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 Ag Alert

Almond growers learn about their ‘largest challenge’

The session, “Navigating the Waters,” drew a crowd of about 150 farmers to the International Agri-Center in Tulare last week, where attendees heard from water-agency leaders, state water officials, farmers and others on a range of topics with the goal of helping almond growers make informed water decisions.

Aquafornia news KSBW TV

120,000 Chinook salmon released into Monterey Bay

These Chinook salmon didn’t swim down from the San Lorenzo River, they were trucked from the Central Valley. From there, they were tagged and released into Monterey Bay, thanks to The Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Infrastructure funding should include irrigation modernization

As the focus on infrastructure retakes center stage in Washington, we hope lawmakers don’t overlook a prime opportunity to invest in Western water and irrigation systems. Here in the West, our dams, irrigation systems, canals and other infrastructure — much of it more than a century old — are past due for modernization.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

‘Flint Is everywhere’: California farmworkers confront a tainted water crisis

Water is a currency in California, and the low-income farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer chemicals.

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Aquafornia news UC Davis

Study: Maximizing use of water stored in soil could result in savings for farmers

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at using a “free” resource — rain water stored in the soil — and found that optimizing its use could go a long way to help meet demand for five California perennial crops. Their findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

After a soaking winter, spring is bringing California an amazing amount of snowmelt and rain

Forecasts are calling for a stretch of wet weather across the Western United States, especially in Northern California, so meteorologists and emergency officials are keeping watchful eyes on river gauges and radar reports. All it takes is one thunderstorm parked over a snow-covered area to wreak havoc downstream.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California to outlaw pesticide harmful to kids

The nation’s most productive agricultural state will ban a widely used toxic pesticide blamed for harming brain development in babies, California officials said Wednesday. The move would outlaw chlorpyrifos after scientists deemed it a toxic air contaminant and discovered it to be more dangerous than previously thought.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

BREAKING NEWS: Newsom officially shrinks Delta water project

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration officially pulled the plug Thursday on the twin Delta tunnels, fullfilling Newsom’s pledge to downsize the project to a single pipe as he attempts to chart a new course for California’s troubled water-delivery system.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California drought turned some trees into ‘zombies’

Although seven years of drought in California finally relented this March, high heat and lack of water have caused a severe decline in the health of some trees, with many now essentially suspended between life and death, Sacramento-area arborist Matt Morgan said.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Cleaning up the Delta

Local officials have put a renewed focus on making sure one of the area’s crown recreational jewels – the San Joaquin River Delta – is clear and operational. Over the weekend the California Department of Boating and Waterways, in conjunction with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Office boating unit, removed a sunken vessel from the San Joaquin River that has been underwater for the past three years.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

A new effort to save birds pinpoints in amazing detail where they fly

As California’s Central Valley grew into the nation’s leading agricultural corridor, the region gradually lost almost all of the wetlands that birds depend on during their migrations along the West Coast. But a dramatic turnaround is underway in the valley. Dozens of farmers leave water on their fields for a few extra weeks each season to create rest stops for birds. The campaign has not only helped salvage a vital stretch of the north-south migration path called the Pacific Flyway but also tested a fresh model for protecting wildlife.

Aquafornia news Wired

How the Blockchain Could Protect California’s Aquifer

In Solano County, near Sacramento, [Alex] Johnson is working on what he says could be a model for parched ag regions around the state. … Last month, working with IBM and a company called SweetSense, Johnson’s team began deploying simple, solar-powered sensors, originally developed to monitor creaky groundwater pumps in East Africa. The sensors will be used to detect how much water is flowing in real-time. … Farmers will use that data to trade their water on (what else?) a blockchain platform.

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

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Disturbing levels of carbon dioxide likely to increase ocean acidity fast, scientists say

Unusually high concentrations of carbon dioxide have been blowing out to sea from Bay Area cities and agricultural areas, raising concerns that the previously unknown infusions could increase ocean acidity faster than climate change experts have predicted, Monterey Bay scientists said this week.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Stockton prison begins treating contaminated water

California prison officials have started treating water with chlorine following tests that showed a dangerous bacteria was present in water throughout several facilities in Stockton.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Gavin Newsom brings different view to Delta water issue

By rejecting the twin tunnels proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom has sent an important message that new thinking is required to address California’s complex water issues.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Josh Harder unveils water plan for Central Valley

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years. His bipartisan water legislation unveiled Wednesday promises federal support for storage and innovation projects to address shortages that too often plague Valley agriculture and communities.

Aquafornia news Futurity

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Can sensor data save California’s aquifers?

In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft … has ignited interest in replenishing aquifers in California’s Central Valley through managed flooding of the ground above them. But until now there has been no reliable way to know where this type of remedy will be most effective.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California fights Trump administration on water supplies, fish

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is taking unprecedented steps to combat President Donald Trump’s efforts to ship more water to his agricultural allies in the San Joaquin Valley. Saying Trump’s water plans are scientifically indefensible and would violate the state’s Endangered Species Act, the state Department of Water Resources on Friday began drawing up new regulations governing how water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Opinion: California can guarantee clean water without tax increases

The last thing California needs is another tax. But that’s what Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed – a regressive water tax that will hit financially challenged Californians hardest. … Yet California’s taxpayers have been working so hard they have showered the state with a $22 billion surplus. Spending a fraction of that would take care of the clean water problem.

Aquafornia news Tracy Press

Opinion: Environmental act not right for California water agencies

In SB1, State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins provides a compelling case to protect California’s air, navigable water, drinking water and workers. … However, despite our recognition that some in our state feel recent administrative rulings and legislative changes to federal law may not be the right prescription for California, we believe this legislation is overbroad, duplicative and unworkable.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Sinking salmon populations hidden by hatcheries

Assessing populations of fall-run Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley isn’t as simple as counting how many adults have returned to a given stream to spawn. A process known as “source-sink dynamics” may be concealing the fact that certain populations are not self-sustaining.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A new reality for federal flood insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage to more than 5 million households and small businesses across the United States, including more than 229,000 in California. The program has been hard hit by payouts from major flood disasters in recent years and is heavily in debt. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which houses the program, has recently announced significant changes. We talked to Carolyn Kousky, a flood insurance expert at the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania … about the program.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farm leaders advocate on Capitol Hill

The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more than 20 members of the California congressional delegation, with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018. They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s newest member. For the first time in several years, they conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Trump administration’s cold water war with California turns hot

Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades. … But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling (relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end with the ascension of the Trump Administration.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Central Valley is sinking as farmers drill for water. But it can be saved, study says

A team of Stanford University researchers believe they have identified the best way to replenish the shrinking aquifers beneath California’s Central Valley. … The study from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, published in the journal Water Resources Research, found that unless action is taken, the ground in that region will sink more than 13 feet over the next 20 years.

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Western Water Gary Pitzer Delta Sustainability Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Commission: Using flood water for managed aquifer recharge

“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands, working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands for groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Bruce Babbitt urges creation of Bay-Delta compact to end ‘culture of conflict’ in California’s key water hub

When Babbitt speaks, people take notice, and he didn’t disappoint before a packed house at the annual Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 in Sacramento, offering thoughts on some of California’s thorniest water issues and proposing a Bay-Delta Compact, a kind of grand bargain to end persistent conflict surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Exploring the Delta’s big questions

For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Where can flooded fields help replenish groundwater?

In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure. … New research from Stanford University suggests a way to map precisely where and how to use groundwater recharge to refill the aquifers and stop the sinking.

Tour Nick Gray

2020 Clone of Central Valley Tour 2019
Field Trip - April 3-5

Venture 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 Capitol Weekly

Podcast: Chris Orrock and the Sierra snowpack

Chris Orrock of the California Department of Water Resources joins the podcast to chat with John Howard and Tim Foster about what this wealth of snow means for California’s water reserves and flood dangers, and the implications for wildfires later in the year.

Aquafornia news The Delano Record

Farmers look to adapt to climate change

Mention of climate change may still provoke skepticism in other sectors, but in California’s agriculture industry, the discussion is less about whether disruption is coming than it is about how farmers will adapt. A consensus appears to have emerged that extreme weather conditions — drought and flooding, hotter summers and milder winters — will increase competition for irrigation water such that some crops now produced in the Central Valley may no longer be economically feasible in the region.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must prepare for coming superstorms, atmospheric rivers

Fortunately, California has developed a forward-looking Central Valley Flood Protection Plan to meet this challenge. In his first state of the state address, Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted the central tenet of the flood plan—investing in floodplain improvements that give rivers more room to safely bypass flood waters around cities and infrastructure.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

To rid California of rodents of unusual size, state to use detection dogs and ‘judas nutria’

For the past year the state’s worked to eradicate the rodents for a second time. The rodents were brought to California in the 1900s for the fur trade and fur farming. “[The] challenge is we keep looking and we keep finding more nutria,” said Peter Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “However, we do know there’s about 1.8 million acres of suitable nutria habitat. This is the largest nutria eradication ever attempted in the United States.”

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

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

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Climate change is already hurting fruit breeders, and consumers could soon feel the pain

Researchers across the United States say the milder winters of a changing climate are inducing earlier flowering of temperate tree fruits, exposing the blooms and nascent fruit to increasingly erratic frosts, hail and other adverse weather. The problem is not obvious to consumers, in part because a harvest collapse in one region can be masked by a bumper crop in another. But unless breeders can produce more climate-resilient varieties, fruit-growing regions of the United States will be seriously disrupted by future warming scenarios, scientists say.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Atmospheric rivers: California could experience more intense rains in the future

Duane Waliser of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory … says as the climate warms, atmospheric rivers are projected to grow wider and longer. Powerful ones are also expected to become more frequent. That could increase water supply in some places. “But on the other hand, atmospheric rivers come with flood potential as well, so they’re sort of a double-edged sword, so to speak.”

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Progress seen in effort to eradicate rodent from California

More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from California. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria are an agricultural pest, destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive burrowing.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California water deal must include Delta, fisheries interests

Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We live with the impacts of state water management decisions from loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved technology be employed to track real time management of fisheries?

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Groundwater and agriculture: A comparison of managing scarcity and droughts in France and California

France and California face a common challenge of managing overdraft in intensively exploited aquifers. As of 2018, large areas of France and California have overexploited groundwater (see maps below). And both regions have passed landmark groundwater legislation, the Loi sur l’Eau et les Milieux Aquatiques (LEMA) of 2006 in France and the Groundwater Sustainable Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 in California.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Monday Top of the Scroll: Threat for flooding, heavy snow renewed throughout California through midweek

Another round of soaking winter weather is on the horizon for the West Coast, with a series of storms expected to impact the region through midweek. … “Unsettled weather will continue across the West Coast this week as more rain and mountain snow targets Northern California, Oregon and Washington,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Litigation over California WaterFix slows following governor’s State of the State address

In the month since Governor Newsom announced that he does not support a dual-tunnel Delta water supply conveyance, activity in the more than 20 state and federal lawsuits challenging California WaterFix and other administrative approval processes related to the “twin tunnels” has slowed or been briefly stayed. The stays reflect the uncertainty surrounding the project in light of the Governor’s comments…

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Finally, a new path toward managing water, rivers and the Delta

Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. … Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the results regardless of outcome.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Climate change alters habitat for migratory birds in California, Idaho

Every year, millions of waterbirds migrating from Alaska to Patagonia take a break from that epic journey to rest, eat and breed in a stretch of wetlands spanning six Western states called the Great Basin. A warming climate has made that migration more challenging by altering how mountain snowmelt flows into the network of lakes and rivers stretching from the Sierra Nevada to the Rockies, according to a new study.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Blog: Climate change is negatively affecting waterbirds in the American West

Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year. They are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Delta tunnels oversight bill advances in Legislature

A bill from Sen. Bill Dodd that would increase legislative oversight of the controversial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta WaterFix project and allow for more public scrutiny has cleared its first committee hurdle. The action comes less than a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wants to scale back the project proposed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to a single tunnel.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Go deep into the nation’s breadbasket to explore water issues on the Central Valley tour April 3-5

Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers. What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our Central Valley Tour April 3-5.

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

President signs Garamendi Delta bill into law as part of conservation act

After more than a decade in the making, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, was signed into law by President Donald Trump… A National Heritage Area is designated to encourage historic preservation. Under Garamendi’s legislation, the Delta is the first National Heritage Area in California’s history. 

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Portfolio solutions for water – flood management

The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.

Aquafornia news Soundings Magazine

Collecting stories of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wet winter aids groundwater replenishment

Heavy rains this winter will help replenish groundwater aquifers and benefit projects that use excess surface water to recharge groundwater basins. At the California Department of Water Resources, planners focus on a voluntary strategy known as Flood-MAR, which stands for “managed aquifer recharge.” The strategy combines floodwater operations and groundwater management in an effort to benefit working landscapes, and could also aid local groundwater agencies as they implement the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Announcement

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

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

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

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

A bounty of San Joaquin Valley crops on display during Central Valley Tour

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

Aquafornia news Cannabis Now

California’s water wars & cannabis: Will small growers be the losers?

The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating in.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Legislation would add local reps to Delta council

Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Editorial: Saving for a (non) rainy day

One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home. The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage, conservation and desalination.

Aquafornia news The Tribune

With two storms brewing, forecasters concerned about flooding in Sierra Nevada, Central Valley

The southern Sierra Nevada is expected to see a pair of storm systems in the coming days that could create “significant flooding” over several burn scars in the area, according to weather officials. … Next week’s storm, which is expected to hit the area midweek, is the primary source of concern. “That storm could bring between 2 and 5 inches of rain,” said Kevin Durfee, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “If those rain amounts do materialize, we could be looking at some significant flooding over the burn scars, and rising water levels in rivers and streams.”

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers expect higher plantings of annual crops

More rain this winter and an improved water outlook promise California farmers more flexibility in what annual crops to grow, even if sluggish commodity prices limit their crop choices. For example, California cotton acreage is expected to increase this year to 287,000, according to a planting-intentions survey by the National Cotton Council. Citing expected water availability, the council reported California farmers intend to plant 230,000 acres of pima cotton and 57,000 acres of upland cotton. That’s up 9.7 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively, from last year.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Monday Top of the Scroll: California’s Central Valley: Ground zero in water war

Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water law that will have major effects on water suppliers and farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck” approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.

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Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Editorial: Newsom water tax offers a phony fix to a moral outrage

The cheering is for a governor who has brought attention to a problem that’s almost unfathomable in wealthy urban regions. No Californian in 2019 should have to endure third-world drinking-water conditions. But there’s ample reason to give the governor the raspberries, too. That’s because Newsom’s solution comes right out of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “you never want a serious crisis go to waste” playbook.

Aquafornia news Science Friday

Is California ready for the next catastrophic flood?

When it floods in California, the culprit is usually what’s known as an atmospheric river—a narrow ribbon of ultra-moist air moving in from over the Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric rivers are also essential sources of moisture for western reservoirs and mountain snowpack, but in 1861, a series of particularly intense and prolonged ones led to the worst disaster in state history: a flood that swamped the state. What would happen if the same weather pattern hit the state again?

Aquafornia news Oregon Public Broadcasting

Climate change means western Oregon’s climate will be a lot like California’s Central Valley today

At our current rate of climate change, many cities in western Oregon could come to feel a lot like the Central Valley of California over the next 60 years. A new analysis looking at climate projections for urban areas across the United States and Canada predict substantial changes in local temperatures and precipitation rates for Northwest cities.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Less talk, more action: It’s time to get serious about floodplain management

Many no longer recall the Great Midwest Flood despite its record-breaking precipitation, flooding and $13 billion price tag. Sure, 1993 seems like a long time ago, but I believe the reason the flood has left most people’s memory is because, over the last 25 years, the nation has experienced one devastating, record-breaking flood after another. Our memories are diluted by the frequency of such events.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a key test on his embrace of a new California water tax

Newsom has embraced an idea that has previously failed to gain traction in Sacramento: new taxes totaling as much as $140 million a year for a clean drinking water initiative. Much of it would be spent on short- and long-term solutions for low-income communities without the means to finance operations and maintenance for their water systems. … But the money to change that — what’s being called a “water tax” in state Capitol circles — is where the politics get complicated.

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Aquafornia news Stanford Earth

Blog: Downsizing the Delta tunnel plan: What it means for water and ecosystems

Two experts from Stanford’s Water in the West program explain the potential impacts on the future of water in California of the proposed plan to downsize the $17 billion Delta twin tunnels project. … Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Stanford’s Water in the West program, and Timothy Quinn, the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Water in the West, discussed the future of water in California and potential impacts of a tunnel system.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Good riddance to Delta twin tunnels boondoggle

At long last, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta twin-tunnels boondoggle is dead. Good riddance. Gov. Gavin Newsom made that official Tuesday during his State of the State address, calling instead for a smaller, single-tunnel approach that would include a broad range of projects designed to increase the state’s water supply. Bravo. It’s a refreshing shift from Gov. Jerry Brown’s stubborn insistence that California spend $19 billion on a project that wouldn’t add a drop of new water to the state supply. 

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Limón proposes bill to help farmers adapt to climate change

The hottest and driest summers in state history have occurred within the last 20 years … Her bill, if passed, would allocate $2 million in funding from the Office of Planning and Research for a competitive grant program designed to develop “specified planning tools for adapting to climate change in the agricultural sector.” 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Groundwater: Local agencies work toward sustainability

Farmers, water managers and government agencies agree: Groundwater sustainability is critical for California. But achieving it could bring significant changes to the state’s agricultural landscape, according to speakers at a Sacramento gathering of water professionals.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: ‘It’s a mess.’ Atmospheric river brings record-setting rain to Sacramento, Northern California

The wet weather broke a daily rainfall record in Sacramento, with 1.6 inches of rain recorded at the Sacramento Executive Airport over 24 hours. But the state’s network of flood-control dams and levees appeared to handle the deluge without major problems. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning Wednesday morning for the Sacramento Valley, and it was expected to remain in place until 6 p.m. Thursday as heavy and moderate rainfall was forecast to continue through Thursday.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Newsom signs bill to provide $131.3 million in emergency relief, including safe water

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed his first bill, which will provide $131.3 million in immediate relief from the state’s general fund for emergencies such as a lack of clean drinking water, while surrounded by children at a Parlier elementary school – all of whom must drink from water bottles due to unsafe drinking fountains.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Newsom removes Felicia Marcus as chair of State Water Board

Felicia Marcus, whose push for larger river flows angered farmers and community leaders in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, won’t continue as chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. Gov. Gavin Newsom named Joaquin Esquivel as chairman of the powerful water regulatory board. … Laurel Firestone, co-founder of the Community Water Center, was appointed as the replacement for Marcus. … Firestone has been an advocate for addressing wells contaminated with nitrates. 

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Aquafornia news Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR finalizes groundwater basin boundary modifications under SGMA

Of the 517 groundwater basins and subbasins in California, local agencies submitted 43 requests for basin modifications for either scientific or jurisdictional reasons. … In the draft decision, DWR approved 33, denied seven, and partially approved three modification requests.

Aquafornia news CALMatters

Opinion: Newsom can confront climate change by restoring rivers, habitat

Our floodplain reforestation projects are biodiversity hotspots and climate-protection powerhouses that cost far less than old-fashioned gray infrastructure of levees, dams and reservoirs. They provide highly-effective flood safety by strategically spreading floodwater. Floodplain forests combat the effects of drought by recharging groundwater and increasing freshwater supply.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: California’s unsafe drinking water is a disgrace

About 1 million Californians can’t safely drink their tap water. Approximately 300 water systems in California currently have contamination issues ranging from arsenic to lead to uranium at levels that create severe health issues. It’s a disgrace that demands immediate state action.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: They’re big, furry and could destroy the Delta. California has a $2 million plan to kill them

California’s San Joaquin River Delta is in danger of being overrun by voracious beagle-sized rodents. The state has a plan to deal with them, but it’s going to take a lot of time and money. Nutria, a large South American rodent, have become an invasive species in several states, including Louisiana, Maryland and Oregon.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Trump seeks to deliver more CA water to Central Valley farmers

While campaigning for president in 2016, Donald Trump promised a cheering Fresno crowd he would be “opening up the water” for Central Valley farmers… Trump took one of the most aggressive steps to date to fulfill that promise Tuesday by proposing to relax environmental regulations governing how water is shared between fish and human uses throughout the Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Wetlands: Calif. clinches new regs just in time for federal rollback

After more than a decade of drafting and editing, California is poised to finally update its wetlands regulations this spring. The effort, which began after a pair of Supreme Court decisions limited federal wetlands protections, could be finalized just in time to insulate the state from a Trump administration proposal restricting which wetlands and waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: The clock is ticking for groundwater managers in California’s most over-drafted basins

By this time next year, 21 critically over-drafted groundwater basins in California must submit plans to the state’s Department of Water Resources for how to bring their basins back into balance. With this major deadline looming, it’s crunch time for water managers and their consultants – some of whom will begin releasing draft plans in the next six to eight months seeking required public comments.

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Area congressmen introduce Flood Insurance for Farmers Act

Congressmen John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa have reintroduced legislation to provide farmers access to discounted rates under the National Flood Insurance Program. The  bipartisan Flood Insurance for Farmers Act of 2019 (H.R.830) would also lift the de facto federal prohibition on construction and repair of agricultural structures in high flood-risk areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Dive deep into California groundwater issues on Feb. 8 tour

Go deep into one of California’s most pressing issues – groundwater – by visiting an extensometer that measures subsidence, an active aquifer storage and recovery well, a recycling facility that recharges water into the ground and more.

Aquafornia news Places Journal

The land where birds are grown: Engineered wetlands in California’s Central Valley

Maintaining functional wetlands in a 21st-century landscape dominated by agriculture and cities requires a host of hard and soft infrastructures. Canals, pumps, and sluice gates provide critical life support, and the lands are irrigated and tilled in seasonal cycles to essentially farm wildlife. Reams of laws and regulations scaffold the system.

Aquafornia news Press Banner News

SLV Water District bans glyphosate — permanently

Last week, in the third meeting of the Board of Directors of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District … the board voted 4-1 for a permanent ban on the use of glyphosate pesticides by the district, keeping a campaign promise that remained controversial right up to the board’s vote. “The residents in our district have spoken — they do not want glyphosate … and we don’t really know the true effects of glyphosate — how it will affect all the little creatures in sensitive habitat,” said Louis Henry, the newly appointed board chair.

Aquafornia news Washington Free Beacon

Newsom’s new ‘water tax’ poses test for California GOP

California Republicans are gearing up to target several vulnerable Democratic state legislators in an effort to block Democratic governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed new tax on drinking water. 

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Opinion: San Francisco, agricultural interests band together for water rights

“The judiciary is the safeguard of our liberty and of our property under the Constitution,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes in Elimra, New York in 1907. That quote exemplifies the reason that five irrigation districts on tributaries to the San Joaquin River as well as the city of San Francisco filed lawsuits recently against the State Water Resources Control Board. They are defending their water rights. 

Aquafornia news Environmental News Network

Blog: The global race for groundwater speeds up to feed agriculture’s growing needs

Water is becoming a scarce resource in many parts of the world. Water tables have been falling in many regions for decades, particularly in areas with intensive agriculture. Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells. This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Strange bedfellows: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers

When it comes to water, the lifeblood of the Central Valley, Democrats don’t have all the answers. So says freshman Representative Josh Harder, suddenly one of the most powerful Democrats in these parts. … “We need to make sure we’re all working together to advance the agenda of the Central Valley,” continued Harder, 32, of Turlock. “I was very encouraged to see some of the measures the Trump administration put forward on water.” 

Aquafornia news The Union

Opinion: A compromise that’s good for the fish and the economy

The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed flow requirements for rivers that feed the Delta based on a percentage of ‘unimpaired flows… If approved, this ‘unimpaired flows’ approach would have significant impacts on farms, communities throughout California and the environment. We join many other water agencies in our belief that alternative measures …

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Farms, more productive than ever, are poisoning drinking water in rural America

One in seven Americans drink from private wells, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Nitrate concentrations rose significantly in 21% of regions where USGS researchers tested groundwater from 2002 through 2012, compared with the 13 prior years. … “The worst-kept secret is how vulnerable private wells are to agricultural runoff,” says David Cwiertny, director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom must set new course on state water issues

Since taking office Jan. 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated how he intends to approach one of the state’s most pressing issues: water. Newsom should signal that it’s a new day in California water politics by embracing a more-sustainable water policy that emphasizes conservation and creation of vast supplies of renewable water. The first step should be to announce the twin-tunnels effort is dead.

Aquafornia news Soundings Magazine

Building a Farm and Future in California’s Delta

Most of the first American settlers of the Delta came to California to quickly acquire a pile of gold. Few succeeded in the placers, but some recognized the agricultural potential and decided to build farms and futures in the Golden State. One such visionary was my great great grandfather, Reverend Daniel Shaw Stuart. 

Aquafornia news L.A. Daily News

Opinion: California’s proposed water tax: Gavin Newsom’s trickle down economics

California’s new governor looked at the rainfall and saw millions of dollars in uncollected water taxes going right down the drain. In one of his first moves as chief executive, Newsom declared that he wants to tax the state’s drinking water, in order to give poor people access to safe and affordable water. I guess this is his idea of trickle-down economics.

Aquafornia news Top1000Funds.com

Water makes mark in investors’ minds

More than ever, water’s true value as a finite and precious resource is starting to be realised, and a growing number of investors are paying attention. There are plenty of examples of water risk. Campbell Soup Company took a hit in its quarterly earnings recently, due to an acquisition of a California fresh food company that was pummeled by the California drought.

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

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

Aquafornia news UC Davis

Blog: Finding shovel-ready solutions for carbon sequestration

An ambitious new multicampus, multipartner consortium led by the University of California, Davis, and the UC Working Lands Innovation Center is taking on that challenge with the goal of finding ways to capture billions of tons of carbon dioxide and bring net carbon emissions in California to zero by 2045. The consortium has received a three-year, $4.7 million grant from the state of California’s Strategic Growth Council to research scalable methods of using soil amendments — rock, compost and biochar — to sequester greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in soil.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: The Delta is California’s heart. Gavin Newsom must save it

The confluence of California’s two great rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, creates the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Those of us who live here call it, simply, the Delta.  It is part of my very fiber, and it is essential to California’s future. That’s why we must save it.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Opinion: The global race for groundwater speeds up to feed agriculture’s growing needs

Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells. This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley. The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper water wells to support irrigated agriculture. Groundwater supplies around the world are being threatened by excessive pumping, but drilling deeper wells is not a long-term solution. A better solution is to manage water use and avoid excessive declines in groundwater levels. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Roster of speakers, agenda unveiled for Feb. 7 Water 101 workshop

Learn from top experts at our annual Water 101 Workshop about the history, hydrology and law behind California water as well as hot topics such as water flows, the Delta, disadvantaged communities and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. For the first time, the workshop offers an optional groundwater tour the next day

Aquafornia news Calif. Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Delta tunnels hearing at state Water Board drawing to a close

After more than three years, 104 days of testimony, and over twenty-four thousand pages of hearing transcripts, the hearing before the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) on the proposal to construct two tunnels to convey water under the Delta (aka California WaterFix) is almost completed.  Probably, that is: there could be more if the project changes again to a degree that requires additional testimony and/or environmental review.

Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Flood control veteran to leave post

The work to provide Yuba-Sutter with the highest level of flood protection possible isn’t yet complete, but the levees are much better today, having had the oversight expertise of the head of the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency. After more than seven years with the agency, SBFCA Executive Director Mike Inamine announced he would be leaving this week for a job with the California Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

New Powerhouse Science Center will educate visitors on California water issues

A section of the museum will also be dedicated to water, teaching visitors how much water it takes to grow crops, how California farmers lead the world in conservation, and how the state’s complicated water storage and delivery system works, said Mike Wade, the executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. The Coalition is the title sponsor for the exhibits and has drawn on several farming organizations, including Farm Credit, to help build and maintain the exhibits.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California water projects could be tapped to pay for Trump’s border wall

Officials have given President Trump a plan to divert funds designated for Army Corps of Engineers projects in California and Puerto Rico to help pay for a wall along the southern border, a leading member of Congress said Thursday. … The projects include raising the height of Folsom Dam on the American River in Northern California, protecting Lake Isabella in Kern County from leaking as a result of earthquakes, enlarging the Tule River and Lake Success in the Central Valley and building shoreline protections in South San Francisco.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Newsom inherits California water strife from Jerry Brown

As his term as governor drew to a close, Jerry Brown brokered a historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions of gallons of water to help ailing fish. He also made two big water deals with the Trump administration. It added up to a dizzying display of deal-making. Yet as Gavin Newsom takes over as governor, the state of water in California seems as unsettled as ever.

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Aquafornia news Benicia Herald

New Bay-Delta magazine, ‘SOUNDINGS’ launches

Featuring artists, photographers, first-person narratives, historical and scientific essays, long-form journalism and fiction, the magazine revolves around the fascinating people and wonders that make up the greater Bay – Delta region of California.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR Finalizes Groundwater Basin Prioritizations

The announcement finalizes prioritization of 458 basins, identifying 56 that are required to create groundwater sustainability plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. For most basins, the results are a confirmation of prioritizations established in 2015. Fifty-nine basins remain under review with final prioritization expected in late spring.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: 2019 Will Be a Big Year for Water

At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. It’s also poised to be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. And it could also be a landmark year for water management in California, with several key issues coming to a head. 

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

California farmers will need to be resilient again in 2019

The USDA estimates gross cash receipts for the dairy industry to be down 9 percent from the previous year but estimates poultry receipts to be 7 percent higher. After several years of strong production, gross receipts for tree fruit and nuts are expected to be slightly lower. Likewise, vegetable gross receipts are expected to be down slightly, though consumption remains stable.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Like fruit, vegetables, and almonds? Scientists have bad news

At the end of the last century, the Sierra Nevada captured an average of 8.76 million acre-feet of water critical to the nation’s largest food-producing region. By mid-century, a new study projects, the average will fall to 4 million acre-feet; and by century’s end, 1.81 million acre-feet. 

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Big Northern California water deals will trickle down to San Diego

Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’ lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Panel Discussion: Emerging legal issues in SGMA implementation

At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, a panel of experts discussed emerging issues as agencies work to develop their plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in California in 2014.

Aquafornia news Madera Tribune

Contamination idles drinking water wells in Madera

Some drinking-water wells on the northeast side of Madera are being idled or abandoned because of fluctuating water levels and significant plumes of groundwater contamination by the agricultural chemical DBCP, a powerful pesticide suspected to cause sterility and cancer.

Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2019

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer Colorado River Basin Map California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Aquafornia news Western Water

Vexed by salt and nitrates in Central Valley groundwater, regulators turn to unusual coalition for solutions

More than a decade in the making, an ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of the Central Valley is moving toward implementation, but its authors are not who you might expect. An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for years to find common ground to address a set of problems that have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually unusable for farming. 

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Overpumping of Central Valley groundwater has side effect: too much arsenic

The many wells that nourish the farms of the Central Valley are not only pumping so much water from the ground that the land is sinking, they’re creating a dangerous vacuum where arsenic can slip in, new research shows. Scientists at Stanford University are warning if heavy groundwater pumping continues, water supplies for dozens of communities as well as billions of dollars of irrigated crops are at risk of contamination.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Space Invaders Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water Water Education Foundation

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

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

Aquafornia news Western Water

On the Road: Cosumnes River Preserve offers visitors a peek at what the Central Valley once looked like

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta

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

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

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

Tour

Central Valley Tour 2018

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Five officials charged with misusing public funds, burying hazardous waste at Central Valley water district

It started a year ago when state investigators uncovered 86 drums holding thousands of gallons of hazardous waste illegally buried in a rural Central Valley water district yard. … Soon, authorities said, they discovered that officials running the Panoche Water District misused more than $100,000 in public funds on various personal items and expenses, including slot machines, concert tickets, home improvements and Porsche upgrades.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Freezing temperatures expected across California could threaten Central Valley crops

Temperatures in most rural areas of the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of the state’s agricultural sector, are expected to fall to the mid-20s Tuesday morning. The below-freezing weather could kill blooms on almond and cherry trees, which appeared earlier than usual because of the unseasonably warm weather this month.

Announcement

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

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

Our Central Valley Tour, March 14-16, offers a broad view of water issues in the San Joaquin Valley. In addition to the farms, orchards, critical habitat for threatened bird populations, flood bypasses and a national wildlife refuge, we visit some of California’s major water infrastructure projects.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

BREAKING NEWS: Brown administration working to scale down $17 billion Delta tunnels project

Faced with a shortage of money and political support after seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects, a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water from Northern California to the south.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Agricultural demand for water has Central Valley sinking fast

In a quiet agricultural community in Fresno County things have been sinking for a long time. California’s Central Valley subsidence problem was discovered decades ago, right around El Nido. Now, this town is more famous for its elevation than its population because agriculture’s demand for water here has sent pumps ever deeper into the ground, causing the valley floor to sink by dozens of feet.

Tour

Central Valley Tour 2018
Field Trip - March 14-16

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Salmon and steelhead trout migrating in record numbers

Salmon and steelhead trout are migrating to the Mokelumne River just east of Lodi in what could be record numbers. … Abundant rainfall last year helped to release more water from Camanche Reservoir to help move the salmon up the river.

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2017

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Harvey a sober reminder for Stockton

No living soul can testify of the winter of 1861-62, when 45 days of rain transformed the Central Valley into a 300-mile-long inland sea. And only some Stocktonians are old enough to remember the last time the city itself flooded, in the 1950s.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Think Harvey-like flooding couldn’t happen to Sacramento? Think again

Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on dams, levees and bypasses to keep Sacramento and other Central Valley towns and cities from flooding, but experts say the infrastructure would prove no match for a megastorm like the one that pummeled Houston this week.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Rains end, but flooding dangers loom if massive Sierra snowpack melts too quickly

The rain has largely stopped after one of the wettest winters in California. But as spring temperatures begin to climb and snow in the Sierra Nevada melts, the threat of flooding has communities across the Central Valley on edge. … The concerns are magnified in some areas by subsidence, a festering problem exacerbated by five years of drought in the Central Valley.

Announcement

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

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

NASA report: San Joaquin Valley land continues to sink

Even as California struggles with surface flooding, the state is going dry underground, triggering sinking in parts of the great San Joaquin Valley, according to a new NASA report released by the Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

San Joaquin Valley continues to sink because of groundwater pumping, NASA says

California’s San Joaquin Valley continues to sink at an alarming rate because of groundwater pumping and irrigation, according to a new study by NASA. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought And Floods Taxing California’s Water System

Both drought and floodwaters are testing California’s aging water infrastructure. A new NASA analysis shows too much groundwater pumping during the drought has caused the California Aqueduct to sink more than two feet near Avenal in Kings County.

 

Announcement

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As drought fades, California’s vast ‘inland sea’ roars back to life

Most of the time, motorists driving on Interstate 80 between Davis and here [Sacramento] look out on vast tracts of farms and wetlands. But over the last two weeks, something remarkable has happened in what is known as the Yolo Bypass.

Announcement

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

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

Announcement

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

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

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

Aquapedia background

ARkStorm

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In this California congressional district, water is more important than Donald Trump

The signs vie for space with political campaign placards at intersections along State Route 43 as a constant reminder to Central Valley residents. “No water, no jobs.”

Aquapedia background

Salinity

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

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2017
Field Trip - November 1 & 2

Participants of this tour snake along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration plans.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Eventbrite - San Joaquin River Restoration Tour

Central Valley Tour 2017
Field Trip (past)

Tour guests in front of Friant Dam

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

New groundwater found deep under Central Valley

The Central Valley is home to California’s productive farming belt, but the region’s groundwater is so severely overdrafted in some places that the land has been sinking. … Now scientists from Stanford University have found that the region might actually have three times more groundwater than previous estimates, which are decades old.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California fresh groundwater reserves triple in new assessment

California’s breadbasket has more water than once thought. … To be a viable source, however, the deep water need not be degraded more than it already is. 

Aquapedia background

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Central Valley communities get lower state water conservation goals

Central Valley water suppliers and customers got a break Thursday when new conservation goals for the coming months were announced by the state Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Dry February could bring problems for drought-stricken Valley

El Niño has given Central California a wet – and welcome – start to the rainy season, raising water levels in foothill reservoirs and blanketing the Sierra with snow. But the tap has been turned off for the foreseeable future.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

First research links California quakes to oil operations

A 2005 spate of quakes in California’s Central Valley almost certainly was triggered by oilfield injection underground, a study published Thursday said in the first such link in California between oil and gas operations and earthquakes.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Central Valley communities get drought-related grants

East Porterville and other Valley communities suffering the effects of California’s worst drought in decades are getting financial aid from the federal government to buoy their water supplies.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Stanford project maps underground water — aimed at taking the guesswork out of well drilling

In the drought-ravaged Central Valley, scientists are using a new imaging technology to find ancient worlds of trapped water, hidden hundreds of feet underground. … This week, a helicopter swept 60 linear miles of parched fields in the Tulare Irrigation District in one of the most arid regions of California.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: In the drought-parched Central Valley, a waiting game begins

With October comes a waiting season. Californians have more or less survived one more dry year — with shower buckets and brown lawns, with ever deeper wells and fallowed croplands; in short, with every trick known to those who consume or manage water.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

When the wells run dry: California neighbors cope in drought

Living with a dried-up well has turned one of life’s simplest tasks into a major chore for [Tino] Lozano, a 40-year-old disabled Army veteran and family man.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Central Valley sinking fast because of groundwater pumping

The floor of the Central Valley is sinking at a record pace as drought-gripped farmers pump out the groundwater beneath them, new satellite data show.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Farmers prevail in court

An effort by state officials to stop some Delta farmers from diverting water during the drought amounts to a taking of private property rights without due process, a judge ruled Friday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Water rights ruling a setback for California drought regulators

In a significant ruling that could hinder California’s ability to order mass water cutbacks, a judge told state drought regulators Friday they can’t slash the water rights of four Central Valley irrigation districts until each had a chance to defend itself.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: In California’s Central Valley, dry wells multiply in the summer heat

Some wells gurgle and hiss before they die. Others expire with a puff of sand. Either way, the result is the same: no more running water. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Some water agencies in California consider defying state cuts

A handful of Central Valley water agencies that have been warned to stop pumping water from rivers to farms, in light of the drought, say they’re considering running their pumps anyway. … The State Water Resources Control Board said Wednesday that is not a good idea, warning that the water agencies could face penalties for drawing water illegally.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Deepest drought issue: Beyond shallow look at groundwater

The history beneath your feet in this Valley goes far deeper. It’s a piece of the story about the nation’s second-largest groundwater basin — California’s Central Valley, the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Drought, heat suggest West Nile virus danger in Sacramento region

Rising temperatures and a historic drought suggest that the Sacramento region and Central Valley will likely see high West Nile virus activity this summer, researchers say.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Uncharted territory: Delta farmers fear losing water supply

At the bottom of California’s Central Valley bathtub, Delta farmers always have drawn from the rivers and sloughs with confidence. … But now, in the fourth year of this drought, state regulators may cut off even riparian water users later this summer. 

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Reclamation, water users reach agreement to provide water to Friant Division

The Bureau of Reclamation and water users in California’s Central Valley have forged an agreement that will bring some much-needed Central Valley Project water supplies to farmers in the CVP’s Friant Division this summer. … Weeks of negotiations involving nearly all Friant Division contractors, the Exchange Contractors, Westlands Water District, Reclamation and other agencies paid off in an agreement reached May 7.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Before we can address the California drought, we need a geography lesson

Many of us could use a refresher course in California geography as we debate how to manage the drought and prepare for an uncertain water future. For starters, calling the hardest-hit farm region the Central Valley is much too simplistic.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Ready to fight: Some growers unwilling to lose land for bullet train

After leaving his lucrative law practice, he [Harold Parichan] turned his attention to growing almonds on about 2,400 acres in the Central Valley. And it’s there that Parichan, 91, has a new opponent: the California bullet train authority.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Critics fear bullet train will bring urban sprawl to Central Valley

Against a rural tableau draped in a gray winter sky, a fleet of heavy, clawing earth movers rumbles back and forth across a fallow, 953-acre field that for decades produced bell peppers, carrots and alfalfa.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Vanishing water, fewer jobs, but still hope in the Central Valley

In this region that calls itself “The Cantaloupe Center of the World,” vast fields that once annually yielded millions of melons lie fallow. And, for some farmers, planting tomatoes and other traditional row crops may now constitute acts of courage.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Report: Central Valley leads nation in falling groundwater levels; crisis blamed on almonds and drought

Groundwater levels appear to be sinking faster in the Central Valley than anywhere else in the United States, the U.S. Geological Survey says in a new report. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Jerry Brown, Interior secretary announce new drought funding

Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Friday a $29-million plan to help California’s parched Central Valley cope with the ongoing drought. 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Groundhog Day & California’s drought

For the past four months, the Circle of Blue team, some contracted photographers, and our various partners — Google, Columbia University, NOAA, NASA, etc. — have been working hard to bring you Choke Point: Index, a data-driven narrative out of three U.S. locations: California’s Central Valley, the Great Lakes, and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

$158 million in President Obama’s budget for Central Valley flood control

President Obama has proposed a budget for next year that includes $158 million for Sacramento and Central Valley flood control projects.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State let oil companies taint drinkable water in Central Valley

Oil companies in drought-ravaged California have, for years, pumped wastewater from their operations into aquifers that had been clean enough for people to drink. … The state faces a Feb. 6 deadline to tell the EPA how it plans to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Satellite mission poised to help farmers and water managers, NASA says

The Soil Moisture Active Passive project is expected to provide crucial information to Central Valley farmers and water resource managers dealing with the multiyear drought.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Drought brings boom for water delivery trucks

It’s the dead of autumn and there’s no sign that the California drought will ease up. When wells run dry the immediate answer is to dig a new one, but they’re expensive. In some parts of the state there’s been an uptick in water theft, but in Central California many homeowners are turning to a legal water solution that’s not dependent on city water lines.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: California Sketches — Finding the sublime in fall ritual

In the rice fields north of Sacramento, Tom Reese climbs into his giant red harvester, starts the engine and heads south across a flat landscape covered in gold and green stalks heavy with grains. … We revere the natural landscapes of California, mountains and coast. Too often we take for granted the simple, flat world we see in between.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Cranes crowd Staten Island as other Valley habitat dries up

Every fall and winter at sunset, the sky above Staten Island fills with majestic sandhill cranes alighting in the fields. The sight is more spectacular than usual this year, as the number of cranes wintering on the island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has doubled over the same time in 2013.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Fighting walnut theft, new program aims to safeguard sales

Northern California is seeing a crackdown on walnut theft. With new rules last year on walnut sales and more improvements this year, the hope is that thieves will no longer see walnuts as easy money.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

News Release: Learn about groundwater and take a cruise on Lake Shasta

The Water Education Foundation’s popular Northern California Tour features a diverse group of experts talking about groundwater, flood management, the drought, water supplies, agricultural challenges, and the latest on salmon restoration efforts. The tour also includes a houseboat cruise on Lake Shasta. … The tour travels the length of the Sacramento Valley with visits to Oroville and Shasta dams.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News Release: EPA announces $7.8 million for environmental improvements on tribal lands in Central California

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $5.4 million in funding to invest in Central Calif. tribes for environmental programs, water infrastructure development, community education and capacity building. The announcement was made at the 22nd Annual Regional Tribal Conference in Sacramento, Calif.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought disrupts migratory birds in Central Valley

As birds fly south for the winter, millions of them will stop in the Central Valley, but the drought will make it harder for the birds to find food and water.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Could those empty San Joaquin Valley reservoirs fill up in one winter?

In mid-September 1977, the 326 billion-gallon Pine Flat Reservoir sat nearly empty — holding 6% of capacity in a warm puddle.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Drought has Yankee Hill mobile home park on the edge of bone dry

Help will soon be on the way for about 100 residents who live in the Big Bend Mountain Mobile Home Park in Yankee Hill. … Luckily, the park was added to a list for emergency water supply funds, with money recently approved by the state.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Low flows a danger to salmon coming and going

While waterfowl are winging toward Central Valley skies, salmon will simultaneously be splashing up Central Valley streams. And like the birds, they’ll have a drought to deal with when they get there.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Migrating birds in for a tough winter in Central Valley

If the millions of birds that migrate to the Central Valley each winter look forward to the equivalent of a cozy bed and a warm meal, this year they could find themselves sleeping under a bridge.

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

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

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

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

Commands