Topic: Climate Change

Overview

Climate Change

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield children’s book takes a trip down the Kern River

The successful Bakersfield children’s book series “Indy, Oh Indy” has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its sixth upcoming book, titled “The Mighty Kern River.” The book was inspired by a larger effort from the grassroots group Bring Back the Kern to raise awareness about Bakersfield’s mostly dry river and efforts to revive a more regular flow of water through town.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Bay mud could help wetlands survive sea level rise, new study shows

It’s a growing threat that sneaks in with the tide. Sea levels here in the Bay Area are expected to rise by a foot or more over the next several decades, potentially overwhelming levees and seawalls around the Bay. But now an environmental group says one of the most powerful weapons we have to fight back, is being literally, thrown away. … [T]ons of sediment that are dredged out of the Bay every year and barged out sea, or dumped in deep water … could be the perfect solution to bolster the wetlands that surround the Bay.

Related article:

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Releases on the Trinity River to significantly increase flow this week

Restoration flows will begin tomorrow, April 16, on the Trinity River to help improve conditions after another critically dry water year. A flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River is brought forward by the Trinity Management Council each year. This week’s two-day schedule is slated to increase daily average flows from 300 cubic feet per second to 1,300 cubic feet per second.

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

While high-profile surface-water initiatives like WaterFix and the Delta Conveyance Project grab most of the headlines pertaining to water management in the state, efforts to make significant changes to the way groundwater is utilized have been underway since 2014. Now, the state and the local water agencies are seeking public comment on documents related to the management of groundwater. In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a three-bill legislative package collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to better manage groundwater supplies over the long term.  

Aquafornia news The Signal

News release: SCV Water receives state PSPS grant

SCV Water, the Santa Clarita Valley’s water agency, received a nearly $250,000 California Special Districts Association Public Safety Power Shutoff program allocation from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The allocation will be used to help fund the installation of a permanent generator at the Earl Schmidt Filtration Plant on Lake Hughes Road near Castaic. The addition of this second generator brings the facility up to 100% operational capacity in the event of a power outage.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Costa spearheads $800 million water infrastructure bill to restore key Valley canals

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. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: If California is America’s climate leader, we’re all in trouble

As the latest evidence of extended drought and extreme wildfire danger confirms, California’s climate is changing quickly. Its policy on burning planet-warming fuels — not so much.  A state Senate bill to ban hydraulic fracturing and otherwise restrict oil and gas extraction died in its first committee Tuesday, with Gov. Gavin Newsom and three Democratic lawmakers withholding support. 

Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

New front in Santa Barbara County’s pot wars

Santa Barbara County’s most depleted water basin, the Cuyama Valley, is fast becoming the latest battleground in the fight over how — and whether — to address the negative impacts of the lucrative cannabis industry on farming and residential communities. The giant groundwater basin underlying this sparsely populated, heavily farmed, economically depressed valley is one of California’s 21 most critically over-drafted basins and the only one outside the Central Valley. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Judge tells Monterey County to go back to the drawing board on Cal Am desal approval

Monterey County must rescind all approvals of California American Water’s proposed desalination project, per an order from a Monterey County Superior Court judge who earlier this year found the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the project without identifying a water source. The ruling was handed down April 3 by Judge Lydia Villarreal, who on Jan. 21 granted in part—and denied in part—a writ requested by the Marina Coast Water District regarding the 2019 approvals of the desal plant component of Cal Am’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: CNRA launches website public input questionnaire

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) today launched  California Nature to engage Californians in advancing the State’s commitment to conserving 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30) and enlisting nature-based solutions to combat climate change. The website and a new online questionnaire are aimed at gathering input from a broad cross-section of Californians.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Biden picks energy lawyer Tommy Beaudreau as Interior Department’s No. 2 official

President Biden announced Wednesday that he will nominate Tommy Beaudreau to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department, ending a standoff between the White House and senators from fossil-fuel-rich states who derailed the president’s first choice. The selection of Beaudreau, an energy lawyer who was an Obama administration official, came after Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W. V.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) objected to Elizabeth Klein because of her past stance against fossil fuels.

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Southern California leans on more Colorado River water to combat record dry season

Southern California, like most of the West, is in the middle of a record dry season. To combat it and keep the metropolitan area well-watered, they’re relying more heavily on the Colorado River, with water pumped directly from the south end of Lake Havasu. Last Wednesday, the Metropolitan Water District began pumping from Lake Havasu at full capacity for the first time in years, drawing water from the Whitsett Intake Pumping Plant located just north of the Parker Dam. The eight-pump flow is equivalent to about 3,000 acre feet of water being pumped per day, according to MWD Manager of Colorado River Resources Bill Hasencamp.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Opinion: Why Wall Street investors’ trading California water futures is nothing to fear – and unlikely to work anyway

Water is one of the world’s most vital resources. So is there reason to freak out now that profit-hungry hedge funds and other investors can trade it like a barrel of oil or shares of Apple? That’s exactly what CME Group recently did in California when it launched the world’s first futures market for water in December 2020. Put simply, a futures market lets people place bets on the future price of water. 
-Written by Ellen Bruno, of University of California, Berkeley and Heidi Schweizer, of North Carolina State University.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Harmful algal blooms in the Delta (and elsewhere)

Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when colonies of algae, under the right conditions, grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. Every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state experiences harmful algal blooms. In California, reports of harmful algal blooms have increased from 91 in 2016 to 241 in 2019. In 2020, Stockton experienced a severe harmful algal bloom; it marked the first year that algal blooms spread into the San Joaquin and Calaveras Rivers so early in the summer and fall months. Drought and heat are factors that increase harmful algal blooms …

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Scores of tule elk died at Point Reyes seashore in 2020

Tule elk are treasured creatures in California, and for years, animal rights groups have butted heads with the Point Reyes National Seashore over its practice of keeping elk fenced away from nearby cattle ranches. Amid a dry 2020, the groups tried to bring water to the creatures but were rebuffed by the National Park Service. Now the federal agency has released a report indicating that more than one third of the 445 elk fenced in at Tomales Point died this past winter, bringing the population down to 293. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plan to ban California fracking falls short in Legislature

A far-reaching proposal to outlaw hydraulic fracturing and ban oil and gas wells from operating near homes, schools and healthcare facilities failed in the California Legislature on Tuesday, a major setback for progressive leaders who hail the state as the nation’s bellwether on environmental protection. Gov. Gavin Newsom in September called on state lawmakers to ban fracking and voiced his support for safety buffer zones around wells …

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drinking water infrastructure at risk of failing

A new state analysis estimates a $4.6 billion funding gap for water system infrastructure needed to ensure Californians have access to safe and affordable drinking water. The State Water Resources Control Board this month released the first-ever drinking water needs assessment, showing that approximately 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells are at-risk of failing to provide a sufficient amount of drinking water that meets basic health standards. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Newsom inks $536 million wildfire package as drought explodes across California

Drought-riddled California will spend over $500 million in the coming months cutting fuel breaks, lighting prescribed burns and conducting other wildfire prevention tactics under legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The Democratic governor said the $536 million budget deal is the first of many preventative steps he will authorize with the Golden State careening toward another expected brutal wildfire season.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The pillars for sustainable water management in the Sacramento River basin

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. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of the Interior

News release: White House announces several nominations to Interior leadership, including Tanya Trujillo as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science

The White House announced the intent to nominate several officials to serve at the Department of the Interior, including Tanya Trujillo as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. Trujillo is a water lawyer with more than 20 years of experience working on complex natural resources management issues and interstate and transboundary water agreements. She most recently worked as a project director with the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign. Before then, she served as the Executive Director of the Colorado River Board of California.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Water 101 workshop

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, April 23.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Innovation needed to solve state’s water challenges

Earlier this month, camera crews once again gathered in the Sierra Nevada to watch a man plunge a pole through the snow. The pole was removed and, following a tense few moments, Californians learned we experienced another dry winter, and we are plunging further into drought. These snowpack surveys are quaint rituals, but they’re also a jarring reminder of how little technological innovation has occurred in California’s water sector. 
-Written by Danielle Blacet, deputy executive director at the California Municipal Utilities Association, and Adrian Covert, senior vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Editorial: We are living in a climate emergency, and we’re going to say so

[C]onsider the following scenarios: A hurricane blasts Florida. A California dam bursts because floods have piled water high up behind it. A sudden, record-setting cold snap cuts power to the entire state of Texas. These are also emergencies that require immediate action. Multiply these situations worldwide, and you have the biggest environmental emergency to beset the earth in millennia: climate change. Given the circumstances, Scientific American has agreed with major news outlets worldwide to start using the term “climate emergency” in its coverage of climate change. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Podcast: Updating the status for water from the Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the most highly developed surface water systems in the world, but demand for the river’s water continues to exceed supply. University of Arizona geosciences professor Connie Woodhouse discusses the impact of a warming climate on the Colorado River. She is the featured speaker for the annual College of Science lecture series April 15. Connie Woodhouse spoke with Leslie Tolbert, Regent’s professor emerita in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

San Francisco Bay: Protections being thrown away, scientists say

For more than 100 years after California’s Gold Rush, developers and city leaders filled in San Francisco Bay, shrinking it by one third to build farms, freeways, airports and subdivisions. All that changed in the 1970s with modern environmental laws. But now as sea level rise threatens to cause billions of dollars of flooding in the coming decades, the bay is going to need to be filled again — but this time in a different way, according to a new scientific report out Tuesday.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Despite second dry year, Newsom resists declaring a drought emergency

Despite bipartisan calls to declare a state of emergency over California’s deepening drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom sidestepped questions Tuesday about when he may issue a proclamation. The governor said his administration is talking with federal officials daily about the status of the state’s water supply after two years of minimal rainfall that have dried out much of California.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

It’s that time of year, when we find out it’s that kind of year. We appear at the doorstep of a “critically dry year,” and most reservoir levels are significantly below average. Those conditions bring painfully to mind the awful drought years of 2014 and 2015, and threaten water supplies for California farms and cities, and for the protected fish species that must also get by in these lean years.
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources, and Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

The simple local solution to sea level rise? Mud from the bottom of San Francisco Bay

Protecting the Bay Area from sea level rise may all come down to mud. That’s the finding of a new report from San Francisco Estuary Institute that tries to address a two-part problem related to the looming threat of sea level rise: the lack of natural sediment coming into the bay and the need to reinforce its shorelines to protect the region from rising seas. There’s a fairly straightforward solution, the nonprofit research organization proposes: Take the sediment that’s dredged from the bay’s shipping channels and barged out to sea or to deep parts of the bay — 2½ to 3 million cubic yards of mud a year — and use it to restore wetlands on the perimeter. 

Related article:

Aquafornia news Poseidon Water

News release: California Court of Appeal upholds state lands commission approval of Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant

Poseidon Water announced that the Third District California Court of Appeal issued a decision denying the petition by seawater desalination opponents to overturn the Sacramento County Superior Court’s 2019 ruling upholding the California State Lands Commission’s 2017 approval of an amended lease for the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project (“Project”). The Court of Appeal decision reaffirms that the State Lands Commission correctly analyzed the Project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and that the Project protects the state’s Public Trust resources.

Aquafornia news KOLD News 13

Extreme conditions now sparking drought contingency plan for first time

Extreme drought conditions throughout the West are lowering levels in the crucial water reservoir, Lake Mead. Scars of long years of low precipitation are hard to go unnoticed at Lake Mead, and the hot, dry summers have been felt for the last several years in Arizona. 2020 was especially dry, with little monsoon. Now, the West is in uncharted territory. Lake Mead is projected to drop by several feet this year, from elevation 1,083 to about 1,068, according to officials with the Central Arizona Project. The lake is hovering around 39 percent of its full capacity.

Aquafornia news Green Matters

Here’s how climate change has affected human health

Climate change affects our weather patterns, sea levels, wildlife populations, and global temperatures, but very few people understand the ramifications it’s had on the human population. Believe it or not, our food, water, and air quality have all been seriously affected by climate change, and as a result, climate change has affected human health in a number of dangerous and potentially deadly ways. … [D]roughts cause wildfires, which are contributing to air quality problems. We’ve already seen what the immense plumes of smoke created by wildfires can do to air quality in California and Australia. 

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Suisun Marsh drilling plan re-evaluated after backlash

The Suisun Marsh — known as the largest swath of contiguous wetlands on the West Coast and a haven for thousands of migrating waterfowl — has become the Bay Area’s latest battleground between fossil fuel producers and environmentalists hellbent on fighting climate change. A Brentwood company, Sunset Exploration Inc., announced in January it wants to explore for natural gas by drilling a section of the 116,000-acre marshland about 9 miles southwest of Suisun City in an area known as Hunter’s Point, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: How to save coastlines from climate change disasters

The frequency of natural disasters has soared in recent decades. Total damage topped $210 billion worldwide in 2020. With climate change, the costs attributed to coastal storms will increase dramatically. At the same time, coastal habitats such as wetlands and reefs are being lost rapidly. Some 20% of the world’s mangroves were lost over the last four decades. More than half of the Great Barrier Reef was degraded by bleaching in 2020 alone. In California, we have lost more than 90% of our coastal marshes.
-Written by Michael W. Beck, is a research professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Grist

7 million Californians live near oil and gas wells. This bill could change that

Despite its green reputation, California has a big fossil fuel problem on its hands: neighborhood oil and gas drilling. In California, there’s nothing preventing frackers or drillers from setting up shop right next to your home, school, or hospital — and indeed, this is the reality for 7.4 million Californians currently living within 1 mile of oil and gas drilling operations, who are disproportionately non-white and low-income. Now, a new state bill called S.B. 467, slated for a hearing in the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, may reshape the lives of frontline communities by eliminating fracking and instituting mandatory buffer zones between oil and gas extraction and places where Californians live, work, and study. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Cadiz faces new suit over water pipeline

Another legal challenge has been launched against a project by downtown-based water infrastructure company Cadiz Inc. to pump and transport water from its desert aquifer to connect with existing water conveyance systems. This latest lawsuit was filed March 23 against the Bureau of Land Management by the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club. It asks the federal court to overturn a December BLM decision to approve the conversion of an idle oil and gas pipeline to carry water from Cadiz’s desert aquifer. Cadiz is not a direct party to the lawsuit but would be impacted by a decision resulting from the suit. The filing marks the third decade in which Cadiz’ water transfer plan has faced legal challenges from environmental groups. 

Aquafornia news KTLA

Las Vegas pushes to become first to ban ornamental grass in water conservation move

A desert city built on a reputation for excess and indulgence wants to become a model for restraint and conservation with a first-in-the-nation policy banning grass that nobody walks on. Las Vegas-area water officials have spent two decades trying to get people to replace thirsty greenery with desert plants, and now they’re asking the Nevada Legislature to outlaw roughly 40% of the turf that’s left. The Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates there are almost 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) of “nonfunctional turf” in the metro area — grass that no one ever walks on or otherwise uses in street medians, housing developments and office parks.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Cities with the most properties at risk of flooding

Here’s a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding, according to 2020 data from the First Street Foundation’s First National Flood Risk Assessment. Flooding is a huge problem in America and is only getting worse as global warming increases the frequency and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes, and the warmer atmosphere holds more water, leading to more rainfall. Warmer temperatures also trigger winter snow to melt faster and earlier. Flooding in the United States is likely to cause some $20 billion in damages this year and cost as much as $32 billion by 2051, according to research from First Street. Sundae took a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding… #10. San Jose … #5. Fresno … #3. Sacramento…

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA testifies in support of climate resilience bond proposal with amendments

ACWA staff testified with a support-if-amended position on AB 1500 (E.Garcia) during an Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearing on April 8. The bill is one of two climate resilience bond proposals that are currently advancing through the state Legislature and could be headed for the June 2022 ballot. AB 1500 would create a $6.7 billion bond measure. ACWA, with input from the State Legislative Committee’s Bond Working Group, is requesting amendments to the bills to add funding for water-related climate resilience projects that help provide a reliable water supply during drought and flood. The amendments propose the bill include funding for conveyance, dam safety, groundwater protection and sustainable groundwater management, flood management, integrated regional water management and safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities, as well as water quality and water reuse and recycling.

Aquafornia news ABC10 

California slips further into drought status

The state is slipping further into more serious levels of drought as it enters the second year for dry conditions and the records the third driest rainy season on record. The US Drought Monitor has downgraded areas in far Northern California, the Central Coast, and Southern California to reflect recent drought data. The top level “Exceptional” (D4) drought remains at 5% in the Owens Valley and Mohave Desert. Extreme (D3) drought now covers 35% of the state, an increase from 32% last week. Most of the direct impacts from various stages of more severe drought impact agriculture and grazing areas. Many areas have only seen 50% of normal rain or less. Areas that receive snow have seen well below average snowpack levels.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: California unveils sweeping wildfire prevention plan

After the worst fire season in California history and as drought conditions raise fears of what’s to come, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders unveiled a $536-million proposal Thursday to boost efforts at firefighting and a variety of prevention measures, including vegetation management and the construction of fire-resistant structures across the state. The proposal, which the Legislature could send to the governor’s desk as soon as Monday, marks an early agreement by the governor and lawmakers to spend more than half of the $1 billion in wildfire funding Newsom called for in his state budget proposal in January. The gravity of the issue became clear last week after state officials reported the water content in the Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 59% of the average for early spring.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In the West, signs in the snow warn that a 20-year drought will persist and intensify

Lack of monsoon rainfall last summer and spotty snowfall this winter combined to worsen the Western drought dramatically in the past year, and spring snowmelt won’t bring much relief. Critical April 1 measurements of snow accumulations from mountain ranges across the region show that most streams and rivers will once again flow well below average levels this year, stressing ecosystems and farms and depleting key reservoirs that are already at dangerously low levels.  As the climate warms, it’s likely that drought conditions will worsen and persist across much of the West. Dry spells between downpours and blizzards are getting longer, and snowpack in the mountains is starting to melt during winter, new research shows. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water receives $3.5M grant for Vail Dam rehabilitation 

The Rancho California Water District received a nearly $3.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which will fund up to 75% of Phase 1 of the Vail Dam Hazard Mitigation Project. Phase 1 has already begun and includes pre-construction activities such as design, environmental compliance and permitting to upgrade the dam at Vail Lake, located east of Temecula. Vail Lake, a reservoir with water storage capacity of approximately 45,000 acre-feet or 14.7 billion gallons of water, was acquired by Rancho Water in 1978 and is an component of Rancho’s diversified water supply portfolio for providing water supplies to over 150,000 urban and agricultural water users in the cities of Temecula and Murrieta, and the surrounding areas. 

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California appoints analyst to study Salton Sea water importation

California remains far behind its targets for addressing exposed playa around the Salton Sea, according to data released in the 2021 Salton Sea Management Program annual report. But state officials expressed optimism in a public workshop that they are finally beginning to catch up to those goals. The state was supposed to implement dust suppression projects or build wetlands habitat across 3,500 acres of exposed playa by the end of 2020 to tamp down dust that’s imbued with a century’s worth of salts, pesticides and other agricultural runoff. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Taiwan’s drought pits chip makers against farmers

Chuang Cheng-deng’s modest rice farm is a stone’s throw from the nerve center of Taiwan’s computer chip industry, whose products power a huge share of the world’s iPhones and other gadgets. This year, Mr. Chuang is paying the price for his high-tech neighbors’ economic importance. Gripped by drought and scrambling to save water for homes and factories, Taiwan has shut off irrigation across tens of thousands of acres of farmland. … Officials are calling the drought Taiwan’s worst in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous challenges involved in hosting the island’s semiconductor industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. Chip makers use lots of water to clean their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that form the basis of the chips. 

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is drying up. That’s bad for economy, public health

If you skip a rock across the surface of the Great Salt Lake, it will skim and ricochet across the far-reaching, glassy face for what seems like a mile. It’s as if the waters were never introduced to the laws of gravity. Or if they were, it didn’t matter. The lake’s salinity — and in turn, its density — has increased since the mid-1800s. Today, the tourmaline-colored water in the north arm is eight times saltier than the ocean. Rocks, those daring enough to swim and reflections of flushed sunsets are held at the surface of the water — suspended and unable to be lost. But in a cruel illustration of irony, we are losing those waters. As historian Dale Morgan put it in 1947, “It is a lake of paradoxes.” Today, the Great Salt Lake’s volume has dropped nearly 50%. The largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere is drying up.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California needs comprehensive groundwater management

While California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act promised comprehensive protection of the state’s groundwater, significant gaps remain in its coverage.  The Department of Water Resources now has an opportunity to reduce or eliminate those gaps and should seize the moment. We know all Californians will experience another year of water shortages and warmer, drier conditions that will require conservation and which are likely to fuel destructive wildfires in our forests and around our communities. We are all in this together. Groundwater is critical for California, particularly in dry years when it provides up to 60% of the water supply for farms and people. 
-Written by Jeanette Howard, director of The Nature Conservancy’s freshwater science team; Melissa M. Rohde, a groundwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy; and Barton H. Thompson, senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment, and faculty director of Water in the West at Stanford University.

Aquafornia news BBC News

The water fight over the shrinking Colorado River

Scientists have been predicting for years that the Colorado River would continue to deplete due to global warming and increased water demands, but according to new studies it’s looking worse than they thought. That worries rancher Marsha Daughenbaugh, 68, of Steamboat Springs, who relies on the water from the Colorado River to grow feed for her cattle. … Recent reports show that the river’s water flows were down 20% in 2000 and by 2050 that number is estimated to more than double.

Related article:

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Q/A with Delta Conveyance Project Executive Director Tony Meyers

In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in protecting the security of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Study: Climate change has made rainstorms more erratic, droughts much longer in U.S. West

Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet, according to a sweeping government study released Tuesday that concludes the situation is worsening. The most dramatic changes were recorded in the desert Southwest, where the average dry period between rainstorms grew from about 30 days in the 1970s to 45 days between storms now, said Joel Biederman, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southwest Watershed Research Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Explore California’s water basics & the lifeblood of the Southwest during upcoming virtual events

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.

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Opinion: Governor Newsom needs to protect the human right to water not water privatizers

Governor Gavin Newsom frequently says California is a leader in sustainability and the transition away from fossil fuels. The governor has also issued an executive order to fight climate change in response to the deadly wildfires that ravaged our state last year. Despite these public statements and official efforts, it’s puzzling that his administration has been promoting the climate-wrecking Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach as an infrastructure to source additional water for California. There are plenty of things we can do to ensure that Southern Californians have enough water to thrive…. 
-Written by Alejandro Sobrera, the Orange County Hub Coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, a youth led effort to bring about a just transition to a greener world.  

Aquafornia news The Hill

Third-driest year reported in California

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.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Vegas water agency asks lawmakers to ban ornamental grass

Las Vegas water officials want state lawmakers to require the removal of thirsty grass landscaping that isn’t used for recreation. Southern Nevada Water Authority lobbyist Andy Belanger told lawmakers Monday that climate change and growth in the Las Vegas area would require communities to take more significant measures to conserve water. The agency estimates that more than 5,000 acres of “nonfunctional turf” — grass not used for recreational activities like golf, youth sports or dog-walking — is spread throughout the region.

Related article:

Aquafornia news University of Colorado Boulder

New research: Increased winter snowmelt threatens western water resources

More snow is melting during winter across the West, a concerning trend that could impact everything from ski conditions to fire danger and agriculture, according to a new CU Boulder analysis of 40 years of data. Researchers found that since the late 1970s, winter’s boundary with spring has been slowly disappearing, with one-third of 1,065 snow measurement stations from the Mexican border to the Alaskan Arctic recording increasing winter snowmelt…. Their new findings, published in Nature Climate Change, have important implications for water resource planning…

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

LaMoreaux tapped for Palmdale Water District Authority

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.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Colorado River drought deepens, Arizona prepares for water cutbacks

Unrelenting drought and years of rising temperatures due to climate change are pushing the long-overallocated Colorado River into new territory, setting the stage for the largest mandatory water cutbacks to date. Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir on the river, has declined dramatically over the past two decades and now stands at just 40% of its full capacity. This summer, it’s projected to fall to the lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam. The reservoir near Las Vegas is approaching a threshold that is expected to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration by the federal government for next year, leading to substantial cuts in water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Kamala Harris visits Oakland to tout federal jobs plan

For the first time since her historic ascension as the nation’s first woman vice president, Kamala Harris returned to her native Oakland on Monday to promote the Biden administration’s ambitious proposal to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and create jobs…. Harris toured the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s water treatment plant, speaking to employees and touting the district as the kind of operation that should be emulated. …. Harris highlighted the water portion of the [Biden] plan, saying the goal is to invest in jobs that can build up, replace and modernize water infrastructure — all with the goal of getting clean drinking water to everyone.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California is on the brink of drought – again. Is it ready?

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.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Daily Beast

The next time you’re out West, you might see clouds on steroids

The idea of cloud seeding and weather modification has been around since 1940. There were federally funded programs in the 1960s—one named Project Skywater that ultimately had mixed results. In the 1970s and 1980s, the US government began experimenting on how weather modification could be used as a war tool. But outside of ski resorts like Vail, where the technology is used to help increase snow during snowstorms, interest in cloud seeding largely dropped off. … According to the North American Weather Modification Council, there are currently several projects being run in California, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Utah, among other states with a project here or there.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation releases technical reports and interactive web tool supporting the 2021 SECURE water act report

The Bureau of Reclamation today released final technical reports supporting the Water Reliability in the West – 2021 SECURE Water Act Report. Reclamation—s 2021 West-Wide Climate and Hydrology Assessment and seven individual basin reports provide detailed information on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies to increase water supply reliability in the West. A new 2021 SECURE Report Web Portal is also available to provide a user-friendly, web-based format for delivery of information in the reports. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: How California stands to benefit from Biden infrastructure proposal

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.

Aquafornia news The Weather Network

Another California drought in 2021 is possible, along with more wildfires

It was in 2016 that the state of California declared a four-year drought had finally come to an end. Now, in 2021, it could be entering another very dry season. It is in the winter season that folks on the West Coast welcome dreary days packed with cloud and rain. California usually sees the most rain and snow in the month of February. This year, however, was different: It was quite dry all of the winter season, and we can blame La Niña for this pattern. … Thirty per cent of California’s water supply comes from the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges and only 57 per cent of normal precipitation has fallen this season. This, coupled with lower than average snowpack for 2020 as well, could spell trouble down the road when it comes to water supply.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Judge tosses challenge from environmental groups to halt Denver Water reservoir expansion

A federal judge has thrown out a legal action from multiple environmental organizations seeking to halt the expansion of a key Denver Water storage facility, citing no legal authority to address the challenge. … The expansion of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County is intended to provide additional water storage and safeguard against future shortfalls during droughts. The utility currently serves customers in Denver, Jefferson, Arapahoe, Douglas and Adams counties. In July 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the design and construction of the reservoir’s expansion. The project would add 77,000 acre-feet of water storage and 131 feet to the dam’s height for the utility’s “North System” of water delivery.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022

State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a “substantial cut” in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year. A joint statement issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said an expected shortage declaration “will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the river, with reductions falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.” The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers Colorado River water to users in central Arizona and southern Arizona, including farmers, cities and tribes.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Food Tank

Ecologists use mushrooms to detoxify soil and water after wildfires

In the wake of California’s worst-ever wildfire season, researchers are exploring how mushrooms can help detoxify polluted soil and water. Scientists and volunteers at CoRenewal, a nonprofit dedicated to ecological restoration, are conducting the experiment in burn zones along high-risk waterways in Northern California. Burned and melted plastics, metals, electronics, and building materials leave behind toxic ash, which then washes into water systems. For instance, in the months following the Tubbs Fire in 2017 and Camp Fire in 2018, authorities found toxic levels of benzene—a cancer-causing chemical—in local drinking water. 

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California Dreaming: Farmers, scientists sustainably getting by with less water

Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, but only about 3% percent of it is fresh water, making it the planet’s most precious resource. But what do you do when water is in danger of going dry? California’s Central Valley is no stranger to drought, and because of that, farmers and scientists are joining forces to figure out how to get by with less.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Sierra meadows strategy – Moments that write history #8

In 2016—after two years of rigorous scientific study by CalTrout and its partners in the Sierra Meadows Partnership—the Sierra Meadows Strategy for restoring and protecting our state’s Sierra Nevada meadows was officially released. A key piece of CalTrout’s source-waters-to-sea approach to combatting the effects of drought and climate change, this strategy developed among a broad coalition of conservation partners aims to restore and conserve meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada, protecting a major source of our state’s water supply and critical habitats to fish and other species.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

UC Merced study imagines solar panels atop irrigation canals

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 electricity supply.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Regional planning for sea-level rise is key to environmental justice

As shoreline communities in the San Francisco Bay Area scramble to prepare for rising seas, they should also be mindful that protecting themselves could worsen flooding elsewhere. This is because seawalls can reflect and amplify tides. “Decisions in one location could affect hazards in another,” said environmental engineer Michelle Hummel, who began studying the bay while at UC Berkeley and is now at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her latest research reveals that building seawalls along relatively small sections of shore could raise water levels enough to have far reaching effects, even all the way across the bay. … But building seawalls in other places could, especially in the wide alluvial valleys where rivers flow into the bay.

Aquafornia news National Review

Opinion: Reform California’s water policies

As California emerged from a historically tough five-year drought in 2017, then-governor Jerry Brown signed two new laws that required local water agencies to limit water use to 55 gallons per person per day, with water-use allotments dropping to 50 gallons by 2030. Despite some misreporting to the contrary, these limits on individuals were not enforceable. Instead, the state imposed fines on districts that failed to meet the new targets. It was pretty clear what direction the state was taking: Since then, California has gone all in for extreme conservation measures that could eventually lead to rationing as water-use allotments drop. Unless something changes, it may be only a matter of time before such policies lead to personal restrictions on lawn-watering, car-washing, and even showering.
-Written by Steven Greenhut, the western-region director for the R Street Institute and a columnist for the Southern California News Group.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta lead scientist report: California’s rainy season is becoming shorter and sharper

At the March meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Laurel Larsen discussed a new research paper on the changing timing of precipitation during California’s wet season. … She began by noting that precipitation totals for this water year are now hovering at just around 50% of typical cumulative precipitation received by this time of year, and drought has become the main topic of discussion. … [T]he models used to project these future scenarios also suggest that even during normal years when the wet season delivers an average amount of precipitation, that precipitation will fall during a shorter amount of time, such that the rainy season is shorter and sharper.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought is back. But Southern California faces less pain than Northern California

Drought is returning to California as a second, consecutive parched winter draws to a close in the usually wet north, leaving the state’s major reservoirs half empty. But this latest period of prolonged dryness will probably play out very differently across this vast state. In Northern California, areas dependent on local supplies, such as Sonoma County, could be the hardest-hit. Central Valley growers have been told of steep cuts to upcoming water deliveries. Environmentalists too are warning of grave harm to native fish. Yet, hundreds of miles to the south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California reports record amounts of reserves — enough to carry the state’s most populous region through this year and even next.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Underwater meadows of California seagrass found to reverse symptom of climate change

Eelgrass, a plant that grows in “underwater meadows” along the California coast and emerges like a floating carpet at low tide, is already known to be an important habitat for fish, birds and baby Dungeness crabs. It turns out it can also reduce seawater’s acidity back to preindustrial levels, creating refuges for animals who can’t tolerate that byproduct of climate change. … [S]eagrass meadows, which have shrunk in number and size globally because of pollution and development … may support wildlife as well as the production of farmed oysters, mussels and abalone. … The state already has efforts in place to protect its eelgrass habitat. The California Ocean Protection Council has a goal of preserving the state’s existing 15,000 acres of seagrass beds and adding another 1,000 acres by 2025.

Related article:

Aquafornia news UC Irvine

Podcast: How drought and climate change threaten California’s water

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…

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

California agricultural land values that are rising and falling the most are doing so under the perception of water availability – no surprise there. This is putting farmland in the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) in a positive light as that agency has done a good job over the years managing conjunctive use of irrigation water.

Aquafornia news KAWC

When water is scarce, some researchers go underground to find out why

When it comes to water in the West, a lot of it is visible. Snow stacks up high in the mountains then eventually melts and flows down into valleys. It’s easy to see how heavy rains and rushing rivers translate into an abundance of available water. But another important factor of water availability is much harder to see. Beneath the surface, the amount of moisture held in the ground can play a big role in how much water makes it down to rivers and reservoirs – and eventually into the pipes that feed homes and businesses. Elise Osenga is a community science manager for the Aspen Global Change Institute – a nonprofit focused on expanding scientific understanding of climate change. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Facing another dry year, California to hire 1,400 additional firefighters

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said the state will hire nearly 1,400 additional firefighters as an unusually dry winter stokes fears of another devastating wildfire season. California depends on snowfall in the mountains for much of its water. But the latest snow survey recorded a statewide “snow water equivalent” of just 15 inches, or about 54% of average for April 1, when the state’s snowpack is the deepest. The state had a similarly dry winter last year. What followed was a record-setting wildfire season where more than 4% of the state’s land burned, destroying nearly 10,500 buildings and killing 33 people.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Western Slope Now

2020 Drought: One of the worst in Colorado history

Local water providers say the current drought is one of the worst in Colorado history. Mesa County ranges from extreme drought to exceptional drought in areas and it doesn’t appear to be improving anytime soon. Below average spring runoff is anticipated by local water providers as watersheds are working to be replenished after last year’s drought. … The wildfires in the Colorado River basin last summer have scarred significant portions of the Colorado River which may result in debris, ash, and dense mud flowing into the Colorado River watershed, which will impact water quality for many water entities in Mesa County.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Little snow and rain mean drought – dry, difficult months lie ahead for California

California’s wet season is coming to a close without a much-sought “March miracle” storm, setting the stage for a painful escalation of drought in the coming months. The April 1 snow survey, which measures the peak accumulation of snow in the Sierra and southern Cascades just before it melts, will show only about 60% of average snowpack. … The grim survey results expected Thursday, which mark a second straight year of significantly dry conditions, reinforce concerns about a difficult fire season ahead and bolster the expanding calls for water conservation.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CNN

Here’s what’s in Biden’s infrastructure proposal

Now that his massive coronavirus relief package is law, President Joe Biden is laying out his next big proposal: A roughly $2 trillion plan for improving the nation’s infrastructure  … Biden’s plan allocates $111 billion to rebuild the country’s water infrastructure. It would replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines in order to improve the health of American children and communities of color. The White House says replacing the pipes would reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare facilities. The proposal would upgrade the country’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems, tackle new contaminants and support clean water infrastructure in rural parts of the country.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

No movement on groundwater protection bills

Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act established pumping regulations in the state’s most populous areas but set no such limits on rural parts of the state. In recent years, some rural areas have come under increased pressure from agricultural pumping that has dropped groundwater levels dramatically. … Lawmakers introduced several bills in the current legislative session to regulate or provide more options for managing the state’s groundwater. One would have banned most new wells in the Upper San Pedro and Verde Valley river basins. Another would have set spacing limits for new wells in areas that are overdrawn. Another, introduced by Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman, would have given county supervisors the power to establish groundwater limits or regulations in their area. 

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Do regulators and utility managers have irreconcilable differences or mutual goals?

What do climate change, aging infrastructure, and urban population growth have in common? They all pose major challenges – especially for water infrastructure in the United States. And many utilities are having a hard time keeping up. Part of the problem is that the industry has relied on the same handful of technologies for decades. The wastewater sector sorely needs to adopt new strategies and technologies. Innovation could serve to improve the ability of utilities to respond to stressors, increasing resilience and providing co-benefits.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sierra, Sequoia national forest plans revised after California fires

New forest management plans that could be in effect for the next 15 years in California’s Sierra Nevada are almost complete – using public comments made prior to the catastrophic Creek Fire that burned nearly a third of Sierra National Forest. The aftermath of that wildfire – the largest single fire in California’s history – isn’t prompting big changes in national forest plan revisions that have been in the works for years, federal land managers said. … Aside from air quality, these forests directly affect the lives of millions of people in California most prominently via billions of gallons of water that annually flow from these forests into the central San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news GoBankingRates

Blog: 6 alarming facts about America’s water industry

About 40 million Americans in the West and Southwest rely on the Colorado River for drinking water, as do the region’s massive agriculture and recreation industries. Water has been the most valuable commodity in the West since the time of the pioneers. It became a source of modern political power when the water of the Colorado River was divvied up among seven Western States in the 1920s — the Jack Nicholson movie “Chinatown” dramatized California’s legendary water battles. Today, a rapidly shrinking Colorado River is forced to support relentless development in California and across the West — very thirsty development.

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Northern California farmers turn to ‘regenerative agriculture’ for conserving water, growing healthy crops

Another advantage to “feeding” the soil in a region plagued with persistent drought involves the tremendous water savings. … With below-average precipitation in California, its reservoirs are showing the impacts of a second dry year. Lake Oroville stands at 55% of average and Lake Shasta, California’s largest, now stands at 68%. Most eco-conscious activists agree that, with the climate’s changing patterns that lead to decreasing water supplies and die-offs of pollinators, a lot more needs to be done to help keep our water and food supplies plentiful. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden lays groundwork for environmental regulations

In the coming weeks, officials are expected to release a new plan for reaching the goals set out under the Paris Climate Agreement and recommend changes to several national monuments. More broadly, the administration is considering steps that could include taking a harder line on climate regulations. … The Biden administration has also listed dozens of Trump-era environmental rules across several agencies that it plans to review, including rules governing air quality standards, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Report provides guidance on repurposing California farmland to benefit water, landowners, communities and wildlife

Over the coming decades, California’s San Joaquin Valley will transition to sustainable groundwater management under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), ensuring reliable groundwater supplies for generations to come. Sustainable groundwater management and a changing climate will inevitably affect how land is used on a sweeping scale. By some estimates, the amount of farmland that will have to be taken out of production to balance groundwater demand and supply is equivalent to the size of Yosemite National Park — a transition that could serve a huge blow to the agricultural economy, rural communities and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Monday Top of the Scroll: California weighs changes for new water rights permits in response to a warmer and drier climate

As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply. A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Water shortages and fires loom after a dry winter

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.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Valley Water

Blog: Valley Water evaluating five dam alternatives for proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir

In the face of climate change and severe weather, there is a risk of more prolonged droughts in California. Despite recent storms in March, Santa Clara County is now in a drought and it is unknown how severe it will get. Valley Water remains focused on preparing for future dry and wet years through a variety of projects and programs, including the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in southern Santa Clara County. The project would increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough water to supply up to 1.4 million residents for one year.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Proposed natural gas well at edge of Bay Area riles up opposition, at odds with state’s climate goals

A Brentwood company’s proposal to drill a natural gas well in Suisun Marsh has become the latest flash point in California’s quest to fight climate change and transition away from fossil fuels. Sunset Exploration wants to search for a commercially viable amount of gas at the site of an abandoned well in the wetlands south of Suisun City. If the company finds enough fuel, the Solano County project could be operational for 20 years, connecting to a pipeline that would help heat homes and light stoves around the region. It’s the kind of proposal that, in a prior era, might have encountered little organized resistance. 

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Aquafornia news Science News

Simple structures can help streams survive wildfires and drought

Many of the wetlands in the western United States have disappeared since the 1700s. California has lost an astonishing 90 percent of its wetlands, which includes streamsides, wet meadows and ponds. In Nevada, Idaho and Colorado, more than 50 percent of wetlands have vanished. Precious wet habitats now make up just 2 percent of the arid West — and those remaining wet places are struggling. Nearly half of U.S. streams are in poor condition, unable to fully sustain wildlife and people, says Jeremy Maestas, a sagebrush ecosystem specialist with the NRCS who organized that workshop on Wilde’s ranch in 2016. As communities in the American West face increasing water shortages, more frequent and larger wildfires and unpredictable floods, restoring ailing waterways is becoming a necessity.

Aquafornia news Cornell Chronicle

New research: Study exposes global ripple effects of regional water scarcity

Water scarcity is often understood as a problem for regions experiencing drought, but a new study from Cornell and Tufts universities finds that not only can localized water shortages impact the global economy, but changes in global demand send positive and negative ripple effects to water basins across the globe. … [I]n the lower Colorado River basin, the worst economic outcomes arise from limited groundwater availability and high population growth, but that high population growth can also prove beneficial under some climatic scenarios. 

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Vallecitos Water District wins awards for sonic tech disrupting algae blooms

The Vallecitos Water District received two awards for its innovative use of technology to reduce algae blooms at Mahr Reservoir, it was announced Thursday. The district received the “Excellence in Action” national award from the WateReuse Association and the “Innovation and Resiliency” state award from the California Association of Sanitation Agencies for its use of an ultrasound technology to address water quality at the Stanley A. Mahr Reservoir with a reduced need for chemical treatment. The most common method of treating algal blooms is with chemicals. VWD instead uses technology developed by the international company LG Sonic, which provides an overview of the water quality allowing identification and treatment of algal blooms.

Aquafornia news The Press

California seeks input on Delta benefit program

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced a series of workshops intended to solicit public input on the development of a community benefit program associated with the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). According to DWR, community benefit programs go beyond traditional concepts of mitigation. They attempt to provide greater flexibility in addressing possible community impacts associated with the major construction projects.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Below-average winter prompts California water conservation

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..

Relate articles:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Friday Top of the Scroll: Delta study predicts stronger floods and less water supply

[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000 people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together. … The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water: drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”

Related article:

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Blog: SGMA video series now available in three languages

The Water and Land Use Series of videos is now available in Hmong as well as English and Spanish. The videos provide insight on how the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is taking shape. PhD Candidate at UC Merced, Vicky Espinoza has been working on the videos for several months. The series is available on the YouTube Channel CaliWaterAg. The goal of the project has been to make SGMA information more accessible and encourage more engagement from community members.

Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and water sources have seen steep declines in the past century. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: New DWR powerplant turbine helps California achieve clean energy future

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) took another step in its ambitious efforts to reduce climate change impacts by replacing an old electricity-generating turbine with a new, energy efficient model at the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Powerplant in Butte County that will help the Department achieve its goal of using 100 percent zero-emission resources by 2045.

Aquafornia news Politico

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s drought is back, but nobody wants to hear it from Newsom

California’s drought conditions might normally prompt calls for shorter showers and shutting off sprinklers. But Californians are in no mood to hear it after a year of pandemic deprivation. Especially from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing an almost certain recall election after imposing multiple rounds of business closures and constantly telling residents to stay home. … California is particularly parched because 2020 was not only dry, but extremely hot. Experts think the state is about where it was in 2014, when former Gov. Jerry Brown asked Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Arizona PBS

Tribal leaders ask for more funding, less meddling for water projects

Arizona tribal officials told a Senate committee Wednesday that the federal government can help address a crisis with water infrastructure on their lands through more funding, and less meddling. Navajo Department of Water Resources Director Jason John and Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairwoman Amelia Flores made the comments during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on water infrastructure for Native communities. Leaders of Oregon and Alaska tribes also testified at the hearing. 

Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: Water solutions are climate adaptation solutions

Most Californians rely on groundwater in some way, through the kitchen faucet, when buying food, or at a green local park to relax and recreate. Those underground aquifers are even more important during droughts. In California’s Southern San Joaquin Valley, groundwater pumping more than tripled in the 2012-2016 drought to make up for lost rain. But that over-pumping comes at a cost, causing land to sink as much as two feet a year, damaging bridges, roads, and houses, and drying up drinking water wells and rivers. The people and places most hurt are the ones without the money to drill down to find diminishing groundwater.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year, alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta. Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to southern cities and farms are creeping ahead. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

California water officials tell communities to prepare for potential water shortages

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.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Spandrio to resign from the Casitas Municipal Water District board

Angelo Spandrio has announced he will resign from the Casitas Municipal Water District board later this month. The district, which manages Lake Casitas and supplies water to the Ojai Valley and parts of Ventura, has a five-member board. In recent years, it has faced a long stretch of drought conditions and shrinking water supplies. Spandrio, of Ojai, announced his decision at a March 10 board meeting, saying he and his wife plan to move to Arizona.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Water law alert – Groundwater well permitting, Yampa River basin

As a result of increasing demand for water, exacerbated by the decades-long drought in the Colorado River system, the Colorado State Engineer is considering a proposal that would impose stricter limitations on the permitting of new groundwater wells in the Yampa River Basin upstream of where the Yampa River meets the Little Snake River.  The Yampa River flows west from its headwaters near Steamboat Springs, in northwest Colorado.  After it is joined by the Little Snake River, it flows to meet the Green River near the Colorado-Utah state line.  From there, the Green River flows south as a major tributary of the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Valuing water in the Sacramento Valley: Celebrating World Water Day

With World Water Day this week and the dry year emerging throughout the Sacramento Valley, we take this moment to reflect on the value of water as we cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. We encourage you to watch and read the following vignettes that all showcase the value of water.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Pipe dream: Feds sued over desert water pipeline OK’d by Trump

Just before the Trump administration headed out the door, a federal agency this past December cleared the way for a private company to begin pumping groundwater from under the Mojave Trails National Monument in Southern California. The Cadiz water project would extract roughly 16.3 billion gallons of groundwater every year for 50 years from aquifers north of Joshua Tree National Park. The project would overtax the surrounding environment, according to environmentalists who filed a lawsuit to halt the project Tuesday. The latest iteration of this project involves repurposing an existing oil and gas pipeline.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news E&E News

‘Big structural change’: What greens want on infrastructure

Environmental groups are calling for massive spending on an infrastructure package they view as a generational opportunity to address climate change, ramping up pressure on Democrats to deliver on campaign trail promises on clean energy and environmental justice. As Democrats call for bipartisanship and Republicans demand a narrower and cheaper bill, greens will be warning the new congressional majority against giving in to GOP demands. That tension came to a head yesterday when reports emerged in The New York Times and The Washington Post that White House aides were working on an ambitious $3 trillion infrastructure legislative effort encompassing climate, taxes and income inequality.

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Energy

News release: DOE awards $27.5 million to 16 teams working to decarbonize U.S. water infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced awards totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure projects. Modern technology has the potential to reduce energy use in aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment, which demands up to 2% of domestic electricity use each year. These projects, operating in 13 states, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and water-treatment costs while improving water quality and equity of distribution nationwide. … They are based out of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.

Aquafornia news County of Sonoma

News release: Opportunity for Santa Rosa plain groundwater users to view correct information

Starting Monday, March 22, groundwater users who own property in the Santa Rosa Plain area will have an opportunity to review and update their water use information. The new Groundwater User Information Data Exchange (GUIDE) Program is being launched by the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to improve understanding of how groundwater is used, and the number and types of water wells in the Santa Rosa Plain basin.

Aquafornia news Stanford

News release: Stanford researchers explore how shifts in federal approaches can turn the tide of destructive wildfires

It wipes out entire communities in a matter of moments, weakens our lungs and even taints our drinking water, yet federal strategy to combat wildfires remains outdated and largely ineffective. The Biden Administration has an opportunity to rewrite the playbook on combatting wildfires, according to Stanford University science and policy experts whose research on a range of related issues points toward bipartisan solutions.

Aquafornia news Anthropocene Magazine

Irrigation canals covered in solar panels are a powerful combination

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. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: America’s drinking water future

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.

Aquafornia news Estuary News

Scientists nail climate links to extreme events

While a supermajority of Americans finally believe we are warming the world, a 2020 Yale Climate Opinion survey shows that most people still aren’t very worried about it. … But Californians do. Reeling from a decade of record-shattering drought, heat waves, and wildfires, people in the Golden State overwhelmingly tell Public Policy Institute of California pollsters that the effects of global warming have already begun. Indeed … researchers can now link climate change with some of today’s extreme events [including the wild swings in precipitation that cause intense rainstorms at one end and severe droughts at the other] beyond a reasonable doubt.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: On World Water Day, reflecting on the value of water  

Water is one of the most valuable resources on the planet — we need it to survive, to stay clean and healthy, to grow food, to run businesses, to support ecosystems, and so much more. And yet clean, accessible, abundant water is often taken for granted, in part because its cost rarely reflects its true value. But anyone who has spent even a day, or a few hours, without access to water knows its vital importance. Still today over 2.2 billion people globally lack access to safe drinking water.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news KUER

A Colorado River showdown is looming. Let the posturing begin

A showdown is looming on the Colorado River. The river’s existing management guidelines are set to expire in 2026. The states that draw water from it are about to undertake a new round of negotiations over the river’s future, while it’s facing worsening dry conditions due in part to rising temperatures. That means everyone with an interest in the river’s future — tribes, environmentalists, developers, business groups, recreation advocates — is hoping a new round of talks will bring certainty to existing water supplies and demands.

Related article:

Aquafornia news UC Davis Magazine

Why are natural disasters intensifying?

With annual fires in the west, hurricanes and floods in the east, and extreme colds in the south of the United States, climate catastrophes seem to occur more frequently and at a higher caliber each year. … [C[limate disasters have been increasing since the 1960s, with a steep 35 percent increase recorded since the 1990s. In 2020 alone, the United States endured 30 record-breaking named storms during hurricane season, 4 million acres of California’s land burned by wildfires during fire season, and the global average surface of the Earth overall in 2020 tied for the warmest year on record with 2016.

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Blog: Colorado establishes water equity task force

Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Dan Gibbs, executive director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, announced recently the establishment of a Water Equity Task Force to better understand existing equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) challenges in Colorado water issues and inform the Colorado Water Plan. … The 2005 Water for the 21st Century Act (HB 05-1177) ushered in a new area of regionally inclusive and collaborative water planning. That spirit was further codified in the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, which ensured that all water uses in Colorado are interconnected and of equal value. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Make it rain: US states embrace ‘cloud seeding’ to try to conquer drought

With three-quarters of the US west gripped by a seemingly ceaseless drought, several states are increasingly embracing a drastic intervention – the modification of the weather to spur more rainfall. … Cloud seeding experiments have taken place since the 1940s but until recently there was little certainty the method had any positive impact. But research last year managed to pinpoint snowfall that “unambiguously” came from cloud seeding … Others are now looking to join in, including the “four corners” states – Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico – that have been ravaged by the most extreme version of the latest drought. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

State warns of possible water shortages

California farmers relying on State Water Project water were warned Monday to prepare for potential shortages by reducing water use and adopting practical conservation measures.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Patch, San Jose Spotlight

San Jose pumps the brakes on Valley Water water-recycling plan

In an effort to address drought and increase local groundwater supply, the Santa Clara County Valley Water District is fast-tracking a plan to purify and recycle more water in San Jose. … But city elected leaders — concerned for the environment and limited staff resources due to COVID-19 — are pumping the brakes and want more time to negotiate. Councilmembers met Friday with Valley Water’s board of directors for a special meeting to hash out the issue.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California vies for $3-trillion Biden infrastructure plan

A Biden initiative expected to pour up to $3 trillion into repairing America’s decrepit infrastructure and funding other programs has sparked a scramble across the nation for the federal funds — with California expecting to reap the biggest piece. …Rep. John Garamendi, a Northern California Democrat who is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee…spent more than an hour with Biden in recent weeks and came away convinced that the program will be broad enough to improve most areas of the nation’s infrastructure: highways, passenger rail, electric grids, dams, sewers and water systems, ocean terminals and airports…. 

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ecowatch

Blog: Installing solar panels over canals could save gallons of water

Installing solar panels over California’s network of water canals could save the state an estimated 63 billion gallons of water and produce 13 gigawatts of renewable power every year, according to a feasibility study published in Nature Sustainability. California moves more water than any other system in the world, with 75% of the state’s available water in its northern third and the southern two-thirds accounting for 80% of the state’s demand. Covering the canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation by shading the canals from the sun (along with the co-benefit of reducing canal-choking plant growth) and the cooling effects of the water could boost solar panel efficiency.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought is the U.S. West’s next big climate disaster

Much of the U.S. West is facing the driest spring in seven years, setting up a climate disaster that could strangle agriculture, fuel deadly wildfires and even hurt power production. Across 11 western states, drought has captured about 75% of the land, and covers more than 44% of the contiguous U.S., the U.S. Drought Monitor said.  While drought isn’t new to the West, where millions of people live, grow crops and raise livestock in desert conditions that require massive amounts of water, global warming is exacerbating the problem — shrinking snowpack in the Rocky Mountains and extending the fire season on the West Coast.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: That time Warren Buffett got involved in California water

[I]t was with some surprise that last year Warren Buffett found himself recently embroiled in a hugely important California water issue – removal of the Klamath River dams. The socioecological effects of dams on the Klamath River have been massive, almost uniformly negative, and ongoing. The Klamath watershed has been estimated as the third-most productive drainage on the West Coast for salmon and steelhead. Yet salmon runs declined substantially over the last century in part because dams fragment and isolate salmon from their historical upland spawning habitats. … Indigenous peoples have disproportionately dealt with the brunt of ecological impacts from dams on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Fish in hot water – Moments that write history #7

As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and cultural significance by local communities, and for their recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And perhaps an even better question: what can be done about it? 

Aquafornia news Representative Josh Harder

News release: Harder requests new funding for flood protection project impacting 165,000 people, 262 critical sites

Today, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) sent a letter with Rep. Jerry McNerny (CA-9) requesting new federal funds for the Lower San Joaquin River Flood Risk Management and Feasibility Study projects. The $36.5 million in requested funds would go toward the Army Corps of Engineers and San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency’s critical flood damage reduction efforts. If implemented, the project will protect 165,000 Valley residents, reduce annual property damage by 84%, and increase the resilience of 262 critical infrastructure sites, 12 of which are essential to daily life in the Valley. The project is expected to yield $7 for every $1 of taxpayer money invested.

Aquafornia news Westlands Water District

News release: Westlands Water District awarded $1.6 million Watersmart Grant from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has announced that Westlands Water District was awarded a $1,609,000 grant from Reclamation’s WaterSMART Fiscal Year 2021 Water and Energy Efficiency Grant Program.  The grant was awarded to fund the District’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Project, which will retrofit 760 manually read groundwater well meters with advanced, automated metering devices that can transmit data over a regional network. By ensuring even greater water metering precision and eliminating the need to manually read the meters, the project is expected to save nearly 103 billion gallons of water and reduce 5.3 metric tons of carbon emission over 20 years.

Aquafornia news West Side Index & Gustine Press-Standard

Groundwater recharge project will bank water for future use

Two local water agencies are moving forward with plans to fully develop a groundwater banking project near Newman. The groundwater recharge project has exceeded expectations in pilot studies, said Jarrett Martin, general manager of the Central California Irrigation District and Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District. They said plans are in the works to expand the 20-acre pilot project to an 80-acre recharge zone. Martin said the two agencies have been awarded grants totaling $6.4 million to expand the recharge project to its full buildout, which is envisioned at 80 acres.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Board approves Pure Water Monterey expansion report spending

Acting in advance of its Pure Water Monterey expansion project partner, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board has agreed to spend an additional $180,000 on updating the project’s environmental document and source water analysis for the proposal. On Monday, the water district board voted 7-0 to spend $181,125 on work to update the recycled water expansion project’s supplemental environmental impact report and conduct source water modeling in an attempt to address an issue that has drawn heavy criticism and opposition.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Next phase of construction green-lit on Pure Water Soquel project

The construction of 8 miles of water pipeline that will be integral to the Pure Water Soquel project, was approved by Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors this week. The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin, from which at least 50,000 residents depend on for drinking water, has been deemed critically depleted by the state. Years of intensive pumping for agriculture and drinking water has drawn out more water from the aquifer than is being replenished naturally by rainwater. That’s led to seawater seeping into underground storage and wells. The Pure Water project aims to bolster groundwater levels in the aquifer, and prevent seawater contamination, which has already been detected in some areas.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Highlights from the Peter B. Moyle and CalTrout Endowed Professorship

The Peter B. Moyle and California Trout Endowed Professorship was established by a group of donors concerned with the conservation and management of coldwater fishes in California. The endowed chair honors Peter Moyle and the historical and productive working relationship between CalTrout and UC Davis, with an endowment fund resting at over $2 million. Dr. Andrew L. Rypel was appointed to this professorship as the inaugural holder in 2017, therefore this report reflects year-3 work on behalf of the chair. A total of 13 peer-reviewed scientific publications were produced by the Rypel Lab at UC Davis in 2019-2020.

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Putting solar panels on California canals could solve two crises

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.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: Forecast for spring – Nasty drought worsens for much of US

With nearly two-thirds of the United States abnormally dry or worse, the government’s spring forecast offers little hope for relief, especially in the West where a devastating megadrought has taken root and worsened. Weather service and agriculture officials warned of possible water use cutbacks in California and the Southwest, increased wildfires, low levels in key reservoirs such as Lake Mead and Lake Powell and damage to wheat crops.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SFist

Once again, Lake Oroville and other reservoirs are at drought emergency levels

If you were around here in 2014 or 2015, you were likely inundated with images of dried up reservoirs that looked like dirt canyons with little ponds in them, when a punishing drought forced the state to institute restrictions on water usage. Well, we’re likely headed for another summer of dried-up lawns (and wildfires) if Mother Nature continues to withhold the rain and snow that we need to make up for a super-dry November, December, and February.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: The race is on to strike lithium at California’s Salton Sea

[The Salton Sea is] drying up, spewing harmful dust into the Imperial Valley’s already badly polluted air. There are countless stories to be told around the Salton Sea. To me, one of the most fascinating is about lithium. … I wrote about the increasingly bright prospects for Salton Sea lithium extraction in October 2019. Today, I’ve got several updates on the companies trying to make the Imperial Valley the first major source of North American lithium production — including the entrance of some powerful new players.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Video: The future of California water – Discussion with Felicia Marcus and Gia Schneider

CalTrout Watershed and Legacy Circle members and partners joined together last Thursday for an informative discussion on the visions for the future of California water. With a zoom room of visionaries themselves, we had a lively time!  You can listen to the interviews with our guests Gia Schneider of Natel Energy and Felicia Marcus the William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow Stanford Water in the West in the video …

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah governor declares a state of emergency because of drought

After a record dry summer and fall — and with winter snowpack currently at 70% of normal levels — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed an emergency order Wednesday declaring a state of emergency due to drought conditions. The move comes after a recommendation from the state’s Drought Review and Reporting Committee and opens the door for drought-affected communities and agricultural producers to potentially access state or federal emergency funds and resources, according to a news release. Cox said Wednesday that state leaders have been “monitoring drought conditions carefully and had hoped to see significant improvement from winter storms.”

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Office of Senator Toni Atkins

News release: Natural Resources Committee passes Atkins’ bill to protect California from sea level rise

Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) today presented SB 1, a landmark bill to help California address the impacts of sea level rise, to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, which approved the bill in a 7-2 vote. … SB 1, the Sea Level Rise Mitigation and Adaptation Act, directs the Coastal Commission to take sea level rise into account in its planning, policies, and activities, and would … expand funding to assist more disadvantaged communities along the coast that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise and are actively working to address environmental justice issues.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Rising seas, worsening wildfires endanger California parks

Of all the existential threats California parks face — dwindling budgets, more visitors and costly, long-deferred maintenance — now comes a climate-driven conundrum: When is a park no longer a park? When its namesake trees disappear in a barrage of lightning strikes? When its very land is washed away by ever-rising seas? The California Department of Parks and Recreation is coming to terms with this dilemma after a climate-reckoning moment last August, when more than 97% of Big Basin Redwoods, California’s oldest state park, was charred by a lightning-sparked wildfire. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Geoengineering: 8 states are tweaking the weather (and it might not work)

Western water managers are contending with the growing threat of shortages. Flow has dwindled on major water systems like the Rio Grande and the Colorado River, which each supply water to millions of people. With temperatures steadily rising, cloud seeding poses one attractive solution.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Drought: Santa Clara Valley Water District asks for more conservation

In the latest sign that California is entering a new drought, Silicon Valley’s largest water provider on Tuesday asked the public to step up water conservation efforts. … The district, a government agency based in San Jose that serves 2 million people, stopped short of announcing immediate mandatory water restrictions, like asking cities and private water companies who buy its water to implement odd-even lawn watering days for their customers, or to impose rates that set a penalty for residential water use above a certain level. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Cambria Santa Rosa Creek project sees flooding due to storm

Mother Nature proved again in late January that the force of torrential rainfall and surging water can undo about a decade’s worth of difficult, expensive habitat conservation work. The Santa Rosa Creek project completed in October in Cambria was designed to stabilize the path of the creek in a vulnerable North Coast area, while protecting its bank and its eponymous roadway. Devin Best, executive director of the Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District (RCD), said the district worked with landowners “to preserve their property and also maintain the road so it doesn’t wash away.”

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Opinion: Dry year intensifies focus on California groundwater

Groundwater aquifers are best understood and managed locally; therefore, the key to successfully implementing SGMA lies in maintaining local control, something Farm Bureau vigorously advocates. In addition, we have stressed that to reduce dependence on groundwater, we must expand surface water storage and recharge our groundwater aquifers when excess water is available….Unless March somehow makes up for the lack of rain and snow thus far this winter, we could see an increased dependence on groundwater this growing season.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Feds may look at spring-run chinook salmon as genetically distinct

The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering whether the spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon that occupy the rivers of Northern California and southern Oregon are genetically distinct.  The decision … would almost certainly result in a listing under the Endangered Species Act if seen as a separate species. … [T]he dams and reservoirs that have been installed at various points throughout the rivers of the West Coast create problems for spring-run Chinook that are unique and separate from their closely related cousins. It also allows the fall-run species to outcompete the spring run since they both are able to reach the same spots in the river to reproduce. 

Related article:

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Deb Haaland becomes first Native American Cabinet Secretary

Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico made history on Monday when the Senate confirmed her as President Biden’s secretary of the Interior, making her the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency. … Beyond the Interior Department’s responsibility for the well-being of the nation’s 1.9 million Native people, it oversees about 500 million acres of public land, federal waters off the United States coastline, a huge system of dams and reservoirs across the Western United States and the protection of thousands of endangered species.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Finding a balance between supply and demand to get to groundwater sustainability

The San Joaquin Valley has begun to grapple with implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Figuring out the math of balancing water supply and demand in ways that cause the least economic harm to farmers and local economies is challenging, and difficult tradeoffs are inevitable. We talked with Emmy Cattani, a fifth-generation farmer from Kern County, about some options.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

New curriculum approaches water conservation through Indigenous lens

Local tribes, schools and nonprofits have developed a new high school curriculum that seeks to encourage environmental advocacy through an Indigenous lens. The advocacy and water protection curriculum meets state standards in science, social studies, health, history and language arts and seeks to bolster “culturally informed education” in the classroom. The curriculum is based on the “Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California” speaker series that was developed by Save California Salmon …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: As drought alarms sound, is California prepared?

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 Center.

Related article:

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California’s new drought

As March begins to drag on with little precipitation in the forecast and few weeks left in California’s traditional wet season, we are in another dry year. This is California’s second dry year in a row since the 2012-2016 drought.  Statistically, California has the most drought and flood years per average year than anywhere in the US.  This statistical fact seems to becoming increasingly extreme, as predicted by many climate change models.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Judge rules against LADWP in irrigation fight

A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly unreliable.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘We’re getting hit left and right’: Dwindling salmon runs to restrict 2021 commercial season

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 fishermen.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Water world: After nearly 40 years, Peter MacLaggan leaves a liquid legacy

Every time someone turns on the tap in San Diego County, out flows the work of Peter MacLaggan. MacLaggan was the point man in the construction of the Carlsbad desalination plant, a nearly $1 billion public-private partnership that since 2015 has supplied nearly 10 percent of the potable water consumed in the county. … MacLaggan, 65, plans to retire March 31 after 20 years at the private company Poseidon Water and nearly 40 years in the water industry. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Conservancy

Blog: Megafires create risks for water supply

The forested watersheds of the Sierra Nevada are the origin of more than 60 percent of the state’s developed water supply. Sierra Nevada megafires that kill all, or nearly all, vegetation across large landscapes pose serious risks to this system. In the immediate aftermath of a fire, high-severity burn areas lack vegetation to stabilize soils. … The resulting sediment enters nearby creeks and rivers, degrading water quality and adversely affecting regional aquatic habitats.

Aquafornia news Vox

Drought in California – Why 77 percent of the Western US is abnormally dry

The Western US is in the midst of yet another dangerous dry spell. The drought has been building over the past year, and since November, a greater stretch of the West has been in the most severe category of drought than at any time in the 20 years that the National Drought Mitigation Center has been keeping records. … Ryan Jensen saw the impacts of California’s last major drought firsthand while working for the Community Water Center in the San Joaquin Valley. When residential wells ran dry, students had to shower in their school locker rooms. To keep toilets running, some rural households relied on hoses slung over fences from their neighbors.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news NOAA Climate.gov

Blog: March 2021 ENSO update

La Niña continues in the tropical Pacific, but it has weakened recently, and forecasters estimate about a 60% chance of a transition to neutral conditions in the late spring. Looking farther out into the fall of 2021, El Niño is unlikely to develop, and the chances of La Niña and neutral are similar.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: How California cities should use COVID relief federal aid

The $1.9-trillion relief package signed by President Biden on Thursday includes $350 billion in aid for states and local governments, on top of the billions allocated for schools, transit agencies, health departments and “critical” state and tribal infrastructure projects. … [T]he funding could be spent preparing for the next disaster. As we emerge from this public health emergency, there is surely another emergency around the corner — and it’s probably going to be connected to climate change, be it wildfires, flooding or drought. California has a tremendous backlog of infrastructure and environmental work to do to make the state more resilient to climate change and extreme weather. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Congress has opportunity to protect Grand Canyon region

The Grand Canyon Protection Act was recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Raύl Grijalva and passed in the House and has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The bills will permanently protect about 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon from the harmful and lasting damage of new uranium mining. … This legislation is critical to stopping the threats that mining poses to water quality and quantity, unique habitats and wildlife pathways, and to sacred places. 
-Written by Sandy Bahr, director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, and Amber Wilson Reimondo, Energy Program director with Grand Canyon Trust.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

This year’s California commercial salmon season could be half the size of last year’s

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 days. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Editorial: As sea level rises, Stinson residents right to craft own plan

Stinson Beach residents are smart to start working on their own homegrown plan to prepare for rising sea levels. Even if the state’s warning that coastal areas should be prepared for an average 3.5-foot rise in sea level by 2050 comes true, much of the beach and many low-lying homes could be subject to regular flooding. Over the years, Stinson has already seen some of the damage that can be done as a result of a combination of higher tides and storm-driven waves. 

Related article:

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Housing development or protected wetlands? Fight over future of California salt ponds

For decades, the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City have stretched into the San Francisco Bay like a blank slate. What’s to come of them? The Cargill corporation sees the outline of a new housing development, while environmental groups see a restored wetland habitat. David Lewis and his group Save the Bay recently joined a lawsuit against the former Trump administration’s EPA in a back-and-forth battle over whether the area falls under federal protection.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California hunters are trying to save ducks from deadly outbreak

Last year, tens of thousands of water birds became paralyzed and died in a gruesome botulism outbreak caused by lack of water at two wildlife refuges on California’s border with Oregon. And it could happen again this summer. The crippling drought that has plagued the region for years shows no sign of ending, and there’s been little relief from the bureaucratic gridlock and lawsuits over water that has slowly starved the Klamath Basin refuges of their supplies over the past two decades.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: The time has come for California to ban front yard lawns for new homes

The climate change cabal in Sacramento is ignoring some extremely low hanging fruit in their bid to protect us from ourselves. The reason they don’t see it is simple. It doesn’t involve raising taxes, rewarding corporations or disruptor greenies they align with, nor does it destroy jobs. The California Legislature needs to ban grass lawns for front yards as well as general commercial development for all new building projects.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin.​

Aquafornia news The Log

Huntington Beach desalination plant hearings expected to resume in April

Hearings have been scheduled to resume in April for Poseidon Water’s controversial proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant. Last April the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region was expected to vote on renewing a permit for the proposed $1 billion project but the workshop was canceled due to COVID-19. A hearing scheduled for September was also delayed so Poseidon could have more time to address water board concerns.

Aquafornia news ABC10

How recent storms play into California’s drought position

Hail and rain blanketed much of the Greater Sacramento Area this week, though experts say it’s not likely to play a major role in the state’s drought position. … Having endured two consecutively dry winters, California’s snowpack in most areas is less than 75% of normal for this time of year, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Many water agencies in California have discussed water conservation measures, the center wrote in its latest drought report. The North Marin Water District in the San Francisco Bay Area has already considered voluntary and mandatory water conservation orders.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CaliforniaSalmon.org

News release: Leaders aim to empower next generation of water protectors, cultural leaders, and scientists

Today, [Tribes, Schools, and NGOs] released the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California High School Curriculum and Teacher’s Resource Guide. The curriculum … responds to California’s urgent water, climate and educational crises, along with the need for Native American culturally informed education and representation in schools. The curriculum features online, classroom, and nature-based learning and responds to reports that Humboldt, Del Norte, and other counties are failing Native students, and that Native youth are facing a mental health crisis due to COVID-19 and the state’s water and climate crises.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Opinion: Reward Water’s Worth

When you think of shipping Humboldt’s Finest in Ziplocs to Southern California, you’re not thinking of bags of river water. But, putting Humboldt’s water in giant baggies on a boat to Southern California was a plan actually taken seriously in 2003 to encourage more water use. Humboldt historically has an outsized allocation of water from the state because the former pulp mills consumed an astronomical amount of water. Squandering water in order to preserve our state water allocation was the idea of some political leaders and business people. Written by J.A. Savage.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area salmon season is expected to be much shorter this year, bringing higher prices

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. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Western states chart diverging paths as water shortages loom

As persistent drought and climate change threaten the Colorado River, several states that rely on the water acknowledge they likely won’t get what they were promised a century ago. But not Utah. Republican lawmakers approved an entity that could push for more of Utah’s share of water as seven Western states prepare to negotiate how to sustain a river serving 40 million people. Critics say the legislation, which the governor still must sign, could strengthen Utah’s effort to complete a billion-dollar pipeline from a dwindling reservoir that’s a key indicator of the river’s health.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

News release: Water Authority plan shows sufficient supplies through 2045

The San Diego County Water Authority’s draft 2020 Urban Water Management Plan was released for public review today. The plan highlights how regional investments in a “water portfolio approach” to supply management and a sustained emphasis on water-use efficiency mean that San Diego County will continue to have sufficient water supplies through the 2045 planning horizon — even during multiple dry years.

Aquafornia news KNAU Arizona Public Radio

Report calls for “radical changes” to Colorado River management

A recent report from Colorado River experts says it’s time for radical new management strategies to safeguard the Southwest’s water supplies. It’s meant to inform discussions on how to renegotiate certain parts of the Law of the River that will expire in 2026. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke about the report with Jack Schmidt, director of the Center for Colorado River Studies at Utah State University.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Russian River environment – Save water as if your life depends on it

Those of us in the water industry are always looking for new ways to ask our customers to save, conserve, and never waste water. And we do that for good reason. We live in a region prone to regular periods of drought, punctuated by sudden and catastrophic floods. Last year we had a very dry year, and this water year is off to a very dry start as well. Sonoma Water, which supplies drinking water to 600,000 residents in Sonoma and Marin counties, relies on rainfall to fill our reservoirs and consecutive years of below-average rainfall are always cause for concern. Will this be a two-year dry spell, or the beginning of a multi-year drought?
Written by Barry Dugan, Senior Programs Specialist in the Community and Government Affairs Division at Sonoma Water.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Editorial: Newsom right to boost Huntington Beach desalination facility

Opponents of a proposed desalination facility along the Huntington Beach coastline are aghast that Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken steps to help end a years-long regulatory logjam. Although an environmentalist, the governor clearly recognizes the importance of developing new water sources to meet California’s needs. Privately funded facilities plants that turn saltwater into drinking water aren’t the only solution to California’s water shortages, but they are one solution. For instance, a similar plant in Carlsbad has the capacity to meet 9 percent of San Diego County’s water needs. That’s an enormous contribution, especially with another drought looming.

Aquafornia news Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions

New research: Blue carbon California – Incorporating blue carbon science into climate policy solutions

California is home to a diversity of coastal ecosystems like tidal marshes, seagrass beds, and estuaries. These ecosystems provide flood and storm protection, healthy habitats for fish and birds, and recreational spaces. They may also play an important role in addressing climate change. A new COS and Natural Capital Project study in Global Environmental Change investigates the carbon sequestration potential of habitats along the California coast and details pathways incorporating carbon-capturing habitats into climate change policy.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Research brief: New laws reduce barriers to water markets

Water access in the western United States is controlled by property rights to use water. In most of the region’s watersheds, all of the water supply is legally claimed or is projected to be by 2030. In such locations, new water demands can frequently only be met through reallocation of existing water rights. For decades, water markets have helped the western U.S. voluntarily adapt water rights to new demands and changing supplies, providing water for growing cities, freshwater ecosystems and new farms and industries. However, many have questioned whether western U.S. water law provides sufficient flexibility to adapt to unprecedented water demand and a changing climate.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Operating dams to better manage big storms can build resiliency to climate extremes

California’s large reservoirs are currently operated using historical hydrology and outdated assumptions about the state’s climate. Many experts are calling for changing how reservoirs are managed to reflect advances in weather forecasting, which can help the state adapt to a warmer, more volatile climate. We talked to Martin Ralph—director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography—about advances in this field.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

HREC announces “NorCal Climate Futures,” a series of community conversations starting March 25

This winter, Northern California has seen significantly below average rainfall and snowpack, and as Cal Fire prepares for the potential of another intense wildfire season, communities across the North Coast are struggling to determine how to best prepare for the “new normal” precipitated by climate change, and what solutions might work to build community resiliency. At the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC), researchers have long been examining how the environment has been changing with the climate, best practices for land management after wildfires, changes to water resources, and more…

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Record drought strains the Southwest

For the first time ever, rancher Jimmie Hughes saw all 15 of the ponds he keeps for his cattle dry up at the same time this year. Now, he and his co-workers are forced to haul tanks of water two hours over dusty, mountain roads to water their 300 cows. … The Southwest is locked in drought again, prompting cutbacks to farms and ranches and putting renewed pressure on urban supplies. Extreme to exceptional drought is afflicting between 57% and 90% of the land in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Arizona and is shriveling a snowpack that supplies water to 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news University of Miami

Blog: Should water be traded as a commodity?

In times of drought, California’s Central Valley is full of farmers hindered by the lack of water. And this region, where the bulk of the nation’s fruits and vegetables are cultivated, is driving up the demand for water. Although many farmers without easy access to water often buy and pump it in from their neighbors, droughts often fuel massive price increases. And this often makes water so cost-prohibitive that it can discourage farmers from even planting crops. This predicament led a firm to recently list water as the newest commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Now, water futures are traded daily. This helps farmers lock in a price for water, so they have a cushion if a drought threatens their crop revenues.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Stinson Beach to devise sea-level rise defense plan

Stinson Beach will launch a multi-year effort to craft its first sea-level rise defense plan as oceans threaten to swallow up beaches, roads and waterfront homes by the end of the century. The community is the most immediately vulnerable to sea-level rise on Marin’s ocean coast and could face a water level as much as 10 feet higher by 2100 in a worst-case scenario, according to county officials and state projections. In 2018, the county outlined strategies Stinson Beach could adopt, including elevating roads and homes, building sea walls and dunes, boardwalking entire neighborhoods and building a new sewage system.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Column: Desalination plan stinks all the way to Gov. Newsom’s office

[D]esalination may have a role to play in addressing California’s long-running water shortage issues. After all, we’ve got a 1,100-mile coastline in a drought-stricken state, and it’s only natural to think: Hey, let’s just stick a straw in the ocean, and our rabid thirst will be quenched once and for all. But desalination comes with many costs, including big hits to the environment and ratepayer pocketbooks. And as Susan Jordan, executive director of the California Coastal Protection Network, puts it, we need to temper our lust for what seems an easy fix.

Aquafornia news HortiDaily

Blog: Will California remain leader in U.S. agricultural production?

[A] new 18-chapter book, written by agricultural economists at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, addresses issues such as labor, water, climate and trade that affect all of California agriculture. … Water, climate and trade pose challenges and opportunities for California agriculture. In the last decade, water scarcity and decreased water quality, along with regulations to address these issues like the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, have prompted farmers to use scarce water to irrigate more valuable crops, as with the switch from cotton to almonds. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Colorado River study predicts big cuts. That’s not why it’s intriguing

A new Colorado River study predicts we may need to make even deeper cuts to keep our reservoirs from tanking over the long haul. But the dire conclusions within the study aren’t what make it so intriguing. It’s how the group arrived at them. The Future of the Colorado River project, an effort based out of Utah State University, has produced six white papers to evaluate new approaches to water management along the river. And, most notably, it is using the Colorado River Simulation System (CRSS), the same modeling tool the Bureau of Reclamation uses to develop its long-term water availability forecasts for the basin.
- Written by Joanna Allhands, a columnist for the Arizona Republic.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Will March rain help California winter drought conditions?

California, and Southern California in particular, is bone dry. The calendar says spring officially begins with the equinox March 20, but the meteorological winter — consisting of December, January and February — is already in the record books. In other words, the wettest months are over. Let’s take a look at where the Golden State stands.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Dozens of environmental bills on California 2021 legislative agenda

California’s legislative session came to a wild ending in 2020 when the clock ran out on major bills. Key pieces of environmental legislation were among those that died on the floor, and conservationists are hoping 2021 brings a different story….Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, [proposed a climate resiliency bond that] would include $240 million for Salton Sea restoration, $250 million for groundwater management and $300 million for grants for clean and reliable drinking water.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

New research: How much do humans influence Earth’s water levels?

Water levels in the world’s ponds, lakes and human-managed reservoirs rise and fall from season to season. But until now, it has been difficult to parse out exactly how much of that variation is caused by humans as opposed to natural cycles. Analysis of new satellite data published March 3 in Nature shows fully 57 percent of the seasonal variability in Earth’s surface water storage now occurs in dammed reservoirs and other water bodies managed by people. … The western United States, southern Africa and the Middle East rank among regions with the highest reservoir variability, averaging 6.5 feet to 12.4 feet. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Bolinas Lagoon flood project aims to redirect creek

Marin County plans to reroute a Bolinas Lagoon creek as part of an effort to prevent flooding along Highway 1, prepare for sea-level rise and restore habitat for threatened species. The county’s Bolinas Lagoon Wye Wetlands Project aims to redirect Lewis Gulch Creek closer to its historic route and raise a nearby road to allow the creek more room to wind and flow during winter storms. The project would also restore floodplains at the northern end of the 1,100-acre Bolinas Lagoon that were lost over more than a century as wetlands made way for roads and pastures.