Topic: Central Valley Project

Overview

Central Valley Project

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fishing groups sue federal agencies over latest water plan for California

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.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Reclamation seeks to restore sinking California canal

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.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Conservation groups sue feds over California water project opinions

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.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: It’s time to secure California’s water supply by raising Shasta Dam

Reliable water is critical to every aspect of the economy as more than 40 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown in the Central Valley, much of that using water from the Central Valley Project (CVP) and its largest reservoir — Shasta Lake.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: Newsom picks fish over farms, but still gets brickbats

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 farms.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Gov. Newsom’s Delta water plan is merely ‘Trump lite’

Join the crowd of California water officials if you are confused by the mixed message Gavin Newsom offered Thursday on the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. 

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Opinion: Trinity River under threat — will our county fight back?

Lots of stories circulate about the unethical actions of Bernhardt and Gov. Newsom’s reluctance to fight Trump on water — stories about Bernhardt’s effort to get rid of scientists who concluded the new Trump Water Plan jeopardizes endangered species in the Delta. Then there’s his work to give Westlands a permanent water contract to irrigate poisoned selenium-ridden lands… What’s not being covered: the impact these projects will have on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers, and Newsom’s reluctance to stop them.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom administration sends mixed signals on Delta endangered species protections

California officials sent mixed signals Thursday when they said they will sue to block a Trump administration rollback of endangered species protections for imperiled fish — while also proposing new water operations that mimic parts of the Trump plan. The state moves reflect political pressure the Newsom administration has been under as it confronts one of California’s most intractable environmental conflicts — the battle over the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta…

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Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands nearing a permanent federal water contract. What does that mean?

Westlands Water District, Fresno-based agricultural water district, is set to convert its temporary, renewable water service agreements with the Federal government into a permanent contract. And while Westlands is the first of its class to make the switch, it certainly won’t be the last water agency to do it.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom must stop the Westlands water grab and save the San Francisco Bay-Delta

Initially, federal scientists wrote a draft report that found increasing water exports would harm California’s native salmon population, a species already imperiled. Those scientists were reassigned. Now, the Trump administration and David Bernhardt have released a new proposal, and guess what? Westlands can grab even more water from the Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Westlands contract shakes the waterscape

California’s perpetual, uber-complex conflict over water progresses much like the tectonic plates that grind against one another beneath its surface. In much the same way, interest groups constantly rub on each other in political and legal venues, seeking greater shares of the state’s water supply, which itself varies greatly from year to year. And occasionally, there’s a sharp movement that shakes things up.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: California must help kill sleazy Westlands water deal

The Westlands Water District has engaged in some sleazy maneuvers over the years, but this one, which threatens the Bay Area’s water supply, tops them all.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

USFWS regional director Paul Souza explains the biological opinions

Paul Souza is regional director of the Pacific Southwest division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service… At the November meeting of Metropolitan Water District’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Mr. Souza gave a presentation on the recently released biological opinions for the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Trump’s Bay-Delta biops are a plan for extinction

As we continue to read through the biological opinions, here are detailed reasons why these biological opinions are a plan for extinction in the Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Feather River Fish Hatchery meets salmon harvest goal; 12 million chinook eggs collected

This fall run, while late, is about average in terms of the number of fish coming up the river. And, in terms of their condition, Crawshaw said the fish are “very healthy” and “good sizes.”

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Big California water district backs away from Shasta Dam expansion

The nation’s largest water agency signed an agreement that legally bars it from participating in a controversial plan to raise Shasta Dam, a move applauded by environmental groups that fiercely opposed the proposal out of fears enlarging the state’s biggest reservoir would swamp a stretch of a protected Northern California river and flood sites sacred to a Native American tribe.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Interior chief’s lobbying past has challenged the agency’s ethics referees

On the morning of Aug. 21, 2018, David Bernhardt, then the deputy interior secretary, wanted to attend a White House meeting on the future of a threatened California fish, the delta smelt — an issue upon which Mr. Bernhardt had been paid to lobby until he joined the Trump administration a year before. … “I see nothing here that would preclude my involvement,” he wrote ahead of the meeting…

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Feds set to lock in huge water contract for well-connected Westlands Water District

Westlands has had water service contracts with the Central Valley Project since 1963. But they were subject to renewal, when the reclamation bureau could, at least in theory, renegotiate terms. In contrast, the so-called repayment contract the bureau now proposes to award Westlands would not expire, permanently locking in the terms, including the amount of 1.15 million acre-feet of water.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Trump Delta water policy threatens Stockton as well as salmon

The city’s fate is linked inextricably with the San Joaquin River… Much of the water upstream is diverted for agriculture, although a legal settlement ensures that the river no longer runs dry. Additional diversions at the downriver end … greatly reduce the amount of water that actually makes it through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the San Francisco Bay and then the Pacific. It is as if one of the state’s two great arteries … is detached from its heart.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Interior proposes coveted California water deal to ex-client of agency head

The Interior Department is proposing to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural water district that had employed Secretary David Bernhardt as a lawyer and lobbyist. … Environmental groups say a permanent deal would let California’s water contractors forgo future negotiations before the public and environmental groups, further threatening the survival of endangered native fish and other wildlife that also need the water.

Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

Tuolumne Utility District to request New Melones water supplies

Plans to exercise federal county-of-origin rights to tap New Melones waters are in the works. According to documents for next Tuesday’s Tuolumne Utilities District board of directors meeting, staff will be recommending the board authorize General Manager Ed Pattison to submit a formal letter of request to the United States Bureau of Reclamation for a water supply contract.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Feds’ California water project must charge customers equitably

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation can’t charge Central Valley Project power customers disproportionately more than water customers in order to fund its environmental efforts, the Federal Circuit said Nov. 6. The law requires the Bureau to charge customers in proportion to what they pay to fund the network of dams, reservoirs, canals, and water power plants as a whole, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said.

Aquafornia news East Bay Express

Trump administration plan allows Delta water managers to kill off winter-run Chinook salmon

Eight-hundred pages into the text of a lengthy new report, federal biologists have quietly granted government water managers permission to nearly exterminate an endangered run of Sacramento River salmon so they can send more water south from the river’s delta to farmers in the arid San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Gavin Newsom must stand up to Trump’s water grab

In October, the Trump Administration released politically manipulated “biological opinions” under the federal Endangered Species Act that dramatically weaken protections for the Bay-Delta, endangered fish species and commercially valuable salmon runs. … However, in an uncharacteristically subdued response, the Newsom Administration stated that it “will evaluate the federal government’s proposal, but will continue to push back if it does not reflect our values.”

Aquafornia news Roll Call

Democrats’ Bernhardt probe has California’s Cox in a tough spot

Freshman Democratic Rep. TJ Cox represents some of the farmers who would likely benefit from the additional water. … Facing what could be a tough reelection fight in 2020, Cox’s future in Congress could depend on whether Bernhardt’s former client gets what it wants.

Aquafornia news Counterpunch

Opinion: When justice delayed means extinction: The case of the Delta smelt

The glaring light of extinction of the Delta smelt reveals decades of treachery and deceit by corporate agribusiness, metropolitan water districts, politicians and their collaborators in the resource agencies charged by law to protect wildlife species from extinction. The moral squalor that has permitted this crisis is contemptible.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Delta group critical of federal move to change water priorities

An environmental group, highly critical of a federal agency’s newly proposed recommendations to protect endangered species in the Delta, states that they would seriously harm those species and their habitat. The new recommendations, released Oct. 22 by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, are to be used as guidelines for operating the federal pumping plant in the Delta.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Newsom must fight Trump’s Delta fish extinction plan

The Trump administration last week launched an attack on the health of San Francisco Bay and Delta and California’s salmon fishing industry with new rules allowing big increases in water diversions from this teetering, vulnerable ecosystem. … The new Trump administration rules replace prior ones that weren’t strong enough to protect salmon and other wildlife in the last drought. They only make the situation worse.

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Trump’s gift to California

Amid horrific wildfires and rolling blackouts, the Trump Administration this week brought welcome relief to the Golden State by allowing more water to be sent to farmers and folks in the south. Will California liberals accept the deregulatory gift?

Aquafornia news Politico

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California fights Trump on everything — except water

California is providing health care to undocumented immigrants while President Donald Trump wants to build a border wall, and Gov. Gavin Newsom circumvented the White House with a side deal on auto emissions standards. But when it comes to water, Trump and California are closer than you might think.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump rewrites Delta rules to pump more California water to Valley. Will Newsom fight him?

President Donald Trump’s administration rolled out an aggressive plan Tuesday to ship more water from the Delta to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, a move that’s certain to trigger lawsuits by environmentalists concerned about endangered fish species.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump team weakens Delta protections for California smelt, salmon

In a move that would boost water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and Southern California cities, federal fishery agencies are weakening decade-old endangered species protections for some of the state’s most imperiled native fish populations.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Francisco Estuary health report offers mixed review

The health of North America’s largest estuary, the San Francisco Estuary, is showing some signs of improvement, but much of the historic damage caused to the massive watershed has either not improved or worsened, according to a new report.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Change in California water will prevent catastrophe, build a more resilient valley

Change is hard. It’s human nature to resist it. So it’s not surprising that some Central Valley farmers and water managers are raising alarm bells about the most sweeping change to state water law in a century, saying in a recent Fresno Bee series that the consequences will be “excruciating” and “catastrophic.”

Aquafornia news National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

News release: Federal action plan focused on improving water prediction for western U.S.

The Action Plan identifies four areas for improvement: enhance weather forecasts to improve water prediction; improve and expand the use of water forecast information to benefit water management outcomes; improve science and technology for water prediction; and implement integrated water availability assessments at national and local basin scales.

Aquafornia news ABC10.com

California’s Delta smelt are dying: How this affects the state’s water

The Delta smelt is such a small and translucent fish that it often disappears from view when it swims in the turbid waters of its home in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, it’s also been disappearing from the Delta entirely.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: Newsom’s veto of Delta water bill best for California residents, farms

Agriculture is part of what makes our state’s economy strong and helps provide for all our families, which is why it is crucial that we do absolutely everything we can to protect our state’s farms and allow them to operate without the fear of major obstacles. California agriculture nearly faced such an obstacle with Senate Bill 1, which would have placed harsh regulations on water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Agencies release Delta-conveyed water transfer environmental reports

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority announced the environmental reports, which “analyze potential impacts of approving water transfers to increase water reliability for those suffering shortages during dry times.”

Tour Nick Gray

Northern California Tour 2020
Field Trip - October 14-16

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants will get an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Chinook salmon flocking to revitalized San Joaquin River

A staggering number of Chinook salmon are returning to a California river that hasn’t sustained salmon for decades due to agricultural and urban demands, giving biologists hope that threatened fish are finally spawning in their native grounds without human help.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: The next big California vs. Trump fight is over water and endangered species

Just how far will Gov. Gavin Newsom go in his high-profile fight with the Trump administration over environmental protections? The next few months will provide an answer, as Newsom is forced to take a stand on Trump rollbacks in a long-contested battleground — the Northern California Delta that helps supply more than half the state’s population with drinking water and fills irrigation canals on millions of acres of farmland.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

A ‘chilling message’: Trump critics see a deeper agenda in California feud

President Trump’s political feud with California has spread collateral damage across more than a dozen other states, which have seen their regulatory authority curtailed and their autonomy threatened by a Trump administration intent on weakening the environmental statutes of the country’s most populous state.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump administration surrenders to California, backs off on Delta water fight

The Trump administration has retreated on a plan to push more water through the Delta this fall after protests from California officials on the harmful impacts on endangered Chinook salmon and other fish.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Shasta Dam fight with water district ends in California

The Westlands Water District on Sept. 30 formally stopped its environmental review of a $1.4 billion U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plan to raise the 602-foot dam by another 18.5 feet. It is unclear what Westlands’ decision will mean for the future of the project…

Aquafornia news Seattle Times

In California, orcas and salmon have become so scarce people have forgotten what once was. Will the Northwest be next?

If there is a hell for salmon, it probably looks like this. There were many more golf balls in the water than salmon this summer, whacked there by enthusiasts at Aqua Golf, a driving range on the bank of the Sacramento River. Below the surface, the gravel salmon need to make their nests had been mined decades ago to build Shasta Dam, 602 feet tall and with no fish passage. The dam cut off access to all of the cold mountain waters where these fish used to spawn.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

The Interior secretary wants to enlarge a dam. An old lobbying client would benefit

For years, the Interior Department resisted proposals to raise the height of its towering Shasta Dam in Northern California. The department’s own scientists and researchers concluded that doing so would endanger rare plants and animals in the area… But the project is going forward now, in a big win for a powerful consortium of California farmers that stands to profit substantially…

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Revealed: Trump’s Wildlife Service pick has ties to anti-animal protection groups

Aurelia Skipwith, who is already a top official at the interior department, formerly worked at the agrochemical giant Monsanto. New revelations show she also has ties to the Westlands Water District, a political powerhouse with a history of chafing against Endangered Species Act regulations that can interfere with farmers’ demands for water in California.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California fights Trump over Delta water, fish, environmental rules

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said the federal plan would harm the nearly-extinct Delta smelt and other species. The state said the plan would also hurt the mostly urban water agencies that belong to the State Water Project, which might have to surrender some of its supplies to compensate for the federal plan.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water year 2019 leaves reservoirs with good storage

California Farm Bureau Federation Senior Counsel Chris Scheuring said the strong 2019 water year should not distract from “the public-policy issues that never go away in California water.” Scheuring said he thinks water deliveries may remain good for the next year or two, but farmers should be prepared for another multiyear drought.

Aquafornia news Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

California’s chronic water overuse leads to sinking towns, arsenic pollution

When you walk through Jeannie Williams’s sunny orchard, you don’t notice anything wrong. But the problem’s there, underfoot. The land around her — about 250 square kilometres — is sinking. “It’s frightening,” Williams says. “Is the land going to come back up? I don’t know.”

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: To avoid environmental genocide, Gov. Newsom must sign SB 1

I’m writing to express our tribe’s dismay at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that he plans to veto Senate Bill 1. … Vetoing this bill will green-light President Trump’s plan to divert even more water from our struggling rivers for industrial agriculture. Many well-respected fish biologists and environmentalists have concluded Trump’s attempt to ignore the best science and rewrite the rules will essentially be an “extinction plan” for Chinook salmon and other threatened fish.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Demise of key environment bill could escalate California’s water wars

Newsom has said he won’t approve Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins’ bid for a legal backstop against environmental rollbacks by the Trump administration. And Washington is poised to reduce protections for endangered fish species in the state’s largest watersheds. The result may be the heightened regulatory uncertainty that opponents of the bill said they hoped to avoid…

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Aquafornia news ABC30

Drought tolerant crop being studied in the Valley

Big research is happening at the Kearney Agriculture and Extension Center in Fresno County. Sorghum, a crop that looks similar to corn, is under a microscope.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump administration threatens jail time for California officials over river project

The threats came in a dispute over reintroducing winter-run Chinook salmon into the McCloud River, a pristine river above Shasta Dam, as part of a federal plan approved under the Obama administration to try to stave off extinction for the critically endangered fish.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Newsom must keep his promise on California SB1

Whatever satisfaction might be gained by telling the president to pound sand is nowhere near as important as protecting the water supply of Modesto and thousands of farmers depending on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A fight with Trump that Gavin Newsom doesn’t want: Why he’s vetoing environmental bill

Newsom saw SB 1 as a mortal threat to something he’s been supporting since shortly before he took office: a tentative truce in California’s longstanding water wars. The truce revolves around the flow of water in and out of the Delta from California’s most important river systems, the Sacramento and San Joaquin.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Full water allotment helps Fresno County reach record crop value

Commodity prices across some crops, record cotton yields and ample water supplies combined to catapult Fresno County’s gross crop value to a record $7.88 billion in 2018, eclipsing last year’s figure by over 12 percent, and besting the previous record by nearly as much.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Friant-Kern’s $400 million fix sunk by state legislature

In March, newly-elected Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) proposed a $400 million windfall to finance repairs for the canal under Senate Bill 559… But the bipartisan bill, much like canal it was designed to fix, is sunk — for now. The bill failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote before the Sept. 13 legislative deadline.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Farmers are not to blame for Valley subsidence, but they can help solve it with water

Why do farmers pump the water under their land (which California law clearly states belongs to them) in the first place? Unfortunately, you’ll rarely read the answer to this question in the press, but it is the most important part of the story.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Shasta Dam case appealed to California Supreme Court

Westlands Water District has filed an appeal with the California Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn a lower court ruling and get on with assessing the effects of raising the height of Shasta Dam.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Audio: The Friant-Kern Canal is sinking. Thirty-mile parallel canal proposed

The Friant-Kern Canal, which delivers water to farms and communities on the east side of the Valley, is literally sinking in some areas due to groundwater pumping. And with one week to go before the California legislature wraps up its 2019 session, many hope the state will help fund the canal’s repair.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star-News

Opinion: Science shunned by Trump once more

When the salmon are healthy, the world is healthy. That means the waters are clean and fast-running and the bottom gravel is clean. It means the rivers … are pouring as they should into our oceans, bringing nutrients and sediments into the salt- and fresh-water interplay.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Why SB 1 must ensure that CESA applies to the federal CVP

Now, some are arguing that the bill should be stripped of its longstanding provision applying the State’s own Endangered Species Act to the operations of the federal Central Valley Project. Here’s why that’s a terrible idea.

Aquafornia news ABC30

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water deliveries are plentiful for Valley farmers thanks to a healthy snowmelt

Water deliveries in the Fresno Irrigation District typically end in September, but they could last until November this year. The extra deliveries will allow growers to not only irrigate but also to bank some water for future use.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Trump’s Delta assault threatens Bay Area water supply

The latest assault on the Delta, which supplies roughly one-third of the Bay Area’s water, is the Trump administration’s efforts to gut the federal Endangered Species Act. Removing protections in existence for nearly 50 years threatens not only the Delta’s wildlife but also the quality of its fresh water.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: Base water plans on science, not politics

Trump started promising more water to Central Valley growers before he was elected. During a campaign stop in Fresno three years ago, he dismissed the drought, then in its fifth year, as a hoax and snorted at legal protections for endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Dead fish and starving whales: What Trump’s hidden report on water means to California

Federal scientists pulled no punches in their report: The Trump administration’s plan to send more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers would force critically endangered California salmon even closer to extinction, and starve a struggling population of West Coast killer whales.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Suppressed federal report shows how Trump water plan would endanger California salmon

The July 1 assessment, obtained by The Times, outlines how proposed changes in government water operations would harm several species protected by the Endangered Species Act, including perilously low populations of winter-run salmon, as well as steelhead trout and killer whales, which feed on salmon.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Fresno water district appeals ruling to stop work on Shasta Dam study

Westlands Water District says a preliminary injunction ordering it to stop work on an environmental impact report may prevent it from helping to pay for raising the height of the dam, according to the appeal filed last week.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands strikes back at AG Becerra over studying Shasta Dam raise

Westlands Water District isn’t giving up on raising Shasta Dam… The district, stopped in late July by a Shasta County judge from conducting an environmental study on the impact of raising Shasta Dam, filed a petition with the Sacramento-based Third District California Court of Appeal on Monday to vacate the trial court’s injunction.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces grant funding opportunity for drought resiliency projects in 2020 and 2021

Funding is available for projects that: Increase the reliability of water supplies through infrastructure improvements; improve water management through decision support tools, modeling and measurement; provide protection for fish, wildlife and the environment. Up to $300,000 per agreement is available for a project that can be completed within two years. Up to $750,000 per agreement is available for a project that can be completed within three years.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California’s Shasta Dam project hits financial, legal snags

A plan to raise and expand California’s largest reservoir is on hold as federal officials look for partners to share in the $1.4 billion cost. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also must grapple with opponents who have sued, saying the Shasta Dam project violates state law.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Cox working on Friant-Kern Canal issue

It’s hard for U.S. Representative T.J. Cox to understand why the Friant-Kern Canal is just at 40 percent capacity. … Cox said funding is provided to maintain the Friant-Kern Canal that’s supposed to be reimbursed by the Federal Government, but those reimbursements haven’t been coming.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Appetite for California almonds still growing, but farmers feel squeeze from new water rules

In California, money does grow on trees. Almonds constitute a $5.6 billion industry, and 2.26 billion pounds were shipped from California last year to be roasted and salted, or turned into anything from frothy, barista-friendly almond milk to marzipan sold on the streets of Berlin.

Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

Officials post warnings near New Melones Reservoir about potentially harmful algae bloom

People may want to think twice before taking a dip in the green-tinted water near the Parrotts Ferry Bridge at New Melones Reservoir, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials. The water’s greenish hue is due to a cyanobacteria bloom that was first detected in the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River upstream of the reservoir on July 17.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: What does groundwater have to do with the Delta? A lot.

While it may not be obvious to some, sustainable groundwater management is inherently connected to the long-term survival of the Delta. Not only does the state’s most significant groundwater use occur in regions that also rely upon water from the Delta watershed, reduced reliance on the Delta and improved regional self-reliance are central to many of the goals outlined in the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Three-way wrangle over plan to expand Shasta Dam

On Monday, the state of California and a coalition of fishing groups and environmentalists asked a judge to bar Westlands from completing a crucial environmental report in hopes of stalling the project. “Everything we see looks to be illegal,” said deputy attorney general Russell Hildreth. At issue is a stretch of the McCloud River that both sides agree would be inundated by the project.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: Getting it right on water rights

If credibility were measured like rainfall, the Trump administration would be in the midst of a prolonged drought — as evidenced most recently in its handling of plans to send more water to California’s Central Valley.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Earthquakes can disrupt California water supply. We must prepare

An earthquake doesn’t have to happen in your neighborhood or city, or even your region, for it to have an impact, especially on Southern California’s water supply. According to UCLA Professor Jon Stewart, the three main water systems that bring water to Southern California each cross the San Andreas Fault at least once.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Coleman Hatchery expresses optimism for future fish returns

The Coleman National Fish Hatchery is expecting good returns of their fish in the foreseeable future after a few lean years of comebacks. … Mother Nature worked with the hatchery this year providing high water levels and spring storms, said Galyean. When nature was not working in the hatchery’s favor was during the recent drought.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: California’s struggle for water certainty continues

For many years, federal “biological opinions” for delta smelt and winter run chinook salmon have dictated restrictions on operations of the pumps, reservoirs and canals of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project… Informed by a decade of science and on-the-ground experience with what we know has not worked, long-awaited new federal biological opinions are finally nearing completion.

Aquafornia news KBAK

Water Blueprint proposes parallel waterway for the sinking Friant-Kern Canal

The Friant Water Authority is confident a parallel canal is the best solution. This new one will be built in a way that prepares for subsidence. A new canal would also benefit from the Ground Water Management Act of 2014, which will regulate how much and when water is pumped out of the ground, preventing what some believe is the main cause of subsidence.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Shasta County judge rejects effort to move Shasta Dam lawsuit to Fresno

A judge has rejected a San Joaquin Valley irrigation district’s request to move a lawsuit against raising the height of Shasta Dam to Fresno County. Westlands Water District, based in Fresno, wanted to move the lawsuit against it to its home county, but a judge has ruled the case will remain in Shasta County.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: San Luis Reservoir algal bloom at danger level: Public urged to avoid water contact

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) urged people to avoid physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County until further notice and avoid eating fish from the lake due to the presence of blue-green algae. DWR increased the advisory from warning to danger after detecting an increased amount of microcystins.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Opinion: The changing Delta’s challenges

Many Delta problems are worsening. Climate change is raising sea levels and temperatures, making floods and droughts more extreme and will likely further alter the mix of species. State legislation to end overdrafting of groundwater will increase demands for water from the Delta from farmers in the San Joaquin Valley struggling (mostly in vain) to find replacement water.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Salmon study may foil Trump’s plan to boost water deliveries to Central Valley farms

Federal biologists worked frantically this year to meet a deadline to assess the environmental impacts of Trump administration plans to send more water to Central Valley farmers. But the biologists’ conclusion — that increased deliveries would harm endangered Chinook salmon and other imperiled fish — would foil those plans.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Monday Top of the Scroll: Administration sidelines federal biologists who could stand in way of more water for Calif. farmers

Just days before federal biologists were set to release new rules governing the future of endangered salmon and drinking water for two-thirds of Californians, the administration replaced them with an almost entirely new group … to “refine” and “improve” the rules, according to an email obtained by KQED. Environmental groups said the Department of  Interior is interfering with the science…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Feds seek comment on tweaks to California water operations

Seeking to implement updated scientific methods to its operations in the Golden State, the Bureau of Reclamation released a draft environmental impact report on the coordinated operations between the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project on Thursday.

Related article:

Western Water California Water Map

Your Don’t-Miss Roundup of Summer Reading From Western Water

Dear Western Water reader, 

Clockwise, from top: Lake Powell, on a drought-stressed Colorado River; Subsidence-affected bridge over the Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley;  A homeless camp along the Sacramento River near Old Town Sacramento; Water from a desalination plant in Southern California.Summer is a good time to take a break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting a chance to do plenty of that this July.

But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned for later this year, we want to help you catch up on Western Water stories from the first half of this year that you might have missed. 

Aquafornia news Fox 26 News

Water levels at Friant Dam are at full capacity; what that means for the Central Valley

The water is coming straight from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is very cold, which is causing some concerns people hoping to get into the water. But, the water itself, when used what it’s intended for, has a great impact in our Central Valley.

Related article:

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Friant Dam operators release water into San Joaquin River, Millerton Lake at capacity

A massive flow of fresh water is being released from Friant Dam on Tuesday as Millerton Lake reached capacity. … Officials are releasing 1,700-1,000 cubic feet per second into the San Joaquin River. Stroup said Millerton Lake has received above average snow melt forcing them to release the water to make room for more run off.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Got surface water? Groundwater-only lands in the san joaquin valley

We estimate that nearly 20%—or 840,000 acres—of irrigated cropland in the valley has no access to surface water. … With groundwater cuts looming and no other water supply to fall back on, groundwater-only areas are on the front line of the effort to bring basins into balance.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Are pistachios the nut of the future?

Pistachio trees require somewhere between one-third and one-half as much water as almond trees. Unlike almond trees, pistachio trees don’t die during extended droughts. Their metabolism merely slows and when water returns, they start producing nuts again. … Pistachios can also handle, as Duarte’s team discovered, levels of salt that have already killed many an almond tree.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Trump said water wars ‘easy’ to fix. What do farmers say now?

On June 28, farmers gathered in Los Banos to ask questions of President Trump’s agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue. GV Wire took the opportunity to ask growers if they believed Trump was doing enough to bring water to farmers. Generally, they said they like how things are progressing.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump’s pending rules on California water marked by missing documents and hurried reviews, say scientists

In their analyses, they write that the plan poses risks to threatened fish; that the process is rushed; that they didn’t receive enough information to provide a complete scientific review; and that the Trump administration may be skewing the science to make the environmental impact look less serious.

Tour Nick Gray

Bay-Delta Tour 2020
Field Trip - June 3-5

This tour travels deep into California’s water hub and traverses the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour will make its way to San Francisco Bay and includes a ferry ride. 

Aquafornia news Fox 26 News

Homeowners near San Joaquin River fear rising water levels

Parts of the San Joaquin and Kings Rivers are closed to recreation. But the high water levels don’t just mean people’s vacations are getting cut short. … Hilda Warren lives near the river and says she’s starting to get worried, watching the water levels rise day by day.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Opinion: Delta smelt are poor swimmers

Delta smelt are poor swimmers. When they have to swim against voluminous outflows, they struggle. They also lack endurance for distance and swimming against currents. This was the result of the taxpayer-funded swim performance test conducted more than 20 years ago. Why is this important?

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Bureau of Reclamation bumps Westside water allocation to 70 percent

The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms provided an added boost to the already above average precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still about 150% of average for this time of year.”

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

Before there was a New Melones Dam: A look back at efforts to save the Stanislaus River

Members of Friends of the River and the Sierra Club are planning a presentation on a controversial episode in Mother Lode history, when activists unsuccessfully tried to prevent flooding of a raftable section of the Stanislaus River by rising water levels in New Melones Reservoir in the 1970s and 1980s. … The event is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday this week at Tuolumne County Library, 480 Greenley Road in Sonora.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

After 25 years, winter-run salmon return to Battle Creek

For years fisheries experts have watched the number of winter-run Chinook salmon dwindle as they suffered through drought and adverse conditions in the Sacramento River. But this year a small crop of the endangered salmon have made their way back from the ocean to return Battle Creek in southern Shasta County, something that hasn’t happened in some 25 years. And officials hope the fish are the beginning of a new run of salmon in the creek.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, environmental groups sue to stop Shasta Dam raise

The lawsuit against the Fresno-based Westlands Water District was filed in Shasta County Superior Court on Monday. State officials have for years maintained that raising the height of the dam would violate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because a higher dam would further inundate the McCloud River, in violation of state law.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

CVP districts seek ways to enhance water supplies

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project, may update its 65% allocation for south-of-delta agricultural contractors later this month. But Lon Martin, general manager of the Los Banos-based San Luis Water District, said landowners who are planting crops and must secure water for the remainder of the year “cannot wait until May and June to make decisions.”

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Despite abundant snowpack, water still limited for some farmers

It’s an exceptional year for Sierra snowpack — 150 to 200% in some places. Mountain snow is the main water source for agriculture on the Valley’s west side. But those farmers are getting just 65% of their allocation… Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says it’s frustrating that in a water year this good, some farmers still can’t get enough of it to grow food.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

After 65 Years, Salmon Are Returning to the San Joaquin

Surviving an exhaustive maze of manmade barriers and hungry predators, a hardy group of salmon have beat the odds and returned to spawn in one of California’s most-heavily dammed rivers. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says for the first time in over 65 years, threatened spring-run Chinook adult salmon have returned to the San Joaquin River near Fresno to complete their life cycle.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Environment report: Lawsuits are a weapon in major water conflicts

In court, the California Environmental Quality Act is a familiar obstacle to projects large and small — housing developments, solar projects, even bike lanes. It’s also lately become a weapon in the state’s major water conflicts.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Westlands officials disappointed by water allocation announcement

While all other Central Valley Project contractors’ allocations were previously increased to 100% of their contract totals in recent months, the Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that agricultural districts South-of-Delta will receive only 65% percent of their historic water allocation. … In light of current hydrologic and reservoir conditions, Westlands Water District officials said this minor increase in water allocation is “astonishing.”

Aquafornia news Politico

Interior’s Bernhardt worked closely on matters he promised to avoid

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt began working on policies that would aid one of his former lobbying clients within weeks of joining the Trump administration, according to a POLITICO analysis of agency documents … Newly disclosed schedule “cards” prepared by Interior officials for Bernhardt show more than three dozen meetings with key players on California water issues, including multiple lengthy meetings on specific endangered species protections at the heart of his previous work.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

West-side water ticks up to 65% of allocation. will it hit 100%?

The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will supply South-of-Delta growers with 65% of their contracted water total. … Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), who is a grower and one of the top water policy experts in Congress, said that he expected the initial west-side allocation in February to be 50%, followed by a 75% revise.

Related article:

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 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 Roll Call

Interior Secretary Bernhardt under investigation by inspector general

At least 11 Democratic senators asked the inspector general to investigate a range of claims against Bernhardt … The inspector general also received a request from Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, asking the office to examine whether Bernhardt played a role in the department’s handling of endangered species in the San Francisco Bay Delta…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Full water allocations hard to reach despite storms

Even as winter and early-spring storms have filled reservoirs to the brim and piled snow on Sierra Nevada mountaintops, state and federal officials say they’re limited in how much water they can send south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Interior: Bernhardt faces hefty to-do list

Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary, he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the House.

Related articles:

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 The Porterville Reporter

Legislation to repair Friant-Kern Canal receives bipartisan support, advances to appropriations

The legislation, which received bipartisan support, will invest $400 million from the State’s General Fund towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.

Aquafornia news KRCR TV

“It is not a hole,” says Bureau of Reclamation after viewer takes photo of Shasta Dam

The area manager of the Shasta Dam, Don Bader said the image is not a hole in the dam, but a spall, which is a small fragment or a chip, that has broken off of a larger solid body.

Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2020
Field Trip - April 22-24

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 The Modesto Bee

Opinion: Water board staff tries end run around negotiations

When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers welcome federal agencies’ suits on flows plan

Now that the federal government has filed its own lawsuits against an unimpaired-flows plan for San Joaquin River tributaries, farmers and other parties to the lawsuits wait to learn where they will be heard–and prepare for a lengthy court battle. California Farm Bureau Federation … filed its own lawsuit against the unimpaired-flows plan in February…

Aquafornia news KVPR

Why President Trump’s fast-tracked water allocations are raising alarm

The Trump administration has fast-tracked a process to deliver more water to farms. But an investigation by KQED reveals those changes are raising alarm among federal employees. In this interview, we speak with KQED science reporter Lauren Sommer about why, and what’s at stake.

Aquafornia news Calaveras Enterprise

Reservoirs release more water in anticipation of snowpack

Water storage at New Melones Reservoir in southeastern Calaveras County is currently at 84 percent of its 2.4 million acre-feet capacity – 35 percent higher than its 15-year average for March… Although the dam’s emergency spillway has never been tested, Reclamation has been proactively releasing water in anticipation of snowpack runoff.

Aquafornia news ABC30

Dam operators release water into valley rivers as rapid warm up melts Sierra snowpack

Water is coming out from Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River. The dam is at about 82 percent of capacity, and the warm weather is melting the mountain snow. Michael Jackson, area director for the Bureau of Reclamation, says the flow out of the dam is being increased. Flood releases don’t usually start until April, so the extra water is good news for valley growers, with extra irrigation water available.

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.

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 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. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Bureau of Reclamation names Ernest A. Conant Mid-Pacific Region director

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

He’s ‘famous’ for measuring California’s snow. Now, he’s retiring after 30 years — sort of

A simple web search will pull up nearly a million articles, videos and photos featuring Frank Gehrke. He’s no fashion icon like Kim Kardashian or a dogged politician like Gov. Jerry Brown. But he has broken a lot of news. … For 30 years, you might have seen Gehrke on TV, the guy trudging through snow with a measuring pole, talking about how deep the pack is each winter on the evening news. He retired from his post as the state’s chief snow surveyor in December, but he’s not letting go of his snowshoes and skis anytime soon.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Key California ag region ponders what’s next after voters spurn bond to fix sinking Friant-Kern Canal

Land subsidence from overpumping of San Joaquin Valley groundwater sank portions of the Friant-Kern Canal, the 152-mile conduit that conveys water from the San Joaquin River to farms that help fuel a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy. A plan to fix it helped sink the $8.8 billion Proposition 3 bond measure last November. Now San Joaquin Valley water managers are trying to figure out another way to restore the canal, not only to keep farmers farming, but to aid the valley’s overtaxed groundwater aquifers. By Gary Pitzer in Western Water.

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.

Related articles:

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 California Water Research

Blog: Environmental Groups Urge New Congress to Fund Seismic Fix at San Luis Dam

A coalition of environmental groups has called on California members of Congress to prioritize the San Luis (B.F. Sisk) Dam seismic remediation over federal funding for new California dams. San Luis Dam is in a very seismically active area. Independently reviewed risk assessments for Reclamation have shown that a large earthquake could lead to crest settlement and overtopping of the dam, which would result in large uncontrolled releases and likely dam failure.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

Women Leading in Water, Colorado River Drought and Promising Solutions — Western Water Year in Review

Dear Western Water readers:

Women named in the last year to water leadership roles (clockwise, from top left): Karla Nemeth, director, California Department of Water Resources; Gloria Gray,  chair, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Brenda Burman, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner; Jayne Harkins,  commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico; Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission.The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.

These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.

We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Climate change effects on the State Water Project and Central Valley Project

In the latter half of 2018, both the federal and state governments released new climate change assessments that outline the projected course of climate change and its potential effects on water resources. At the December meeting of the California Water Commission, staff from the Department of Water Resources and the Delta Stewardship Council were on hand to present an overview of the newly released assessments.

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. 

Related articles:

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 San Francisco Chronicle

Western droughts hurt fight against climate change

A new study out of Stanford University finds that 10 percent of the total carbon dioxide spewed from California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for power generation this century is the result of states turning to fossil fuels when water was too sparse to spin electrical turbines at dams.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Westlands’ role in Shasta Dam raising project takes a beating in Redding

A water district that provides irrigation to San Joaquin Valley farmers heard mostly negative comments in Redding on Wednesday about its role in the ongoing proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam. The Fresno County-based Westlands Water District, which has stepped forward to help pay the cost to raise the dam, held a meeting at the Holiday Inn to take comments that will be used to develop an environmental impact report on the project.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Tiny salamanders may stand in way of massive Shasta Dam raising project

A trio of tiny salamanders could stand in the way of a massive $1.4 billion project to raise the height of Shasta Dam. An environmental organization has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, asking a judge to force the federal agency to make a determination on whether three salamander species living around Lake Shasta should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2020
Field Trip - September 30 - October 1

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 projects. 

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.

As He Steps Aside, Tim Quinn Talks About ‘Adversarialists,’ Collaboration and Hope For Solving the State’s Tough Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tim Quinn, retiring executive director of Association of California Water Agencies

ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn  with a report produced by Association of California Water Agencies on  sustainable groundwater management.  (Source:  Association of California Water Agencies)In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.

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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Trump wants to cut red tape, hasten water projects in West

President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the government to speed up environmental reviews and streamline regulations that he says are hindering work on major water projects in California and other Western states. Trump signed a memorandum aimed at helping the Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project in California, the Klamath Irrigation Project in Oregon and California and the Columbia River Basin system in the Pacific Northwest.

Related Article:

Related News Release:

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Lakehead residents raise questions about raising height of Shasta Dam

About 130 private property owners around Lake Shasta could be forced to move if a plan to raise the height of Shasta Dam goes forward. That was just one of the pieces of information that came out of a community meeting about the project Monday night in Lakehead. … About 90 people attended the meeting to hear from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials about how Lakehead residents and business owners will be affected if the height of the dam is raised 18½ feet.

Northern California Tour 2019
Field Trip - October 2-4

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Work begins on raising the height of Shasta Dam

Nathan Morgan has been hanging over the side of side of Shasta Dam recently — sometimes upside down — making marks on the side of the dam. Morgan is part of a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation crew drilling holes in the side and on the top of the dam to test the strength of the concrete. The drilling is part of the prep work to raise the height of the dam 18½ feet. … Earlier this year Congress set aside about $20 million for pre-construction work and design on the dam raise.

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Trump administration talks of boosting Central Valley water deliveries. But is it just talk?

With talk of boosting water deliveries to Central Valley agriculture, the Trump administration is telling growers exactly what they want to hear. But given California’s complex water system and a web of federal and state environmental regulations, such promises could prove more political than practical. … The office of Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt will make final recommendations on the agency’s steps in early September.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Jolting California officials, Trump administration looks to rewrite rules for Delta water

The Trump administration is trying a bold new tactic to bring more water to Central Valley farmers — one that could come at the expense of millions of urban Southern Californians. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation served notice to California officials Aug. 17, stating it wants to renegotiate a landmark 1986 agreement governing the big federal and state water projects and how they pump water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to their member agencies in southern half of the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Trump’s California wildfire tweets show he’s enlisted in state’s water wars

The backdrop of [President Donald] Trump’s tweets is a charged debate before the State Water Resources Control Board, the agency tasked with allocating California’s water supplies. It is set to vote this month on a plan to increase flows in the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, which would help fish but hurt farmers. 

Related Article:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: The Central Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water

Completed during Harry Truman’s presidency, the Friant-Kern Canal has been a workhorse in California’s elaborate man-made water-delivery network. … Until now. … A proposition on the November ballot would raise billions of dollars for a variety of water projects around the state, including roughly $350 million to repair the Friant-Kern.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Water issue could make splitting California into three states virtually impossible

Splitting California into three new states would scramble nearly every segment of government that touches residents’ lives, from taxes to Medi-Cal to driver’s licenses. … But of all the gargantuan tasks facing Californians should they choose to divide themselves by three — a proposal that has qualified for the November ballot — none is arguably more daunting than carving up the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Feds push to raise Shasta Dam, but would it ease California water woes?

Officials with the federal government seem determined to realize a controversial proposal to raise Shasta Dam and increase the storage capacity of the reservoir behind it – despite objections from fish and wildlife agencies and California law that technically forbids such a project.

Tour

Bay-Delta Tour 2018

Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaWe traveled deep into California’s water hub and traverse the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay, and included a ferry ride.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Pressure mounts to solve California’s toxic farmland drainage problem

Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest unresolved water problems in the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: White House, Congress side with California growers over raising Shasta Dam

Congress and the Trump administration are pushing ahead with a plan to raise a towering symbol of dam-building’s 20th century heyday to meet the water demands of 21st century California — a project backed by San Joaquin Valley growers but opposed by state officials, defenders of a protected river and an American Indian tribe whose sacred sites would be swamped.

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.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

LaMalfa says Shasta Dam raise not a top priority

While one federal agency wants to go forward with plans to raise the height of Shasta Dam, the congressman whose district includes the dam called it a “rumor that is going around all the time,” and said it is not his top priority for water projects in Northern California.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Proposed federal budget includes money to raise height of Shasta Dam

The proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam is back on the table, with a 2019 federal budget request of $20 million for pre-construction and design work on the structure. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and several other water agencies in the state have been interested in raising the height of the dam for decades.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Amid rains, drought fears loom

After a historically wet season last year, relatively little precipitation has fallen this year in California during two of the three historically wettest months. Officials are urging stricter water conservation and caution drier months ahead. After last week’s rains, the Sierra snowpack — a critical factor in water availability — climbed to just 39 percent of normal.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times-Delta

New state law promotes dam safety, just not here in Tulare County

Dams and reservoirs under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Water Resources will be inspected more regularly thanks to a new law Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week. What does this mean for Tulare County’s reservoirs and aging dams, Kaweah and Success?

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Not much snow, but a full water supply for Stockton

The Sierra snowpack may be next to nothing, but the Stockton area is set to receive another full supply of water from New Melones Lake, and there’s no reason to expect a shortage here this year, officials said. … While the Stockton area is getting its full share from New Melones, other federal water contractors are not as fortunate.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Drought threat looms over water allocations

With the threat of another drought looming, federal officials announced water allocations Tuesday that gave the city of Redding a full complement of water, but other water agencies, such as the Bella Vista Water District, were left with uncertainty.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water allocation for westside growers is going to be a meager one for 2018

With the threat of another drought looming, west San Joaquin Valley farmers received some dismal news Tuesday about this year’s water allocation. The initial allocation from the Central Valley Project is 20 percent, the U.S Bureau of Reclamation announced on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farmers told to expect little water from federal project this year

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday that most farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta who get water from the federal Central Valley Project will receive just 20 percent of their requested allocation this year. … The State Water Project has set an initial allocation of 20 percent for all of its farm and municipal customers.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Idea of ‘maximizing’ water deliveries takes a beating

The Bureau of Reclamation came to Chico Thursday to take input on a proposal to maximize water deliveries from the Central Valley Project, and for two hours a succession of speakers told them it was a bad idea.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Meeting seeks input on fed’s water delivery plan

A meeting in Chico has been scheduled for Thursday to take input on a Trump Administration plan to maximize water deliveries from the federal Central Valley Project. The project, which dates to the 1930s, consists of 18 dams and reservoirs and 500 miles of canals that primarily deliver water to farms and cities in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.

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 Redding Record Searchlight

Visitors find doors closed to Shasta Dam and Whiskeytown visitor centers

Friday night’s federal government shutdown had a minimal effect in the North State over the weekend but those who drove to Shasta Dam and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area found themselves locked out of the visitors centers there.

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 Water Deeply

Trump move to boost Delta pumping raises fears about fish impacts

In the final days of 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration announced it would consider sending as much water as possible from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farmers and cities to the south. The notice comes as a follow-up to a speech Trump made in Fresno during his presidential campaign, when he condemned the downstream flow of river water into the ocean as “insane.”

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: US eyes increased pumping from biggest federal water project

The Trump administration said Friday it will look at revving up water deliveries to farmers from California’s Central Valley Project, the largest federal water project in the United States, in what environmental groups called a threat to protections for struggling native salmon and other endangered species.

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.

Northern California Tour 2018

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway. 

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

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

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

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.

Tour Nick Gray

Bay-Delta Tour 2019
Field Trip - June 5-7

This tour traveled deep into California’s water hub and traversed the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay and included a ferry ride.

Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Arizonan confirmed as first woman to lead Bureau of Reclamation

Brenda Burman, the director of water policy for Salt River Project who previously worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior, has been confirmed as the nation’s first female commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Burman, who was nominated for the post in June by President Donald Trump, was confirmed on a unanimous voice vote by the U.S. Senate on Thursday, according to the Senate record.

Aquafornia news Audubon California

Commentary: 25th anniversary of water reform law provides perspective on progress and challenges

California’s most important federal water reform law – the Central Valley Project Improvement Act – will celebrate its 25th anniversary on October 30. … The law was an historic effort to protect and restore California’s wetlands, rivers, migratory waterbirds, salmon and other fish species, and also to promote more sustainable water supplies for a drought prone state.  

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Crews repair temperature curtains at Whiskeytown Lake

Over the past several weeks crews have been out on Whiskeytown Lake repairing the temperature curtains in the water near the Visitors Center. … The curtains are an important part of the bureau’s Central Valley Project, which includes Trinity and Lewiston dams and Shasta and Keswick dams.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Folsom Lake Auxiliary Spillway complete

The flood risk in the Sacramento metropolitan area is greatly improved now that a 12-year project to build a back-up spillway at Folsom Lake is complete.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: 1939 Central Valley water deal may doom Delta tunnels

Dam builders from President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration wanted to bring water to the parched eastern half of the San Joaquin Valley, but first they had to deal with a cluster of landowners whose ancestors had been there since the 1800s. The deal they cut in 1939 paved the way for much of the Central Valley Project, an engineering marvel that helped turn the Valley into one of the world’s most productive farming regions.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Taxpayer money was wrongly used to plan California water tunnel project, federal audit says

A federal agency left U.S. taxpayers on the hook for $50 million in water project costs that should have been paid by Central Valley irrigation districts, according to an inspector general’s report released Friday.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Inspectors check for weak spots on Shasta Dam

A team of engineers were out this week with hammers banging on the face of Shasta Dam. Hanging by ropes from the top of the 602-foot-tall dam, the group was inspecting the spillway, looking for weak spots in the concrete.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California reservoirs holding twice as much water as at the drought’s height

The Golden State’s system of 154 major reservoirs is holding 34,464,000 acre-feet according to the most recent June 12 state report with data pulled from an array of entities that own and manage these bodies of water, including the Department of Water Resources, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers and several city water departments.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

Enhancing California’s Water Supply: The Drive for New Storage
Spring 2017

One of the wettest years in California history that ended a record five-year drought has rejuvenated the call for new storage to be built above and below ground.

In a state that depends on large surface water reservoirs to help store water before moving it hundreds of miles to where it is used, a wet year after a long drought has some people yearning for a place to sock away some of those flood flows for when they are needed.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Another giant California dam has downstream residents worried

Deep in the Trinity Alps, 130 miles northwest of the troubled Oroville Dam, local officials are raising alarms about another earthen dam with documented weaknesses and limited capacity for releasing the water that has poured in from storms and melting snow.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Lobbyist who once sued Interior named to be department’s No. 2 official

His name is David Longly Bernhardt, and he’s worked as the top lobbyist for California’s Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural entity of its kind in the nation. … On Friday, the Trump administration announced it was nominating Bernhardt to serve as deputy to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee/Los Banos Enterprise

West Side has full water supplies for first time since 2006

Full water deliveries have returned to the last of the West Side irrigation districts affected by federal water cutbacks in recent years. … The news came too late for some farmers, who have already planted based on the earlier projection of 65 percent for 2017.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Drought busted: Bureau of Reclamation boosts water allocation to 100 percent for west-side farmers

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the water allocation for farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 100 percent for the first time since 2006. The announcement Tuesday comes only weeks after the bureau told disappointed growers that they would receive 65 percent of the contract supply from the Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Despite Trump promise and a wet winter, California farmers don’t get full water supply

California farmers have a sympathetic president in the White House and have enjoyed one of the wettest winters on record. But those in a giant swath of the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, are due to get only two-thirds of their water allotment this year from the federal government.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Can California repair damaged Delta reservoir within 45 days?

State officials said Wednesday that Californians reliant on water pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta won’t face supply shortages, even as crews shut down a massive pumping station that serves much of Southern California for at least a month to make repairs to its intake reservoir.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California farms given good news as reservoirs fill and snowpack builds

Federal officials announced Tuesday that the 20 reservoirs that make up the Central Valley Project are so swollen with winter runoff that many growers will get all the water they requested this year — a remarkable change from the past few years when countless orchards and fields received no federal water at all.

Commands