was no longer enough water for them and that the remaining 2,300 with pre-1914 riparian rights could see even more restrictions soon.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative steward

The rhythmic patter of hooves skimming the earth below was a sound Amy never tired of when she was young. Whether in the hot sweat-inducing summer or the bone-chill frost of winter in upstate New York, the sound was ever-present, because Amy was always riding. … Now as the Interim Director of the California Program at American Rivers, one of Amy’s central goals is to work with agricultural landowners to protect and improve habitat in wetlands and rivers.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

One way to save California salmon threatened by drought: Truck them to the mountains and back

[A] long-stalled plan to save Sacramento winter-run chinook salmon, a critically endangered species, proposes trucking them twice in their lifetimes. Spawning adults would get a lift from the too-hot Sacramento River over Shasta Dam and be driven up Interstate 5 to a cold mountain habitat in the McCloud River. Later, their offspring would catch a ride back to the Sacramento and head to the ocean to start the cycle again.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

From California’s water wars to America’s culture wars: a media analysis of the Delta smelt controversy

In recent decades Americans’ attitudes about environmental issues have become polarized along partisan lines. Yet, while significant research demonstrates this broad trend, we know less about the meso-level processes producing and sustaining such divisions. Drawing on over 3,000 news articles, nearly 14,000 Tweets, and Google search data, Dr. Caleb Scoville, an Assistant Professor of Sociology and a 2020-2021 Neubauer Faculty Fellow at Tufts University, analyzed the public sphere controversy surrounding the Delta smelt, an endangered species of fish caught in the center of California water politics.   

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento asked to cut water usage as California drought worsens

The city of Sacramento, invoking its water shortage contingency plan, asked residents Wednesday to reduce consumption by 10% as California’s drought intensifies. City Manager Howard Chan moved the city into Stage 1 of its contingency plan, which mandates a 10% cut by city government and a voluntary call to residents and businesses to do the same, according to spokesman Carlos Eliason. If additional measures need to be taken, they would require action by the City Council.

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Aquafornia news KQED

How California’s complex water delivery system robs its ‘rainforests’ of resources

[S]ome 95% of the Central Valley’s riparian woodlands, along with the conditions they evolved in, have already been sacrificed, mainly to make the Central Valley an agricultural powerhouse. The scattered remnants face multiple threats, including droughts and floods intensified by climate change; manipulated streamflows  that favor human over ecological needs; and shrinking aquifers left critically overdrawn by decades of unregulated groundwater pumping.

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Aquafornia news Zocalo Public Square

Blog: To beat climate change, rural towns and farms need to head north

Migrating agriculture north to the Sacramento Valley can’t be a one-to-one trade where every venture survives. The Sacramento Valley is approximately one-half the size of the San Joaquin Valley, and at most, 15 to 20 percent of the land could host relocated agriculture. The majority of San Joaquin agricultural businesses won’t survive in their current form—but some could find new life by converting their fallowed fields into solar farms to help the state achieve its goal of fossil fuel-free electricity by 2045. Or we can allow the San Joaquin Valley to revert to the desert it was before our forefathers planted a garden in it.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Drought-stricken western districts plan new ways to store water

Driving through the Sacramento valley an hour north of California’s capital, most travelers notice nothing but a few cows grazing on grass scorched brown by the heat. But Jerry Brown, the executive director of the Sites Reservoir Project, sees the future of California’s water system….Sites is just one of hundreds of new projects being urgently pushed by districts, whose officials see that climate change is irrevocably changing their water equation.

Aquafornia news WIRED

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: A massive water recycling proposal could help ease drought

Lake Mead, which provides water for 25 million people in the American West, has shrunk to 36 percent of its capacity. One rural California community has run out of water entirely after its well broke in early June. Fields are sitting fallow, as farmers sell their water allotments instead of growing crops, putting the nation’s food supply in peril. As the West withers under extreme drought, legislators in the US House of Representatives have introduced HR 4099, a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to create a program to fund $750 million worth of water recycling projects in the 17 western states through the year 2027.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

US wildfires’ increasing toll on wildlife

In Sept. 2020, the 7-year-old female mountain lion pictured above was dehydrated and burnt on the bottom of her paw pads. The pain made it unbearable to walk. According to data from a satellite tracking collar and camera footage, seven months later she is chasing deer, mating, and has even travelled hundreds of miles through the San Gabriel Mountain wilderness in southern California, on those once lifeless feet. … She was found at the edge of a Monrovia resident’s backyard pond, where she crawled in search of water during the Bobcat Fire …

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Dealing with drought: Farmers challenged as water supply dwindles

The drought is here, and agriculture is scrambling. Water regulators have cut the amount that can be taken from lakes, rivers and streams. Farmers who ordinarily get that water either have to forgo planting some of their fields, or pump water from the ground, or a combination of the two. Farmers dependent on wells are also affected… Neither the state nor the federal water projects are delivering water for agriculture from Northern California to south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Budget trailer bills misused for renewable energy squabble

To understand a sharp-elbows squabble that’s developing behind the scenes in the state Capitol, one must first understand “pumped-storage hydro,” a way for electrical energy to be stored. In its simplest form, water stored in a reservoir is released to generate power as it flows into a second reservoir at a lower elevation. Later, when the electrical grid’s need for power diminishes, the water is pumped back into the upper reservoir so the cycle can be repeated when demand increases.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: SB 222 would establish CA Water Affordability Assistance Fund

California is answering the call to keep the tap open to millions of people who have fallen behind on their water bill payments through a recent $1 billion investment from Gov. Gavin Newsom. The timely assistance comes amid serious economic fallout from the pandemic that caused record unemployment and left 1.6 million households drowning in water debt. At the same time, some small water systems are struggling to keep the water flowing due to lost income from unpaid bills. The governor’s plan addresses both problems, for now. But what happens next year?
-Written by Sen. Bill Dodd (Napa) and Sen. Lena Gonzalez (Long Beach).

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Investing in ecosystem restoration in the Sacramento Valley

Earlier posts here like this one by Grant Lundberg and this one by David Guy have done a great job of describing the virtues of floodplain restoration. The profound dedication of people like Julie Rentner and Jacob Katz inform and energize the work of the entire Floodplain Forward coalition that I’m proud to be part of.  But moving beyond plans to actually get work done on the ground is a task that needs broad support.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Blue oak tree cover exclusive to California are gone. Why?

Sprinkled along the foothills of California’s Central Valley stand the iconic blue oak woodlands. Towering up to 80 feet tall and some reaching over 400 years old, the trees are home to one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the state. But extreme drought and wildfires are forcing the woodlands into an uncertain future. A new study conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers found that the historic drought of 2012-2016 alone caused nearly 490 square miles of tree cover loss — or the reduction of leaves and branches — in the blue oak woodlands.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California fires 2021: What to know about this year’s wildfires

Wildfire season came early this year in the Bay Area after a meager rainy season left the landscape tinder-dry, offering an abundance of fuel for wildland blazes. In just the past few years, California has seen some of the largest, deadliest and most destructive fires in state history. Last year was a record-buster, with nearly 10,000 blazes burning more than 4 million acres. Meanwhile, most of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought conditions, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a drought emergency in a majority of the state’s counties. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Biden to talk heat wave, drought with western state leaders

With a record-shattering heat wave suffocating much of the Pacific Northwest and a drought-fueled wildfire season already well underway in New Mexico, Arizona and California, President Biden will attend a virtual meeting with leaders of Western states on Wednesday to discuss strategies to minimize weather-related disasters this summer. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the president planned to bring together members of his cabinet and the Western governors to assess “the devastating intersection of drought, heat, and wildfires,” as well as “prevention, preparedness, and response efforts for this wildfire season.”

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Aquafornia news Idaho State Journal

Idaho almond trial drawing a lot of interest from California

Interest from California growers in the possibility of growing almonds commercially in Idaho has not waned. In fact, it’s increasing. University of Idaho fruit researchers have been conducting a major almond trial at the university’s agricultural research and extension station in Parma since 2014.  … California is the global leader in almond production but growers there are increasingly concerned about burdensome regulations, an uncertain water supply and expensive land prices, Fallahi says.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California’s native blue oak faces destruction due to worsening drought

A new study released Monday found that recent years of drought in California devastated the state’s blue oak woodlands, destroying more than 460 square miles of blue oak, a tree only found in the Golden State. Named for the color of its leaves, the blue oak woodlands date back to pre-European settlement and are considered “one of the most biologically diverse” ecosystems in the state, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Climate. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Delta adapts – Creating a climate resilient future

The time to act is now. Climate change is already altering the physical environment of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh (Delta), and we will continue to experience its effects through hotter temperatures, more severe wildfires, and prolonged droughts. Over the long term, climate change in the Delta is expected to harm human health and safety, disrupt the economy, diminish water supply availability and usability, shift ecosystem function, compromise sensitive habitats, and increase the challenges of providing basic services. Many of these impacts will disproportionately affect vulnerable communities.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Historic drought in the West is forcing ranchers to take painful measures

On Andrew McGibbon’s 90,000-acre cattle ranch south  Tucson, Arizona, the West’s punishing drought isn’t just drying up pastureland and evaporating water troughs. … Nearly 1,000 miles from McGibbon’s ranch, near Rio Vista, California, the drought on Ryan Mahoney’s ranch feels just as bad. … In the contiguous United States, more than a third of available land is used for pasture. That means more than 15 million beef cattle are trying to graze this year on drought-parched grasses, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

It’s some of America’s richest farmland. But what is it without water?

In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all. It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has concluded that it makes better business sense to sell the water he would have used to grow rice than to actually grow rice. Or why a melon farmer has left a third of his fields fallow. Or why a large landholder farther south is thinking of planting a solar array on his fields rather than the thirsty almonds that delivered steady profit for years.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

Water futures market fails to make a splash with California farmers

Former bond trader Alan Boyce is just the type of California farmer expected to dive into the world’s first water futures contract. Boyce is comfortable navigating financial tools, and he grows irrigated pistachios, tomatoes, alfalfa and other crops in California’s drought-prone Central Valley. But he says the water contract is still too illiquid to benefit him. Financial exchange operator CME Group (CME.O) launched the contract late last year to help big California water users such as farmers and utilities hedge rising drought risk and give investors a sense of how scarce water is at any given time.

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Aquafornia news New York Times

What to know about the drought in California and western half of U.S.

Much of the Western half of the United States is in the grip of a severe drought of historic proportions. Conditions are especially bad in California and the Southwest, but the drought extends into the Pacific Northwest, much of the Intermountain West, and even the Northern Plains. Drought emergencies have been declared. Farmers and ranchers are suffering. States are facing water cutbacks. Large wildfires burned earlier than usual with more major fires burning in Arizona, New Mexico and other states. There appears to be little relief in sight.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought makes conditions worse for California’s declining native fishes

California is home to 131 kinds of native fishes that require freshwater for some or all of their life-cycle. Most of these fishes are found only in California and most (81%) are in decline (Moyle et al. 2015, 2020). Thirty-two (24%) are already listed as threatened or endangered by state and/or federal governments. Declines are usually the result of fishes losing the competition with humans for California’s water and habitat (Leidy and Moyle 2021). This competition is heightened by the ongoing severe drought.

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Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Opinion: California budget surplus a rare opportunity to create climate strategy

There is no drought – the Los Angeles Times wrote in a recent editorial. The Times argued “if ‘drought’ means a period of dry years followed by a return to the norm, California is not in drought. The current climate is the norm.” That analysis has important implications for Stockton and other communities along the San Joaquin River and in the Delta. As our precipitation increasingly swings between drought and flood, each extreme challenges our communities.
-Written by Douglass Wilhoit, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and a former San Joaquin County supervisor; and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director and co-founder of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought, wildfire conditions evolving at unprecedented pace

California’s drought and wildfire conditions are accelerating at unprecedented rates, according to state officials, and residents should brace for a summer of widespread burning and mandatory water conservation measures in some regions. As reservoir levels across the state continue to drop, and as parched vegetation poses an increasing threat of wildfire, officials in Sacramento and Southern California offered a bleak assessment of the state’s drying climate, saying it has already begun to affect people, plants and animals.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: NRDC applauds nomination of Nichole Morgan to Water Board

I was pleased to hear that Governor Newsom has nominated Nichole Morgan to fill the civil engineering seat on the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board).  Ms. Morgan, a Cal State Sacramento graduate, is currently Assistant Deputy Director of Financial Assistance at the State Water Board and previously worked at the Central Valley Regional Board. The State Water Board is the primary regulatory agency that is supposed to manage water resources in California.  

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

How is California’s landmark groundwater law impacting Sonoma County?

The drought is intensifying efforts to conserve all of Sonoma County’s water resources, including a supply that has eluded oversight until recently: groundwater. But even as plans for groundwater monitoring and sustainable use proceed, tensions are building over its management. The authority to evaluate and regulate groundwater comes from a 2014 law crafted in the middle of the state’s last drought. 

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Aquafornia news TreeHugger

Blog: California water use threatens biodiversity in the long term

The diversion of water from the San Francisco Bay Delta, for example, is one of the forces famously driving the delta smelt to extinction. Now, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month shows another counterintuitive way in which human water use in California is putting its unique riverside woodlands at risk.  By diverting water in ways it would not otherwise flow, human management is providing some stream-side, or riparian, ecosystems with excess water that gives them a short-term boost, but undermines their long-term sustainability. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

These are the California crops that use the most water

When discussing the drought, the question of which crops use the most water comes up a lot. A Pacific Institute analysis of California Department of Water Resources data sheds light on the state’s top 10 water-intensive crops in 2015, the most recent year for which the department has published water-use estimates. … The analysis ranked pasture first among California’s top 10 most water-intensive crops …, followed by nuts and alfalfa…

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Aquafornia news Nasdaq

Blog: The answer to inflation woes could be under this dusty lake

Severe water restrictions like these are not merely a serious economic threat to farming operations; they are also a contributor to rising food prices. Without adequate water supplies, many farmers simply refrain from farming. And that’s not a good thing in a state like California, which grows nearly half the country’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Almost all agriculture is thirsty, of course, but California agriculture is especially thirsty. Growing a single almond requires more than one gallon of water, while growing a single avocado requires 60 gallons! Obviously, a major drought is not helpful.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Opinion: Can California start taking droughts seriously, please?

Drought may be the sneakiest of natural disasters. Although human history teems with people engulfed by abrupt aridity — the Akkadians of four millenniums ago, the Maya in the ninth and 10th centuries A.D., the Great Plains farmers of the 1930s — even today drought is a poorly appreciated phenomenon. … The American West is once again facing drought, one of the worst on record. Across a vast region encompassing nine states and home to nearly 60 million people, the earth is being wrung dry. 
-Written by Farhad Manjoo, NY Times opinion columnist.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face water rights curtailments

The California priority water rights system is being put to the test, as state regulators impose emergency regulations and send notices of water unavailability to farmers who are trying to negotiate their crops through another drought year. Reacting to worsening dry conditions, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations last week to curtail water diversions in the Russian River watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Where did Sierra snow go this spring? Not into California rivers and water supplies

California’s severe drought was made worse this year by a shocking surprise. Every year, much of the drinking water that flows through the taps of millions of Californians begins in the Sierra Nevada. Snow and rain fall on the vast mountain range during the winter months, and the water moves downhill into streams, rivers and reservoirs in the spring and summer. But this year, in a trend that startled water managers, much of that runoff simply vanished. … [T]he ground was so dry that the water soaked in before making it down the mountain.  

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

California water shortages: Why some places are running out

In Los Angeles, people have been hearing about the dangers of drought for decades. But in this land of infinity pools and backyard putting greens — better suited for rattlesnakes and scrub — water never seems to run out. Yet little Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, which gets a bountiful 38 inches of rain in an average year and sits near the headwaters of the Russian River, has been devastated by this year’s drought. Each resident has been told to use no more than 55 gallons per day — enough to fill a bathtub and flush a toilet six times. … When it comes to the impact of drought, location is key.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought: Emergency project being built to protect California water supplies

In a new symbol of California’s worsening drought, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a $10 million emergency project to build a massive rock barrier through part of the Delta in Contra Costa County to preserve water supplies for millions of people across the state. The 800-foot long barrier — the size of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid laid on its side — is essentially a rock wall, 120 feet wide, built in water 35 feet deep. Its purpose: To block salt water from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay from flowing too far east and contaminating the huge state and federal pumps near Tracy …

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Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: California’s opportunity to shape worldwide biodiversity policy

California, like the rest of the world, must wrestle with a hard truth: Our climate has changed. As we face another water-shortage crisis, we must acknowledge a sobering reality: We’re not in a drought. This is our new normal. And we need to adapt. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t solve our drought, or the myriad other environmental crises, without protecting our ecosystems. And we can’t protect our ecosystems without acknowledging that this work is globally connected.
-Written by Assembly Member Laura Friedman, D-Glendale; LA-based environmental and social policy advisor Rosalind Helfand; and Mike Young, political and organizing director of the California League of Conservation Voters.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Next heat wave coming soon, centering on Northern California

The Bay Area enjoyed a significant cooldown on the first day of summer as the first major heat wave of the year subsided Sunday — but forecasters are predicting another record-breaking hot spell by next weekend. Last week’s heat wave saw a strong area of high pressure build from the Southwest desert, strengthening as it baked the central and southern regions of California … Experts said the heat is likely to intensify California’s already dire drought conditions and bring potential wildfire danger.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Farmers and ranchers need support during drought

While California is known for its world-famous entertainment industry and ever-transforming tech sector, agriculture is the often-overlooked backbone of our diverse state and one of its earliest economic engines.  Our state’s multigenerational farmers and ranchers not only feed Californians, but also supply one-third of our country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, while also leading the nation in milk production.
-Written by Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and David Shabazian, director of the California Department of Conservation.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: As sea levels rise, California must increase Coastal Commission funding

Sea level rise is not some future dystopian fantasy. It is here on the California coast. At high tide, water gushes over stairways leading down bluff trails to beaches and up to some oceanfront homes. Seawater routinely sloshes over Highway 1 between Eureka and Arcata along the northern coast. Homes in some towns already flood. Others perch precariously on crumbling bluffs. Sea walls erected to protect oceanfront homes (for a while) end up accelerating the erosion of public beaches on the other side of those walls.

Aquafornia news NPR

Heat wave unleashes record-high temps from California to Great Plains

It might be tempting to shrug at the scorching weather across large swaths of the West. This just in: It gets hot in the summer. But this record-setting heat wave’s remarkable power, size and unusually early appearance is giving meteorologists and climate experts yet more cause for concern about the routinization of extreme weather in an era of climate change. These sprawling, persistent high-pressure zones popularly called “heat domes” are relatively common in later summer months. This current system is different.

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Aquafornia news CNN

A California reservoir is expected to fall so low that a hydro-power plant will shut down for first time

Water in a key California reservoir will fall so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will be forced to shut down for the first time, officials said Thursday, straining the state’s already-taxed electric grid. An unrelenting drought and record heat, both worsened by the changing climate, have pushed the water supply at Northern California’s Lake Oroville to deplete rapidly. As a result of the “alarming levels,” officials will likely be forced to close the Edward Hyatt Power Plant for the first time since it opened in 1967…

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

As a hot, dry summer begins in California, more water wells are failing

In this blistering year in California, drinking water wells are going dry in increasing numbers, rekindling memories of the historic drought of 2012 to 2016, when more than 2,600 wells across the state stopped producing water. So many wells went dry in 2014 in the town of East Porterville that Tulare County supplied portable public showers. California is not yet to that level of emergency…. But because the trend lines do not look promising, government agencies and nonprofit groups are preparing for a difficult summer in which thousands of wells could fail.

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Aquafornia news Congressman John Garamendi

News release: Garamendi votes to advance bill to modernize water infrastructure and create good-paying jobs

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, voted to pass the “Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021” (H.R.1915) in the Committee. This legislation reauthorizes the Clean Water Act’s State Revolving Funds and related U.S. EPA water programs. The legislation passed the Committee on a bipartisan vote of 42 to 25 and is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks. 

Aquafornia news Reuters

‘There’s no water,’ says California farm manager forced to leave fields fallow

Salvador Parra, the manager of Burford Ranch in California’s Central Valley agricultural breadbasket, is worried about the lack of water. California’s worst drought since 1977 has forced Parra to leave fallow 2,000 of his 6,000 acres and dig deep for water to save the crops already planted.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

When is it too hot to grow food in California?

Kou Her’s family has run the 12-acre Herr Family Farms in Sanger, just east of Fresno, for the last 20 years, raising a variety of vegetables for Bay Area produce and farmer’s markets. In those 20 years, Kou and his parents haven’t seen anything like the heat wave gripping the Central Valley this week. “I am terrified,” Her said by phone Wednesday evening. “I’ve never experienced three days of 110 before. I hope we don’t have significant damage by the end of the weekend.”

Aquafornia news Sen. Bill Dodd

News Release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee on Wednesday. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Climate change batters the West before summer even begins

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, … At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water….And it’s not even summer yet.

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