Constructed long ago by federal effort to help create farmland,
the Central Valley Project is one of the biggest water and
transport systems in the entire world.
In years of normal precipitation, it stores and distributes about
20 percent of the state’s developed water through its massive
system of reservoirs and canals.Water is transported 450 miles
from Lake Shasta in Northern California to Bakersfield in the
southern San Joaquin Valley.
Along the way, the CVP encompasses 18 dams and reservoirs with a
combined storage capacity of 11 million acre-feet, 11 power
plants and three fish hatcheries. As part of this, the Delta
Mendota Canal and Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River deliver
water to farms in the Central Valley.
Congressman Jim Costa (D–Fresno) introduced a bill on Thursday
that would provide over $800 million in funding to water
projects in California. If the Canal Conveyance Capacity
Restoration Act is enacted, $653 million in Federal funds will
go to restore the capacity of three canals in the Central
Valley, and $180 million will be used to restore salmon runs on
the San Joaquin River.
The Yuba Water Agency manages water storage and deliveries to
downstream customers while having a hand in preserving fish
habitats and recreational areas. Currently, the agency has
already begun doubling its reservoir releases at a time when
visitors to the river are also expected to go up. Due to
the time of year, those releases from upstream reservoirs are
dictated by irrigation needs of downstream growers.
On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water
Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our
2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward
to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared
vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin.
We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the
Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water
priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities
to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and
climate resilience throughout California for our communities,
the economy, and the environment.
There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101
Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know
to understand California water. One of our most popular events,
this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online
event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday,
While the federal government sees the prospect of raising the
height of Shasta Dam as a way to increase water storage for a
thirsty California, the Winnemem Wintu of Shasta County see it
as a threat to their culture. It was a theme picked up
this week by American Rivers, a conservation group that named
the McCloud River one of America’s 10 most endangered rivers
because of the proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam.
… Raising the height of the dam would raise the level of
the lake about 20 feet when full. It would also further
inundate about a third of a mile of the McCloud River …
The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting
the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently
changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn
Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and
alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work
through the most dangerous part of the
pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom
begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from
office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same
south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the
environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.
Californians received a double dose of not so happy water news
last month; cutbacks were made to water allocations and a key
water price index surged higher. … The state’s Department of
Water Resources has wasted no time in sounding alarm bells;
officials have already announced 50 percent cutbacks from
December 2020’s projected water allotments to State Water
Project allocations for the 2021 water year. California
residents were warned “to plan for the impacts of limited water
supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural
Our Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project has just
been updated to reflect the latest developments affecting
California’s largest surface water delivery system. The 24-page
guide explores the history of the Central Valley Project, from
its roots as a state water project that stalled amid the Great
Depression to its development as a federal project that
stretches from Shasta Dam in far Northern California to
Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as
state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the
brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding
together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency
amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas]
Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture
committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to
the governor. This comes after the California Department of
Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and
growers in late March.
As we begin spring in the Sacramento Valley, the region
illuminates – we see the brown landscape turn verdant, and the
Valley bustles with activity as people share the hope of a new
year and collectively cultivate a shared vision in the region
for a vibrant way of life. With the dry year in Northern
California, the water resource managers are working overtime to
carefully manage our precious water systems including rivers,
streams, reservoirs and diversions to serve multiple benefits.
To effectively do this, water resources must be managed in an
efficient manner, with the same block of water often used to
achieve several beneficial uses as it moves through the
Our two-day Water 101 Workshop begins on Earth Day,
when you can gain a deeper understanding of
California’s most precious natural resource. One of our
most popular events, the once-a-year workshop will be held as
an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April
22 and Friday, April 23. California’s water basics will be
covered by some of the state’s leading policy and legal
experts, including the history, geography, legal and political
facets of water in the state, as well a look at hot topics and
current issues of concern.
The slide gates at the bottom of the Temperature Control Device
(TCD) on the inside face of Shasta Dam (Figure 1) allow deeper,
colder water in the reservoir to be drawn into the power plant
intake penstocks and released to the river below. Use of the
slide gates allows more colder water to be released for salmon
in the river below in summer and fall in years when reservoir
levels are low and the cold-water-pool is limited. In 2014 and
2015, NMFS and the Bureau of Reclamation learned that when the
reservoir level is low and the slide gates are opened to access
cold water, some warmer surface water is also drawn downward
into the slide gate openings.
The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River
Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s
worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many
of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers
and putting business in front of the environment.
For seven days in mid-March 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation
substantially increased Folsom Lake storage releases. Roughly,
the releases tripled in volume (Figure 1). The release of over
20,000 acre-feet of water is significant for a year in which
Folsom storage is not much better than it was in the worst year
on record – 1977 (Figure 2).1 With the release in mid-March,
the lake level dropped 3 feet. Yes, there was rain in the
forecast and a decent snowpack, but certainly no flood
concerns. So why? The reason was to meet state water quality
requirements for Delta outflow. Delta outflow increased from
7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days (Figure 3).
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has marked
2021 as the third-driest water year, a period marked from
October to March, on record for the Golden State, potentially
setting up another deadly wildfire season after last year’s
record setting blazes. The department’s annual snow survey
released this month recorded precipitation levels at 50 percent
the annual average for the water year. The dry conditions
can also be seen in the state’s water supply, with the
department reporting that California’s major reservoirs are at
just 50 percent of overall capacity.
Tractors are working ground in the Sacramento Valley, as the
2021 rice season is underway. Whether it’s farmers, those in
cities or for the environment, this year will pose challenges
due to less than ideal rain and snowfall during the fall and
winter. Jon Munger At Montna Farms near Yuba City, Vice
President of Operations Jon Munger said they expect to plant
about one-third less rice this year, based on water cutbacks.
As water is always a precious resource in this state, rice
growers work hard to be as efficient as they can. Fields are
precisely leveled and will be flooded with just five-inches of
water during the growing season. Rice is grown in heavy clay
soils, which act like a bathtub to hold water in place.
High-tech planting and harvest equipment also help California
rice farms and mills operate at peak efficiency.
As drought worsens in the West, a coalition of more than 200
farm and water organizations from 15 states that has been
pushing to fix the region’s crumbling canals and
reservoirs is complaining that President Joe Biden’s new
infrastructure proposal doesn’t provide enough funding for
above- or below-ground storage.
The general manager for a local water utility company joined
the Board for the Delta Conveyance Design Authority. Palmdale
Water District announced on Monday that Dennis LaMoreaux has
been appointed as an alternate director for the Authority.
California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a
few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history
left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered
major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle
their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating
megafires. … Just four years since the state’s last
drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t
ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of
drought to come.
Perhaps more than any other part of the country, California
stands to benefit from the $2.2 trillion proposal introduced
last week by President Biden…. the sweeping plan would inject
huge sums of money into wider roads, faster internet,
high-speed trains, charging stations for electric cars, airport
terminals, upgraded water pipes and much more. … The
infusion is being seen not only as the path to a long-overdue
upgrade of the freeways, dams and aqueducts that have long been
California’s hallmark but also as a way to scale up and export
the state’s ambitious climate policies.
Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the
state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a
new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough
evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the
researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz
campuses of the University of California. The idea has
already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as
one of several options for boosting the solar part of its
Rain is scarce in much of California, and most of California’s
people live in water-starved regions. And yet the state is, by
some measures, the fifth largest economy in the world. How?
Because during the last century, California has built a complex
network of dams, pumps and canals to transport water from where
it falls naturally to where people live. But climate change
threatens to upend the delicate system that keeps farm fields
green and household taps flowing. In this episode of the UCI
Podcast, Nicola Ulibarri, an assistant professor of urban
planning and public policy who is an expert on water resource
management, discusses how droughts and floods have shaped
California’s approach to water…
San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling
quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable
water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet,
with another drought looming, federal and state water managers
still plan to divert large amounts of water to their
contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer.
Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are
preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water
diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the
law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov.
Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that
jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future
precarious. -Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF
The Federal government is beginning a program for the
unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.
Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out
turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the
tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water
trawls. Major California water projects and water users
are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year
Updated water supply allocations announced last week would
still drain upstream reservoirs in order to deliver 4.5 million
acre feet of water to the contractors of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP), devastating
fish and wildlife. This week, the fisheries biologists at the
National Marine Fisheries Service projected that these planned
operations are likely to result in lethal water temperatures
that will kill 89% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon
below Shasta Dam this year. This mortality estimate is even
worse than what was observed in 2014 and 2015, when salmon
populations were devastated by warm water in their spawning
As the rain season comes to a close across Northern California,
water districts are keeping a close eye on rain totals that are
below average, and water managers are explaining what another
“dry water year” means for our region. According to
California’s Department of Water Resources, or DWR, the state
is well into its second consecutive dry year. That causes
concern among water managers. However, it comes as no surprise.
… With the memory of drought years between 2012 and 2016 not
too distant, [DWR information officer Chris] Orrock explained
how lessons learned from that time period are still being
When the first European explorers arrived in California’s
Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and
permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian
forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone
of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields,
they support millions of migrating waterbirds each
year. According to a just-released study from Audubon,
tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as
well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of
wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California –
have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers.
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program
Director at Audubon California and a member of the
California Water Commission.
The lack of rain and snow during what is usually California’s
wet season has shrunk the state’s water supply. The Sierra
Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water as it melts over the
spring and summer, is currently at 65 percent of normal. Major
reservoirs are also low. Two state agencies warned last week
that the dry winter is very likely to lead to cuts in the
supply of water to homes, businesses and farmers. The federal
Bureau of Reclamation also told its agricultural water
customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to
expect no water this year.
The second consecutive dry winter has prompted state water
managers to reduce allocations to the state water project that
supplies millions of Californians and 750,000 acres of
farmland. The state Department of Water Resources
announced this week that it will only be able to deliver
5% of the requested allocations following below-average
precipitation across the state. That figure is down from the
initial allocation of 10% announced in December. Many of
the state’s major reservoirs are recording just 50% of average
water storage for this time of year, and won’t see a major
increase due to a snowpack that is averaging just 65% of
normal, according to state statistics..
An extra dry summer with potential for water shortages – that’s
what state and federal officials are telling Californians to
prepare for. Predictions for 2021 are bleak. Lake levels
are low and the Sacramento region is not getting the spring
showers many hoped for. According to the US drought monitor,
most of the Central Valley is experiencing severe to extreme
drought conditions. This week the Department of Water
Resources lowered its expected forecast of water deliveries
made to cities and farms by half. But any conservation
restrictions would be up to local authorities.
State and federal water officials have delivered their most
dire warning yet of California’s deepening drought, announcing
that water supply shortages are imminent and calling for quick
conservation. Among a handful of drastic actions this week, the
powerful State Water Board on Monday began sending notices to
California’s 40,000 water users, from small farms to big cities
like San Francisco, telling them to brace for cuts. It’s a
preliminary step before the possibility of ordering their water
draws to stop entirely.
Shading California’s irrigation canals with solar panels could
reduce pollution from diesel irrigation pumps while saving a
quarter of a billion cubic meters of water annually in an
increasingly drought-prone state, a new study suggests. Pilot
studies in India and small simulations have shown that
so-called “solar canals” have lots of potential benefits:
Shading the water with solar panels reduces water loss from
evaporation and keeps aquatic weeds down.
In 2020 wildfires ravaged more than 10 million acres of land
across California, Oregon and Washington, making it the largest
fire season in modern history. Across the country, hurricanes
over Atlantic waters yielded a record-breaking number of
storms. While two very different kinds of natural disasters,
scientists say they were spurred by a common catalyst – climate
change – and that both also threaten drinking water supplies.
As the nation already wrestles with water shortages,
contamination and aging infrastructure, experts warn more
frequent supercharged climate-induced events will exacerbate
the pressing issue of safe drinking water.
California’s water use varies dramatically across regions and
sectors, and between wet and dry years. With the possibility of
another drought looming, knowing how water is allocated across
the state can make it easier to understand the difficult
tradeoffs the state’s water managers must make in times of
scarcity. The good news is that we’ve been using less over
time, both in cities and on farms. While there are still ways
to cut use further to manage droughts, it won’t always be easy
or cheap to do so. California’s freshwater ecosystems are at
particular risk of drought, when environmental water use often
sees large cuts. Watch the video to learn how Californians use
When Ann Hayden first joined EDF in 2002, shortly after
finishing her own stint in the Peace Corps in Belize and
graduate school where she studied environmental science and
management, she was immediately thrown into one of California’s
thorniest water debates: the restoration of the Sacramento and
San Joaquin Bay-Delta, the hub of the state’s water supply. She
hit the jackpot when she was hired by Tom Graff, founder of
EDF’s California office and a renowned water lawyer, and Spreck
Rosekrans, who garnered the respect of the water community for
his ability to understand the state’s hypercomplex water
A new analysis finds that covering water canals in California
with solar panels could save a lot of water and money while
generating renewable energy. Doing so would generate between
20% and 50% higher return on investment than would be achieved
by building those panels on the ground. The paper, published
Thursday in Nature Sustainability, performs what its authors
call a techno-economic analysis, calculating the impacts and
weighing the costs and benefits of potentially covering the
thousands of miles of California’s open irrigation system.
We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the
driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest
on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused
unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many
native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water
management throughout the state. Are we ready to manage
our freshwater ecosystems through another drought? -Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow,
and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at
the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy
Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery
Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing
season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are
projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the
Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly
higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the
long-term average. During a press briefing on Friday morning,
John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association
said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial
The California commercial salmon season, due to start May 1,
will be only about half as long as last year’s season, after
the Pacific Fisheries Management Council settled on three
proposals for the dates and months fishing can take place this
season. The main reason for the shorter season is
the smaller number of adult Sacramento River
salmon expected to be in the ocean this spring and summer.
While commercial fishing boats were permitted to go out for 167
days total last year, the three proposals for the 2021 season
would only allow fishing for a total of 78 days, 94 days or 104
Bad news for salmon lovers: The quantity of fish in Bay Area
coastal waters this year is expected to be far lower than in
2020. And fewer fish means less work for local fishers and
fewer salmon in stores. The number of adult king salmon
from the Sacramento River fall run is projected to be 271,000
this spring and summer, compared with last year’s estimate
of 473,200….The limited season reflects a downward trend in
the population of king salmon, also known as chinook, over the
last decade because of drought and state policies that have
limited the amount of water allotted to the parts of the
Sacramento River basin where the fish spawn and juveniles spend
their early months.
On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water
almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California
water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the
equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the
thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop
this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental
health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply
for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be
saving water, not wasting it.
Rep. Deb Haaland’s bid to become the first Native American
interior secretary was made more likely Thursday by an unlikely
Republican supporter, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of oil-rich Alaska,
who said she still had serious reservations about Haaland’s
past opposition to drilling. Murkowski was the only Republican
on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to approve
Haaland (D-N.M.) in the narrow 11-to-9 vote. Haaland’s
nomination now moves to the full Senate, where the entire
Democratic caucus and two Republicans, Murkowski and Susan
Collins (Maine), are expected to back her, cementing her
Despite taking two years off from Congress, David Valadao
(R—Hanford) is getting back to work by introducing new
legislation to help keep water flowing in the Central Valley.
Early this month, Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost
Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or
RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and
storage provisions of the WIIN Act. The RENEW WIIN Act would
extend the general and operations provisions of Subtitle J of
the WIIN Act and extend the provision requiring consultation on
coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State
A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another
severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing
for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area,
water users are already being asked to cut back. The
state’s monthly snow survey on Tuesday will show only about 60%
of average snowpack for this point in the year, the latest
indication that water supplies are tightening. With the end of
the stormy season approaching, forecasters don’t expect much
more buildup of snow, a key component of the statewide supply
that provides up to a third of California’s water.
The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources
plan to allocate approximately 5 million acre feet of water
this year – as long as California allows them to effectively
drain the two largest reservoirs in the state, potentially
killing most or nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook
salmon this year, threatening the state’s resilience to
continued dry conditions, and maybe even violating water
quality standards in the Delta.
Michael Preston grew up in the old village site of the Winnemem
Wintu tribe, along the McCloud River in Northern California
where the Shasta Dam has flooded spiritual and cultural lands.
Since the 1940s, the creation of the dam has also blocked the
usual migration of winter-run salmon, effectively endangering
the species. Now, there are proposals to raise the dam by an
additional 18.5 feet, which will cause further destruction.
“Our tribal goal is to bring the salmon back … ” he said,
adding that it’s more than just the fish. With the lack of
salmon, which is a keystone species, other animals, such as
bears, eagles and mountain lions are being starved.
Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been
appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta
Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the
state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide
water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both
achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique
characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.
As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her
December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social
vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has
a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a
decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye
toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along
with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts
climate change resilience initiative in 2018.
Climate change will continue to impact the West, and
particularly its water supply—the many impacts include longer
and more damaging wildfire seasons as well as prolonged
drought. Federal leadership and action are needed to address
the climate crisis. With the 117th Congress now in session,
Audubon is advocating at the federal level for funding and
policy priorities that restore habitat, protect communities,
and support birds through proactive water management and
A government agency that controls much of California’s water
supply released its initial allocation for 2021, and the
numbers reinforced fears that the state is falling into another
drought. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that most
of the water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project
will get just 5% of their contract supply, a dismally low
number. Although the figure could grow if California gets more
rain and snow, the allocation comes amid fresh weather
forecasts suggesting the dry winter is continuing. The National
Weather Service says the Sacramento Valley will be warm and
windy the next few days, with no rain in the forecast.
As she promised, State Senator Melissa Hurtado has reintroduced
legislation that would provide fund to improve California’s
water infrastructure, including the Friant-Kern Canal. On
Friday, Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger whose district includes
Porterville, introduced the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021
that would provide $785 million to restore the ability of
infrastructure such as the Friant-Kern Canal to deliver water
at their capacity. The bill would also go to fund other
infrastructure such as the Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Canal
and California Aqueduct.
For the better part of the last two centuries, the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been modified in any number of
ways to meet the demands of Californians. But a new
wide-ranging study looks at what might be the most serious
Delta threat that doesn’t come in the form of an excavator –
In the latest Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video, we take a look
at the financing mechanisms that make the project possible,
both now, in the initial planning stages, and in the future if
the project is approved. It might not sound like the most
exciting aspect of the project but it’s certainly one area
where there’s a lot of public interest and concern. With a
project of this scale (the most recent estimate of the total
cost is around $16 billion) it’s not surprising that
people want to know who’s footing the bill.
Although the 1971 San Fernando earthquake and the near failure
of the Lower Van Norman Dam have given rise to construction
improvements … the overwhelming majority of California dams
are decades past their design life span. And while earthquakes
still loom as the greatest threat to California’s massive
collection of dams, experts warn that these aging structures
will be challenged further by a new and emerging hazard:
“whiplashing shifts” in extreme weather due to climate change.
Threats associated with global water scarcity are increasingly
making news as continued growth in agricultural production,
expansion of urban boundaries, new industrial facilities, and
increased sensitivity to environmental needs drive increased
water demand. Supply side constraints for water are further
exacerbated by increasingly intense and frequent drought
events, such as the recent four-year (2016 to 2020) California
drought … Thus, a proliferation in wastewater
recycling over the coming decades could support a significant
lessening of water stress in many water-stressed areas.
Reclamation maintains and operates over 8,000 miles of water
distribution systems that use, among other means, reservoirs
and canals to store and deliver water. Water lost to seepage
reduces the efficiency of the water delivery to the users and
can cause undermining/erosion, subgrade soil migration, adverse
vegetation growth, and even canal failure….This prize
competition seeks innovative solutions that can reduce the
costs and burdens associated with installation and maintenance
of seepage reduction methods, and improve durability in a range
of climatic conditions.
Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom
promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water
rushing through California’s major rivers and the
critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the
incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and
environmentalists. … [C]oming to an agreement as promised
will require Newsom’s most artful negotiating skills. He’ll
have to get past decades of fighting and maneuvering, at the
same time California is continuing to recover from the worst
wildfire season in modern state history and a pandemic that has
since killed more than 42,000 state residents.
Curious about water rights in California? Want to know more
about how water is managed in the state, or learn about the
State Water Project, Central Valley Project or other water
infrastructure? Mark your calendars now for our virtual
Water 101 Workshop for the afternoons of April 22-23 to hear
from experts on these topics and more.
Three rural Valley cities finalized deals with the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation to cement permanent access to water from the
Central Valley Project on Monday, the Federal bureau announced.
The cities of Avenal, Coalinga, and Huron converted their water
contracts with Federal water authorities along with
Firebaugh-based Pacheco Water District and Panoche Water
District, and Los Banos-based San Luis Water
U.S. Representative David G. Valadao introduced the
Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure
Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of
operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act (P.L.
Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announces the finalization of
the Municipal and Industrial Water Rate-setting Policy for
Central Valley Project water contractors. This accomplishment
provides agreement between CVP contractors, Reclamation, and
the Department of the Interior regarding the recovery of the
CVP cost for M&I water users.
The Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility
report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion
Project. This marks an important step forward in returning
water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local
communities, and wildlife refuges.
The Bureau of Reclamation and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water
Authority finalized the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir
Expansion Project’s Supplemental Environmental Impact
Statement/Environmental Impact Report. This joint proposed
project would create an additional 130,000 acre-feet of storage
space in San Luis Reservoir, producing additional water supply
for 2 million people, over 1 million acres of farmland and
200,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands.
In August, the Hoopa Valley Tribe filed a lawsuit in a
Eureka-based Federal court against the U.S. Department of
Interior to block execution of a permanent repayment contracts
for Central Valley Project users. What’s at stake? Stable water
resources secured by a bevy of other water agencies across the
Golden State by converting short-term water service contracts
into permanent repayment contracts with the United States
Bureau of Reclamation. The suit almost exclusively targets the
powerful Westlands Water District. The problem? The nation’s
largest water district isn’t even a party to the suit, nor is
it the only player involved in contract conversions.
Defending the decision to give farm irrigation districts
permanent access to low-cost, federally pumped water in
California, a Justice Department lawyer urged a federal judge
to flush a Native American tribe’s lawsuit against the endless
entitlements. The Hoopa Valley Tribe sued the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation in August, claiming the Trump administration’s
conversion of 14 time-limited contracts for Central Valley
Project water into permanent deals violated a host of federal
While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent
step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing
and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions
of a “lame duck federal agency.”
Clear Lake continues to struggle with long-lasting impacts of
nutrient pollution. High concentrations of nutrients such as
nitrogen and phosphorus fuel large algal blooms and contribute
to poor water quality in the lake.
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
This virtual experience focuses on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gives participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.
Current estimates of young salmon lost to the south Delta pumps
are based on a smattering of studies from the 1970s and should
be updated, according to a new analysis. “They don’t represent
current operations,” says Ukiah-based consultant Andrew Jahn,
lead author of the analysis reported in the September 2020
issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science.
Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently
completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored
the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously
used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal
marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat.
A research team from California State University, Chico will
continue its exceptional work to re-establish juvenile salmon
and salmonid habitats along the Sacramento River, after
learning it would continue to be funded by the United States
Bureau of Reclamation.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has signed a record of decision,
finalizing an environmental impact statement that gives
clearance for the Friant-Kern Canal project to proceed. The
canal needs repairs as a result of land subsidence.
To protect smelt and salmon, there need to be reasonable water
temperature standards in the Delta. The existing water
temperature standard in the lower Sacramento River above the
Delta is 68oF, but managers of the state and federal water
projects pay it almost no heed.
California’s war with Washington over the environment will soon
come to an end. … President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to
act quickly to restore and strengthen dozens of protections on
public lands, water and wildlife. In addition, California’s
efforts to fight climate change will no longer face hurdles put
up by the White House, which has downplayed the global threat.
The federal government has approved plans to fix a sag in the
Friant-Kern Canal. The Bureau of Reclamation gave its approval
Tuesday – signing a Record of Decision giving environmental
clearance for the project – following action from the Trump
administration to invest about $5 million to study and begin
pre-construction work on the canal.
The Bureau of Reclamation has once again proposed raising
Shasta Dam, which is already the largest reservoir in
California, after several proposals in the past decade. Each
time, it has faced fierce public opposition from state
government, environmentalists, locals and Native Americans.
The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California each face
growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring
reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people
and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure
if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to
jointly develop and manage some water supplies.
The Bureau of Reclamation announces the selection of four
funding award recipients to implement $40 million in salmon
habitat improvement projects along the Sacramento River. The
restoration projects will enhance and improve spawning and
rearing habitat for salmon at approximately 25 different
locations across 132 river miles.
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast
tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors
within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain
though it into the Pacific Ocean. Lately, however, scientists
say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive…
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 24.
Unbeknownst to many, some voters will pick five new members of
the Board of Directors of the Westlands Water District. GV Wire
had a chance to speak with two of those… Both offered
insights into how Westlands can change its reputation, how
farmers can change their approach, and what their biggest
adversaries are in the fight for water.
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 17.
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
As we have transitioned from summer to fall in the Sacramento
Valley, we are finishing the agronomic season and there is now
a focus on fall and winter operations on the Sacramento River.
Water resources managers and fish and wildlife agencies
continue to work together in the Sacramento River watershed to
serve water for multiple benefits, including two salmon runs
and the essential time for birds (and other species) migrating
along the Pacific Flyway.
The day the gates closed on the Shasta Dam in 1943,
approximately 200 miles of California’s prime salmon and
steelhead spawning habitat disappeared. Although devastating
for all four distinct runs of Central Valley Chinook salmon,
the high dam hit the Sacramento winter-run Chinook the hardest.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have
provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern
Canal. SB 559 would have required the Department of Water
Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on
federal funding for the Friant Water Authority or any other
government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern
Canal. The bill would also have required DWR to include a
proposal for the state to pay up to 35 percent of the cost of
The project would restore capacity from 1,600 cubic-feet-per
second to the original 4,000 cubic-feet-per second at what the
Bureau has determined to be the most critical area — the Deer
Creek check structure in Tulare County. … Estimates to fix
the canal range from $400 million to $500 million, according to
the Bureau of Reclamation.
A rapid-fire review of potential fixes to the Friant-Kern Canal
favors building a replacement canal for 20 miles alongside the
existing canal where land subsidence has caused it to sag,
severely restricting water flow, according to final
environmental documents released Friday.
This bipartisan legislation (H.R.8217) would amend the Water
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to
make public water projects like the off-stream Sites Reservoir
Project eligible for low-interest, longer-term federal loans
from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Reclamation announces a virtual open house website for the
Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement. Website visitors will be able
to learn more about the project, review summaries of Draft
Supplemental EIS chapters, and submit comments.
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay are open in Merced
County, after being shuttered by regional wildfires. However,
state Department of Water Resources officials say that’s not an
invitation to go in the water. DWR on Tuesday issued a harmful
algal bloom warning advisory at the O’Neill Forebay, plus a
caution is in effect for the San Luis Reservoir.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, like governors before him, wants to overhaul
how water moves through the delta. He’s proposing a 30-mile
tunnel that would streamline the delivery of water from the
Sacramento River, a bid to halt the ongoing devastation of the
delta’s wetlands and wildlife while ensuring its flows continue
to provide for the rest of the state. The pressures of climate
change on water supplies have only increased the urgency to
act. And the coronavirus pandemic and months of
shelter-in-place orders haven’t slowed the planning. ….The
tunnel, as much as anything, is the very symbol of the state’s
never-ending water wars.
A bill that would have provided funding for the Friant-Kern
Canal was abandoned by the California State Legislature on
Sunday. It’s route to abandonment is a short, but confusing one
centering on California’s wildfires
Water is the lifeblood of our region and there are immense
challenges to providing and maintaining a reliable and
resilient water supply for both farms and communities in the
Central Valley. As your congressional representatives, we’ve
been working together to bring resources back home to address
our collective needs.
The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Final Feasibility
Report, which documents potential costs and benefits of the Los
Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project. … Reclamation and the
Contra Costa Water District worked together on the project to
increase capacity to 275,000 acre-feet and add new conveyance
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday a 30-day public
comment period for a 35-year contract renewal of the transfer
of operation, maintenance and replacement activities related to
Friant-Kern Canal and other associated works to the Friant
At the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) virtual
conference last week, one of the keynote speakers was Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. In her keynote address,
Commissioner Burman ran down the list of the Bureau’s
accomplishments as well as what is in the works for the rest of
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based
Feinstein’s Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act would
authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical
canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from
overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for
Westlands, an agricultural powerhouse in the San Joaquin Valley
… is seeking ownership of 1,034 miles of buried pipeline,
multiple pumping plants and canals, and two field offices. The
Bureau of Reclamation confirmed it is moving forward with the
On July 6, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency
that oversees the canal, finalized a feasibility report for
Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project.
Under section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for
the Nation Act, the bureau’s report means up to 50% of the
total project costs can be requested from the U.S. Department
of the Interior and subsequently appropriated by Congress for
The “Guardians of the Reservoir” challenge seeks ideas to
remove or transport the amount of sediment building up in the
reservoirs, replacing available space for water storage, that
provide critical water supplies for the country. There will be
up to a total of $550,000 in cash prizes available for the
three-phase the competition.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says
she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as
talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological
opinions governing the management of their respective water
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of
California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental
groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce
water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the
Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold
water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.
South San Joaquin Valley farmers have a reason to celebrate
this week: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives
appropriated $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal. The
bill also includes funding to repair the Delta-Mendota Canal
and for two Northern California reservoirs.
More federal funds may be flowing to fix the Friant-Kern Canal.
On June 22, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) sent a
letter to Congress requesting $134 million for water storage
projects be funded through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. More
than half of the funding, $71 million, was requested for
preconstruction and construction of the Friant-Kern Canal
Capacity Correction project.
The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
has approved H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. The legislative
package would provide $1.5 trillion for the nation’s
infrastructure needs. Included in the bill is funding for
Central Valley water needs and Friant-Kern Canal repairs. The
package is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of
Representatives next week.
The Department of Interior has requested $71 million be spent
on improvements for the Friant-Kern Canal for the 2021 fiscal
year. The funding for the Friant-Kern Canal accounts for most
of the $108.7 of funding for water storage projects in
California the Department of Interior is requesting. Congress
will now consider approving the funding in the 2021 fiscal year
energy and water appropriations bill.
The issue of subsidence on the Friant-Kern Canal, the attention
it has garnered, and accompanying solutions are apparently void
of the usual partisanship experienced in California’s water
world as both state and Federal legislation has been introduced
to authorize significant funding for the project.
The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, plans to begin construction of the Lower
Clear Creek Floodplain and Stream Channel Restoration Project
Phase 3C on the week of June 22. This project is funded through
the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the Friant-Kern
Canal, is seeking public input on plans to repair a 33-mile
stretch of canal between Lindsay and McFarland. This stretch of
the canal has lost 60% of its original conveyance capacity due
to subsidence—a sinking of the earth from groundwater
extraction – which was accelerated during California’s historic
drought from 2012-2017.
If there’s one certainty in these uncertain times, it’s that
nature is resilient, and one needn’t look further than the San
Joaquin River as an example. For a second year in a row, and
for only the second year in over 65 years, spring-run Chinook
salmon have returned from the ocean to spawn in the river and
bring forth the next generation.
Projected higher inflows to Shasta Lake caused the Bureau of
Reclamation earlier this month to rescind its “Shasta Critical
Year” designation after hydrologic conditions changed
sufficiently. … For growers with senior water rights under
the Exchange and Settlement contracts with the Central Valley
Project, this means full allocation water deliveries will be
Tulare County farmers will get more water than expected from a
dry winter but far less than needed to avoid depleting an
aquifer that is already drying up. The U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation’s Central Valley Project announced the Friant
Division … will receive 60% instead of 55% of its Class 1
water supply thanks to improved hydrologic conditions and the
forecasted snowmelt runoff in the Upper San Joaquin River
With supplies curtailed from California’s largest water
projects, farmers have been reducing acreage, water districts
have been working to secure additional supplies, and everyone
has been keeping an eye on the continued dispute between state
and federal governments on managing the Delta.
The Bureau of Reclamation executed another set of
congressionally-mandated contract conversions with Central
Valley Project contractors pursuant to the Water Infrastructure
Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. … These completed
contract conversions include the City of West Sacramento and
four contract assignments for Westlands Water District.
The Bureau of Reclamation is providing $16.6 million to nine
congressionally authorized Title XVI Water Reclamation and
Reuse projects in California and Hawaii. This funding, part of
the WaterSMART Program, is for the planning, design, and
construction of water recycling and reuse projects in
partnership with local government entities.
New legislation was recently introduced that will address
several issues facing San Joaquin Valley canals. The
Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act was introduced by
Senator Dianne Feinstein as a means for repairing water
conveyance damaged by subsidence.
California and federal water regulators are trying to quickly
resolve their legal dispute over competing biological opinions
governing the management of their respective water projects, a
top state official says. The talks are proceeding after Gov.
Gavin Newsom filed suit in February to nullify new federal
opinions that would ease restrictions on surface water for San
Joaquin Valley growers.
The latest dustup In California’s water wars, as noted in Dan
Walters’ commentary, revolves principally around the federal
government’s efforts to increase the amount of water supplied
to farms and cities by the Central Valley Project, and a
breakdown in cooperation between the state and federal
government. It seems like everyone is suing each other. But
what are they really fighting over?
The gravity-fed Friant-Kern Canal that is key to survival for
15,000 east side San Joaquin Valley farms continues to be
impacted by subsidence. Land near Porterville appears to be
most worrisome where the land has sunk so much due to adjacent
water pumping that the canal has lost 60% of its capacity. As
of July 2018, it was estimated the canal is approximately 12
feet below the original constructed elevation.
A local non-profit is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and
a Southern California water district, over a long term water
transfer program. AquAlliance works to protect the Sacramento
River watershed. It is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit that
charges the proposed transfer would send too much water out of
Northern California and would cause severe impacts on area
communities, farms, and the environment.
Three environmental groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Wednesday to dispute the award of permanent federal water
contracts to water users supplied by the Central Valley
Project. The suit brought by the Center for Biological
Diversity, Restore the Delta and Planning and Conservation
League challenges the Trump administration’s moves to make
permanent 14 existing short-term Central Valley Project
contracts and ongoing work to convert dozens of others.
Following spring storms, the Bureau of Reclamation today issued
updated allocations for Central Valley Project contractors for
the 2020 contract year. … The allocation for south-of-Delta
agricultural water service contractors is increased from 15% to
20% of their contract total. Municipal and Industrial water
service contractors south-of-Delta are now allocated 70% of
their historic use, up from 65%, or health and safety needs,
whichever is greater.
On the same day Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $19 billion in
budget cuts to his 2020-2021 budget, two of California’s
environmental protection agencies filed a request to fund a
lawsuit against the Federal government over its boost in water
supplies sent to the San Joaquin Valley.
The conflict over California water, often compared to a war,
rather resembles a geological process. As along an earthquake
fault, surface spasms come and go. The latest twitch is an
injunction momentarily halting some Trump Administration water
plans. But the underlying pressures are a constant. They never
stop exerting themselves.
A judge issued a preliminary injunction in two lawsuits brought
against the administration by California’s Natural Resources
Agency and Environmental Protection Agency and by a half-dozen
environmental groups. The order bars the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation until May 31 from going ahead with expanding the
amount of water it pumps from the San Joaquin Delta through the
federal Central Valley Project.
The Bureau of Reclamation and Friant Water Authority seek
public input on alternatives to repair a 33-mile stretch of the
Friant-Kern Canal in California’s eastern San Joaquin Valley.
This stretch of canal has lost over half of its original
capacity to convey water due to subsidence—a sinking of the
earth from groundwater extraction.
Bureau of Reclamation employees from its Technical Service
Center were able to use visual and digital technology as they
worked remotely to complete and transmit the 60% design
specifications and drawings for the B. F. Sisk dam safety
modification. This modification, estimated to cost $1.1
billion, is the largest in the history of Reclamation’s Dam
During the marathon hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dale
Drozd hinted the environmental groups’ requests for a ruling by
May 11 will be a tall task. Not only is the case complex and
involves dozens of parties, he said the chaos caused by the
pandemic is impeding the court’s ability to move swiftly.
A long awaited $74 million project to enlarge the Success
Reservoir will expand water storage along the Tule River from
82,000 to 110,000 acre feet and provide additional flood
protection for residents of Porterville and surrounding
The Bureau of Reclamation has released a funding opportunity
for communities to take a proactive approach to drought through
building projects that increase water supply reliability,
improve water management, or provide benefits for fish,
wildlife and the environment.
On the campaign trail in 2016, President Trump swung into
California’s agricultural hub and vowed to deliver more water
to the drought-ridden state’s farmers. … Three years into his
administration, Trump is now opening the floodgate to deliver
on that promise, setting up the most intense water war between
the federal government and California in the state’s history.
Two separate letters sent to President Donald Trump and members
of Congress highlight the importance of providing support for
enhancing water management, particularly in light of the
tumultuous conditions created by COVID-19.
U.S. Representative T.J. Cox, Senator Dianne Fenstein and
Represenatives Jim Costa, Josh Harder and John Garamendi on
Thursday called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Gov.
Newsom to come up with a coordinated effort to manage the State
Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.
Voluntary agreements in California
have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve
environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows
and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be
diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state
The state recently got a new permit for water delivery
operations from its wildlife agency. In the past, that kind of
authority came from adhering to federal rules. Now, with a
dispute between the state and federal government over water
management and endangered species act protections, the state
issued its own permit. Critics of the state’s move say they
plan to file lawsuits.
In the century-long “us-versus-them” mentality of California
water, a plan released by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Department of
Water Resources last week achieved something perhaps never
accomplished before in the Golden State’s water industry. It
incited universal scorn.
According to the Washington Post’s fact checker, as of January,
2020, President Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading
claims during his first three years in office. Sadly, this lack
of regard for truth seems to be trickling down and infecting
the Trump Administration’s management of the federal Central
Valley Project in California, one of the largest water storage
and diversion projects in the country.
Taking advantage of recently approved rules, the federal
government is quickly following through on President Donald
Trump’s promise to quiet environmentalists and “open up the
water” to California farmers. … The pumps in the south of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta aren’t just whizzing during
what will likely end up being classified a “critically dry”
hydrological year, they are churning — and killing — endangered
salmon during a critical migration period.
The water transfers could occur on an annual basis sending
water from willing sellers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to water users south of the Delta and in the San
Francisco Bay Area. Based on annual approvals, the transfers
could occur through 2024. In addition, the transfers could
occur by various methods, including groundwater substitution,
cropland idling, reservoir releases and conservation.
In a recent announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
(USBR), Friant Division contractors will be receiving an
increased water allocation. USBR has doubled the Class 1
allocation to 40 percent for Friant Division Central Valley
Project contracts for the 2020 contract year.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauded Fresno County Superior Court’s
refusal to validate a proposed contract between Westlands Water
District and the Bureau of Reclamation. … The contract would
have allocated up to 1,150,000 acre-feet of water annually to
Westlands, most of which would be imported from the Trinity
River, which has sustained the Hupa people since time
The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of
Water Resources are conducting exploratory work, including
clearing, excavation and controlled blasting of rock material
in the Basalt Hill area near B.F. Sisk Dam, located between Los
Banos and Gilroy, between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during April and
May. The exploratory findings on Reclamation lands will help
identify size and quality of granular material for the planned
Safety of Dams Modification project.
Two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s
authorization of plans to increase water pumping from the
Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds will be moved from the
Northern District of California to the Eastern District of
California, a federal judge ruled.
The new rules allow the federal Central Valley Project to kill
100 percent of baby winter run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam
for three years running. Chinook salmon live for three
years, so authorizing the Bureau of Reclamation to kill every
endangered winter run for three years amounts to an extinction
plan for this species.
The Sacramento splittail is a lovely, silvery-white fish that
lives primarily in Suisun Marsh, the north Delta and other
parts of the San Francisco Estuary (SFE; Moyle et al. 2004).
The name comes from its unusual tail, in which the upper lobe
is larger than the lower lobe. It is a distinctive endemic
species that for decades has fascinated those of us who work in
It was a busy time for California water issues last month when
Trump visited the San Joaquin Valley, signed the Record of the
Decision on the biological opinions which govern the operations
of the state and federal water projects (along with another
Presidential memo), which was promptly followed by the state
filing of a lawsuit the next day. … So not surprisingly, the
voluntary agreement was top of the agenda the following week at
the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Bay Delta Committee.
If you live in Southern California or Silicon Valley, you might
be surprised to learn that your local water district (a member
agency of the State Water Contractors) is siding with the Trump
Administration, and defending Trump’s plan to increase water
diversions, despite the widespread acknowledgement that this
plan is likely to drive salmon and Delta smelt extinct.
The Trump administration on Friday awarded a permanent water
delivery contract to the country’s largest agricultural
district, brushing aside environmentalists’ concerns about
California’s uncertain water future in the face of climate
change. At issue is irrigation water that flows through the
Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project to the Westlands
Water District, a Rhode Island-sized agricultural powerhouse
and former client of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
The Interior Department on Friday awarded the nation’s largest
farm water district a permanent entitlement to annual
irrigation deliveries that amount to roughly twice as much
water as the nearly 4 million residents of Los Angeles use in a
year. … The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the
federal project, also signed permanent contracts on Friday with
a handful of municipal districts that it supplies.
California’s complaint challenges the biological opinions
issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National
Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s EIS and record of
decision completed pursuant to the National Environmental
Turns out President Donald Trump is no match for another
California drought. Less than a week after Trump told San
Joaquin Valley farmers in Bakersfield that he was taking bold
steps to increase their water supply, his administration
announced Tuesday farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin
Valley may only receive about 15 percent of their contracted
water supply for the upcoming growing season.
The Folsom Lake Intake Improvement Project delivers district
water supplies available at Folsom Lake to the El Dorado Hills
Water Treatment Plant and is critical to service reliability
for the El Dorado Hills service area. In service since the late
1950s, significant portions of the pump station have reached
the end of their useful life.
Protecting the North Coast’s waters and the communities that
depend on them is a top priority, Congressman Jared Huffman
told a town hall at the Eureka High School auditorium Friday
night. Making sure fishermen get timely compensation when
they’re barred from fishing and ensuring there is enough water
in the area to protect fisheries are two key issues, the San
Rafael Democrat said.
Recently, the Department of Water Resources released a report
to supplement the 2017 California Aqueduct Subsidence Study
that addresses specific issues within a 10-mile-wide study
corridor… At the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Water
Planning and Stewardship Committee, Ted Craddock, DWR Assistant
Deputy Director of the State Water Project, provided an
overview of the report.
Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought
water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the
state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture
interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley
President Trump will splash into California’s perpetually
roiled water world next week when he drops by the southern San
Joaquin Valley city that’s home to his biggest House booster
and proximate to some of the state’s biggest dilemmas. With his
expected visit to Bakersfield, Trump can affirm support for
increased irrigation water deliveries, troll Democratic Gov.
Gavin Newsom and reward House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
(R-Calif.) in his hometown.
Reps. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and TJ Cox (D–Fresno) joined fellow
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee to grant
wide-ranging subpoena power to the committee’s chair, Raul
Grijalva (D–Ariz.)… A key inquiry likely to be explored by
Grijalva … is to dig into the Trump administration’s issuance
of new biological opinions governing the Central Valley
Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled
to vote on a resolution granting Committee Chair Raul Grijalva
(D–Ariz.) wide-ranging subpoena power over the Interior
Department. One inquiry in the hopper: a closer look at the
process that yielded the Trump Administration’s
freshly-released biological opinions governing the
federally-operated Central Valley Project.
Repair work on the Friant-Kern Canal is getting $11 million in
new federal funding, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said
Tuesday. The funds are coming from the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation. … McCarthy also announced $8 million in funding
for design and other pre-construction work to raise Shasta Dam
in northern California by 18.5 feet at a cost of $1.4 billion.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last year lost a major partner
willing to help pay for raising the height of Shasta Dam, but
that hasn’t stopped the agency from going forward with the
project. The federal agency continues to look for new partners
after the Fresno-based Westlands Water District backed out, and
the bureau continues to do “pre-construction” and design work
on the dam.
Democratic congressman from Fresno introduced two pieces of
legislation that aim to repair aging canals and water
infrastructure in California that’s been damaged by sinking
ground levels – called subsidence, caused by groundwater
Congress began the process of providing relief to the San
Joaquin Valley when it comes to the Friant-Kern Canal and clean
drinking water in rural communities when a subcommittee held a
hearing on two bills sponsored by T.J. Cox.
The main focus of the program are the barriers to fish passage
for salmon from Friant Dam to the ocean and back again. There
are three key barriers: the East Side Bypass Control Structure
which is in the flood bypass; Sack Dam, which is the intake for
Arroyo Canal for Henry Miller irrigation system; and Mendota
Dam which controls Mendota Pool. The program also needs to
ensure enough habitat for the fish when they return to complete
their life cycle,
Now Trump’s team is set to impose new environmentally damaging
Bay-Delta water diversion and pumping rules. … These new
rules would wipe out salmon and other wildlife by allowing
wholesale siphoning of water from Northern California rivers to
a few agriculture operators in the western San Joaquin
The Bureau of Reclamation today released the Central Valley
Project Final Cost Allocation Study, which determines how to
distribute costs of the multipurpose CVP facilities to project
beneficiaries. … This final cost allocation study will
replace the 1975 interim allocation to reflect additional
project construction, as well as regulatory, operational, legal
and ecological changes that have taken place over the last half
With virtually no public notice, state officials quietly gave
away a significant portion of Southern California’s water
supply to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with
the Trump administration in December 2018. One year later, it
remains unclear why the California Department of Water
Resources signed the agreement…
At the December meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
Caitlin Sweeney, Director of the San Francisco Estuary
Partnership, briefed the Council on the 2019 update to the
State of the Estuary report. She began with some background on
The factors causing the decline of many fish and fisheries in
the upper San Francisco Estuary have made their management
controversial, usually because of the correlation of declines
with increased water exports from the Delta and upstream of the
Delta… To address this problem better, the California Fish
and Game Commission is developing new policies for managing
Delta fish and fisheries, with a special focus on striped bass.
A duo of bills, at the state and federal level, will likely
determine the fate of the Friant-Kern Canal in a legislative
year that is shaping up to be pivotal for Central Valley
growers and ag communities.
The new guidelines call for diverting more water from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to agribusiness and urban
areas further south. Barbara Barrigan-Parilla with the group
Restore the Delta, says despite Newsom indicating he was going
to sue over the new federal guidelines, that hasn’t happened
The governor’s apparent willingness to play into the hands of
monied, agri-business players at the expense of the health of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta remains the biggest
mystery of his short tenure. It also threatens to trash his
reputation as a strong protector of California’s environment.
Environmental groups, tribes and upstream water users in
California yesterday sought to block a permanent water delivery
contract between the Interior Department and the Westlands
Water District. At issue is a proposed deal between Westlands,
an agricultural powerhouse in California’s San Joaquin Valley,
and the Bureau of Reclamation in which Westlands pays off its
debt to the government to guarantee deliveries in perpetuity
without future contract renewals.
House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona
wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple
possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may
vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior
Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to
send more water to his district.
The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the House are
pushing for their own home-state projects in this year’s final
spending bills — a spectacular park overlooking San Francisco
Bay and a dam across the largest reservoir in California — but
without agreement from each other in the negotiations’ final
It was welcome news for Kern County farmers, but word last week
that the process of fixing the Friant-Kern Canal has finally
begun may have obscured the fact that a great deal of work lies
ahead — including finding money to complete the job.
Federal authorities are considering a plan to repair a
California canal in the San Joaquin Valley that lost half its
capacity to move water because of sinking ground. … The U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation Dec. 3 published an environmental
assessment detailing plans to repair, raise, and realign the
Friant-Kern Canal, which it began building in 1949.
The fracas over California’s scarce water supplies will tumble
into a San Francisco courtroom after a lawsuit was filed this
week claiming the federal government’s plan to loosen previous
restrictions on water deliveries to farmers is a blueprint for
wiping out fish.
The complaint says the Trump administration did not fully
consider scientific facts or logic, and arbitrarily concluded
that the projects would not have a damaging effect on
endangered fish species, including salmon and steelhead. …
The projects at issue divert water from the Sacramento and San
Joaquin Rivers to the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta, primarily for agricultural and municipal uses.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has given environmentalists
much of what they presumably want as it released a 610-page
draft Delta environmental report recently that calls for $1.5
billion in habitat restoration among other environmental
projects. … But as much as they cheered the lawsuit
announcement, environmentalists were aghast at the report
because the state plan will allow some additional water for