Topic: Climate Change


Climate Change

Aquafornia news Marketplace

Napa Valley’s vineyards are in “climate crisis,” winemaker says

The effects of the climate crisis are appearing all over the world, and California is no exception. California’s water year from October 2020 to September 2021 was the driest in nearly a century. Napa Valley, a region famous for its wines situated north of the San Francisco Bay Area, saw record temperatures of about 115 Fahrenheit last month, and wildfires in the West are more frequent and intense than ever. … And the changing climate has changed farming practices. One sector that’s trying to adapt quickly is wine. Vineyards have reported that as the heat and water cycles change, so does the taste of their grapes.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

More high-elevation wildfire is sapping Western snowpack, study finds

Researchers from Colorado State University focused on areas they call “late snow zones” – regions in the Western mountains where snow doesn’t typically melt until May or later. They found that between 1984 and 2020, wildfire activity increased in 70% of these zones throughout the West. The mountain ranges studied included the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, Basin and Range, and Northern and Southern Rockies. In the Southern Rockies, specifically, more forest burned in late-melt snow zones in 2020 than in the previous 36 years combined. These burn scars at higher elevations, the researchers discovered, affect how much snow the mountains can hold, and for how long.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Study looks into the fragrances of forests stressed by drought

Researchers at the University of Arizona forced a severe drought on a controlled rainforest environment to measure certain gasses released by plants that indicate drought stress. And those gasses have scents. The results of the experiment, described in a study published this month in Nature, could help scientists “sniff out” when forests are in distress. … Plants emit gasses called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, many of which have a unique scent — some smell of pine, others signal an insect infestation. The research team forced a drought on UA’s Biosphere 2 – an encapsulated rainforest – for three months and, using lots of tubing and sensors, measured those VOC emissions.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Beavers offer natural solution to fighting wildfires

When Smokey Bear says, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires,” he’s talking to humans. But humans aren’t the only ones who can help. Beavers, North America’s largest rodents, are succeeding at fighting fires and reducing wildfire destruction. It’s common sense. Water, soggy ground and well-hydrated vegetation reduce fire’s ability to spread. Beavers create deep ponds by building dams, then dig fingerlike canals to slowly spread that water throughout the flood plain. … Of course, beavers don’t know they are also creating very effective firebreaks, or obstacles to the spreading of fire. But scientists are taking notice. Emily Fairfax is a California-based ecohydrologist, that’s someone who studies how water interacts with soil and living things. 

Aquafornia news Grist

How California’s Salton Sea went from vacation destination to toxic nightmare

In the spring of 1905, the Colorado River, bursting with seasonal rain, topped an irrigation canal and flooded the site of a dried lake bed in Southern California. The flooding, which continued for two years before engineers sealed up the busted channel, created an unexpected gem in the middle of the arid California landscape: the Salton Sea. … But the sea’s heyday was short-lived. Cut off from the life source that created it — the Colorado River — and sustained mainly by limited agricultural runoff from nearby farms, the landlocked waterbody began to evaporate. The water that remained became increasingly salty and toxic. Tourism dried up. The scent of rotten eggs, from high levels of hydrogen sulfide in the sea, filled the air. Fish died in droves from lack of oxygen, their bones washing up on the beach like sand.

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Federal officials set their sights on Lower Colorado River evaporation to speed up conservation

Federal officials say they are ready to have a “candid conversation” about accounting for water lost to evaporation in the Colorado River’s Lower Basin. They are giving states until the end of 2024 to prepare for what would amount to a significant cut in annual water allocations to users in Nevada, California and Arizona. … both Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton told attendees that the issue of evaporation and transit loss in the Lower Colorado River Basin were short-term priorities for their respective agencies. More than 10% of the river’s water is lost to evaporation from reservoirs, seepage and other losses, according to Haaland’s prepared remarks.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: La Niña – What it means for California’s drought and the upcoming winter rainy season

The day before the state’s “water year” ended, Silicon Valley leaders gathered on Google’s campus in Mountain View and urged residents to continue conserving water as California’s drought drags on. …  although there are La Niña conditions now … the commonly held belief that La Niña automatically means dry winters for California isn’t supported by the historical record. … Although some were dry in California, such as the past two years or the winter of 1976-77, some also were very wet…. The 3-year period that ended Friday is the driest 3-year stretch California ever recorded since modern weather records began in 1895, according to data compiled by the Desert Research Institute….

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Federal water tap, October 3 – Supreme Court hears key Clean Water Act case

The U.S. Supreme Court begins its October term today with a wetlands lawsuit that could redefine the Clean Water Act. Tribes tell the Bureau of Reclamation to prioritize long-term infrastructure solutions for the $4 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funds for western drought response. President Biden signs a temporary funding bill that will keep the government operating through December 16. … The Army Corps will build an underwater barrier across the Mississippi River to block saltwater from moving upriver. The GAO tracks EPA earmarks for water and wastewater systems. The U.S. Forest Service estimates drinking water supply from national forests.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s environment takes biggest hit during drought

As California fast approaches what is likely to be a fourth year of punishing drought, residents are being asked to cut their water use to historic lows. But while city dwellers are rising to the occasion — including record reductions in Los Angeles in August — urban consumption still represents only a small fraction of total water use in the state. Where the rest of it goes depends on whom you ask. The California Department of Water Resources says 50% of the state’s water goes toward environmental purposes, 40% toward agriculture and 10% toward urban areas.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

California’s ‘most sustainable’ dairy is doing what’s best for business

[Some environmentalists and academic experts] say the only real way to keep dairy farming from warming the planet is to stop the practice altogether. … With so much cropland and a herd that needs to be kept hydrated and cool, [Steve] Shehadey’s farm [Bar 20 Dairy Farms] uses more than two and a half acre-feet of water per day, more than 800,000 gallons. The fresh water comes straight from the San Joaquin River, which has dried up near the farm but still runs into late summer closer to the Sierra Nevada mountains. … Water, Shehdaey thinks, will be the next area of his business he’ll have to overhaul in response to regulations and shortages. While he has installed drip irrigation, a more precise water application method, on 400 acres of his cropland, most of it is managed with flood irrigation, which lets more water evaporate and contaminates groundwater faster.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Bleak water year ending, with hope for future elusive

Nearing the end of the water year on Sept. 30, California farmers and water officials are eager to turn the page to begin the next opportunity for the state to accrue snowpack and precipitation. However, with a La Niña atmospheric phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, which generally signals drier, warmer conditions, water officials say they are preparing for a fourth dry year next year…. Farmers in Southern California, with senior water rights on the Colorado River, expressed concern that emergency water delivery cuts for more junior water users did not go far enough to keep the supply sustainable…. 

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tulare County Planning Commission paves way for Solar Farm expansion

The development of what’s billed as the nation’s largest solar farm in the Ducor area is coming along slowly, but continues to proceed. The Tulare County Planning Commission at its meeting on Wednesday approved the final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report and special use permit for the expansion of the solar project. … So it was reported on Wednesday the project will provide lease revenue to farmers as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act forces them to cut their use of water and reduce their farming operation.

Aquafornia news KALW - Bay Area

The Colorado River water shortage is forcing tough choices in 7 states

This summer, officials of the U.S. Interior Department gave seven states in the American West an ultimatum – either come up with a voluntary agreement to curtail their use of water from the Colorado River, or the federal government will impose mandatory restrictions. Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado, is now at just 25% of its capacity. Our guest, ProPublica investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, says the water shortage facing the 40 million people who rely on the Colorado is an emergency but not a surprise. For decades, it’s been clear the states were draining more from the Colorado than it could bear. And population growth and climate change have accelerated the problem.

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Aquafornia news ABC 23 - Bakersfield

Capping the 1,100 orphaned oil and gas wells polluting Kern County

According to the State Department of Conservation, orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Through President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, California is one of 24 states charged with changing the process of plugging over 10,000 orphaned gas and oil wells nationwide. State Supervisor of Oil and Gas Uduak-Joe Ntuk says plugging oil and gas wells benefits the environment by reducing methane emissions, as well as reducing groundwater and soil pollution. He adds that as of this month, nearly 1,100 of the wells identified for plugging in California are in Kern County, representing 20 percent of wells in the state.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Salton Sea – Panel advises against importing water from Sea of Cortez

An independent review panel convened to evaluate water importation concepts for the shrinking Salton Sea is advising against water importation plans, instead recommending a combination of desalination and water from the Imperial Irrigation District.  The state-appointed Salton Sea Independent Review Panel … was specifically tasked with taking a “long-term” perspective for resolving longstanding public health issues caused by receding shorelines at California’s largest lake. …  Instead of importing water to bring the sea back to its former levels, the panel is instead proposing constructing a large desalination facility to remove 100,000 acre-feet per year of brine and return 100,000 acre-feet per year of pure water.

Aquafornia news ABC 15 - Yuma

Why an Arizona desalination plant has been idle for 30 years

By volume, the Yuma Desalting Plant is one of the largest in the United States. Completed in 1992, the plant is owned and operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation with the capacity to filter 73 million gallons of water per day. It’s only been used twice. To understand why you have to go back to 1944. In February of that year, the U.S. and Mexico signed a treaty that dictated Mexico was entitled to 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water since that is where it actually ends. Mike Norris, manager of the USBR Yuma Area Office said over the years as agriculture increased in the Yuma area, so did overly salty return flows or brackish water.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

State allots $20M for massive Novato marsh restoration project

One of the largest wetland restoration projects around San Francisco Bay is closer to launching its final phase of construction after receiving a $20 million infusion of state funding. The funding, approved by the California State Coastal Conservancy in a unanimous vote last week, will be used to restore 1,600 acres of former tidal marshland near Bel Marin Keys that had been converted to agricultural fields. … Led by the conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the estimated $165 million Bel Marin Keys Wetland Restoration Project began work in late 2019. It is the largest piece of the 2,600-acre Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project. About 650 acres of marshland near the former Hamilton Army air field were restored in 2014.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Refurbishment work underway for Suisun Marsh salinity control gates

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) refurbished the first of three 95,000-pound radial gates that help reduce saltwater intrusion into the Suisun Marsh in Solano County. The work took place at the Suisun Marsh Salinity Control Gate Facility, which has operated since the late 1980s. The project is part of a multi-year effort to remove, refurbish, and reinstall the massive gates at this facility. … One of the reasons for that wear and tear is that the gates operate in the Suisun Marsh, located south of the city of Fairfield, which is the largest remaining brackish water wetland on the West Coast. This is where salt water from the San Francisco Bay meets fresh water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Now

Dangerous flooding in California’s future

The Central Valley of California is known for summer heat and a very distinct wet and dry season. Residents are more accustomed to long droughts rather than big floods. But extreme and protracted rainfall events are not unknown to our region. The most dramatic was the Great Flood of 1862, which covered Sacramento and much of the San Joaquin valley like an inland sea. It swept away towns, killed over 4,000 people and resulted in over $3 billion damage in today’s money. … Could this happen again? Not only is the answer yes, but indications are that it could be substantially worse. A detailed study of this prospective mega-storm was prepared in 2010 by the US Geological Survey.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

President of Portugal talks sustainability during visit to Stanford

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited Stanford Monday to meet with faculty experts and industry leaders to discuss shared climate challenges and ways that Portugal and California – and specifically Stanford – can potentially collaborate on solutions. … Due to its geography, Portugal is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Like California, it occupies a western coastline and experiences drought, forest fires, coastal erosion due to sea level rise, and other climate-related challenges.

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Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

News release: State gives $130 million boost to projects essential to reliability of Southern California’s water supply

Several Metropolitan [Water District] projects critical to ensuring reliable water supplies for Southern California in the face of drought and climate change will receive $130 million in state funding, as a result of legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Metropolitan’s Pure Water Southern California project – anticipated to be one of the world’s largest water recycling facilities when complete – will receive $80 million from the FY 2022/23 state budget…. In addition, $50 million has been provided to Metropolitan for a set of drought emergency mitigation projects to move locally stored water into parts of Southern California that depend on extremely limited supplies from the State Water Project from Northern California.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California is expected to enter a fourth straight year of drought

California is most likely heading into a fourth consecutive year of drought. The state’s water year ends tomorrow, which has prompted predictions about what’s in store for the next 12 months. (California’s water year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, so that the winter rainy season falls within a single water year.) The forecasts tend to agree: The Golden State’s extreme drought, exacerbated by warming temperatures and increasingly unpredictable precipitation patterns, is expected to continue into the new year. Gov. Gavin Newsom warned on Wednesday that Californians must adjust to a hotter and drier world.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Column: California must lead with science, not sentiment on wildfires

You can’t help but root for Kevin Goss and Kira Wattenburg King: Both are starting over, down-home friendly and clearly, deeply in love. But there’s another player in their relationship — the mangled, vulnerable town of Greenville — and we worry that makes for a threesome doomed for reasons the heart can’t conquer. … Instead, Greenville will be a hotter, drier, harsher place — one where the canopy of evergreens that once shaded its quaint downtown may never regrow, replaced instead by highly flammable shrubland. A place where rivers will be reduced to trickles for much of the year, and where the ownership of that water, which also feeds Southern California, is increasingly contentious.
-Written by Anita Chabria and Erika D. Smith, LA Times columnists. ​

Aquafornia news Edhat

Blog: Environmental groups prevail in case to protect California steelhead

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion Friday ruling that the operators of Twitchell Dam–the Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) and the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District (“the District”)–can release water from the Dam to comply with the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). This ruling marks an important step toward protecting the endangered Southern California Steelhead in the Santa Maria River system. In 2019, plaintiffs San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper and Los Padres ForestWatch filed a lawsuit in federal district court, represented by the Environmental Defense Center, Sycamore Law, Inc., and Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Sun

‘It’s getting close’: As megadrought grinds on, Arizona working to meet water demands

NASA satellite photos show how drastically the water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead have receded in just the past few years. They demonstrate the severity of long-term drought and the challenges Arizona will face to conserve and enhance its precious water supply. Susanna Eden is the research program manager for the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona. She has been with the center for 17 years and has researched water policy and management even longer. The NASA images are shocking, she said, and should concern Arizonans. … She also said people may have a false sense of security when it comes to tackling this issue.

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Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Climate summit presents range of climate change remedies

A climate change panel Wednesday told its small audience about policy changes Orange County has made and where local leadership has fallen short. Scientists, politicians and local first responders gathered at the Orange Coast College planetarium to share ways the county can improve and forthcoming dangers a warmer climate presents. … Drought has been another challenge, requiring customers to use less water, for management companies to invest in more efficient plumbing, and for homeowners to learn how to protect their properties. California’s extended drought, which forced Gov. Gavin Newsom to call for water rationing in the spring, has created dangerous wildfire problems.

Aquafornia news KDRV - Medford

Three counties’ leaders propose collaboration to manage Klamath Watershed

Three counties across state lines are proposing that their counties and other stakeholders in the Klamath Watershed form a new alliance to address the broad needs of its limited water supply.  It also wants to coordinate watershed projects’ funding that it calls a “piecemeal approach (that) does not require results or require any accountability.” … The Klamath Basin Watershed is a water source for Native American tribal interests, private farms and ranches, endangered species, environmentalists and recreationists who rely on the water from more than 12,000 square miles in south central Oregon and northern California that supplies the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colorado/Inside Climate News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Feds will spend billions to boost drought-stricken Colorado River system

As climate change tightens its grip on the Colorado River basin, the states that use its water are struggling to agree on terms that will reduce their demand. Now, the federal government is stepping in with a plan to use billions of dollars to incentivize conservation. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced new measures in response to the ongoing dry conditions, unveiling plans to use a chunk of the $4 billion it received as part of the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act. That money will be used for what the agency refers to as “short-term conservation,” to remove water-intensive grass in cities and suburbs, and to upgrade aging canals.

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Aquafornia news Mojave Daily News

Reclamation awards $10.3 million to tribal drought response water projects

Twenty-six tribes in 12 states have been awarded $10.3 million through the U.S. Interior Department’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance to Tribes Program through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of drought. “This funding is part of the department’s continued commitment to partner with and uphold our trust responsibilities to Tribal nations,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. … Reclamation’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program provides technical assistance to Native American Tribes to develop, manage and protect their water and related resources.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Four in a row – California drought likely to continue

As California’s 2022 water year ends this week, the parched state is bracing for another dry year — its fourth in a row. So far, in California’s recorded history, six previous droughts have lasted four or more years,  two of them in the past 35 years.  Despite some rain in September, weather watchers expect a hot and dry fall, and warn that this winter could bring warm temperatures and below-average precipitation.  Conditions are shaping up to be a “recipe for drought”: a La Niña climate pattern plus warm temperatures in the Western Tropical Pacific that could mean critical rain and snowstorms miss California, according to Daniel Swain, a climate scientist with UCLA and The Nature Conservancy.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Column: Climate change means California can’t save every burned town

The same unprecedented drying of California’s climate that has pushed the Colorado River and Lake Mead to the brink of depletion, forcing Angelenos to conserve water in a bid to stave off further disaster, has helped create the perfect conditions for massive wildfires in our forests. …With every wildfire that happens in the Sierra, vegetation burns, weakening slopes and sending sediment into streams and rivers and, eventually, reservoirs, affecting water quality. Greenville, we should note, is near the top of a watershed that’s used by some 25 million people, including in thirsty Southern California.
-Written by Erica D. Smith and Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times columnists.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Climate perils mount for America’s water utilities

Drinking water disasters across the United States in recent weeks are magnifying vulnerabilities in the nation’s water grid as operators grapple with record-setting drought and floods that can knock out aging systems for weeks. From Jackson, Miss., to Puerto Rico and beyond, a former top federal official who oversaw the nation’s emergency response says American water systems are using outdated flooding data and failing to prepare for a more hazardous future. At a House hearing earlier this week, Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2009 to 2017, recalled how he responded to flood-related drinking water crises in Nashville, Tenn., and Columbia, S.C., during his tenure at the agency. 

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Wildlife agencies work to restore wetlands for declining Great Basin shorebird populations

On a warm September morning, Mike Goddard pointed his scope toward a marshy pond within the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge. What Goddard hoped to spot: The many migratory birds that forage in the shallow shores of the wetlands, once abundant in this area outside of Fallon. … These species, known as shorebirds, connect Western Nevada’s patchwork of wetlands to the rest of the globe. …  Yet these lands have faced numerous threats in recent decades, both in Nevada and across much of the Pacific Flyway, a major pathway for migratory birds. Drought and water diversions have meant that less water is filling many of these arid wetlands. Warming temperatures have only added to the pressures on shorebirds, contributing to a decline in Great Basin populations.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In San Bernardino mountains, residents fear more mudslides

For months, Oak Glen resident Meg Grant emailed pleas to local officials: Residents needed help preparing for the next rainstorm. In December, rainstorms brought mud, tree limbs and debris into their yards, Grant told San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe. Residents knew the risks of living in the mountains, Grant said, but the 2020 fire left them vulnerable to mudflow raging down Birch Creek, which runs through many of their properties. The dreaded day arrived Sept. 12 when the remains of Tropical Storm Kay brought 2.4 inches of rain within an hour and produced an immense debris flow that damaged or destroyed 16 homes. Car-size boulders came crashing down in Forest Falls, a small mountain community north of Oak Glen. A 62-year-old Forest Falls resident died as the flood of rocks, sticks and mud overtook her home.

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Aquafornia news Newsweek

Low Lake Mead water levels now revealing ancient volcanic eruptions

Lake Mead’s receding water levels are now revealing ancient volcanic eruptions from millions of years ago. Lake Mead is the biggest man-made reservoir in North America, formed by the Hoover Dam. Its water levels are rapidly evaporating due to the ongoing megadrought gripping the southwestern United States. The lake, which lies across Nevada and Arizona, has made headlines in recent months due to the multitude of gruesome discoveries being made at its bottom, as the water continues to disappear. Multiple sets of human remains have been uncovered since May, and shipwrecks once concealed by the water are also emerging.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Westlands spearheaded Delta restoration project. Now, it faces puzzling ‘greenlash.’

If California sees its environmental goals get met, does it really matter who contributed to the success? … [Westlands Water district] faces a skirmish with environmental advocates over an effort to strengthen and restore fish habitat within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – including the oft-maligned Delta smelt – in support of long-term goals laid out by California regulators. Now, two years after Westlands completed the restoration, environmentalists are seeking to dispute the work and effectiveness of habitat restoration sought by state regulators and tamper with the bottom line for the water agency.

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Future of tomatoes in CA drought: Hydroponic farming?

When Scott Beylik’s grandfather started the now four-acre Beylik Family Farms in Fillmore in the 1970s, it was a radical idea to grow tomatoes indoors without soil. Back then, they were pioneers of what has since become a growing trend in the agriculture industry: hydroponic farming. The technology involves lacing water with all the nutrients a plant needs, which eliminates the reliance on soil. That means no water is wasted in keeping dirt moist. This type of farming uses less than 10% of the water needed to grow tomatoes in the field, according to the National Park Service. Since Beylik mostly grows tomatoes, it made more sense to grow them in a place where they’d thrive year-round.

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Aquafornia news East Valley Tribune

Big Mesa water projects face ballooning costs

In 2024, Mesa officials expect to lose 7,000 acre-feet, or 16%, of the city’s share of Colorado River water due to drought contingency measures. It’s about 8% of Mesa’s total water consumption, but Mesa Water Director Chris Hassert said, “We will offset that entire 7,000- acre foot cut with the flip of a switch” once the city completes the Central Mesa Reuse Pipeline to increase water exchanges with the Gila River Indian Community. So, the good news is Mesa has a plan. The bad news is, costs for this and other water projects have skyrocketed in a matter of months, complicating efforts to get them done in the desired time frames.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Why the Western drought isn’t going anywhere this winter

The latest measurements from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the American West is in for another dry La Niña winter, unwelcome news for the West currently struggling to keep flowing its main source of water: the shrinking Colorado River. … La Niña seasons usually bring less snow to the Rocky Mountains, the source of that river’s flow, and to the Sierra Nevada mountains, which quench central California’s agriculture economy and major cities all the way down to San Diego. One thing meteorologists are counting on to now break the drought: A big atmospheric river, like a river of rain in the sky, bands of concentrated moisture flowing through the atmosphere in the middle latitudes of the Earth.

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Aquafornia news Summit Daily

Western Slope water advocates reflect on 2022 water year

As the 2022 water year comes to a close, experts on the Colorado River are reflecting on how drought has affected the river basin on the Western Slope in Colorado. The United States Geological Survey defines a water year as “the 12-month period Oct. 1 for any given year through September 30, of the following year.” Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, will designate the beginning of the 2023 water year. Brendon Langenhuizen, director of technical advocacy for the Colorado River District, said that this water year has been “fairly close to normal.” 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

How New Mexico’s largest wildfire set off a drinking water crisis

Heavy monsoon rains would normally be cause for celebration in the drought-parched mountains of northeastern New Mexico, where the Rockies meet the Great Plains, especially after the largest wildfire in state history came within a mile of torching the region’s largest community this spring. But not this year, when fears of running out of fresh water forced officials to cancel an annual arts and crafts fair that draws thousands of visitors in Las Vegas, N.M. … Instead of replenishing reservoirs, the downpours are flooding a burn scar left by the blaze known as the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, releasing contaminants into private wells and overwhelming Las Vegas’s main water supply with ashy sludge.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: The environmental benefits of the Water Storage Investment Program

In August, the Newsom administration announced its Water Supply Strategy. Storing water in wet years is central to this strategy, principally to cope with increasing drought intensity and the resulting water scarcity that will impact supplies for cities and farms. As part of our recent study, Storing Water for the Environment, we investigated current efforts to expand storage under the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP)—a key component of a water bond passed by voters in 2014 (Proposition 1). WSIP put forth significant funding for storage—$2.7 billion—and it uses a novel approach. It requires that this funding go only to the public benefit portion of new storage, including new water for the environment.

Aquafornia news The Press

Antioch to get new desalination plant

Antioch is investing in its water supply future. A new $110 million desalination plant is being built in Antioch. With construction underway at an existing water treatment facility, the new desalination plant will service the needs of Antioch’s population of more than 115,000 people, as well as help to improve its water supply reliability, city officials say. … The primary reason for the need for the desalination plant is due to increased salinity in the water supply. The city of Antioch derives much of its water source from the San Joaquin River …

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Caltrans favors elevating Highway 37 to address flood risks

In an effort to protect Highway 37 from rising sea levels, a new state study calls for elevating the route onto a causeway within the next two decades. Presenting its findings this month, Caltrans said its preferred solution is to build a 30-foot-high, four-lane causeway along the current alignment of the highway, a 21-mile corridor connecting Highway 101 in Marin County to Interstate 80 in Vallejo. The plan would include a pedestrian and bicycle path and might include an extension of SMART train service between Novato and Suisun City. The announcement was celebrated by project proponents who say the causeway is the only way to adapt the highway to the threats from rising water and improve wetland habitats in San Pablo Bay.

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Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Memo to lawmakers – Our future demands good water infrastructure

Just as California is preparing its electrical grid to provide 90% clean energy by 2035, our state leaders must also look to future investments in water infrastructure. The need for a safe and reliable source of water will continue well into the future, underscoring the need for investing in a modern infrastructure system today. Much of California’s water infrastructure system was constructed decades ago, and while reliable, it is not infallible. On Sept. 6, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California began emergency repairs on its Upper Feeder pipeline, requiring millions of Southern Californians to suspend outdoor watering for up to 15 days.
-Written by Jennifer Capitolo, executive director of the California Water Association, a leading trade association that represents more than 90 regulated water utilities across California serving more than 7 million customers.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

Here’s how California’s canals could advance the state’s renewable energy goals

Last year, a study published in Nature Sustainability by researchers from University of California at Santa Cruz along with UC Merced found that it may be possible to tap into the network of public water delivery canals as a way to both conserve water and advance the state’s renewable energy efforts. The researchers studied the concept of “solar canals,” which includes assembling a canopy of solar panels to prevent evaporation while also generating electric energy. The idea is being put to the test in an experiment called Project Nexus.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Climate change is transforming Redwood Valley, a ‘holy grail’ wine region in California

Many Bay Area wine drinkers might not be able to point out Redwood Valley on a map, but they’ve probably tasted Redwood Valley wine. This little-known slice of inland Mendocino County has become the go-to vineyard region for some of California’s most popular young wine producers … But the last three years have dealt Redwood Valley one devastating blow after another. Drought, frost and fires have decimated the crops, particularly in older vineyards. Many grapevines last year yielded less than 10% of the output of an average harvest. … When rain is plentiful, dry farming isn’t a problem — and, some argue, leads to higher-quality wines. But during this period of extended drought, the vines struggle, and it shows.

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Aquafornia news The Triplicate

Newsom appoints first Native woman to key state board

On Tuesday evening, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Yurok Tribe’s Forestry Department Director Dawn Blake to the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. … Dawn is an enrolled Hoopa Tribal member and Yurok descendant with a Master of Science degree in natural resources. … Ranging from wildlife research to prescribed burning, Dawn is well-versed in all aspects of modern forest management. As the Yurok Forestry Director, she manages more than 70,000 acres of Yurok-owned forest for the benefit of current and future generations of Yurok people. She oversees the Tribe’s 15,000-acre Old-Growth Forest and Salmon Sanctuary on Blue Creek, a critically important tributary of the Klamath River. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Monday Top of the Scroll: Another La Niña could be more bad news for the Colorado River

Our third La Niña weather pattern in three years seems almost certain, and one climate expert says that could be bad news for the already overtapped Colorado River. … The Climate Prediction Center for the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration forecast a 91% chance of a La Niña weather pattern dominating the Northern Hemisphere from September through November, and a 54% chance from January through March of 2023. La Niña winters typically mean drier, warmer weather in the Southwest that can, although doesn’t always, spread as far north as Colorado’s southern Rockies, which would clearly drive down Colorado River flows. The last two to three years in particular have seen fairly low to very low river flows in the basin, at the same time La Niña conditions were present.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Mosquito Fire: CA blaze 60% contained as rainy weather ends

Firefighters have made substantial progress this week in containing the Mosquito Fire, as a storm system brought several inches of rain to the Northern California foothills and allowed the last remaining mandatory evacuation orders in Placer and El Dorado counties to be lifted. … The National Weather Service earlier this week, on Monday and Tuesday, issued a flash flood watch for the Mosquito Fire zone, advising that thunderstorms could cause dangerous debris flows. Fortunately, the advisory expired with no significant flooding reported. The Mosquito Fire, California’s largest wildfire of 2022, destroyed 78 structures and damaged 13 others, mostly homes in the Michigan Bluff and Volcanoville communities. Cal Fire says its damage assessment is complete.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Federal ideas reflect little progress toward solving Colorado River crisis

The clock is ticking for the Colorado River, but solutions on how to save the river basin, which provides water to 40 million people in seven states and Mexico, still appears to be elusive, at least from the federal government. However, proposed solutions are starting to bubble up through Colorado agriculture’s community, including projects that received funding to address drought this week from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Lithium Valley panel releases draft report, will miss October deadline

California’s Lithium Valley Commission has released a draft of the report it is legally required to prepare by Oct. 1 with 44 possible recommendations, some of which have already been met in the state’s recently passed budget and new legislation…. While all sides agree the potential production of the lightweight mineral from a vast, underground geothermal reserve at the south end of the dwindling Salton Sea is an enormous opportunity for the region, the recommendations at times represent competing wish lists from different factions…. Community advocates also want the “Lithium Valley” region to be clearly mapped, and to include eastern Riverside County communities that endure high rates of asthma and from toxic dust blowing off the rapidly drying sea, as well as Imperial County towns and cities. 

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Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Klamath River salmon facing increased mortality in post-fire conditions

The Six Rivers National Forest Fisheries Program has partnered with the Klamath Basin Fish Health Assessment Team to monitor water quality and fish health conditions in the Klamath River. This is in response to increased mortality and disease rates among the chinook and steelhead salmon populations in the river. According to officials, this die-off is a result of poor fish health conditions in the Klamath River due to changes in flows, water temperature and fish density. These conditions began to change in early August due to the nearby McKinney Fire’s effect on the water.

Aquafornia news Newsweek

Drought is killing the trees at Lake Tahoe

Fir trees are dying in the Lake Tahoe Basin at a quicker rate than in the rest of California. The trees are perishing in greater numbers and faster than previously seen before… Four thousand acres of trees in the Lake Tahoe Basin are affected by mass mortality, according to an aerial survey by the Forest Service in 2021. The survey found that around 70,000 trees are dead in Lake Tahoe, with over a million trees dead across the Tahoe National Forest. Across the entire state of California, the survey also found that 9.5 million trees had died. It is thought that the main driver of these deaths is the scorching drought that has gripped the state recently, leading to blisteringly high temperatures, water shortages, wildfires and other extreme weather.

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Aquafornia news National Review

Opinion: Environmentalists push dam removal in American West

The great cities of the American southwest would not exist if it weren’t for dams. Without the massive federal and state projects to build dams, pumping stations, and aqueducts (most of them completed 50 to 100 years ago), more than 60 million Americans would be living somewhere else. Without dams to capture and store millions of acre-feet of rainfall every year, and aqueducts to transport that water to thirsty metropolitan customers, the land these cities sit upon would be uninhabitable desert.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Desalinating seawater sounds easy, but there are cheaper and more sustainable ways to meet people’s water needs

Coastal urban centers around the world are urgently looking for new, sustainable water sources as their local supplies become less reliable. In the U.S., the issue is especially pressing in California, which is coping with a record-setting, multidecadal drought. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently released a US$8 billion plan for coping with a shrinking water supply. Along with water conservation, storage and recycling, it includes desalination of more seawater. Ocean desalination, which turns salt water into fresh, clean water, has an intuitive appeal as a water supply strategy for coastal cities. The raw supply of salt water is virtually unlimited and reliable.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Salmon are nosing at the riverbanks trying to escape the Klamath River

Tribal scientists had hoped that the incoming fall run of adult chinook salmon would escape the devastating effects of August’s debris slide on the Klamath River, which killed tens of thousands of fish. But they were disappointed. The salmon, which were gathering at the estuary at the time of the debris slide, migrated upstream early to spawn and found themselves trapped in toxic waters. … What the river really needs, according to Karuk Tribal Fisheries Field Supervisor Kenneth Brink, is a good springtime flow to flush out the debris. But spring, of course, isn’t coming anytime soon. There is water behind Iron Gate, the Klamath’s lowermost dam, but toxic algal blooms have made it hazardous to salmon, too.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

La Quinta City Council rejects Coral Mountain Resort project in 5-0 vote

Plans for a large development in La Quinta that would include hundreds of houses, a hotel and a high-tech surf wave basin — a centerpiece that’s drawn strong opposition from some residents and climate experts — were unanimously rejected by the city council Wednesday night following a lengthy meeting in a room packed with both opponents and supporters of the project. The vote marks a major defeat for the current plans for Coral Mountain Resort, a roughly $200 million private development mapped for 386 acres of vacant land on the southwest corner of 58th Avenue and Madison Street. … [C]oncerns have largely centered on whether the wave basin would be an appropriate use of water amid a historic drought across California that experts say has been fueled by climate change.

Aquafornia news Fresh Water News

Tribal breakthrough? Four states, six tribes announce first formal talks on Colorado River negotiating authority

Colorado and three other Upper Colorado River Basin states have, for the first time in history, embarked on a series of formal meetings to find a way to negotiate jointly with some of the largest owners of Colorado River water rights: tribal communities. The states, which include New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, began meeting with six tribes several weeks ago, according to Rebecca Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board who also represents Colorado on the Upper Colorado River Basin Commission.

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Aquafornia news Smithsonian Magazine

The breathtaking Glen Canyon reveals its secrets

At dusk, the bats appear in the ghost forest that surrounds us—blackened tree trunks encrusted with a white coating. These cottonwood and willow groves are long dead but, amazingly, still upright after more than half a century underwater. I am camped on the fickle shoreline of Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the United States, after Lake Mead. Once a vacation destination visited by two million people annually—as a kid I learned to water-ski there during family visits in the 1980s—Lake Powell is today just a hint of its former self, littered with stranded boat ramps and even entire abandoned marinas. Instead of a recreation idyll, it’s a symbol of water troubles in the West and the impact of climate change.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

No surface water for Ariz. farmers next year

Arizona farmers this year benefitted from mitigation water that otherwise would have cut their Central Arizona Project irrigation deliveries to zero. They won’t be so fortunate next year. When the Bureau of Reclamation issued its first-ever Tier 1 restriction of Colorado River water from Lake Mead, Arizona’s farmers faced the elimination of their surface water supplies from the Central Arizona Project (CAP) for 2022. That portion of CAP surface water, known as the “ag pool,” is part of a 512,000-acre-foot cut Arizona faced under the restrictions as part of the Drought Contingency Plan, an agreement designed to preserve water in the Colorado River system.

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Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Touring Malibu Creek watershed

As most reading this know, we have lost 90% of the wild fish that used to navigate our rivers and streams in California. Here on the South Coast, steelhead populations have dwindled into the single digits and extinction is a very real threat. CalTrout has been studying the causes and remedies for the shocking decline in wild fish for over 50 years and updating our Save our Salmonids (SOS) report as a roadmap back to wild abundance. Five initiatives came out of that report, one of them – Reconnect Habitat – calls for us to remove barriers to fish migration to and from the ocean and their spawning habitat. In this case, the barrier is the 100-foot Rindge Dam. 

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Placer County prepares for water quality challenges as Mosquito Fire burns

This week’s rain has been a welcome sight for those dealing with the impacts of the Mosquito Fire. The early season moisture has helped to significantly dampen fire activity over the last several days. Estimates and measurements show that anywhere from 1 to 2.5 inches of rain has fallen over the burn region since Sunday morning. But as that rain runs down the steep canyons and into Placer County’s many waterways, ash and debris from the fire’s burn area can easily end up in the water supply system. Andy Fecko, general manager of the Placer County Water Agency, said plans to keep that water supply safe began the night the fire was first reported near Oxbow Reservoir.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California should expect a ‘fourth dry year’ as drought persists

California’s reservoirs will enter fall in a slightly better position than last year, but the Golden State should prepare for more dryness, extreme weather events and water quality hazards in 2023, officials say. … [S]ome of the state’s biggest reservoirs, including Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta, are slightly more full than they were at the same time last year, but still remain well below average. Water managers are now preparing for a “fourth dry year,” as well as more unpredictable weather and wildfires associated with climate change, DWR Assistant Deputy Director John Yarbrough said during a meeting of the California Water Commission.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Drought-stricken inland California sees much needed rainfall

Much-needed rainfall and thunderstorms are hitting central and northern parts of California, bringing relief to places that typically see little precipitation in September. An upper-level low-pressure system, an occurrence more likely in winter, is churning off the coast of Northern California. It follows unprecedented heat across much of California at the start of September, when a prolonged heat wave shattered thousands of records across the West.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Wildfires are burning away the West’s snow

[Colorado State University professor Stephanie] Kampf and her team set out to determine whether more wildfires are burning at high elevations. The answer is unequivocally yes. And the consequences are dramatic: Snow in wildfire-burned areas is melting 18 to 24 days earlier than average….And the snowpack is critical to the health of Western people and ecosystems: According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), it contributes 20% to 90% of surface water used for agriculture, energy production, aquatic species habitat and more.

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Aquafornia news NPR

Why Latino communities are on the front lines of climate change

Most residents of Puerto Rico still don’t have electricity or water days after Hurricane Fiona caused floods and landslides. The widespread damage, just five years after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the territory’s infrastructure, revealed how unprotected the island’s 3.2 million residents are as climate change makes hurricanes more powerful and rainy. … Latinos are disproportionately affected by climate-driven extreme weather … Latinos have a long history of climate and environmental activism against pollution and climate change. That includes pushing for fair emissions reduction policies in California and equitable hurricane assistance in Texas.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Column: California’s water usage was built on a historic lie. The cost is now apparent

The compact — essentially an interstate treaty — set the rules for apportioning the waters of the river. It was a crucial step in construction of Hoover Dam, which could not have been built without the states’ assent. The compact stands as a landmark in the development of Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Phoenix and other Western metropolises. But it is also a symbol of the folly of unwarranted expectations. That’s because the compact was built on a lie about the capacity of the Colorado River to serve the interests of the Western states — a lie that Westerners will be grappling with for decades to come.
-Written by Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik.

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Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Winter-run Chinook salmon’s journey to the Pacific from McCloud River

Cool waters flow south as a group of geese (skeins) fly over the clear, blue-tinted river waters following the warm weather. The life cycle of the salmon occurs in six stages: egg, alevin, fry, parr, smolt and adult. For the Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon the waters are a way of life for them. The cool river waters are critical to the salmon because cold water can hold more oxygen than warmer water and the cold waters help the salmon’s metabolism by slowing down the way they digest their food. The endangered winter-run salmon spawning grounds were once in the McCloud River, but after the construction of Shasta and Keswick dams the salmon lost the only way to swim downstream the Sacramento River. 

Aquafornia news KERO ABC 23 - Bakersfield

The rain may have a negative impact on this year’s tomato harvest

Many farmers across California are in the middle of tomato harvesting right now. However, instead of the usual drought concerns, recent rains are causing a different issue: too much water. Paul Sanguenetti’s family has been farming outside Stockton for more than 150 years. He’s in the middle of his tomato harvest but he says due to threatening storms, it’s a race against time before his crops start to turn. … This could impact millions of tons of tomatoes and could lead to higher prices for consumers in an attempt to recover from shortages. As for farmers… Sanguenetti says crop insurance won’t be much help for making a profit because all it does is create a return from the losses.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Rare frogs returned to San Gabriel Mountains

Six biologists shouldered backpack coolers filled with 200 federally endangered frogs on Thursday morning and started trudging uphill across three miles of roadless wilderness on the northwestern flanks of the San Gabriel Mountains. The inch-long juvenile Southern California mountain yellow-legged frogs were being carried on foot to a pair of remote spring-fed streams running through some of the wildest places left in Los Angeles County. … They can attest that in these mountains, the wrinkled slopes, lush canyons and the creatures that inhabit them are all in flux because the climate is changing at an unnerving pace. The most noticeable change has been the disappearance of mountain streams and the effect that has had on yellow-legged frogs — their life’s work.

Aquafornia news

A better understanding of crop yields under climate change

You don’t need a Ph.D. in agriculture to know that water is critical to crop production. But for years, people like Jonathan Proctor, who has a Ph.D. in Agriculture and Resource Economics from the University of California Berkeley, have been trying to explain why the importance of water isn’t showing up in statistical models of crop yield. … The research team had a hypothesis: What if the models were measuring the wrong type of water? Rather than measuring precipitation, as previous studies had done, the Harvard team used satellites to measure soil moisture around the root zone for maize, soybeans, millet, and sorghum growing around the world.

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Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

To help fight climate change, turn to toothy dam builders

Beavers are famous for gnawing on wood and building giant dams in rivers and streams. Those dams help fight climate change — as they store water, increase biodiversity, and curb fires. Now California scientists are urging the state to reestablish the rodents’ dwindling population, and a new statewide “beaver restoration unit” just might do the trick. “When the beaver builds its dam, it starts to create a pond and slow the water down. And that gives it time to really seep out into the soil around it,” says Emily Fairfax, assistant professor of environmental science and resource management at Cal State Channel Islands. “And that is water storage.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Not even soaking rain can ease fire risk in a California hit by record heat, dry landscape

A summer of drought, extreme heat and deadly wildfires will end with much-needed rain this week in parts of California, but it is unlikely to douse the threat of wind-driven fires this fall in a state scarred by record-setting heat waves and bone-dry landscapes. Although recent rains helped tame some of the state’s most active blazes — including the Mosquito fire in El Dorado and Placer counties and the Fairview fire in Riverside — it’s too soon to declare fire season over, experts say. In California, occasional bouts of heavy precipitation are proving outmatched by rising temperatures and worsening drought, which can leave vegetation nearly as brittle and fire-prone as it was before the rain.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Western reservoirs could run dry in 3 years, top official warns

A top Centennial State official warned Colorado River Basin states that the system’s federal reservoirs could effectively empty in a few short years barring aggressive reductions to water demands. Colorado River Water Conservation District General Manager Andy Mueller painted a bleak future for the basin’s seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — on Friday, during his organization’s annual conference in Grand Junction, Colo., on the river’s future. … More than two decades of drought have significantly diminished the Colorado River, which spans 1,450 miles and supplies water to some 40 million individuals.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Are we in El Niño or La Niña? California winter outlook

California’s upcoming winter is forecast to be mild and drier than normal, according to experts, as climate patterns steer the state. A reader reached out to The Bee’s service journalism team asking: Are we in for El Niño or La Niña year?, referring to weather phenomena that occurs in the Pacific Ocean and can affect weather across the globe. … Paul Ullrich, professor of regional and global climate modeling at the University of California, Davis, said we’ve been in a La Niña weather pattern for two years now. This upcoming La Niña winter will be the third consecutive year. The effects of the weather pattern will vary by region, with California seeing less rainfall.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Colorado River is drying up — but basin states have ‘no plan’ on how to cut water use

One month after states missed a federal deadline to propose ways to drastically cut their use of water supplied by the Colorado River, water managers who met for a seminar in Grand Junction said they still didn’t have comprehensive solutions ready to help bolster the imperiled river system. Water leaders, agricultural producers, environmentalists and others from across the drought-stricken river basin met Friday for the Colorado River District’s annual water seminar to discuss the historic-low levels in the river’s biggest reservoirs — and the need to cut back usage from Wyoming to California. While the problems the basin faces were apparent in the day-long discussions about the state of the river, solutions were not.

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Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

SF supervisors unhappy with city’s lack of action to protect Bayview-Hunters Point residents from toxic sea level rise

A committee of San Francisco supervisors Thursday challenged Mayor London Breed’s assertion that the city understands the risk of climate change-related flooding in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. Members of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee reviewed a June report from the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury that confirmed what Bayview-Hunters Point residents have been saying: The city is not acting fast enough on how sea level rise could surface legacy toxic contamination and spread it in neighborhoods near the Cold War-era naval shipyard. 

Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

As dead fish pile up, the economic and environmental impact of the red tide becomes apparent

Thousands of dead fish have washed up on shores across the Bay Area in recent weeks. A red tide is killing everything from anchovies to sharks. Preventing a similar disaster may cost the region billions of dollars. In late July, Mary Spicer noticed that the water lapping around her kayak started to turn red. A few weeks later it was dark brown. … Jon Rosenfield, senior scientist with environmental group SF Baykeeper, says Heterosigma may be killing fish in two ways: It can produce a toxin that is deadly to fish, but it can also result in low dissolved oxygen levels in the water, which can be deadly.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Through dry years and wet – and multiple lawsuits – retiring Bakersfield City water leader met challenges cheerfully

Art Chianello, who has led Bakersfield’s Water Resources Department through two of the state’s worst droughts and one of its wettest years on record, is retiring at the end of September. Most municipal water departments are fairly quiet operations. As long as water comes out of taps, not many people pay attention. But the Bakersfield water department is in the unique position of also tracking and managing flows on the Kern River – a highly contentious piece of water – which it partly owns.

Aquafornia news Patch - San Mateo

Project to protect Bay Area drinking water from wildfires to begin

In an effort to protect the drinking water source for one million Bay Area residents from destructive wildfires, crews will soon work to masticate vegetation on Maple Way around watershed lands. In collaboration with Cal Fire, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, who oversees the SFPUC Peninsula Watershed, will hire contractors to mulch vegetation into small pieces. Reducing the size of vegetation growth will limit the risk of extreme fire around the watershed, the Edgewood County Park and surrounding private property, said Cal Fire.

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Aquafornia news Nevada Current

Removing grass may increase urban heat, study finds

The Southern Nevada Water Authority runs what is likely the longest-running program to motivate homeowners to replace water-thirsty grass with desert landscaping, but a new study says that while the move may save water, the price could be a superheated city. In a new study, a team of researchers investigated the microclimate effects of three common landscape types in an arid region of Phoenix, Arizona.  Scientists found that desert landscaping had the lowest water requirement but the highest temperatures. Air temperatures in the desert landscape plot averaged 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit  higher than in the other two landscape types.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Wine harvest 2022: Brutal, hot summer means lower yields, hope for good quality

In Portugal’s Douro Valley, the team at the Quinta do Vesuvio winery was stomping picked grapes in ancient stone lagares (troughs) in August. “Never in the history of this great estate, which dates to 1565, have grapes been trodden this early,” says Harry Symington, whose family has been producing premium ports in the Douro for five generations. The nail-biting tale of the 2022 harvest—scorching heat and record-breaking drought that sped up ripening in vineyards from Germany to Paso Robles, Calif.—is another reminder of the power of climate change to upend the wine world. … With a sudden heat dome over Bay Area vineyards on Labor Day weekend and the days following, the rush was on to grab grapes before they turned into juiceless raisins.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plan to build surf park in Coachella Valley sparks debate

In a part of the Coachella Valley where exclusive neighborhoods wrap around lush golf courses and ponds, a stretch of open desert could be transformed into a new sort of artificial oasis … a 12-acre pool where surfers could take off on sculpted lines of peeling waves. A group of residents has organized to fight the proposed wave pool, and one of their primary concerns is water. They argue that, with the Colorado River in a shortage and the Southwest getting hotter and drier with climate change, the area can’t afford to have millions of gallons of precious water filling the giant water feature.

Aquafornia news CNN

Opinion: The country that is showing the world how to save water

Scorching temperatures and reports of water scarcity are grabbing headlines, as drought caused by climate change creates long-term problems for farmers and communities in the United States and around the world. … As frightening and as insurmountable a challenge as chronic and growing water shortages may seem, there are solutions at hand that can save us from crisis. A small country in one of the driest regions in the world is among those that have developed policies and techniques to provide water in cities and farms alike. That country is Israel.
-Written by Seth M. Siegel, author of “Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World” and “Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink.” He is currently the Chief Sustainability Officer of N-Drip, a company which developed water-saving technology for agricultural use.

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Aquafornia news Western Water

A Colorado River veteran moves upstream and plunges into the drought-stressed river’s mounting woes

With 25 years of experience working on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico depend on for water. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon.

A Colorado River Veteran Moves Upstream and Plunges into The Drought-Stressed River’s Mounting Woes
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Chuck Cullom, a longtime Arizona water manager, brings a dual-basin perspective as top staffer at the Upper Colorado River Commission

Chuck Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. With 25 years of experience working on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico depend on for water. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon. 

“Holy buckets, Batman!,” said Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. “I mean, it’s just on and on and on.”

Aquafornia news USA Today

Climate change and sea level rise threaten California beach living

Tyree Johnson loved his apartment that overlooked the Pacific Ocean — until it started to crumble down a cliff into the sea. For 15 years, he could enjoy sunsets over the water from his back porch in Pacifica, a few miles southwest of San Francisco. Pods of dolphins swam by and hang gliders floated overhead. But all that splendor came with a risk: The bluffs were weakening and ocean was gnawing away below.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Lithium: Storing more clean power with less pollution

The renewable energy revolution will require the world to ratchet-up lithium production to make batteries for electric cars and devices. As with all mining, there are concerns about lithium mines, but some experts overstate the potential environmental cost while neglecting to mention a big advantage: mining for lithium is much cleaner than mining for coal. …  At the Salton Sea in California, geothermal power plants tap the brine and produce lithium as a byproduct. Estimates show that the Salton Sea holds enough lithium to provide all projected future U.S. needs for the battery metal, and 40 percent of the world’s future needs, according to experts cited in the video.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Flaming Gorge loses water as drought felt higher up Colorado River

As a 20-year drought creeps ever farther up the Colorado River Basin and seven Western states vie for their fair share of water under the century-old Colorado River Compact, [Flaming Gorge Reservoir] on the Wyoming-Utah line is a new flashpoint. Nobody disputes the root of the problem: The agreement dates to a cooler, wetter time and is based on assumptions about precipitation that simply no longer apply, in part due to climate change. But as business owners like [Tony] Valdez are finding out firsthand, recreation is just one of many competing priorities while growing demand in the basin’s more populous downstream states — California, Nevada and Arizona — conflicts with dwindling supply from the more rural states upstream — Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. 

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

California Drought: Is desalination the solution?

Desalination is a controversial topic, due to its environmental impacts, energy use and monetary cost. California currently has 12 desalination plants, but there could be many more in the future. DWR is offering $6 million in financial assistance to support desalination projects that will help develop new sources of local water supplies in California, according to a news release from DWR.  While desalination is a complex process, [Kris Tjernell, deputy director of the Integrated Watershed Management with the California Department of Water Resources] described it as “simply the removal of salts and other impurities from water, such that it becomes available for drinking water, agricultural irrigation and other potential uses.” 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

The world has a $1 trillion La Nina problem

Deadly floods in Pakistan. Scorching heat and wildfires in the US West. Torrential rains in Australia and Indonesia. A megadrought in Brazil and Argentina. As climate change pushes weather disasters to new extremes, it’s La Nina, an atmospheric phenomenon, that has been the driver behind the chaos since mid-2020. And now the planet stands on the cusp of something that’s only happened twice since 1950 – three years of La Nina. Another year of La Nina means the world is hurtling toward $1 trillion in weather-disaster damages by the time 2023 wraps up.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

What climate change could mean for fog in the San Francisco Bay Area

While coastal fog isn’t unique to the California coast, few places in the world are so deeply associated with the ethereal movements and cooling spritz of fog’s peek-a-boo routine. Fog pours through the Golden Gate and crawls up and down the wrinkled hills of the city and the nearby coast. It cloaks and chills…. Fog is … partly why [Bay Area residents] use less water than most Americans. Summer fog is why the mighty coastal redwoods grow where they do, surviving California’s dry season thanks to refreshing gulps of cold, wet air. It is why, until recently, few people worried about wildfires along the coast…. It nourishes the natural world. It enriches the area’s cultural identity. It might even be an untapped resource in California’s growing anxiety over water.

Aquafornia news USA Today

Massive Mosquito Fire becomes California’s largest wildfire in 2022

The Mosquito Fire became the largest wildfire to burn in California this year after growing over 63,000 acres Wednesday night, fueled by dried vegetation in an area that was cooling off after record-breaking heat last week. The massive fire has been burning for more than a week since it ignited on Sept. 6. It has spread over 14,000 acres since Tuesday. As of Wednesday night, the fire now covers over 63,000 acres in El Dorado and Placer counties, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

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Aquafornia news

Researchers develop a new way to predict droughts

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new method to assess the likelihood of extreme drought conditions in several different regions of the United States over the remainder of the century. Using this method, based on highly detailed regional climate models, they have found that droughts are likely to be exacerbated by global warming. This finding is especially likely in regions like the Midwest, Northwestern U.S. and California’s Central Valley. … In looking at future forecasts of droughts over the course of the remainder of the century, the researchers believe the new technique can help them to understand “flash drought” events that have a quick onset period that could be as short as few weeks.

Aquafornia news Earth Island Journal

Collaboration, not control: Understanding what water wants can help protect built environments from floods and droughts

This diminutive puddle, which I have likely passed without noticing many times, is actually evidence of natural springs beneath the park that seep continually, he tells me. It’s a small sign of water’s hidden life, the actions this life-sustaining compound continues to pursue, despite our illusion that we control it. As climate change amplifies floods and droughts, people like Pomerantz are recognizing the importance of such minutiae that highlight water’s agency. In his free time, Pomerantz hunts and maps ghost streams, the creeks and rivers that once snaked across the San Francisco Peninsula before humans filled them with dirt and trash or holstered them into pipes, then erected roads and buildings atop them.

Aquafornia news High Country News

California’s algae bloom is like a ‘wildfire in the water’

Lake Merritt, in the center of Oakland, California, is a tidal estuary connected to the Pacific Ocean. It usually teems with life, both human and marine. In early September, its 3-mile shoreline was bustling with joggers. But in the sunset-blackened waters, the gleaming white corpses of thousands of decaying fish bobbed along in the gentle tide and piled up in mounds along the lagoon’s edges. In late July, an algae bloom began spreading in San Francisco Bay, which stretches 60 miles north to south.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Opinion: Can solar investment help farmers survive the Central Valley water crises?

Agricultural businesses are under growing economic pressures as drought conditions worsen and inflation continues to climb. Rising energy costs have been a particularly damaging repercussion of the drought, with farmers spending more on electricity in order to keep wells and irrigation systems pumping water to their crops. California agriculture lost $1.1 billion in 2021 as a direct result of water shortages, and the Central Valley alone sat on roughly 385,000 acres of idle land. Unfortunately, intensifying climate change makes this year’s outlook just as grim. … Saving money on energy bills has made solar more attractive than ever, especially now considering the new Inflation Reduction Act offering additional benefits to renewable energy.
-Written by David Field, co-managing partner and co-founder of solar finance and development platform Luminia. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Colorado farmers face difficult questions over future of river water

Surrounding Bernal’s land are the vistas of the Grand Valley, a strip of high desert situated on Colorado’s Western Slope marked by dusty mesas and cliffs and the winding, ever-present Colorado River, which plunges down from the mountains to the east. Grand Valley farmers and ranchers use the water to irrigate tens of thousands of acres, growing everything from peaches and corn to wheat and alfalfa. But since 2000 flows on the river have declined 20% and water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead have dropped to less than 30% of their combined storage. With the river overtaxed, Grand Valley farmers now face difficult questions regarding the future of water in Colorado and the West. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s wine country buckles under climate extremes

California’s wine country, including the famed Napa and Sonoma valleys, faces a climate crisis so dire that it’s posing an existential threat to the future of the state’s industry. Grapes have been hit with one extreme after another. The 2022 season started out with a deep frost that iced over verdant green buds, nipping them right off the vine. For the crops that survived, the freeze quickly gave way to drought and heat. Just in the past week, record-breaking temperatures baked parched vineyards. Then there’s the ever-present threat of wildfires and smoke damage.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Here’s how climate change is hurting the U.S.

Day after day, week after week, the United States faces a barrage of climate extremes: wildfires in California. Drought on the Great Plains. Flooding in Florida. Yet assembling those puzzle pieces into a clear picture often can be difficult. It’s a problem the Interior Department and NOAA aim to address with a new website that provides data on real-time extreme event conditions as well as risk profiles at the national, state and local levels. A key feature is a running tally of climate-juiced hazards — such as droughts, wildfires and floods — and the number of U.S. residents facing these threats. The website is constantly updating these figures, but it also provides historical data for context.

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Aquafornia news CNN

California’s Mosquito Fire prompts more evacuations as it races toward mountain communities, burning homes and cars in its path

The Mosquito Fire burning in Northern California flared up Tuesday afternoon, charging toward a mountain community and torching more homes as it burned dangerously close to a high school. …The Mosquito Fire continues to push steadily to the east in heavily forested areas with extremely dry vegetation, officials said…. drought-ravaged Western states are home to growing areas of easy-to-burn dry brush that can become fuel for more volatile wildfires. The fires are also burning amid a water shortage emergency that is forcing residents to limit outdoor watering as California’s reservoirs shrink.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A rare third year of La Niña is on deck for California, forecasters say

Californians should brace for another year of La Niña as the stubborn climate pattern in the tropical Pacific is expected to persist for a third consecutive year, forecasters say. The latest outlook, published Thursday by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, has increased the chances of La Niña sticking around through November to 91%, a near certainty. The pattern may also linger into winter, with an 80% chance of La Niña from November to January and a 54% chance from January to March. La Niña is the cooler phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern and is a significant driver of weather conditions across the globe, including temperature, rain and snowfall, jet streams and tropical cyclones.

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Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

‘A lesson in discrimination’: A toxic sea level rise crisis threatens West Oakland

Toxic waste lurking in the soil under West Oakland neighborhoods is the next environmental threat in this community already burdened by pollution. The stability of buried contamination from Oakland’s industrial past relies on it staying in place in the soil. But once the rising waters of San Francisco Bay press inland and get underneath these pockets of chemicals and gases, a certain amount of that waste will not stay in place. Instead, it will begin to move. More than 100 sites — colorless gases in dirt under schools, flammable chemicals buried in shallow soil near parks, petroleum in pockets of groundwater from iron manufacturing — lie in wait.

Aquafornia news SFist

Third consecutive La Niña winter now looking likely

A third consecutive La Niña pattern has taken shape in the Pacific Ocean, and that’s not excellent news. … The weather service’s Climate Prediction Center issued a La Niña Advisory on Thursday, saying that there is a 91% chance of the La Niña cycle continuing between September and November … In a typical La Niña, as SFist has discussed in the past, our part of California is neither guaranteed to see more nor less rain, though if the patterns of the past two winters holds, signs point to less-than-average rain and lower-than-average snowpack in the Sierra — the latter has been the result of early snow and warm winter months. That all but guarantees us another year or two of this mega-drought.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Dried up: In Utah, drying Great Salt Lake leads to air pollution  

Air pollution in Salt Lake City was so bad last year it set off the fire alarms in Elizabeth Joy’s clinic. Joy, a family and sports medicine doctor, said that her patients had to be evacuated as part of the emergency response. Yet in sending the patients outside, the alarms actually put people in an even more dangerous position given the city’s air quality at the time — which was judged to be the worst in the world on that particular day. … Cars and wildfires contribute to Utah’s air pollution, but the Great Salt Lake is a less obvious but important contributor. Sitting just northwest of Salt Lake City, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere is drying up because of water use and drought amid a changing climate, sending dust with toxic metals — including arsenic — in the air of a metro area with approximately 1.2 million people.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California is negotiating up to 400,000 acre-feet in Colorado River water cuts amid drought

California water agencies that depend on Colorado River supply are quietly negotiating combined reductions of between 320,000 and 400,000 acre-feet from the fast-dwindling Lake Mead reservoir next year…. California has the largest and oldest rights to Colorado River water, totaling 4.4 million acre-feet per year, with the bulk of that piped to farmers served by the Imperial Irrigation District, at the state’s hot, dry southeastern end…. It’s unclear if the amounts being discussed would be enough to assuage harsh criticism from officials in other river basin states who are already being forced to make cuts under previous legal agreements, or more importantly, to satisfy federal officials who say 2 million to 4 million acre-feet in reduced use is needed from seven states in 2022 to keep the system and its huge, drought-ravaged reservoirs afloat. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Broad-based buy-in is key to Bay-Delta water plan

California is at a transformational moment when it comes to managing water. As aridification of the western United States intensifies, we have an opportunity to advance a better approach to flow management in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and our rivers through a process of voluntary agreements to update the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. The agreements, signed by parties from Red Bluff to San Diego, propose a new structure for managing water resources in the Delta and beyond in a way that is collaborative, innovative and foundational for adapting to climate realities while benefiting communities, farms, fish and wildlife.
-Written by Jennifer Pierre, the general manager of the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public water agencies; and David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association, which represents Sacramento Valley water interests.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A new tool could help protect 30% of the state’s waters by 2030

California has set an ambitious goal of protecting 30% of the state’s lands and waters by 2030. We spoke with CalTrout’s legal and policy director Redgie Collins about a promising but underutilized tool that could help protect water bodies throughout the state: The Outstanding Natural Resource Waters (ONRW) designation. As Collins says, “You can designate all the land you like, but in order to preserve any ecosystem, freshwater is critical.” There’s a lot of interest in identifying and protecting Outstanding National Resource Waters in the West. What is this designation and what does it accomplish? Is it the same as Wild and Scenic?

Aquafornia news FOX40 - Sacramento

91% chance La Niña impacts fall in California, National Weather Service says

Meteorologists are pretty confident the La Niña conditions we’ve seen all year are going to be with us at least a few months longer. There’s a 91% chance the La Niña conditions last from September to November, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center said in an update Thursday. Those odds have strengthened since the meteorologists’ last update in August… California isn’t projected to have a particularly wet or particularly dry fall, but it’s winter meteorologists will be keeping an extra close eye on. If La Niña continues, it’ll be the third La Niña winter in a row – a rare phenomenon we’ve only seen twice since 1950.

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Aquafornia news Popular Science

What is ‘cloud seeding’?

[T]he US is far from the only place experiencing extreme dryness. Countries like China are also struggling, as well as parts of Europe and Africa. China has turned to cloud seeding as a potential solution to its drought problems. It’s also being more regularly utilized in the United Arab Emirates. Cloud seeding is more or less a technological way to make it rain, even when the weather is anything but rainy. Planes fly over a region, releasing a compound like silver iodide into clouds to cause condensation. … Cloud seeding already happens across states like Arizona and California, but interest in the technology appears to be increasing. But not everyone is on board. Critics say it’s expensive, and it’s unclear if it’s that effective.

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Aquafornia news U.S. EPA

News release: EPA awards nearly $2 million to UC Berkeley for research to advance water management and security

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced nearly $2 million in research funding to the University of California, Berkeley to develop a cost-benefit tool to support enhanced aquifer recharge (EAR) as a viable, safe, and cost-effective water management strategy. EAR is the practice of using excess surface water to intentionally replenish and supplement existing groundwater supplies for storage and potential reuse.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Hurricanes rarely reach California. How did Tropical Storm Kay do it?

California is a hotbed for extreme weather. A historic heat wave brought a punishing 10 days with record-shattering high temperatures. The Mosquito Fire in Placer and El Dorado counties created a huge plume of smoke visible from 60 miles away. Atmospheric rivers produce torrential downpours and can cause widespread, damaging floods. Hurricanes — rotating storms with sustained winds 74 mph and over — typically aren’t a concern on the West Coast. And history shows that it’s incredibly rare for a hurricane to get close to California.

Aquafornia news Science

At the Great Salt Lake, record salinity and low water imperils millions of birds

Utah’s Great Salt Lake is smaller and saltier than at any time in recorded history. In July, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the world’s third-largest saline lake had dropped to the lowest level ever documented. And last week researchers measured the highest salt concentrations ever seen in the lake’s southern arm, a key bird habitat. Salinity has climbed to 18%, exceeding a threshold at which essential microorganisms begin to die. The trends, driven by drought and water diversion, have scientists warning that a critical feeding ground for millions of migrating birds is at risk of collapse.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Here’s the alarming amount of ice California’s longest glacier just lost in the heat wave

Mount Shasta, the widely recognizable face of California’s far north, has lost almost all its defining snow cover for a second straight year. Another summer of scorching temperatures, punctuated by the recent heat wave, has melted most of the mountain’s lofty white crown, typically a year-round symbol of the north state’s enduring wilds. … While the seven named ice sheets have been retreating for years, if not decades, the diminishing snow, which helps insulate the glaciers and keep them from thawing, has caused an unprecedented melt-off: About 20% of the glaciers’ ice, and possibly more, is expected to have vanished over the past two summers.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bills to tackle extreme heat

As temperatures took a turn for the sweltering last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of bills intended to protect state residents from extreme heat. First up was AB 1643, from possible future Assembly speaker Robert Rivas, D-Salinas. It creates an advisory committee to study the effects of extreme heat on workers, businesses and the economy. Then there was AB 2238 from Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, D-Arleta, to create a heat warning and ranking system akin to the one used for measuring hurricanes.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Mosquito Fire in CA spawns monster pyrocumulus clouds

Fire clouds that reached altitudes of up to 40,000 feet over the Mosquito Fire in Northern California over the past week have left scientists in awe. … The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and U.S. Forest Service officials say the fire, which started near Oxbow Reservoir in the Tahoe National Forest on Tuesday, Sept. 6, is now 10% contained, The Sacramento Bee reported. The fire has torn through 41,443 acres, or 64.8 square miles, in El Dorado and Placer counties, and threatens more than 5,000 homes and other buildings.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Water is our most precious resource’: alfalfa farmers asked to give up crop amid megadrought in US south-west

On an early August morning in California’s Imperial Valley, tractors rumble across verdant fields of alfalfa, mowing down the tall grass and leaving it to dry in shaggy heaps under the hot sun. Here, in one of the oldest farming communities in the Colorado River basin, the forage crop is king. One out of every three farmed acres in the valley is dedicated to growing alfalfa … Now, with the basin on the brink of the most severe water cuts in history, the alfalfa industry has been propelled to the center of longstanding debates over sustainable water use and the future of farming in the west.

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Angry at other states, Arizona towns, tribes rethink planned water cuts

Faced with deep cuts to the water supply, and angry that other states are not doing their share, tribes and local governments in Arizona are increasingly talking about backing off earlier offers to give up some water. The Gila River Indian Community said in August that it will begin storing water underground “rather than contributing them to system conservation programs for Lake Mead.” Officials in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Peoria and Glendale are considering following suit, asking to get their full allotment of water instead of financial compensation they might have received for reducing their take from the system…. But a spokesperson for the California Natural Resources Agency said the state has long been working for years to conserve Colorado River water and that it is continuing to do so. 

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Colorado River megadrought got you down? Lighten up, and feel some hope, with TikTok’s ‘WesternWaterGirl’

Teal Lehto honed her short, snappy explanations of the West’s complex water problems guiding rafting trips down the Animas River in her hometown of Durango. She often had lulls of a minute or less in between shouting paddle commands to the tourists in her boat — squeezing in a tidy explanation of how water rights work before yelling “all forward” to her boatmates to keep them from ramming into rocks. After running the same stretch of river a few times a day for months, the timing became second nature. … That same formula works on TikTok, just trade the tips for likes and followers. On the app, Lehto goes by “WesternWaterGirl,” and her clips regularly garner hundreds of thousands of views. Since joining the app in April, she’s amassed nearly 48,000 followers who tune in for her fast-paced, snarky and often profanity-laced takes on the West’s water crisis.

Aquafornia news NOAA

Blog: September 2022 La Niña update – it’s Q & A time

Ocean and atmospheric conditions tell us that La Niña—the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern—currently reigns in the tropical Pacific. It’s looking very likely that the long-predicted third consecutive La Niña winter will happen, with a 91% chance of La Niña through September–November and an 80% chance through the early winter (November–January). 91%! That’s very high. Why so confident? The first reason is that La Niña is already clearly in force in the tropical Pacific. 

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

The Colorado River is dying. Can its aquatic dinosaurs be saved?

“You’re looking at the most endangered fish in North America,” Zane Olsen, the manager of the Ouray National Fish Hatchery tells me as he points to a deep open-topped water tank. Inside are dozens of juvenile bonytail, the rarest of four endangered native Colorado River fish species and one Olsen and his colleagues are trying to bring back from the brink of extinction. … The native fish have not fared so well over the past century since humans began trying to make the western desert bloom by damming the Colorado and its tributaries, a watershed that was once one of the most biologically diverse in North America. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Facing criticism, state amps up its climate blueprint

Responding to concerns of Gov. Gavin Newsom and environmentalists, the California Air Resources Board has bolstered its climate roadmap with several new strategies, including offshore wind development, climate-friendly housing construction, cleaner aviation fuels and reducing miles traveled. … The air board’s move to strengthen the scoping plan builds off Newsom’s call for more stringent climate measures that he pushed the Legislature to pass before the session ended last week. The governor’s push for more action to address climate change comes as the state faces more extreme heat, drought and wildfires.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mosquito fire in Northern California rages west of Lake Tahoe

Fueled by critically dry brush and timber and boosted by record-setting heat, a fire in the foothills east of Sacramento doubled in size Thursday, sending smoke billowing east toward Lake Tahoe and western Nevada. By the afternoon, the fire had wafted a giant pyrocumulus cloud over the Sierra, jumped the Middle Fork of the American River and was burning its way toward the hamlet of Volcanoville in El Dorado County. Also Thursday, PG&E filed a report with the state disclosing “electrical activity” on one of its transmission lines near where the Mosquito fire ignited Tuesday evening, near Foresthill in Placer County. By 8:13 p.m., the blaze had mushroomed to 13,705 acres, with no containment, after starting the day at more than 6,800 acres.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wildfire near Foresthill, Placer County, CA, prompts evacuations

A wildfire that sparked Tuesday in the Tahoe National Forest just north of the border between Placer and El Dorado counties is displaying “extreme” fire behavior Wednesday, prompting mandatory evacuations including Foresthill, a town of about 1,500 people, and sending up a large smoke plume visible across the greater Sacramento area. The Mosquito Fire, at first called the Volcano Fire when it started just after 6 p.m. Tuesday, was burning just north of Oxbow Reservoir along the Middle Fork of the American River, which divides El Dorado and Placer counties. The fire started east of Foresthill, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and was 0% contained. Fire officials in an update shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday reported the fire had burned 4,223 acres; up from 2,000 acres reported at 2:45 p.m. and 1,200 acres at 11 a.m.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California heat wave: Here’s how it’s affecting wild animals

California has endured sweltering temperatures for seven brutal days. On Monday, temperatures in the Bay Area reached levels not seen in modern history, with an all-time high of 117 degrees in Fairfield. San Jose hit an all-time high of 109 on Tuesday. Even San Francisco — normally cooled by the coastal marine layer — surpassed 90 degrees downtown. Fortunately, the end is near, meteorologists say. Temperatures will steadily drop beginning Friday and through the weekend with more cooling expected early next week. The high-pressure system currently parked over much of the western U.S. is weakening and moving away.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

New report: New Pacific Institute report finds California drought worsening long-term decline of fish populations 

The Pacific Institute, a global nonpartisan water think tank working to catalyze the transformation to water resilience, today released a new report highlighting how California’s current drought has threatened fish and their freshwater ecosystems. The report, “Left Out in Drought: California Fish,” finds warmer water temperatures, increasing algal blooms, and lower stream flows associated with the 2020-present drought have exacerbated the long-term decline of California’s fish populations and threatened the continued survival of some native fish species, many of which face extinction. Fish population health is recognized as a major indicator of freshwater ecosystem health more broadly.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Editorial: Droughts fueled by climate change challenge governments from China to California

The world is parched. In California, a record heat wave has exacerbated the western US’s worst drought in centuries. Water levels in Europe’s Rhine River have been so low that at times over recent weeks this vital European waterway has been all but impassable to shipping. Asia’s longest river, the Yangtze, has struggled to feed farms and hydroelectric stations. Crops have wilted in the heat from India to the American Midwest. Scientists have long warned of the threats climate change poses to the stability of the global economic system. The severity of drought conditions this summer shows that the crisis is already here — and governments haven’t done nearly enough to prepare for it.

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Opinion: Action on recycled water would ensure our future

The Coastside community is facing several problems today: traffic congestion, a housing shortage and the impact of droughts on our water supply. Of these three, only the future prospect of annual water shortages due to the increasing frequency of droughts is an existential threat to life here. Housing without a reliable safe potable water supply is uninhabitable. If we do not solve the water reserve problem created by droughts, some homes here will have to be abandoned.
-Written by Jim Larimer, a former member of the CCWD board. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Hurricane Kay’s remnants could bring rare deluge, flooding to California

With much of California baking under a record-breaking September heat wave, it seems hard to believe that the weather could get any more unusual. However, as soon as Thursday, Southern California and other parts of the Southwest may contend with another extreme event. Remnants of Hurricane Kay — the storm is currently about 200 miles southwest of Mexico’s Baja California — are forecast to bring substantial rainfall and possible flooding to the region Friday and Saturday. Some areas, particularly in interior Southern California, could see multiple inches of rain.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s wine industry faces climate tipping point

California’s wine country, including the famed Napa and Sonoma valleys, faces a climate crisis so dire that it’s posing an existential threat to the future of the state’s industry. Grapes have been hit with one extreme after another. This year’s season started out with a deep frost that iced over verdant green buds, nipping them right off the vine. For the crops that survived, the freeze quickly gave way to drought and heat. Just in the past week, record-breaking temperatures baked parched vineyards. Then there’s the ever-present threat of wildfires and smoke damage.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: 2022 California legislative end of session highlights

In August 2022, the 2022 California legislative session closed with various relevant legislative measures either moving to the Governor’s desk for signature or failing in committee. Below is a small highlight of relevant legislation concerning water rights, agriculture, and local agency procedure. While certain bills passed the California Legislature, they must now be presented to Governor Newsom, who has until September 30th to sign any of the bills passed below. … Bills That Passed Out of the California Legislature: SB 1205 – Water Availability Analyses … AB 1757 – Carbon Sequestration … AB 2449 – Brown Act …

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Climate change is ravaging the Colorado River. There’s a model to avert the worst.

The water managers of the Yakima River basin in arid Central Washington know what it’s like to fight over water, just like their counterparts along the Colorado River are fighting now. … But a decade ago, the water managers of the Yakima Basin tried something different. Tired of spending more time in courtrooms than at conference tables, and faced with studies showing the situation would only get worse, they hashed out a plan to manage the Yakima River and its tributaries for the next 30 years to ensure a stable supply of water. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought in Europe 2022: California isn’t alone in the crisis

A withered Europe faces what scientists say could be its worst water shortage in the hundreds of years on record. Farms are going fallow, and vineyards are seared. Reservoirs and aquifers have been depleted. Rivers have dried up to reveal Roman-era artifacts and unexploded war munitions. Wildfires have raged across a dozen countries. Scores of small cities and towns are trucking in water because the taps have run dry. … Drought isn’t new to Europe — which has a wide variety of climates and rainfall patterns — and the current one started in 2018. But scientists say human-induced climate change is transforming the continent, raising the likelihood that it will experience more frequent and persistent drought, like the American West.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: Delta flows - California surface waters are in peril, and all we got is this lousy tunnel

Despite knowing for some time that the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) was advancing, when the Department of Water Resources (DWR) dropped the environmental impact report (EIR) for the project at the end of July, we, at Restore the Delta, felt like we were suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The remnants of CalFed, the Chunnel, BDCP, CA WaterFix, and now the DCP – it is too much. There are so many other issues that need attention to restore the health of the Bay-Delta estuary and California’s rivers, including but not limited to harmful algal bloom research and mitigation, fishery health, habitat restoration, flood control, drought management, preparing for climate change impacts, managing invasive species, heat islands, fire threats, improving water quality for all its uses, and the Bay-Delta Plan. 

Aquafornia news Discover Magazine

5 ancient societies that collapsed when the water ran dry

Climate change has forced a number of states across the nation to face growing water shortages. From California to Colorado and everywhere in between, droughts combined with growing populations are causing communities to worry about having enough water in the near future. Countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia are also particularly vulnerable to a growing drought crisis. But this isn’t the first time a lack of water has negatively impacted society. Throughout our history, societies have been built and then collapsed around water. These ancient societies fell when the water ran dry.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: Governor Newsom’s water plan represents progress, but misses the power of markets

In mid-August, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to tackle the state’s ongoing water crisis. California is in the midst of a drought, which some are now referring to as “the end of the dream.” Water shortages in the West are unfortunately becoming part of everyday life, thanks in large part to climate change. Newsom’s plan appears to be moving the state in the right direction by focusing on increasing the supply of water available for residents’ wide-ranging purposes. However, his administration should be doing more to leverage the power of markets and market pricing, strategies noticeably absent from new proposals.
-Written by James Broughel, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center.

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Aquafornia news Axios

Heat wave in California: Blackouts possible as excessive heat warnings continue

A historic heat wave is affecting the West, breaking all-time, monthly and daily records and putting the California electricity grid to test. The heat is relentless, potentially peaking Tuesday but sticking around straight through the upcoming weekend. The big picture: The immediate cause of the heat wave is an unusually strong area of high pressure, or heat dome, that is parked over the western U.S., causing air to sink and dry out, stifling any widespread rainfall.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s extreme heat has increased fire risk. A hurricane off the coast could bring ‘nightmare’ scenario.

California is in the middle of a historic heat wave that has brought triple-digit temperatures across the state for nearly a week and made it hard to contain fast-moving wildfires. Firefighters are battling blazes in Northern and Southern California amid the record-breaking heat. The Mill Fire and Mountain Fire both erupted on Friday in Siskiyou County and rapidly burned thousands of acres. … There is also potential that remnants of Hurricane Kay could creep up the California coast this weekend, bringing thunder and lightning, without rain — increasing the odds of dangerous lightning-strike fires sparking.

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Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

Climate change increasing chance of ‘mega storm’ in California, scientists say

California is no stranger to extreme weather. It typically comes in the form of severe drought and wildfires, but a new study suggests the Golden State should also be preparing for a mega storm it hasn’t seen the likes of since 1862. UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain joined Stephanie Sy to discuss how the potential storm could flood parts of the state with 30 days of continuous rain.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California launches beaver restoration effort to fight climate change

As California grapples with drought, a record heat wave and persistent wildfires, one state agency is turning to the beaver in its battle against climate change. The large rodents, according to researchers, are resourceful engineers capable of increasing water storage and creating natural firebreaks with their dams. On Tuesday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife posted its first job listing for its new beaver restoration unit. The senior environmental scientist will help develop methods for “nature-based restoration solutions involving beavers” and artificial beaver dams. 

Aquafornia news Navajo-Hopi Observer

Indigenous Nations have lived along the Little Colorado River for generations and rely on the waterway to provide food and sustenance for their communities and families

A few times a year, fed by snowmelt and monsoon storms, the normally dry Grand Falls swells into a raging wall of muddy water. The 180-foot seasonal waterfall has become something of a destination for road trippers, van lifers, and influencers in recent years. But for generations, Grand Falls and the Little Colorado River that feeds it have watered livestock, supported medicinal plants, and sustained Native peoples. Grand Falls, called “Adahiilíní” in the Diné (Navajo) language, is located on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. For Herman Cody and his niece Radmilla Cody, it is the place they call home. “We’re all a big family living along that river,” Herman said.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Lake Powell shrinks, new questions surface about its future

… Lake Mead’s own decline threatens to upend a vast irrigated agricultural empire in Southern California and southwestern Arizona, and to restrict or eventually cut off a significant source of hydroelectricity and household water for the urban Southwest. Powell once seemed Mead’s failsafe backup, a reservoir that, in a wet string of years, could accumulate far more than what the river delivers in a single year. During dry spells, it could pour its excess through Grand Canyon and into Mead, supplying users downstream. Now the excess was gone. … If the snows that melt to replenish the reservoir are lower than expected this winter, the dam’s managers warn, it’s possible that water will dip below Glen Canyon Dam’s hydropower intakes by the end of 2023.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Facing ‘dead pool’ risk, California braces for painful water cuts from Colorado River

California water districts are under growing pressure to shoulder substantial water cutbacks as the federal government pushes for urgent solutions to prevent the Colorado River’s badly depleted reservoirs from reaching dangerously low levels. … Federal officials from the Interior Department and the Bureau of Reclamation have also laid out plans that could bring additional federal leverage to bear. Their plan to reexamine and possibly redefine what constitutes “beneficial use” of water in the three Lower Basin states — California, Arizona and Nevada — could open an avenue to a critical look at how water is used in farming areas and cities.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Editorial: No wet people without wetlands

I have often heard Californians who claim they are concerned about water conservation in the state say: “Why do we let rivers run all the way to the sea?” I hear them, and I have no idea what they mean. I mean, that’s what rivers do. They run to the sea. Flow, river flow, and all that. We live on a blue planet, not on some engineered man-made construction. … [R]ivers are not some commodity out of which we can suck water to drink and irrigate our dichondra and wash our cars as if that were its first purpose. Rivers flowing do not “go to waste.” They give life to riparian plants, and trees, and all the fauna that live beside that flora.

Aquafornia news ZME Science

Could auctions help California make better use of its water? This leading economist believes so

California is in a megadrought. Like many other places across the world, climate heating and unsustainable water usage have brought California close to a potentially devastating water shortage. But some help may come from an unexpected place: economics. … Waste also means opportunity, and the opportunity Milgrom sees would be transferring water use from those who value it less to those who value it more (and are willing to pay more for it).

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California winter weather predictions

With temperatures in the triple digits Labor Day weekend, the idea of winter is either the light at the end of the tunnel or a faraway fantasy. Either way, winter is coming, and weather predictions for the season are here. It won’t be a winter wonderland in California this season. Mild temperatures and drier than normal conditions are expected to come to the California region, according to the Farmer’s Almanac 2022-2023 Extended Winter Forecast. … These predictions align with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s experimental long-range forecasts. Paul Ullrich, professor of regional and global climate modeling at the University of California, Davis, said the drier winter season could be due to the persistent La Niña that the state is experiencing.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

US lithium rush bogs down in environmental fight in Nevada

As the price of the metal — a critical battery component — soars, tribal members, ranchers and activists in Nevada want to block a mine some see as an “environmental nightmare.”

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Aquafornia news Governing

Megaflood study strikes a nerve in summer of record rainfall

In 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) published a report detailing the catastrophic physical, social and economic impacts of a historically and scientifically plausible winter storm on California. New research modeling how warming temperatures could intensify such a storm is resonating strongly in a summer of historic rainstorms. … Recently, UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain revisited the ARkStorm scenario taking the influence of a warming atmosphere into account. His analysis of the “plausible worst case scenario” for a future megaflood revealed that climate change had already doubled the risk of catastrophic floods in California, a risk that will continue to increase as warming continues in coming decades.

Aquafornia news Arizona Family

This active monsoon season: good or bad for Arizona? It’s a little of both

Arizona has seen a lot of monsoon activity this season across the entire state. So is that good or bad? It turns out it’s a little of both. It’s been a dramatic monsoon season, and it’s not over. … Short term, NWS said this helps the drought, but long term Percha said this doesn’t make much of a drought dent, and summer storms aren’t what’s truly needed.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Neighbors say California fire started at Weed lumber mill

The giant green warehouse known as Shed 17 loomed across the railroad tracks from Debbie Cummins’ Alamo Avenue home since she moved there in 1988. On Friday, she and dozens of her neighbors watched in terror as the building turned into a giant plume of black smoke and flames. … Within minutes, powerful winds blew the fire into Weed’s historically Black neighborhood, Lincoln Heights, just to the north of Cummins’ home. Dozens of homes burned to the foundations. The fire eventually burned more than six square miles. Two women died. … Environmentalists, neighborhood groups and the city itself have battled [Roseburg Forest Products’ sprawling lumber mill] for much of the past two decades over concerns about air pollution and the city’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Historic drought puts pressure on golf courses to cut water usage

In charge of 500 acres of irrigated turf at Sun City Palm Desert, including two 18-hole golf courses, parks and softball fields for the 50-and-over community of 5,000 homes, Tyler Truman is no stranger to concerns about how much water the courses and the surrounding areas are using.   … As the drought in the southwest deepens, with a first-ever Level 2a Shortage Condition declared for the Colorado River – a major source of water for the desert and all of Southern California — golf courses in the Coachella Valley are aware that golf is always a target for those looking at water usage.

Aquafornia news Newsweek

Dangerous algal blooms crop up across California killing thousands of fish

Toxic algae that can make people sick have been found in popular swimming and fishing spots all around California. Indian Creek Reservoir, 30 miles southwest of Lake Tahoe, is one such location where harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been confirmed. The California Water Quality Monitoring Council has also detected a red tide HAB in San Francisco Bay, as well as “dangerous” levels of algal toxins in Clear Lake, Lake Crowley, and Bridgeport reservoir.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

California’s heat wave sets records, and stretches power grid

A vast dome of high pressure has edged westward and settled over California, inflicting sweltering and record-setting temperatures across much of the state and threatening to strain the state’s power grid. Record high daily temperatures scorched several cities across the Bay Area on Monday, with oppressive heat forecast to continue for days, according to the National Weather Service. … Severe drought has reduced the availability of hydropower, and solar power generation wanes as night falls, leaving the state to rely heavily on aging gas-fired power plants and on imported electricity from other states.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Why this underappreciated rodent is one of California’s best chances to fight climate change

They’re stocky, furry and usually a bit damp, and they’ve been underappreciated for decades. But not anymore. Meet one of California’s best climate-change fighting tools: the beaver. Lauded as some of nature’s most effective engineers, a motivated group of beavers can divert rivers and streams with their dams of sticks and mud and, in doing so, keep the land they occupy moist, helping fight the ongoing drought.  … This year, the state has begun harnessing the beaver’s potential, pumping over a million dollars into restoring these industrious rodents in each of the next two years.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Biden-Harris Administration announces $8.5 million from bipartisan infrastructure law for Colorado River endangered species recovery

Lower water levels at Lake Powell and rising temperatures in the Colorado River are contributing to dangerously low dissolved oxygen levels below Glen Canyon Dam, causing concern for the health of the trout fishery located near Lees Ferry. The Bureau of Reclamation works with the U.S. Geological Survey to closely monitor water quality conditions and is working with partners and stakeholders to better understand potential effects. Fish native to the Colorado River, such as humpback chub and razorback sucker, are generally located farther downstream where low dissolved oxygen levels are remedied by riffles and runs, which aerate the water.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Dirty water, drying wells: Central Californians shoulder the drought’s inequities

Like a growing number of Central Californians, [Jesús] Benítez is bearing the brunt of the state’s punishing drought, which is evaporating the state’s surface water even as a frenzy of well drilling saps precious reserves underground. As a result, the number of dry wells in California has increased 70% since last year, while the number of Californians living with contaminated drinking water is at nearly 1 million. The majority of those people live in low-income communities and communities of color, state data show — and experts say heat, drought and climate change are only making those inequities worse. 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

American River Basin to see rising temperatures, declining snowpack for rest of the century

The Bureau of Reclamation has released the American River Basin Study, which predicts that the American River Basin in central California will see increasing temperatures and a declining snowpack through the rest of the century. The study also found an increased variability of fall and winter precipitation, which will amplify the severity of droughts and flooding in the basin. The full report is available on Reclamation’s Basin Study website. … The American River Basin Study found that maximum temperatures are projected to increase throughout any given year, with the most significant increase of 7.3°F during the summer months by the end of the 21st century.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: For his water plan to work, Newsom must marshal all key forces

At first glance, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new water supply strategy might suggest the projects he is proposing will create about 7 million acre-feet of new water, but a closer reading shows that’s not quite true. If every proposed storage facility is built, and the proposed water recycling and desalination projects are also eventually completed, Newsom’s water supply strategy will add about half that much. Even so, his plan is timely and much needed, but making it happen will require unprecedented compromises from California’s powerful environmentalist lobby.
-Written by Edward Ring, co-founder of the California Policy Center, a libertarian think tank, and the author of “The Abundance Choice – Our Fight for More Water in California.”​

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California approves a wave of aggressive new climate measures

California, with an economy that ranks as the world’s fifth-largest, embarked this week on its most aggressive effort yet to confront climate change, after lawmakers passed a flurry of bills designed to cut emissions and speed away from fossil fuels. Legislators approved a record $54 billion in climate spending and passed sweeping new restrictions on oil and gas drilling as well as a mandate that California stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2045. … [A]s record-breaking heat, drought and wildfires have battered the state, [Gov. Gavin] Newsom has faced increasing pressure to do more. 

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Aquafornia news New York Times

Extreme heat begins pummeling California as crews battle wildfires

California’s most intense heat wave so far this year has arrived, walloping residents with record-breaking temperatures, intensifying wildfires and stretching the state’s electricity supplies. On Wednesday, temperatures in San Fernando Valley communities north of Los Angeles reached new daily highs of 112 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, while Lancaster, a city in the desert northeast of the city, tied a record of 109 degrees, set in 1948. … Local officials also said that high temperatures and bone-dry conditions were making it difficult to fight the Route fire, which had burned more than 5,200 acres of brush-covered hillsides in the Castaic area of Los Angeles County, prompting evacuation orders and road closures. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

California’s Mediterranean climate vulnerable to global warming

The allure of California has long been its almost unbelievably good weather: predictably dry summers and pleasant, if occasionally rainy, winters. Who wouldn’t want to escape swampy heat for this temperate paradise? Our typically agreeable weather (current heat wave notwithstanding) is officially called a Mediterranean-type climate, defined as having cool, wet winters and dry, warm summers. Only five places in the world share this climate: California, Central Chile, southwestern Australia, South Africa and, of course, the Mediterranean Basin.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Dissecting the use of water management plans in California

California uses plans as a primary tool for managing water throughout the state. Regulations like the Urban Water Management Planning Act of 1983, Regional Water Management Planning Act of 2002, Water Conservation Act of 2009, and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 require local water agencies to write plans documenting their available water supplies and develop approaches to use water more sustainably and/or ensure a secure supply. This blog probes the goals California has in requiring local and regional water plans, and asks whether the plans are a good tool for achieving more sustainable water use.

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Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

New research: As Colorado River wanes, water supplies and ecosystems hang in the balance

At a time of unprecedented aridification across the American West, the 1,450-mile-long Colorado River and its primary storage reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Mead — have fallen to historic lows. Fragile ecosystems that depend on the river for water, food and habitat are in peril. In fact, at least 44 of 49 freshwater fish species native to the basin are now endangered, threatened, or extinct. … Environmental water transactions — when owners of water rights are paid to leave water in the river — could provide a solution. However, states have been slow to enact laws that enable these transactions.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

In Boulder visit, Nancy Pelosi calls on Western states to lead the charge on Colorado River issues

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the National Center for Atmospheric Research — the campus in Boulder that’s a hub for scientists studying climate change and water — on Wednesday. … she and Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse promoted Democrats’ recent climate and tax package. The new law… includes $4 billion for water conservation efforts along the Colorado River. The aid comes as reservoirs on the river have dropped to unheard-of levels, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has announced cuts that will limit water supplies to some lower-basin states and Mexico.  Asked how the federal government should intervene in the tense negotiations between the watershed states, Pelosi stressed that Congress would look to the states to lead the way.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Breaching dams ‘must be an option’ to save salmon, Washington Democrats say

Two top Democrats in Washington State have come out in favor of eventually breaching four hydroelectric dams in the lower Snake River to try to save endangered salmon runs, a contentious option that environmentalists, tribes and business groups in the region have argued over for decades. In recommendations issued on Thursday, Senator Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee provided their most definitive stance in the fight to save salmon in the Columbia River basin and honor longstanding treaties with tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

The science behind California’s worsening heat waves explained

A late-summer heat wave has nestled itself into the California-Nevada border, bringing potentially record-breaking temperatures across the state. Heat could reach dangerous levels in the Bay Area, with forecasts of triple-digit temperatures in some areas. The cause? A heat dome. This atmospheric lid is trapping hot air over the Western U.S., triggering intense heat forecast to last for several days, with temperatures spiking in Northern California amid Labor Day weekend celebrations. In the U.S., heat kills more people in an average year than other weather extremes — more than torrential floods, tornadoes and cold snaps.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 - San Francisco

How East Bay tidal marsh Dutch Slough is becoming a living lab key in the fight against climate change

For project manager Katie Bandy, little Dutch Slough is a big success story. The California Department of Water Resources and its partners are restoring a vibrant tidal marsh in an ongoing project ultimately stretching across more than 1,100 acres near Oakley, in eastern Contra Costa County. The site is quickly becoming a powerful living laboratory for climate and environmental research. … For researchers like Ariane Arias-Ortiz, Ph.D., from the UC Berkeley Biometeorology Lab, the slough is already generating valuable data that could help in the fight against climate change. It’s gleaned from sensors placed on a three-level tower that monitor Co2, methane and other variables to help determine the levels of greenhouse gasses being sequestered by the tidal marsh.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California legislators passed the most ambitious climate package ever. Here’s what it does

California legislators passed the state’s most sweeping and aggressive climate change package ever Wednesday night, narrowly agreeing to the final pieces hours before they adjourned for the year. They approved measures that will require the state to become carbon-neutral by 2045, produce 90% of its electricity from clean sources by 2035, create safety zones around oil wells near homes and draft rules for carbon capture technology, which aims to pull emissions from the air and inject it underground.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Author highlighting new ways to think about water to be keynote speaker at Water Summit

A science journalist and author whose new book highlights efforts to reshape how we think about and work with water will provide the keynote address at the Foundation’s 2022 Water Summit on Oct. 27 in Sacramento. Author Erica Gies, whose new book is titled Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge, explores what she calls “Slow Water” innovations that can potentially offer resilience to the increasing severity of droughts and floods brought on by climate change.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California declares grid emergency, warning of blackouts

. . . The worst dry spell in 1,200 years has gripped nearly every inch of California with drought this summer, leaving rivers and reservoirs perilously low. That has significant implications for a state that generates about 10% of its electricity from hydroelectric dams and has aggressively closed natural-gas power plants in recent years.

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Aquafornia news Axios

California is throwing some shade at its water crisis

An innovative plan to conserve water by covering aqueducts with solar panels is about to undergo testing in drought-stricken California. Why it matters: Water is becoming more precious by the day in the Golden State and the Western U.S. more broadly, in part due to climate change. … About 8,500 feet of solar panels will be installed above two portions of Turlock Irrigation District (TID) aqueducts in Central California in a $20 million state-funded effort dubbed Project Nexus. The idea is that the panels will shade the water running underneath, preventing loss due to evaporation. 

Aquafornia news CBS - San Francisco

Napa County’s famed Wine Country prepares for climate change

Drought, heat, and wildfires all threaten Wine Country grape harvests, but growers are getting creative to defend their crops. Climate change is endangering California’s wine industry. … At their disposal are some innovative strategies being tested on a 40-acre vineyard run by UC Davis known as Oakville Station. At the small vineyard, researchers conduct critical viticulture studies and generate important data in real-world conditions for California growers and winemakers. … At Oakville Station, teams are studying various rootstocks to see which ones are the most drought and heat-resistant. Rows of vines are planted in a different direction to avoid the direct sun.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Less snow and less water. Federal study paints bleak picture of American River’s future

Hotter weather, less snow and more water shortages. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation offered a bleak vision of the future of the American River watershed Wednesday, releasing an extensive report on how the basin that’s so vital to the Sacramento region’s water supplies will be affected by climate change in the coming decades. The bureau, which operates Folsom Lake, said the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento could eventually see shortfalls of as much as 78,000 acre-feet per year unless stronger conservation and water-storage projects are undertaken. … The heart of the problem is the warming climate. Average summer temperatures in the watershed are expected to increase by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, the study said. Winter temperatures will climb 4.9 degrees.

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Aquafornia news CBS - San Francisco

California to install solar panels over canals to fight drought, a first in the U.S.

In an effort to combat the devastating drought conditions hitting California, the Golden State will become the first in the nation to install solar panel canopies over canals. The $20 million pilot project funded by the state has been dubbed “Project Nexus.” It will consist of an estimated 8,500 feet of solar panels installed over three sections of Turlock Irrigation District (TID) canals in Central California. The installation process is expected to begin by 2023, and be completed by 2024. … According to TID, the project aims to use water and energy management hand-in-hand. The project is designed to increase renewable power generation, while reducing water evaporation and vegetative growth in canals.

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Aquafornia news Earth.Org

Blog: Top 6 environmental issues in the US in 2022

As the latest IPCC report warned, it is ‘now or never’ to limit global warming below 1.5C. Countries around the world are already bearing the brunt of climate change but the reality is that, unless we reverse this trend, the effects that we are going to experience in the near future are going to be significantly more devastating. … Here are the top environmental issues in North America and what the government is doing to tackle them. … A report released in August 2022 by California’s State Water Resources Control Board found that in the Western state alone, nearly one million people face possible long-term health conditions from drinking water containing unsafe levels of contaminants such as arsenic and nitrate.  

Aquafornia news University of Nevada, Reno

New research: Meadow restoration efforts yield long-term climate change mitigation benefits

Restoration efforts in montane meadows designed to increase late-season water flows, improve water quality, diminish flood events and provide valuable habitat have been ongoing for decades in the Sierra Nevada. It has been known that, generally, healthy meadows also soak up and hold carbon in the soil, becoming natural “sinks” for carbon, and decreasing harmful atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, how much carbon restored meadows can sequester and for how long they can consistently do so has been unclear, until now. 

Aquafornia news Scientific American/E&E News

‘Weather whiplash’ withers, then drowns areas worldwide

The Dallas area is still reeling from record-breaking downpours that triggered flash floods across northeastern Texas last week. The event swamped houses, submerged vehicles and prompted hundreds of emergency rescues. At least one death has been reported so far. The sheer volume of rain was stunning, with some locations receiving more than a foot. But the deluge was all the more surprising because Dallas has been choked by severe drought for months. It’s a phenomenon often referred to by scientists as “weather whiplash.” And Texas isn’t the only place it’s happened this summer. Monsoon rains triggered flash floods in Arizona and New Mexico in the past week, even as the Southwest continues to suffer under a decades long drought.

Aquafornia news CBS - Sacramento

Some California farmland being restored to natural state in hopes of lessening drought effects

In the face of California’s megadrought, farmland across the state is at a crossroads. Some land is now being repurposed to make sure it’s viable for generations to come. We traveled to the Central Valley for a closer look at so-called “rewilding.” A withered and water-starved corn field is a snapshot of some of the farmland of the future. … While the idea of repurposing agricultural land is still taking shape in Tulare County, it’s already showing promise 150 miles north, with the largest floodplain restoration project in California at Dos Rios Ranch.

Aquafornia news The Nation

In the Pacific Northwest, salmon declines upend a way of life

Every spring and fall, Chinook salmon make their way from the Pacific Ocean into the Klamath River, in Northern California. Historically, their black-speckled bodies would swim upstream, around the Cascade and Klamath mountain range and into the Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon, before spawning in its major tributaries. Since time immemorial, local tribes—the Klamath, Karuk, Hoopa Valley, and Yurok—fished these waters. The Chinook formed a vital part of the tribes’ culture, economy and food security. Since the early 20th century, Chinook salmon numbers in the Klamath River—once the third-largest salmon-producing river in the United States—have fallen by more than 90 percent, according to federal statistics.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Heat, water, fire: How climate change is transforming the Pacific Crest Trail

In the desert near Agua Dulce, north of Los Angeles, hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail who reached mile marker 502 encountered a cistern of water that smelled bad and tasted worse, with a dead rat floating inside. They got out their filters and refilled their bottles anyway. “Will update if I get sick,” one wrote on a message board to those coming up behind. The message was just one sign of how global warming is affecting life along the trail, where, during a hot season nearly devoid of rain, water tanks and caches were more important than ever, the last line of defense against dehydration. At least some hikers willing to take their chances.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Brutal heat wave expected in California this week

While much of the country has suffered extreme heat waves this summer, California has in large part been spared. But that reprieve is over. A weeklong scorcher is expected to bake much of Central and Southern California from today to Labor Day. Temperatures could reach up to 115 degrees in the Inland Empire and 112 degrees in the San Fernando Valley and San Joaquin Valley, while hovering just below triple digits closer to the coast. The heat wave will probably have two peaks … midweek; then temperatures will begin to drop before shooting up again on Sunday and Monday to even higher levels …

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Climate change is exposing history, from dinosaur tracks to Nazi ships

Previously unseen dinosaur tracks dot a dried-up riverbed in Central Texas. Sunken warships poke out from port waters on the Serbia-Romania border. Once-submerged Buddhist statues loom above the Yangtze River’s banks in Chongqing, China. 10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint As record-breaking drought — fueled by human-caused climate change — parches waterways around the world, hidden relics that would have been difficult or impossible to access in milder years are emerging from below the surface.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Lake Powell pipeline might be doomed from drought, permitting and design problems

Already in doubt from the West’s changing climate, a proposed pipeline across southern Utah remains bogged in a regulatory limbo that could hold up the project indefinitely. If built, Utah’s 143-mile Lake Powell pipeline would draw up to 86,000 acre-feet of the Colorado River’s flow — depleted by drought and overuse — from the ever-shrinking Lake Powell for use in St. George and Kane County. By the time Utah water bosses clear a stalled environmental review and secure the water rights, however, there may be no Lake Powell as we’ve known it, just a “dead pool” stacked behind Glen Canyon Dam.

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Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Data centers, backbone of the digital economy, face water scarcity and climate risk

Data centers are springing up around the world to handle the torrent of information from the expanding web of devices ingrained in people’s lives and the economy. Managing that digital information gusher is big business. It also comes with hidden environmental costs. For years, companies that operate data centers have faced scrutiny for the huge amounts of electricity they use storing and moving digital information like emails and videos. Now, the U.S. public is beginning to take notice of the water many facilities require to keep from overheating. Like cooling systems in large office buildings, water often is evaporated in data center cooling towers, leaving behind salty wastewater known as blowdown that has to be treated by local utilities.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

‘Very dangerous’ heat may reignite fire season in western U.S.

A quiet late summer for western wildfires may be about to come to an abrupt end. Weather models are indicating that a potentially extreme and prolonged heat wave will build over western states this week and into the Labor Day weekend. … Although a supercharged monsoon brought a welcome reprieve from the smoke-filled summer skies and destructive wildfires of the past two years, not every region has seen soaking rain…. Much of California is entering autumn parched and flammable after a months-long dry season… And the heat wave is arriving just as windy weather patterns begin to increase in the West.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘It took everything’: the disease that can be contracted by breathing California’s air

The illness that would change Rob Purdie’s life started with a headache, a terrible pain that began around New Year’s 2012 and stayed for months. It was only after several trips to urgent care facilities, multiple doctors and incorrect diagnoses – everything from sinus infections to cluster headaches – he learned what was wrong with him. The Bakersfield, California, resident had meningitis caused by Valley fever, a disease that comes from Coccidioides, a fungus endemic to the soil of the US south-west. … Valley fever is increasing in California’s Central Valley, as it has for years, and experts say that in the future cases could rise across the American west as the climate crisis renders the landscape drier and hotter.

Aquafornia news NPR

Western drought raises risk of power blackouts

This is the Jim Bridger power plant, one of the largest coal-fired power sources in the nation and an enormous emitter of carbon dioxide pollution. … The plant sucks up about 16 million gallons of water each day, using it to power more than million homes across six western states, all the way to Oregon. But there’s a problem that looms for the coal plant operator and the customers that rely on it for electricity. This water is piped here from the Green River, a tributary of the rapidly shrinking Colorado River. Now, amidst a decades-long drought and a shortage of water downstream across the Southwest, future conservation in the basin could mean industrial users like Jim Bridger see their water shut off, says Wyoming State Engineer Brandon Gebhart.

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Aquafornia news

What’s for dinner? Protein — and its large water footprint

When it comes to the question of “what’s for dinner?” protein is typically at the center of the meal. Production and consumption statistics show that, for a majority of people, protein generally means meat, but it also increasingly includes other non-animal proteins like beans and quinoa. … So why does it matter if we’re over-consuming protein? For starters, protein-rich foods tend to carry a larger foodprint than others. … While animal foods are more concentrated protein sources, those animals have to eat a lot of plants to grow. As a result, producing protein-rich foods can take a lot of resources, including one that’s often overlooked: water.

Aquafornia news Roll Call

Western drought funding pushes feds and states to cooperate

The climate and social spending package boosted funding levels for Western drought mitigation projects to an unprecedented level — one that water advocates in the region say the U.S. may never see again.  But how the Interior Department decides who gets what water from the dwindling resources in the West, particularly in the Colorado River Basin that is facing a drought crisis, could make or break the historic funding, experts say.  The budget reconciliation bill signed Aug. 16 by President Joe Biden provides $4 billion for Western drought and water projects.

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Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Now’s the time: Fair access to water, reliable supply, good jobs

California is flush with cash and staring down a thirsty future. According to the EPA Needs Survey and Assessment, our state needs $50 billion in infrastructure improvements to ensure safe drinking water for everyone. Our unprecedented state budget surplus and drought-induced water use restrictions make it clear: Now is our chance to modernize our water systems, and we must act with urgency. Gov. Newsom acknowledged the need to act quickly to secure our state’s water supplies in his recent announcement of a plan for how to address the state’s drier future.
-Written by Bruce Reznik, executive director of LA Waterkeeper.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Amid drought, Tijuana is paying California for Colorado River water

Tijuana is paying California for more water than it has in recent years as the city faces a growing population coupled with blistering drought that’s gripping the entire West. Northern Baja is entitled by treaty to 1.5-million-acre feet of Colorado River water per year, which is Tijuana’s primary water source. But for years the amount that goes to Tijuana hasn’t been enough to quench demand. That’s been the case since at least 1972 when the U.S. and Mexico first let Tijuana pay for water from California during a serious drought, before it had an aqueduct to carry river water through the Mexicali Valley.