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 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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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: State restrictions reflect urgent need to conserve water

The state’s decision this week to cut off Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta access to thousands of farmers and water agencies highlights the need for serious and immediate conservation throughout the Bay Area and California. It’s been obvious for months that the state faces its most serious water shortage since the historic 2012-16 drought. Bay Area water agencies should be imposing mandatory water restrictions on users now.

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Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Can the US survive California’s drought?

The drought facing the Western United States is bad. Really bad. It’s become worse faster than the last one. As more of the United States suffers from drought conditions and water supplies are diminishing, water demands are rising. Smaller water supplies combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and other effects of climate change pose an enormous threat by creating a feedback loop that exacerbates drought conditions and increases wildfire risk across the United States. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California tells Central Valley farmers to brace for water shortages

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley. State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

Blog: Can we save the San Joaquin’s salmon?

The intensive engineering of the river exacted a huge toll on its native ecosystems. No species suffered more than the Chinook salmon, whose epic migration from the Pacific Ocean to its spawning grounds in the High Sierra was cut short by numerous choke points, not the least of which was Friant’s impenetrable barrier of concrete. … Rife with compromises, [a 1988] settlement mandated that a mere half of the San Joaquin’s original flow be restored. The river’s many dams would remain, but alternative passages would be built and new spawning areas added in the lower river.

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Aquafornia news CBS8.com

How San Diego County reservoirs levels look amid California drought

Reservoirs throughout the west are showing signs of the drought that really turned severe over the winter. There may be records set by the end of this summer as some reservoirs are down near half capacity already. But is it all bad news? News 8’s Steve Fiorina went in search of answers regarding the status of our San Diego County lakes and reservoirs. Many reservoirs across California are lower than preferred as we deal with the ongoing drought. In San Diego, so far there are no worries.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California’s riparian woodlands at risk of decline

Riparian forests, those tree-filled regions running next to rivers and streams, host a breadth of important wildlife — but water management practices focused on meeting the needs of growing communities and agriculture may be putting their future in jeopardy. These woodlands serve to protect water quality and stream integrity, host wildlife and control flooding along water ways, but the ecosystems they support are in danger of failing in the coming decades.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Dangerous heatwave grips US south-west as temperatures hit 120F in some areas

Dangerously hot temperatures across the US south-west will continue to climb this week, reaching higher than 120F (49C) in some areas, exacerbating the region’s already-dire drought conditions and increasing the risk of new fire ignitions. Extreme heat will be felt across much of Utah, along with southern and central California, Nevada and Arizona. More than 48 million people across the west are now under heat advisory watches or warnings …

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Aquafornia news Stanford News

Blog: Finding the ’sweet spots’ for managed aquifer recharge

Much of California’s $50 billion agricultural industry depends on groundwater. We typically see only what this water makes possible above the soil: almond and pistachio groves, citrus orchards, rows of lettuce and grapevines and cattle herds in a valley that supplies a quarter of the nation’s food even when surface water is scarce. But a lot is happening below the surface. Deep underground, intricate channels of sand and gravel weave through tightly packed clays and silts, allowing Earth to hold water like a sponge.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery. … Because the [Bureau of Reclamation’s] plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish.

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Aquafornia news NewsChannel 3-12 - Santa Barbara

Central Coast farmers concerned over ‘extreme drought’ conditions happening throughout region

Farmers are concerned for their crops as dry conditions has worsen throughout the Central Coast. Earlier this year, it started off a major storm. Ever since, farmers have not seen much rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, the ‘extreme drought’ conditions has expanded throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.

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Aquafornia news NBC News

The West is the driest it’s been in 1,200 years – raising questions about a livable future

Water is increasingly scarce in the Western U.S. — where 72 percent of the region is in “severe” drought, 26 percent is in exceptional drought, and populations are booming. Insufficient monsoon rains last summer and low snowpacks over the winter left states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada without the typical amount of water they need, and forecasts for the rainy summer season don’t show promise. … The past two decades have been the driest or the second driest in the last 1,200 years in the West, posing existential questions about how to secure a livable future in the region.

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Aquafornia news Insider

California releasing 17 million salmon into the SF Bay to boost economy

California is rolling out a fresh strategy to keep its economy afloat — releasing 17 million salmon into the San Francisco Bay. Millions of Chinook salmon raised in hatcheries will bypass California’s drought-stricken riverbanks to be released directly into colder, downstream sites in the San Francisco Bay, in an attempt to maximize their survival rate amid some of the most extreme environmental conditions the state has ever faced. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save 30% off maps, guides and more so we don’t have to move them!

We’re moving later this summer to new quarters closer to the Sacramento River, and we don’t want to haul all of our water maps, Layperson’s Guides, DVDs and more to the new home. So we’re making you a limited-time offer we hope you can’t refuse: Take 30 percent off the price of all of our maps, guides and more.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

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

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

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

NorCal conservationists float emergency water plan to save salmon

After years of drought, salmon in Northern California are facing extinction. Conservation groups in the region have drafted a water management plan that, if adopted, would send less water to Central Valley farmers and keep more cold water for fish. Last week, fishery advocates in Northern California submitted their temperature management plan to the State Water Resources Control Board. They want to change water operations in the Shasta, Trinity, Sacramento and Lower Klamath Rivers so the region’s salmon runs have enough cold water to survive.

Aquafornia news Stanford University-The Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: How ingenuity and desperate measures kept urban water flowing during the ‘77 drought

When a historic drought gripped California and the Bay Area, water managers came together to keep drinkable water in the homes of vulnerable areas in Marin and Contra Costa Counties. Two veterans of those efforts describe the dramatic process, and consider lessons it offers for today’s imminent drought.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Water: Amazing new map shows the path of every raindrop that hits the United States

Water is like electricity. Most people don’t think about it much until it’s gone. Now, as California and other Western states find themselves heading into a severe and worsening drought, a new interactive map is providing a breathtaking journey that shows where America’s water comes from and ends up. The project is called River Runner. It allows anyone to click on any place where a raindrop would fall in the United States, and then track its path through watersheds, into creeks, rivers, lakes and ultimately the ocean.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Pulling out trees, trucking water for cows: California farmers take drastic measures in drought

Normally, the biggest vegetable grower in Sonoma County, Humberto Castañeda Produce, grows heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons and other crops on 180 acres outside of Santa Rosa. But this year, Humberto Castañeda and his son, Gabriel, are farming only 17 acres after receiving a fraction of their normal allotment of water from the city of Santa Rosa. … The Castañedas are among countless farmers across the state taking drastic measures to deal with the drought…

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Why upcoming storms may do more harm than good in West

Storms from the Pacific set to swing into the rain-starved West Coast this week may end up turning detrimental, AccuWeather forecasters say, by whipping up gusty winds and heightening the risk of lightning-induced wildfires. With over 87% of the Western states in moderate to exceptional drought, the news of Pacific storms poised to sweep onshore may sound good on the surface. However, the pattern will be a double-edged sword. Each storm is expected to arrive with “very limited moisture,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. 

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Aquafornia news Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Blog: GSAs shooting 50% on GSPs—DWR releases first GSP assessment results for high priority basins

The wait is over for some Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the first Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) assessments for four basins yesterday, June 3, 2021. DWR approved the 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Salinas Valley and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin. DWR determined both GSPs “satisf[y] the objectives of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and substantially compl[y] with the GSP Regulations.” 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Jobs and irrigation during drought in California

During droughts organizations and stakeholders look for ways of getting the most from every water drop. This is not an exception in California where roughly 40 percent of all water use (on average) is agricultural, 10 percent to cities and the rest is uncaptured or environmental uses (mostly on the North Coast). … Yet the notion that applied water in agriculture is often wasteful is common in media drought coverage.

Aquafornia news Business Insider

Water shortage in California could send food prices higher

A megadrought in California is threatening to push food prices even higher. The state is already facing its worst water shortage in four years and the its driest season has only just begun, according to data from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). As water levels continue to fall, farmers and ranchers will be unable to maintain key crops and feed livestock. As of Tuesday, nearly 75% of California was classified as in “extreme drought,” meaning the land does not have adequate water supplies to sustain agriculture and wildlife, according to the NIDIS. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The Habitat Creator – Mary Kimball

In the two decades since the SLEWS program began, high school students, farmers and conservation volunteers have planted 142 miles of riparian hedgerow habitat. That is the equivalent of driving from Sacramento to Reno. From the moment you left downtown until you pulled into the Biggest Little City in the World, accompanying you along the way would be a seemingly infinite line of native trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowering forbs all in a single row. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: 74% of California and 52% of the Western U.S. now in ‘exceptional’ drought

Drought conditions in California remain at record highs, with most of the state now classified in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, reflecting conditions across the Southwest, according to a new report from climate scientists. Much of the Bay Area and the northern Central Valley have been included in the most severe “exceptional drought” zone, along with much of southeast California, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

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Aquafornia news Senator Bill Dodd

News release: Senate approves Sen. Dodd’s water project bill

Facing a statewide drought that is rapidly draining reservoirs and agricultural supplies, the bipartisan California Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to streamline improvements to the state’s outdated central water delivery system. … California’s 60-year-old water delivery system, known as the State Water Project, serves more than 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland through its 700 miles of aqueducts, canals and pipelines. It is the largest state-owned and operated water system in the world. 

Aquafornia news Forbes

Scientists said the West was entering a megadrought. Now it’s twice as bad

Lake Powell is within just a few feet of its low level ever observed since it was first filled. Early season fires have already torched over 400,000 acres in Colorado and California’s reservoirs are 50 percent lower than they should be at this time of year before summer has even officially begun. A year after the skies over San Francisco glowed a hazy red as wildfires choked the Bay Area, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of real climate reckoning with drought in the western US at historic levels.

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Aquafornia news Office of Sen. Bill Dodd

News release: Senate passes Sen. Dodd’s water access & equity bill

The state Senate today approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service. … 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. 

Aquafornia news NOAA

Blog: New strategy applies local knowledge and science to salmon and steelhead recovery in Northern California

Salmon and steelhead in Northern California have been in trouble for more than 100 years, primarily because of habitat damage and loss resulting from human activities. Climate change has only worsened these habitat problems. For the last 50 years, communities have worked to restore this habitat in hopes of reversing the fortunes of these fish. Scientists and local restoration communities are seeking new ways to maximize the benefits of habitat restoration so that rivers and streams can support healthy fish populations again.

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Aquafornia news YubaNet

Blog: Significant fire potential above normal for June-August at and above 3,000 ft elevation

The Predictive Services 4-month outlook for the North Ops region calls for drier and warmer than average weather through September. There is some indication of a semi-regular low pressure trough positioned along the west coast much of the summer, which could lead to shorter stretches of intense dry heat. Fuels, both dead and live and of all size classes, are expected to dry to critical values earlier than usual at all elevations, leading to a start to the active fire season 4-6 weeks earlier than usual. 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Ensuring high quality water for communities, ecosystems and farms

I am now working through my third drought as the Director of Water Quality for Northern California Water Association (NCWA), where I have learned the importance of broadening my perspective beyond my own tap in Roseville that brings delicious American River water into my home. A pillar in NCWA’s Strategic Plan and 2021 Priorities is to advance multi-benefit water management that supports nature-based solutions, which provide essential benefits for our economy, health and quality of life …

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drought ravages California’s reservoirs ahead of hot summer

While droughts are common in California, this year’s is much hotter and drier than others, evaporating water more quickly from the reservoirs and the sparse Sierra Nevada snowpack that feeds them. The state’s more than 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be this time of year, according to Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California-Davis.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Lead tainted water adds more delays for CA train project

In September 2012, California’s transportation agency announced it was leading a multi-state partnership to buy more than 100 new passenger railcars, each one assembled on American soil. Funded in part by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan, the cars would start arriving in late 2015. Instead, the project has gone badly off the rails. … Excessive levels of lead have been found in some of the cars’ restroom water supplies, discovered during routine testing last November, said Caltrans spokesman Christopher Clark.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Folsom Lake shrinks to surprising lows over the weekend, water 68 feet lower than last year

The lack of Sierra snowmelt has significantly reduced the size of Folsom Lake. It’s 68 feet lower that it was last year, the equivalent of a five-story building. Only one of the lake’s 13 boat ramps was open over Memorial Day Weekend. … Besides the lack of snowfall, the ground has become so dry that, as the snowpack melts, it’s absorbed into the ground instead of going in the reservoir.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Farmers facing California drought impacts feel strain of low water supply

California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.

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Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast/blog: Episode 22 – Nurturing Nature

The driest year California has experienced since the 1970s will have wide-ranging impacts in the West. In the Sacramento Valley, a reduced water supply will lead to about a 20 percent reduction in rice plantings. The loss of about 100,000 acres of rice fields has implications well beyond the farm level. The reduced plantings will impact rural communities that depend on agriculture as their foundation. It’s also a concern for wildlife, which greatly depend on rice fields for their habitat.

Aquafornia news PBS

2021 could be one of the driest years in a millennium, and there’s no relief in sight

Nearly half of the country — from the Pacific coast to the Great Plains and upper Midwest — is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions. That’s expected to get worse throughout the summer. … UCLA climatologist Park Williams: “This drought is far from over. 2021 is shaping up to potentially be the driest of all of the drought years in the last century, and definitely one of the driest of the last millennium.”

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces recipients of $1 million in CALFED Water Use Efficiency grants

The Bureau of Reclamation announced the selection of two California projects to receive $1 million total in CALFED Water Use Efficiency grants for fiscal year 2021. Combined with local cost-share contributions, these projects are expected to implement about $4.7 million in water management improvements during the next two years. The projects will conserve an estimated 1,200 acre-feet per year of water and better manage 8,160 acre-feet…

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought spurs worry, opportunities for water solutions in California

[D]uring a panel discussion about water issues in the Golden State hosted by California state Senator Josh Becker… the discussion was surprisingly upbeat. “We can do this,” said Felicia Marcus, a fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program and former chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We just have to build more efficient communities and use technology to track every drop.”

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Aquafornia news Big Think

Interstate water system: a national pipeline for water

California’s water woes are severe and worsening. A second dry year in a row has diminished the state’s water supply, and almost three-quarters of the state is in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two highest categories. With the rainy season over and a hot, dry summer ahead, water shortages and brushfires are imminent. …

Aquafornia news USDA

Blog: ARS scientists tackle California climate woes

A team of USDA agricultural scientists in the Golden State are helping farmers make the most out of a natural resource that is becoming ever more precious – water. California produces two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and one-third of its vegetables, but above average temperatures and long-term drought have put a strain on the water resources it takes to grow these crops. Most of California’s precipitation falls during the winter, which means summertime irrigation is required to produce many of the state’s crops. Higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns increase water demand and reduce supply.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for California’s water system

The state’s extensive water system supplies cities and farms; prevents pollution of lakes, rivers, and coastlines; protects against floods; and supports freshwater ecosystems and the forested headwaters that are a major source of water supply. Many local, state, and federal agencies oversee this system and raise revenues from a variety of sources. California spends about $37 billion annually, with the lion’s share (84%) coming from local water bills and taxes. The balance comes from state (13%) and federal (3%) contributions.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought worsens. What’s ahead for fish, farms, cities

In just a few weeks, California’s water conditions have gone from bad to terrible. Sacramento residents have been asked to cut water usage 10%. Their counterparts on the Russian River are being told to reduce their consumption 20%. Farmers across the Central Valley are letting fields lie fallow and dismantling their orchards. Government agencies are warning of massive fish kills on the Sacramento River. After a warm spring dried up practically the entire Sierra Nevada snowpack — and robbed California of enough water to fill most of Folsom Lake — state and federal officials have been forced to dramatically ramp up their drought response plans.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Congress seeks long-term solutions for drought crippling Western US

A crippling drought — largely connected to climate change — is gripping the Western United States, affecting over 70 million people and around 40% of the U.S.  … Farmers, scientists, tribal officials, foresters and other groups affected by the worsening drought testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife hearing on Tuesday, asking lawmakers for both short-term relief and long-term solutions from the worsening conditions.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: What’s causing California’s drought?

California’s new drought is worsening. After two severely dry winters, reservoirs are shrinking, fire danger is rising and water supplies are looking more tenuous. The past two years have been the driest in nearly half a century, since 1976-77. How did the state find itself in a new crisis just as the COVID pandemic is fading? Scientists say California’s parched plight largely comes down to two words: “atmospheric river.” An increasing body of research is showing that the state’s water supply each year depends almost entirely on a handful of big make-or-break storms. And the last two winters, too few arrived.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California must prevent another devastating drought

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought. It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state. Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air.
-Written by George Skelton, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects

At its May 20, 2021 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $23.5 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 35 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought intensifies and expands in the American West

The scale of the drought hitting the American West is beginning to crystallize as Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona experienced their driest year in terms of precipitation on record, according to the National Center for Environmental Information. In Utah and California, it was the second-driest winter on record. For Wyoming, it was the third-driest ever. For Colorado, only three winters were ever drier in the 127-year history of record-keeping at the center.

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Aquafornia news Wall Street Journal

Drought imperils economy in California’s farm country

Sitting in a pickup truck on his almond farm 100 miles north of San Francisco, Tom Butler pointed to a withered grove he has been planning to bulldoze in order to save his little remaining water for younger trees. … California is gripped in severe drought just four years after emerging from the last one, forcing many farmers to scramble to find enough water. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has cut the water allocations for many to zero this year. Last year, when the latest dry spell began, the same farmers were allocated 20% of what they are contracted to receive annually.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Governance and collaboration

The California Water Commission is in the process of completing the task assigned to them in the Water Resilience Portfolio of examining the state’s role in funding conveyance projects.  At the April meeting, the last two speakers on the panel discussed governance issues and collaboration.  First, Sharon Farrell … discussed how to build and sustain integrated regional networks and how they can help advance state priorities, such as resilient conveyance and water management.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water in shorter supply than ever, Calif. reps takes aim at state’s poor policies on Capitol Hill

With communities on the West Coast once again threatened by extreme drought, Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Central Valley representatives Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield), Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) and David Valadao (R–Hanford) joined the committee to address the drought.  The message was clear from all of the representatives and witnesses: The drought is a product of poor policies over the last several decades.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State proposes to add funding for water goals

As more of California sinks into extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the Legislature to appropriate billions of dollars to address critical water needs. In the “May revise”—an update to the budget proposal he initially submitted to the Legislature in January—Newsom proposes to spend nearly $3.5 billion on water supply and resilience projects, with total investment reaching $5.1 billion over multiple years. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

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

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

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Emergency water urged for rural Latino communities before California drought worsens

California lawmakers should take prompt action before drought conditions worsen by sending emergency drinking water to vulnerable communities in parched regions of the state, legislative advisers say. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report last week providing recommendations on how to address increasingly dry conditions throughout the state. Based on an analysis of the state’s previous efforts for the last major drought, from 2012 to 2016, analysts said lawmakers should start sending emergency water supplies to vulnerable communities in the San Joaquin Valley region… 

Aquafornia news Fox KTVU 2

The drought’s assault on California’s $50 billion farm industry

A growing number of drought stricken California farmers are making the painful decision not to plant as much or anything at all for fear of losing it all. It costs a lot of money to put seeds or seedlings into the ground. But if a farmer cannot be reasonably sure of a crop, why do it?

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Where’s the water? Drought threatens California’s lifeline

Even as California moves toward a full reopening from pandemic restrictions next month, many counties are still in danger. From drought. Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom extended emergency drought orders to 41 counties across the state. … All eyes are on a critical resource that can help fight the effects of another dry summer: water. 

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Bluetech workforce, desal could solve California water crises

Facing extended drought, diminishing snowpack, and depleted aquifers, California water managers face a harsh reality: our 20th century water systems – essentially linear designs in which fresh water is extracted, centrally treated, distributed to users, returned as wastewater, and finally treated and discarded – are breaking down. Although this approach has served us well for decades, we can no longer sustain ourselves with a paradigm that uses water once and throws it away.
-Written by Peter Fiske, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and executive director of the Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Water Innovation.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA conference: The decade of water resilience – Developing solutions for our water future

Last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) held their spring conference virtually.  Keynote speakers included Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.  In his speech, [Crowfoot] discussed the Newsom Administration’s priorities, calling this the ‘decade of resilience’, and giving three principles for going forward.  He also discussed the Voluntary Agreements.  Director Karla Nemeth gave the Thursday morning keynote speech, touching on the Department’s response to drought, SGMA implementation, the Delta Conveyance Project, and the water use efficiency regulations.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Climate change impact increasingly felt in California

More wildfires. Hotter days. Drought. Sea-level rise. Those conditions are an increasing reality in California, which is steadily becoming an altered state. But if the grimmest predictions of experts about our state and climate change become true, the conditions will become far worse.

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Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

New research: New modeling framework guides managed aquifer recharge under climate change

Current and future climate change effects are intensifying the hydrological cycle, leading to increased variability of both precipitation and runoff. This heightened pattern results in more frequent and severe droughts and floods, as well as more recurrent swings between these two extremes. Harvesting floodwaters using managed aquifer recharge to replenish depleted groundwater aquifers can simultaneously reduce flood and drought risks. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution

A state appeals court has upheld California’s cleanup standards for a cancer-causing chemical that was added to pesticides and has polluted groundwater in the Central Valley, rejecting challenges by manufacturers that may have to pay the costs. The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2017 mandate for removing nearly all TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) from drinking water was contested by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, representing Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil, which included the chemical in worm-killing fumigants widely used by farmers through the 1980s. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Irrigation districts look to transfers as water dwindles

With very little water to spare this drought year, water districts struggling with limited or no supplies look to their counterparts in other districts to negotiate water transfers to add whatever flexibility they can. Districts on the west side of the Central Valley, both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, face the prospect of receiving no water from the Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Plumas News

Editorial: Despite a dry year, snowmelt makes for dangerous water recreation

Despite the dry year, outdoor recreationists who enjoy California rivers and streams should remain aware of dangerously cold swiftly moving water. Although California’s snowpack is about half of normal, rising temperatures are accelerating the snowmelt. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) urges those who choose to venture near or in water to take extra precautions, especially around hydroelectric facilities and dams, where water flows can change rapidly. Anglers also are encouraged to take precautions as trout season has opened for most California rivers.

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

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

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

Aquafornia news CalMatters

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

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

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State plans to order drought restrictions, but it doesn’t have good water data to do it

As California descends deeper into drought, state regulators are planning to do something they’ve done few times in modern history: order thousands of people, farms, and even cities and towns that hold historic water rights to stop drawing water from the rivers, lakes and ponds they rely on. The move is intended to make sure the dwindling flows in California’s waterways are reserved for those with the most senior water rights, as well as for fish and other wildlife. Many of those with lesser rights would have to turn to storage, groundwater or another source, if they have it.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco sues state over bid to restrict its Sierra water supplies

The city of San Francisco is reviving a long-simmering feud with the state over water, filing a lawsuit Friday that charges state regulators with trying to take away the city’s coveted Sierra Nevada water supplies. The suit claims the state water board is demanding the city forfeit too much water from the Tuolumne River as part of a licensing deal for two dams in the faraway basin. State regulators have said the water is needed to maintain proper river flows and support struggling salmon, but city officials contend the demands would leave Bay Area residents and businesses vulnerable to water shortages.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Newsom offers billions to fight climate change, California drought

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to throw $11.8 billion of California’s money at climate change and the hazards it poses to the state. The governor’s gargantuan revised budget proposal, released Friday, includes expenditures to fight and prevent wildfires, combat sea-level rise, put more Californians behind the wheel of an electric vehicle and speed up the transition to a carbon-free electricity grid. Nearly half of his climate change package — $5.1 billion — would go toward easing the effects of California’s newly-declared drought and remedying long-term water supply problems, such as crumbling canals.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A few lessons for California’s new drought

We asked some colleagues for lessons that might be useful in managing the California’s new drought. Here is a first sampling of thoughts. … Katrina Jessoe. Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis: Climate models indicate that California’s droughts will become more frequent and severe. Warming temperatures will further reduce surface water availability, by increasing evaporation from soil, reservoirs, and irrigated land. While reductions in surface water supplies will be costly to agriculture, residential users and the environment, these costs could be substantially reduced through the reallocation of scarce supplies. Supplying water to those who value it most will not eliminate the costs of drought, but will make them less painful. 

Aquafornia news Mountain Democrat

No water service now for EID’s Folsom territory

El Dorado Irrigation District’s territory extends across the county line to a small piece of Folsom — a total of 190 acres. A developer is planning to turn that acreage into a subdivision. Currently the property is all range land and there is no request for water service. The earliest that water service could be requested may not be until 2023. El Dorado Irrigation District has been a multi-county agency since the early 1980s, according to Jesse Saich, EID communications manager. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Welcome to California wildfire season

It’s only May, and I’m already having to write about wildfires forcing Californians to evacuate their homes. Around 1,000 people were displaced from their homes Sunday as the Palisades Fire in Los Angeles County grew to more than 1,300 acres. The blaze, which was 0% contained as of Sunday afternoon, carved a path through dense, old-growth chaparral that hadn’t burned in more than 50 years, the Los Angeles Times reports. As such, it embodied both California’s worsening drought and the grim reality that its fire season is starting earlier and earlier even as its conflagrations get larger and larger.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Another record almond crop forecasted by USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is forecasting another record almond crop for California. The 2021 California Almond Subjective Forecast estimates a three percent increase from last year’s 3.12-billion-pound crop. According to USDA-NASS, California growers could be looking at a 2021 crop of 3.2 billion pounds. If that number comes to fruition, it would be the largest almond crop on record. 

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Aquafornia news Sacramento CBS Local

Folsom Lake levels continue to drop amid drought emergency, push for water conservation

Less than a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for Northern California, Folsom Lake is standing at one of its lowest levels ever. … Ryan Ojakian is with the Regional Water Authority (RWA). Now, there’s a push from the RWA for its 20 water providers that serve about 2 million people in the Sacramento region to shift to using more groundwater than surface water to reduce reliance on Folsom Lake and the Lower American River.

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Aquafornia news Corning Observer

County groundwater monitoring station in Corning

A permit has been granted by Tehama County for the establishment of a new groundwater monitoring station located at the Corning Public Works maintenance yard on Gallagher Avenue near Highway 99W. During a presentation on the project to the Tehama County Board of Supervisors, county Public Works Flood Control Manager Ryan Teubert said there will be no cost to the county as the yard is owned by Tehama County, and drilling, installation and construction costs will be paid for, and performed, by the California Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Lessons for California: Australian reservoirs took a long time to recover from megadrought

Rain has long signaled the end of a drought, but a new analysis of Australia’s worst dry spell in a century reveals many water reservoirs remained low nearly a decade after the rain returned. Research published in the journal Science on Thursday studies 15 years of data collected before, during and after the Millennium Drought dried out Victoria, Australia, from 2001 to 2009 and reveals flaws in the long-held belief that reservoirs naturally replenish after drought ends.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Report: Drought to hit rural Latino communities hardest

Rural, low-income Latino communities across California were hardest hit by the last drought and could see drinking water shortages again this year as extreme drought spreads across the state, according to a report released Thursday by non-partisan advisors to California’s lawmakers. The report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns state officials to prepare by ramping up monitoring of wells in vulnerable communities and lining up emergency drinking water supplies to send there. 

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Running dry: How an olive grower in California has learned to adapt to drought conditions

California’s water supply is critical to the state’s agriculture industry. Up to 80% of table olives come from California, and while olive trees are more drought-tolerant than other crops, that isn’t stopping Northern California olive growers from making significant changes to conserve our most precious resource. Olives are a passion for Dennis Burreson, who says he’s held just about every job with Musco Family Olive Company since joining Musco 43 years ago. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

USDA projects record California almond crop, but will growers have enough water?

A federal agency Wednesday forecast a record harvest of 3.2 billion pounds of almonds in California. That would be a 3% increase over 2020 for the nuts, the highest-grossing crop in Stanislaus and several other counties. The report will set the tone for the global almond trade, since California accounts for about 80% of the supply. Several thousand people work on farms and in processing plants in the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Congressman Jim Costa

News release: Costa legislation aims to improve water quality and supply

At a time when California is facing severe drought conditions that triggered Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaring a state of emergency and providing more than $5 billion dollars for water infrastructure and drought response funding, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced bipartisan legislation to address California water supply and water quality goals…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a redo

When Sandra Chavez’ mother discovered she had stage four cancer last year, one of Sandra’s first thoughts was about their water. Her family’s private well is contaminated with nitrates and Chavez wondered if years of drinking the water could have caused her mother’s sickness. Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Service finds salamanders do not warrant Endangered Species Act protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced its finding that three salamander species do not warrant listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service’s announcement follows a court-approved settlement agreement in which the Service agreed to make a 12-month finding for the Shasta salamander (Hydromantes shastae), Samwel salamander (H. samweli), and Wintu salamander (H. wintu). The finding comes despite concerns from some environmental groups that a proposed project to raise the height of the Shasta Dam and enlarge the reservoir would impact the three species due to inundation and loss of habitat.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s unusually dry winter could be the new normal, according to decades of data

As Californians can tell by the already beige hills, the early fire weather warnings and the dusty umbrellas sitting deep inside closets, it’s been drier than usual this winter. And according to decades worth of precipitation data, that’s the new normal. What’s considered “normal” for baseline rainfall amounts is determined by a 30-year average that gets recalculated every decade. The latest recalculation, according to Jan Null, a forecaster who runs Golden Gate Weather Services, “show a noticeably drier state” through 2020 compared to the previous “normal” calculation covering 1981 through 2010. 

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Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Drought forces California farmers to destroy crops

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity. Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Opinion: Six factors will ensure California agriculture’s future

I am proud to be a part of California agriculture. Our state has the impressive responsibility of feeding our country—and even the world. We have led the nation in agricultural production for the past 60 years due to our richly productive land and climate. Yet, our agriculture industry now faces serious and urgent challenges, from recovering from last year’s multiple crises to the ever-increasing competition in the global market. 
-Written by Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

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

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

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Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Extremely dry conditions spill across the American West

Spring is generally a time of renewal for the watersheds of the western United States. Warmed by the lengthening days, the region’s towering mountain ranges shed their mantle of snow, releasing freshets of water into welcoming streams and reservoirs. This year, though, the cycle is in disarray. Outside of the Olympic and Cascade ranges of Washington state, winter snows were subpar. The spring melt has been a dud. From the Klamath to the Colorado and Rio Grande, watersheds are under stress once again, and water managers face difficult tradeoffs between farms, fisheries, and at-home uses. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State water agencies, CA water data consortium and EDF partner on groundwater accounting platform and data standards

State water agencies, the California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a new partnership today to make an open-source groundwater accounting platform freely available to help groundwater sustainability agencies manage the transition to sustainable supplies. 

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Aquafornia news ABC10.com

New tool lets California well water users see drought impact

The state is facing major water impacts, but for those reliant on water wells — in mobile home parks, rural communities, and areas where water district access is limited — the concern is growing. The Department of Water Resources has created a website that can help those who rely on well water to figure out just how much at-risk they are of a water shortage. The site was created after the last drought, but with California’s drought only recently worsening, it had not been widely used or needed until now. The interactive map allows users to explore their area and keep tabs on their well water situation.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers grapple with implications of water cuts

In water-stressed farming areas of California, farmers removed productive trees and idled other land to divert what little water they have to other crops, as the reality of the 2021 drought became ever more apparent. “We’re removing 15-year-old, prime-production almond trees,” said Daniel Hartwig of Woolf Farming in Fresno County. “We’re pulling out almost 400 acres, simply because there’s not enough water in the system to irrigate them, and long term, we have no confidence that there would be water in the future.” 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Drought proclamation and infrastructure plan bring focus to managing water in a dry year

California’s water resources managers are proactively working with our various partners through the harshest dry year we have seen in recent memory….  We are encouraged that the Governor’s drought proclamation will bring important focus on our precious water resources and inspire balanced approaches that will allow water resources managers (state, federal and local) to creatively manage our limited water supplies this year for multiple benefits.   

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

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

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

Aquafornia news Weather West

Blog: California drought continues to intensify; Cooler temperature and robust marine layer to offer some temporary relief

Well, unfortunately, the overall drought trajectory has not changed since the last post: it’s still getting worse. And pretty rapidly worse, at that, across much of NorCal. There, virtually no precipitation at all has fallen in places that are usually still pretty wet in April/May, and unusually persistent/recurrent north/northeast “blow drier” winds have resulted in even more evaporation and snowmelt across the landscape.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom declares drought across much of California

Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded his drought emergency declaration to 39 more counties Monday, underscoring the rapid deterioration of California’s water supply in recent weeks. The governor broadened his earlier drought order, which was limited to two counties on the Russian River, to cover most of parched California, which is plunging into its second major drought in less than a decade. The new order covers the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds, the Tulare Lake basin region and the Klamath region in far Northern California. About 30% of the state’s population is now covered by the declarations…

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute Of California

Blog: Is California ready for drought?

California is now in its second year of drought, hard on the heels of the last one in 2012-16. But drought is not an equal-opportunity crisis; it can be more or less disruptive depending on geography, storage, how water supplies are managed—and, of course, precipitation. And some sectors—notably rural water water systems and the environment—are more vulnerable.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Could this $36 million Central Valley river restoration project help with California’s droughts?

As California enters what could be a record-breaking drought, a just-completed nine-year floodplain restoration project at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers offers an ambitious attempt at one mitigation solution. At a 1,600-acre former dairy ranch called Dos Rios, the conservation organization River Partners removed berms that farmers had originally constructed to protect their alfalfa and wheat crops from the river. It turned fields into seasonal pools where endangered baby salmon and migratory birds can rest, and water can trickle down to refill aquifers.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Our latest Western Water article examines efforts to help consumers afford water as bills pile up amid pandemic

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt. … Our latest article in Western Water explores the hurdles to helping consumers, how some water agencies have devised workarounds and how far more lasting solutions remain out of reach.Western Water is just one of the publications produced by our journalism team…

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California’s farm country, climate change is likely to trigger more pesticide use, fouling waterways

Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops. Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways. The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought.

Aquafornia news High Country News

How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?

In scale and ambition, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has few parallels. And the work becomes increasingly urgent as the climate crisis makes water shortages increasingly severe. … This emphasis on local expertise points to SGMA’s possibilities — and its potential pitfalls — especially when it comes to deciding what “sustainable” water management means. Each management body has wide discretion to define “sustainability” — and the path to sustainability by 2040 — for its particular basin.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why melting Sierra snow won’t save California from extreme drought

California’s drought conditions have gone from bad to worse in scarcely a month. In the weeks following April 1, the traditional end of the rainy season, warm temperatures have burned off most of the Sierra Nevada snowpack and left the state’s water network gasping. Instead of delivering a generous volume of melted snow into California’s rivers and reservoirs, the snowpack has largely evaporated into the air or trickled into the ground.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield brewers send suds with a message to State Water Board

Bakersfield raised a brew, literally, to the State Water Resources Control Board on Friday in honor of the Kern River. An iced down package of seven locally made craft beers was delivered to board members as part of the latest outreach effort by Bring Back the Kern, a local group advocating for water to flow through Bakersfield in the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Kern farmers make do under drought conditions

Kern County ag producers are making changes big and small — from redeveloping entire orchards to fine-tuning their irrigation systems — as they try to adjust to worsening drought conditions across the Central Valley. Strategies vary depending on access to water and ability to shift irrigation to different fields. Some landowners are trying to hold onto as much water as they can in case prices rise later in the year.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Hosing down the driveway? Why California has no statewide water wasting rules as it heads into a new drought

Anyone who lived through California’s last big drought from 2012 to 2016 remembers the rules. You couldn’t water your yard so much that the water ran off into the street or sidewalk. Or hose down a driveway. Hotels had to put up signs telling customers they could choose not to have sheets and towels washed every day. Ornamental fountains were prohibited unless they recycled water. Watering landscaping within 48 hours of rain was forbidden. … Now California is entering a new drought with dwindling reservoir levels. But so far, there are no statewide prohibitions against wasting water.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

As surface water supplies dry up, California rice growers worry about ripple effect

California’s drought is impacting more than how you water your lawn, but also the way your food is grown on hundreds of thousands of acres in the Sacramento Valley. Growing rice is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports 25,00 jobs. … This year, a third of normal rainfall combined with hot weather and drying winds have [rice farmers] pumping more groundwater than usual and fallowing half his rice fields – meaning Durst won’t plant, and he’s not alone. … Industry leaders say this is the third time in forty years this kind of surface water supply reduction has happened – and it’s happened twice in just the last decade.

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Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

No bear, but John Cox tells Fresno that he has the ‘beast’ in him to tackle Calif. issues

California gubernatorial candidate John Cox swung through Fresno on Thursday as part of his “Meet the Beast” campaign tour, holding a press conference at Machado Farms. … With the state once again in the midst of another drought, Cox said he would do something that Newsom has so far refused to: declare a state-wide emergency. Instead of a state-wide declaration, Newsom enacted an emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

-Written by Marek Warszawski

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Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Garamendi’s bill bolsters federal financing for California water storage

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03) introduced legislation (H.R. 2979) making low interest federal financing available for reservoir and drought resiliency projects, with Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04) as the original cosponsor. This bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2979) would amend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to make public water projects like the off-stream Sites Reservoir Project eligible for low interest, longer term federal loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County Supervisors approve groundwater monitoring station in Corning

A new groundwater monitoring station is coming to Corning’s public works yard on Gallagher Avenue just across from a warehouse that stores various road signs and equipment. Public Works Flood Control Manager Ryan Teubert presented the project Tuesday to the Tehama County Board of Supervisors. It consists of construction at the yard, which will be funded and performed by the California Department of Water Resources.