The Delta has been embroiled in controversy about how to restore
a faltering ecosystem while maintaining its role as the hub of
the state’s water supply.
Issues include improving water system management, estuary health,
conservation efforts to protect the endangered Delta smelt, levee
fragility and the proposed twin tunnels, which will be put on a
statewide ballot in the future.
Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when colonies of algae,
under the right conditions, grow out of control and produce
toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine
mammals, and birds. Every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state
experiences harmful algal blooms. In California, reports
of harmful algal blooms have increased from 91 in 2016 to 241
in 2019. In 2020, Stockton experienced a severe harmful
algal bloom; it marked the first year that algal blooms spread
into the San Joaquin and Calaveras Rivers so early in the
summer and fall months. Drought and heat are factors that
increase harmful algal blooms …
Nancy L. Vogel of Sacramento has been appointed Deputy
Secretary for Water at the California Natural Resources Agency,
where she has been Director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio
Program since 2019 and was Deputy Secretary of Communications
from 2015 to 2017.
The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting
the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently
changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn
Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and
alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work
through the most dangerous part of the
pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom
begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from
office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same
south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the
environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.
A tiny silver fish few people in the Bay Area have heard of
could be a new symbol of the state’s continuing battle over
water resources. San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Biden
administration on Thursday to list the local population of
longfin smelt as an endangered species. The environmental
group’s legal action comes nine years after the federal
government first declared that the fish warranted that status.
Once an important source of food for marine mammals, birds and
chinook salmon, the local population of the longfin smelt has
dropped by 99.9% since the 1980s. Scientists and
environmentalists say that reduction is a direct result of too
much water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system being
diverted to farms and other water users rather than flowing
through the bay to the Pacific.
In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight
video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive
Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in
engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and
significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he
reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and
speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in
protecting the security of California’s water supply.
The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River
Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s
worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many
of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers
and putting business in front of the environment.
For seven days in mid-March 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation
substantially increased Folsom Lake storage releases. Roughly,
the releases tripled in volume (Figure 1). The release of over
20,000 acre-feet of water is significant for a year in which
Folsom storage is not much better than it was in the worst year
on record – 1977 (Figure 2).1 With the release in mid-March,
the lake level dropped 3 feet. Yes, there was rain in the
forecast and a decent snowpack, but certainly no flood
concerns. So why? The reason was to meet state water quality
requirements for Delta outflow. Delta outflow increased from
7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days (Figure 3).
One of the California Water Commission’s statutory
responsibilities is to conduct an annual review of the
construction and operation of the State Water Project and make
a report on its findings to the Department of Water Resources
and the Legislature, with any recommendations it may
have. Having just finished the 2020 State Water Project
review, the Commission has launched its 2021 State Water
Project review with a theme focused on creating a resilient
State Water Project by addressing climate change and aging
infrastructure to provide multiple benefits for
In anticipation of this week’s Bay-Delta Science Conference, I
thought it would be useful to consider some of what it takes to
understand a complex ecosystem like an estuary and to encourage
everyone working in the San Francisco Estuary – scientists,
policymakers, and local stakeholders – to continue shifting our
ecosystem management focus from the simple to the complex. I’ll
explain why in a moment. Here are four suggestions for
improving ecosystem management in the San Francisco Bay-Delta:
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) filed comments with
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) regarding Sunset
Exploration’s proposal to drill for natural gas in the Suisun
Marsh. Located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this 88,000-acre
wetland is home to a number of endangered and threatened
species, including California Ridgway’s rail, black rail, and
Chinook salmon – and is just a few short miles from
environmental justice communities in Solano County…. DOJ
urges the Army Corps to fully consider the proposal’s
significant environmental impacts, including harm to these
communities and protected species, as well as increased
greenhouse gas emissions, before deciding whether to grant the
San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling
quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable
water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet,
with another drought looming, federal and state water managers
still plan to divert large amounts of water to their
contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer.
Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are
preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water
diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the
law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov.
Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that
jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future
precarious. -Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF
The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) announced the hiring of
Ryan Stanbra, the Council’s legislative and policy advisor, to
the key post of chief deputy executive officer. … Appointed
by Governor Brown in 2015, Ryan joined the Council in the role
of legislative and policy advisor. He has played a pivotal role
in advising on critical Council initiatives like implementation
of reduced reliance on the Delta, interagency coordination and
outreach for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy, increasing
funding for critical science investments, and more. He has
served in the acting chief deputy executive officer role since
The Federal government is beginning a program for the
unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.
Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out
turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the
tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water
trawls. Major California water projects and water users
are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year
Explore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of California’s
most vital ecological and water resources, with a special
discounted education bundle that includes our brand-new Delta
Map and our recently updated Layperson’s Guide to the Delta.
Purchased separately, the map retails for $20 and the guide
sells for $15. But with our Delta Education Bundle you can
get both items for just $30.
Updated water supply allocations announced last week would
still drain upstream reservoirs in order to deliver 4.5 million
acre feet of water to the contractors of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP), devastating
fish and wildlife. This week, the fisheries biologists at the
National Marine Fisheries Service projected that these planned
operations are likely to result in lethal water temperatures
that will kill 89% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon
below Shasta Dam this year. This mortality estimate is even
worse than what was observed in 2014 and 2015, when salmon
populations were devastated by warm water in their spawning
When the first European explorers arrived in California’s
Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and
permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian
forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone
of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields,
they support millions of migrating waterbirds each
year. According to a just-released study from Audubon,
tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as
well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of
wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California –
have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers.
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program
Director at Audubon California and a member of the
California Water Commission.
The San Francisco Estuary Partnership’s next update to it’s
2016 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the
Estuary—or Estuary Blueprint—will bring a new focus on equity
and environmental justice to ongoing efforts to restore and
protect the Bay and Delta.
The lack of rain and snow during what is usually California’s
wet season has shrunk the state’s water supply. The Sierra
Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water as it melts over the
spring and summer, is currently at 65 percent of normal. Major
reservoirs are also low. Two state agencies warned last week
that the dry winter is very likely to lead to cuts in the
supply of water to homes, businesses and farmers. The federal
Bureau of Reclamation also told its agricultural water
customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to
expect no water this year.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has
announced a series of workshops intended to solicit public
input on the development of a community benefit program
associated with the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). According
to DWR, community benefit programs go beyond traditional
concepts of mitigation. They attempt to provide greater
flexibility in addressing possible community impacts associated
with the major construction projects.
[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000
people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin
Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees
provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a
recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate
change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together.
… The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the
millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water:
drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five
to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more
severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly
states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”
The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was
long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where
water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water
futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has
been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the
region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and
the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been
prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory
birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and
water sources have seen steep declines in the past
The upcoming salmon season doesn’t look promising for
recreational and commercial fishermen on the Coastside. But
environmentalists from the Central Valley are hoping to change
that in the future by easing the movement of salmon between the
Pacific Ocean and inland rivers. One of those rivers is the
Tuolumne River. Its stewards at the Tuolumne River Trust are
sounding the alarm over the river’s health and say that
committing more water to this distant river will help the
salmon populations more than 100 miles away in places like
As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year,
alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta.
Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others
are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to
complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water
Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to
protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a
structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to
southern cities and farms are creeping ahead.
The Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) today announced
plans for this year’s control efforts for aquatic invasive
plants in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its southern
tributaries. Consistent with COVID-19 safety protocols, DBW
personnel started herbicide treatments today to help control
several invasive plants found in the Delta. … The
invasive plants include water hyacinth, South American
spongeplant, Uruguay water primrose, Alligator weed, Brazilian
waterweed, curlyleaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, hornwort
(aka coontail), and fanwort.
California’s water use varies dramatically across regions and
sectors, and between wet and dry years. With the possibility of
another drought looming, knowing how water is allocated across
the state can make it easier to understand the difficult
tradeoffs the state’s water managers must make in times of
scarcity. The good news is that we’ve been using less over
time, both in cities and on farms. While there are still ways
to cut use further to manage droughts, it won’t always be easy
or cheap to do so. California’s freshwater ecosystems are at
particular risk of drought, when environmental water use often
sees large cuts. Watch the video to learn how Californians use
When Ann Hayden first joined EDF in 2002, shortly after
finishing her own stint in the Peace Corps in Belize and
graduate school where she studied environmental science and
management, she was immediately thrown into one of California’s
thorniest water debates: the restoration of the Sacramento and
San Joaquin Bay-Delta, the hub of the state’s water supply. She
hit the jackpot when she was hired by Tom Graff, founder of
EDF’s California office and a renowned water lawyer, and Spreck
Rosekrans, who garnered the respect of the water community for
his ability to understand the state’s hypercomplex water
As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native
salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only
in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and
cultural significance by local communities, and for their
recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But
these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If
current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be
extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And
perhaps an even better question: what can be done about
The Peter B. Moyle and California Trout Endowed Professorship
was established by a group of donors concerned with the
conservation and management of coldwater fishes in California.
The endowed chair honors Peter Moyle and the historical and
productive working relationship between CalTrout and UC Davis,
with an endowment fund resting at over $2 million. Dr. Andrew
L. Rypel was appointed to this professorship as the inaugural
holder in 2017, therefore this report reflects year-3 work on
behalf of the chair. A total of 13 peer-reviewed scientific
publications were produced by the Rypel Lab at UC Davis in
Through collaborative projects, birds and endangered fish are
returning to areas they once reared in more than 100 years ago.
Partnerships among farmers, conservationists, universities, and
state and federal agencies are proving that by reactivating our
historic floodplains and using our bypasses during key times of
the year, we can create high-quality habitat that produces safe
haven and up to 149 times more food for salmon than the river.
These key projects demonstrate some of the work being done on
the wet-side of the levee.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering whether
the spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon that occupy the
rivers of Northern California and southern Oregon are
genetically distinct. The decision … would almost
certainly result in a listing under the Endangered Species Act
if seen as a separate species. … [T]he dams and
reservoirs that have been installed at various points
throughout the rivers of the West Coast create problems for
spring-run Chinook that are unique and separate from their
closely related cousins. It also allows the fall-run
species to outcompete the spring run since they both are able
to reach the same spots in the river to reproduce.
We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the
driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest
on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused
unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many
native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water
management throughout the state. Are we ready to manage
our freshwater ecosystems through another drought? -Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow,
and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at
the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy
Local political leaders and a dozen Bay Area environmental
groups are urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject a
permit proposal for an exploratory natural gas drilling project
in Suisun Marsh. The 88,000-acre wetland in Solano County — the
largest contiguous brackish marsh on the west coast of North
America — lies near the North Bay cities of Fairfield and
Benicia, at the mouth of the vast Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta where the salty waters of San Francisco Bay mix with
river water to create an estuary ecosystem that is home to
hundreds of species of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals,
including river otter, tule elk and the endangered salt marsh
Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery
Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing
season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are
projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the
Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly
higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the
long-term average. During a press briefing on Friday morning,
John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association
said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial
At the February meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta
Watermaster Michael George updated the councilmembers on the
efforts underway at the State Water Board to prepare for the
increasing possibility of 2021 being critically dry. He
also gave an update on the efforts to address the deteriorating
conditions in the south Delta.
The California commercial salmon season, due to start May 1,
will be only about half as long as last year’s season, after
the Pacific Fisheries Management Council settled on three
proposals for the dates and months fishing can take place this
season. The main reason for the shorter season is
the smaller number of adult Sacramento River
salmon expected to be in the ocean this spring and summer.
While commercial fishing boats were permitted to go out for 167
days total last year, the three proposals for the 2021 season
would only allow fishing for a total of 78 days, 94 days or 104
Learn from top water experts at our annual Water 101
Workshop about the history, hydrology and law behind
California water as well as hot topics such as water equity,
the Delta and flows, new federal administration and
more. This year’s workshop, set for April 22-23, will be held
virtually and feature a presentation devoted
solely to groundwater.
Our map of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has been
updated with a fresh, new look and new text and images to
better tell the story of one of California’s most important
ecological and water supply resources. The new map
explores the Delta’s importance as a haven for birds, fish and
other wildlife, its vital role in moving water to farms and
cities across California, and the array of challenges facing
the Delta’s present and future.
On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water
almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California
water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the
equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the
thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop
this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental
health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply
for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be
saving water, not wasting it.
The U.S. levee system — once considered the second largest
piece of the country’s infrastructure ”rivaled only by the
highway system” — is now nearly a century old and failing
inspections far more often than it passes them. Only one in 25
federal levees are rated Acceptable. … Those systems can
be found nationwide, from the Sacramento region in California
to the south Florida seaboard; from Appalachia to North Dakota
to the Mississippi River Valley. And the people who
maintain those vulnerable levees say their problems are
remarkably similar: systems that are too old and far too
expensive for locals to fix, much less replace.
What does sexual harassment have to do with our water supply?
Far more than you might think. The Metropolitan Water District
of Southern California imports, stores and sells the drinking
water used by nearly half of the people in this state. As a
consequence, the MWD is at the center of the state’s battle
with ongoing drought, the agricultural sector’s demands for
irrigation water and the degrading natural environment’s
inability to sustain iconic species such as migrating salmon.
Native fish, including smelt and salmon, in the southern Yolo
Bypass in Yolo County have new sources of food and shelter
thanks to a project that successfully restored more than 1,600
acres of former cattle pasture. The Lower Yolo Ranch Tidal
Restoration Project is a collaboration between multiple
agencies including the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and
Westlands Water District (Westlands) which serves western
Fresno and Kings counties. The agencies are working together to
meet a portion of state and federal requirements to restore
8,000 acres of tidal wetland habitat in the Sacramento-San
This beautifully illustrated 24×36-inch poster, suitable for
framing and display in any office or classroom, highlights the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, its place as a center of
farming, its importance as an ecological resource and its
vital role in California’s water supply system.
The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land
subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization, farming, fish and
wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action
that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways.
A recent global assessment, released by 16 conservation
organizations, of the world’s freshwater fish species found
that nearly a third are at risk of extinction. Overfishing and
climate change are the most significant and pervasive drivers
of the global decline in freshwater biodiversity, but the
blockages created by dams and the introduction of non-native
species have also played significant roles. The news is
distressing, yet CalTrout sees this as a call to action. Our
organization works diligently to ensure resilient wild fish
thrive in healthy waters.
A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important
element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central
Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an
especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a
geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville,
Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma
Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every
quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency
Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community
Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m.
California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems
are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution,
habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have
all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits.
And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is
not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the
PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these
ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for
improving their condition to secure these benefits for future
A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another
severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing
for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area,
water users are already being asked to cut back. The
state’s monthly snow survey on Tuesday will show only about 60%
of average snowpack for this point in the year, the latest
indication that water supplies are tightening. With the end of
the stormy season approaching, forecasters don’t expect much
more buildup of snow, a key component of the statewide supply
that provides up to a third of California’s water.
The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources
plan to allocate approximately 5 million acre feet of water
this year – as long as California allows them to effectively
drain the two largest reservoirs in the state, potentially
killing most or nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook
salmon this year, threatening the state’s resilience to
continued dry conditions, and maybe even violating water
quality standards in the Delta.
Approximately 62 acres of land in Rio Vista, including the
former Army Reserve Center, have been incorporated into
legislation by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, to increase the
boundaries of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National
Heritage Area. This bill, known as House Resolution 1230,
passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday and will
move on to the Senate. The bill is an expansion of bicameral
legislation by Garamendi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,
that was signed into law in 2019 to provide $10 million for
community-based efforts to preserve the Delta’s cultural
heritage as well as its historical landmarks.
[S]cientists were having a hard time telling delta smelt apart
from a fish species from Japan called wakasagi.
… Wakasagi were introduced by the government in the
1950s. There’s no shortage of them here or in Japan. Especially
when they’re young, to the naked eye they look virtually
identical to deltas. They’re so similar, in fact, to the
nearly extinct fish that scientists were worried about
hybridization — that this plentiful species and the delta smelt
would start hooking up, making mixed-species fish babies.
San Francisco has long been an international leader on
environmental issues. However, water policy has been a stain on
that record. … Many California rivers are overtapped by
excessive pumping, but few are in worse condition than the
Tuolumne River. In drier years, more than 90% of the Tuolumne’s
water is diverted. On average, 80 percent of the river’s flow
never makes it to the Bay. It’s not a surprise that the river’s
health has collapsed. …
-Written by Bill Martin, a member of the Sierra Club
Bay Chapter Water Committee, and Hunter Cutting, a member
of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group Executive
The Department of Justice can proceed with its claims that
California violated state law when it changed its water quality
control plan for the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta system in federal court, the Ninth Circuit ruled.
Granting a partial stay of the state law claims in federal
court is allowed in limited circumstances, but the federal
government’s actions here don’t amount to the type of forum
shopping that justifies a stay, according to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been
appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta
Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the
state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide
water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both
achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique
characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.
As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her
December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social
vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has
a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a
decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye
toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along
with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts
climate change resilience initiative in 2018.
California’s environmental permitting system was developed to
prevent bad things from happening to the environment, but it
often slows efforts to do good things, too. How can California
improve regulatory processes to make them more efficient and
effective? The PPIC Water Policy Center recently discussed
these issues with a group of experts…
Climate change is impacting the whole Earth, including the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There are some big challenges
ahead as the region changes over the next 30 years. In order to
adapt to a world with increased flooding, drought, wildfire and
intense heat, we need to start by understanding what’s going
on. But where to begin? The Delta Stewardship Council is
hosting a climate resilience scavenger hunt as part of its
Delta Adapts initiative…. Now through Feb. 26,
participants can complete as many activities as possible and
submit their findings online.
For the better part of the last two centuries, the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been modified in any number of
ways to meet the demands of Californians. But a new
wide-ranging study looks at what might be the most serious
Delta threat that doesn’t come in the form of an excavator –
Federal scientists and regulators repeatedly complained they
were sidelined by Donald Trump’s administration when they
warned of risks to wildlife posed by a California water
management plan, according to newly unveiled documents.
Identifying familiar habitats can be beneficial, but which
habitat traits actually matter? A new study examines this
question for juvenile common loons (Gavia immer) in lakes in
northern Wisconsin. In central California we generally see
loons in the winter, mostly in coastal ocean waters and also at
some large reservoirs in Solano and Yolo County. But in summer,
these large birds are icons of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin,
New England, and Canada.
A question I get asked on occasion is: Why all this fuss about
endangered delta smelt when there is another smelt that looks
just the same that can takes its place? The smelt being
referenced is the wakasagi (Hypomesus nipponensis), which is
indeed similar to the delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus).
In fact, both species were once thought to be a single species
(H. olidus), the pond smelt, with populations scattered along
the Pacific Rim, from California to Japan.
Curious about water rights in California? Want to know more
about how water is managed in the state, or learn about the
State Water Project, Central Valley Project or other water
infrastructure? Mark your calendars now for our virtual
Water 101 Workshop for the afternoons of April 22-23 to hear
from experts on these topics and more.
The major Northern California waterways may be getting a
renewed lease on their ecological and economic lives, as
federal support for protection and restoration of the San
Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary could nearly double in coming years
following enactment last month of the Protect and Restore
America’s Estuaries Act. As one of 28 “estuaries of national
significance” eligible for funding through the new law, the San
Francisco Estuary and other estuaries along every U.S. coast
each may now receive as much as $1 million a year in federal
While wetter streets and a greener White House may offer San
Franciscans some hope for the future, the situation remains
dire for salmon in the Tuolumne River. … [I]t’s hard not to
feel that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s water
policies are partially to blame. Californians are significantly
reducing or eliminating dependence on river water. But the
SFPUC continues to side with agricultural users to fight
limitations on the water it takes from the Tuolumne. -Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney,
blogger and activist
The Delta Conservancy has launched a new initiative aimed at
fixing all these problems — carbon emissions, soil subsidence,
and water security — at the same time. Called the Delta Carbon
Program, the initiative entails a two-pronged solution. First,
subsided islands are flooded, protecting them from the air and
so arresting further soil and carbon loss. Then the newly
inundated islands are re-vegetated with water-loving plants
that rebuild peat, reversing subsidence and so reducing the
risk of levee failure.
The year 2020 was an earth-shaking year that forced us to
examine what really matters in our lives. Although much of the
year was arduous, I’m heartened by our fortitude, tenacity, and
professionalism, which allowed us to advance California’s
coequal goals. At the Council, our information technology
department was vital to our rapid transition to teleworking. In
response to Governor Newsom’s March 19 stay at home order, our
team transitioned from almost zero teleworking to 100 percent
by April. This timely transition allowed us to focus on
initiatives imperative to implementing the Delta Plan.
Today, 95% of the Central Valley’s historical floodplains are
cut off from the river by levees. Built in the early 1900s to
combat devastating floods, levees and bypasses were constructed
to corral mighty rivers and push water quickly through the
system. Even before invasive species, large rim dams, and Delta
water export facilities were introduced into the system, salmon
populations started to dramatically decline with the
construction of the levees. Simply put, the levees prevented
Chinook salmon from accessing their primary food source.
As wildfires, heat waves, water scarcity and threats to
wildlife intensify in the West, California’s effort to confront
these environmental crises now has support in Washington, a
stark change from the past four years. Even as former President
Donald Trump spent his final days in office on the sidelines,
lamenting his election loss, his administration continued to
roll back environmental conservation and gut climate
California water issues are notoriously complicated by a
massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and
futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as
a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot
be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and
solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be
applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations
Recent fish surveys confirm what many biologists, ecologists,
and water experts have known for some time – Delta smelt remain
on the brink of extinction. Zero Delta smelt were found in the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent Fall
Midwater Trawl Survey. Even the Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring
Program, which is specifically designed to capture the tiny
fish, only successfully caught two Delta smelt from September 8
to December 11, 2020.
For the third year in a row, the California Department of Fish
and Wildlife found zero Delta smelt in the
agency’s 2020 Fall Midwater Trawl Survey throughout
the Delta. The 2- to 3-inch-long Delta smelt,
found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is an indicator
species that reveals the overall health of the San Francisco
Bay-Delta Estuary. It was once the most abundant fish
in the entire estuary, numbering in the millions. Now it’s
on the verge of extinction in the wild.
Has California overshot the runway? … There was a time
when our dams and aqueducts that allowed us to change the
course plotted by nature by not letting water be restricted to
water basins by physical barriers were considered a candidate
for of their wonders of the world. When it came to freeways, we
were the envy of the land. That was then and this is now. The
list of aging infrastructure that needs addressing is
The Delta Science Program is conducting a survey to understand
perceptions of the Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB)
and usage of Delta ISB reviews among Sacramento-San Joaquin
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel plan has nothing to do
with ecosystem restoration or environmental justice. It would
burden environmental justice communities and increase water
bills in the State Water Project service areas. Another massive
over-budget state mega-project based on 19th century thinking
cannot address current challenges. Persisting in this $16
billion-plus, 20-year construction folly will only further
degrade our waterways, ecosystems and communities. [Opinion column written by Kathy Miller and Chuck Winn, San
Joaquin County supervisors.]
Deep, throaty cadenced calls —
sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands,
farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each
year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the
Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Water Education Foundation’s Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.
Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop held on Feb. 20, 2020 covered the latest on the most compelling issues in California water.
McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
The lawsuit … argues that the changes undertaken by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries
Service are unlawful. Endangered species protections are
bedrock environmental law, and California leaders warned that
less protection will leave threatened species at risk of
extinction. California is leading the suit along with
Massachusetts and Maryland. Altogether, 17 states have signed
on, along with New York City and the District of Columbia.
Registration opens today for the
Water Education Foundation’s 36th annual Water
Summit, set for Oct. 30 in Sacramento. This year’s
theme, Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning,
reflects fast-approaching deadlines for the State Groundwater
Management Act as well as the pressing need for new approaches to
water management as California and the West weather intensified
flooding, fire and drought. To register for this can’t-miss
event, visit our Water Summit
Registration includes a full day of discussions by leading
stakeholders and policymakers on key issues, as well as coffee,
materials, gourmet lunch and an outdoor reception by the
Sacramento River that will offer the opportunity to network with
speakers and other attendees. The summit also features a silent
auction to benefit our Water Leaders program featuring
items up for bid such as kayaking trips, hotel stays and lunches
with key people in the water world.
Our 36th annual
happening Oct. 30 in Sacramento, will feature the theme “Water
Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning,” reflecting upcoming regulatory
deadlines and efforts to improve water management and policy in
the face of natural disasters.
The Summit will feature top policymakers and leading stakeholders
providing the latest information and a variety of viewpoints on
issues affecting water across California and the West.
The 2019 Water Summit, our annual
premier event, was held October 30, 2019 at a new
location along the Sacramento River in downtown Sacramento. Now
in its 36th year, the Water Summit featured top policymakers
and leading stakeholders providing the latest information and
viewpoints on issues impacting water across California and the
Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront
100 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration officially pulled the plug
Thursday on the twin Delta tunnels, fullfilling Newsom’s pledge
to downsize the project to a single pipe as he attempts to
chart a new course for California’s troubled water-delivery
Every day during the winter and spring, pumping operations for
the state’s two largest water projects in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta are fine-tuned to comply with detailed
regulations via the Endangered Species Act. These same
regulations provide no similar guidance on what flows are
appropriate through the Delta and out to San Francisco Bay
during this critical time in the lifespan of species such as
One of California Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade
Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within
weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that
Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.
That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach”
on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded
floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to
find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to
stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years.
His bipartisan water legislation unveiled Wednesday promises
federal support for storage and innovation projects to address
shortages that too often plague Valley agriculture and
Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona
governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful,
provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most
high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including
groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of
California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former
California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to
work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and
the Delta tunnels plan.
State officials are throwing up legal barriers to some
high-stakes attacks. … They are refusing to issue permits the
federal government needs to build a controversial dam
project… And they can use state water quality standards to
limit Washington’s ability to boost irrigation supplies for
Central Valley agriculture by relaxing federal safeguards for
As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on
behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered
Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta
smelt, to gain access to irrigation water. As a top official
since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been
finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the
farmers had hired him to oppose.
Our floodplain reforestation projects are biodiversity hotspots
and climate-protection powerhouses that cost far less than
old-fashioned gray infrastructure of levees, dams and
reservoirs. They provide highly-effective flood safety by
strategically spreading floodwater. Floodplain forests combat
the effects of drought by recharging groundwater and increasing
The California Farm Bureau Federation has filed a lawsuit to
block by the State Water Resources Control Board’s plans for
the lower river flow of San Joaquin River. In a press release,
the Farm Bureau said that the Board’s plan , which was adopted
last December, “misrepresents and underestimates the harm it
would cause to agricultural resources in the Central Valley”.
As his term as governor drew to a close, Jerry Brown brokered a
historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions
of gallons of water to help ailing fish. He also made two big
water deals with the Trump administration. It added up to
a dizzying display of deal-making. Yet as Gavin Newsom takes
over as governor, the state of water in California seems as
unsettled as ever.
The paper, published in the Journal of Environmental
Management, suggests that eliminating outdoor landscaping and
lawns could reduce water waste by 30 percent.
It recommends importing water only when Los Angeles is not
in a drought, to build a surplus of water for dry years. The
paper also argues that groundwater basins that catch stormwater
could be used to recycle water. However, making these
improvements would require the cooperation of more than 100
New California Gov. Gavin Newsom has previously said he
favors a scaled-down Delta tunnel project. Whether he
reappoints state water board chair Felicia Marcus will signal
whether he wants the board to stand firm or back down on the
flow requirements. His picks for top posts in the Natural
Resources Agency will determine whether his administration goes
along with a potential weakening of delta protections by the
Trump administration — or fights it.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water
Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from
totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’
lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of
water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Friday backed a bid by Sen.
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Kevin
McCarthy (R-Calif.) to extend provisions in a 2016 bill to
shuttle more water from the Golden State’s wet north to farms
and cities in the arid south.
On Dec. 20, the Delta Stewardship Council will vote to
determine whether the tunnels project — officially known as
California WaterFix — complies with what’s known as the “Delta
Plan,” a set of policy goals, mandated by state law, that put
protection and restoration of the fragile estuary’s eco-system
on an equal footing with more reliable water supplies.
A long-debated water plan that could change the
course—literally—of water in California, will be up for a vote
by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) next month.
Originally scheduled for November, the vote has been postponed
until December 11, per California Gov. Jerry Brown and
Gov.-elect Gavin Newson’s request.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
This month’s elections may have mortally wounded California’s
chances for a long-delayed $23 billion water tunnel project.
… The project’s biggest cheerleader, Gov. Jerry Brown
(D), is leaving office because of term limits and his
successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), lacks’ Brown’s enthusiasm
for the tunnels.
President Trump claimed Tuesday that California mismanages its
water resources, dismissing the possibility of drought and
accusing the state of sending water out to sea that could be
used to help farmers in the Central Valley. Trump also
threatened to withhold federal disaster dollars from
California, which he incorrectly claimed is impeding
firefighters’ access to water during wildfires.
One of our most popular events, our annual Water 101 Workshop
details the history, geography, legal and political facets
of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the
Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the
state, the one-day workshop on Feb. 7 gave attendees a
deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural
Optional Groundwater Tour
On Feb. 8, we jumped aboard a bus to explore groundwater, a key
resource in California. Led by Foundation staff and groundwater
Harter and Carl Hauge, retired DWR chief hydrogeologist, the
tour visited cities and farms using groundwater, examined a
subsidence measuring station and provided the latest updates
on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
The Colorado River Basin is more
than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could
force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously”
underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of
California water industry people.
During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s
Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is
opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their
destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees
that agreement can be reached.
Gavin Newsom and John Cox both drive zero-emission Teslas.
That’s about where the common ground ends between California’s
candidates for governor when it comes to the environment. …
Cox opposes as a “boondoggle” [Gov. Jerry] Brown’s $17 billion
proposal to move water from Northern California to Southern
California through twin tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta. … Newsom backs a one-tunnel option as more
California’s proposal to construct two massive tunnels
underneath the Delta northwest of the city to divert Sacramento
River water south would “devastate” Stockton and other
communities in and around the Delta, especially what a new
report refers to as “environmental justice communities” that
often have been ignored in the discussion around the tunnels.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.
And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
The estimated cost of the Delta tunnels project, Gov. Jerry
Brown’s controversial plan to re-engineer the troubled hub of
California’s water network, has jumped to nearly $20 billion
when accounting for inflation.
For more than 100 years, invasive
species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home,
disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually
The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South
America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour
every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by
burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal
and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.
Deep, throaty cadenced calls —
sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands,
farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each
year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the
Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Gov. Jerry Brown warned local water agency
officials throughout California on Thursday that unless
the delta tunnels project gets needed state and federal permits
soon and continues advancing, the major infrastructure project
may not happen in their lifetime.
After a five-hour packed public hearing, the board of Silicon
Valley’s largest water provider late Wednesday night put off a
closely watched vote until next week on whether to provide up
to $650 million to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion plan
to build two giant tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta to make it easier to move water south.
A decision by California’s largest water supplier on April 10
ended months of uncertainty over its role in the funding of
California Water Fix, the state’s plan to build new water
conveyance infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
… Financing is not the only issue that needs to be addressed.
There is still a long list of regulatory and legal hurdles the
project needs to clear.
The “triple threat” of invasive rodent species has made its way
to the edge of the delta, officials said, putting the state’s
fragile water infrastructure at risk. The California Department
of Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday that it had discovered the
nutria, a large rat-like mammal that inhabits wet, rural areas,
on agricultural land west of Stockton.
The destructive invasive swamp rodents known as nutria are
officially on the doorstep of one of the state’s most
critically important waterways. State wildlife officials
announced Tuesday that a nutria was killed on agricultural land
west of Stockton in San Joaquin County.
When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
voted to finance the lion’s share of the delta tunnels project,
some on the board called it a bold stroke of leadership. The
delegations from Los Angeles and San Diego, however, called the
move alarming, financially risky and irresponsible.
The largest water district in California agreed Tuesday to fork
over nearly $11 billion to build two tunnels that will siphon
water south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a
major boost for Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet project.
Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.
Saying that the way California manages water for the environment “isn’t working for anyone,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shook things up late last year by proposing a redesigned regulatory system featuring what they described as water ecosystem plans and water budgets with allocations set aside for the environment.
Faced with a shortage of money and political support after
seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is
working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects,
a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move
water from Northern California to the south.
You might wish you had as much power to affect the environment
and the economy as the delta smelt. Enemies have blamed the
tiny freshwater fish for putting farmers out of business across
California’s breadbasket, forcing the fallowing of vast acres
of arable land, creating double-digit unemployment in
agricultural counties, even clouding the judgment of scientists
Deepen your knowledge of California water issues at our popular
101 Workshop and jump aboard the bus the next day to
visit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre
network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water
system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological
A throng of people, nearly 200 strong, came to this delta town
Thursday, many of them wearing work boots and ball caps, blue
jeans and plaid, and all of them hoping to learn something good
about Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to solve California’s water
delivery problems. The folks from the river towns and rural
communities along the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta didn’t
like what they heard about the plan that is being called
California’s ambitious plan to tunnel under the West’s largest
estuary has always had two primary goals: to restore imperiled
native fish and to improve water deliveries to farms and
cities. An early analysis by federal wildlife agencies,
however, indicates the project might make life worse for fish.
Two bills that would protect Delta levees and ratepayers were
passed in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on
Tuesday. Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s two bills — AB 732 and AB
791 — passed through their first hurdle.
Water Education for Latino Leaders is convening a statewide
educational water conference in Sacramento for California local
Local elected officials can make a difference for all
Californians by taking the necessary steps to understand the
dynamic of California water to assure adequate clean water for
our communities, protect our natural resources and our local
economies. WELL’s hope is to facilitate understanding towards
comprehensive long-term water policies that will sustain
California’s economy and quality of life.
The Water Education Foundation is an organizing partner.
A levee break reported Monday afternoon on the north bank of
the Mokelumne River levee near Lodi is being filled while crews
are sandbagging a second break on the river’s south bank, the
San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services reports.
After three days of king tides and massive rainfall, levees in
the Delta have begun to fail, flooding islands, duck clubs and
other land north of Pittsburg, an island owner and emergency
official said Thursday.
Federal officials on Friday approved short-term pumping limits
from the Delta that are higher than a team of experts had
recommended days earlier to protect imperiled fish. In theory,
the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could lead
to the first use of a controversial new law that allows higher
levels of pumping under certain circumstances.
The Delta smelt has survived 2016, but that’s about where the
good news ends. Surveys that wrapped up this month revealed no
real increase in smelt numbers despite a wetter year with more
freshwater flow in the Delta.
San Joaquin County residents and public officials alike voiced
opposition this week against a state plan to increase flows
from the Stanislaus River as well as increase allowable salt in
the southern San Joaquin Delta, stating the proposals could
have significant negative impacts on the region’s agricultural
The report’s findings were unequivocal: Given the current pace
of water diversions, the San Francisco Bay and the Delta
network of rivers and marshes are ecological goners, with many
of its native fish species now experiencing a “sixth
extinction,” environmental science’s most-dire definition of
Understanding the importance of the Bay-Delta ecosystem and
working to restore it means grasping the scope of what it once
was. That’s the takeaway message of a report released Nov. 14
by the San Francisco Estuary Institute. The report, “A Delta
Renewed,” is the latest in a series sponsored by the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW).
Dr. Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed
Sciences, is the godfather of research on the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta. When he says it took John Sutter eight days to
wind his way from San Francisco Bay through the Delta to find
the narrow Sacramento River in 1839, you can bet that’s the
truth. … Now, water agencies have joined together again
to launch the River Arc Project.
After several years of unrelenting hyacinth invasions each
fall, it’s as if someone has finally peeled back that green
shag carpet and returned Stockton’s rivers to its people. …
And there is a general sense that a coordinated effort by state
and federal officials — along with a bit of help from Mother
Nature — is starting to make a difference.
It might have been sprinkling outside the Stockton Memorial
Civic Auditorium on Tuesday, but inside the building some of
the state’s brightest water experts were taking stock of
California’s enduring drought. As we enter into what could be a
sixth year of shortage, here are six lessons gleaned from
Tuesday’s forum sponsored by the nonprofit Water Education
When California officials got serious about building two giant
tunnels to divert freshwater out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta, it didn’t take critics long to
propose alternatives. One of the first was a grassroots
scheme that, at first, seemed radical and counterintuitive: Let
winter floods retake vast parts of the San Joaquin Valley – the
very farmland that needs those Delta water diversions.
Evidence of what scientists are calling the planet’s Sixth Mass
Extinction is appearing in San Francisco Bay and its estuary,
the largest on the Pacific Coast of North and South America,
according to a major new study.
Tests have confirmed the presence of toxic cyanobacteria — also
known as “blue-green algae” — in south Delta waterways, state
officials said Thursday. The “extensive” bloom is present in
Old River and Grantline Canal, along Fabian Tract not far from
Tracy and Mountain House, the State Water Resources Control
Cooler temperatures seem to have finally subdued Stockton’s
stinky algae monster for 2016, but an expert warned the Delta
Protection Commission this week that, in general, toxic blooms
are getting worse.
California Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two tunnels to
carry water across the state is only economically feasible if
the federal government pays for nearly a third of it, according
to a previously unreleased economic analysis.
San Francisco faces potentially drastic cutbacks in its water
supply, as state regulators proposed leaving more water in
three Northern California rivers Thursday to protect wildlife
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary, the linchpin
of California’s water supply.
Giant tunnels that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to build to haul
water across California are economically feasible only if the
federal government bears a third of the nearly $16 billion cost
because local water districts may not benefit as expected,
according to an analysis that the state commissioned last year
but never released.
The federal government and farmers on the west side of the San
Joaquin Valley may be close to signing off on another
controversial deal to clean up toxic runoff which, if left
unabated, could threaten the downstream Delta.
Five years of drought have severely taxed California’s rivers,
reservoirs and groundwater. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta –
the hub of California’s water supply, an agricultural center
and a crucial ecological resource – hasn’t been immune from the
impacts of the prolonged drought.
At this free one-day briefing in Stockton
on Oct. 25, keynote speaker Jay Lund, Director of the UC Center
for Watershed Sciences, and other experts will
discuss the drought’s effects on the Delta.
Other confirmed speakers include Delta Watermaster Michael
Patrick George, Michelle Banonis, Manager of the Bureau of
Reclamation’s Bay-Delta Office, Michael Dettinger, senior
scientist and research hydrologist at USGS, and Peter Moyle, one
of the foremost experts on California’s freshwater fish.
Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium
525 N. Center Street
Offering a ray of hope in the struggle to save a tiny fish
enmeshed in California’s water disputes, state officials say
they have found a way to move around river water to produce
more food for hungry or starving Delta smelt.
Michael George has called the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
“highly important, highly complex, highly compromised.” George
serves as Delta watermaster, a position created as part of the
Delta Reform Act of 2009 to administer water rights in the
Delta, where there are some 2,800 separate water diversions.
California officials Tuesday released a detailed environmental
blueprint for Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial Delta tunnels
project, saying the $15.5 billion plan “minimizes potential
effects” on endangered fish species whose populations have
dwindled following decades of water pumping.
A group of commercial fishermen won a potentially significant
court ruling in the seemingly endless battle over California’s
water supply and the volumes of water pumped south through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Either there’s been a spill at the local pea soup plant, or
Stockton is suffering another nasty algae outbreak at the
downtown waterfront. … The algae problem also has come up
this week in Sacramento as state water officials begin
extensive hearings that may determine the fate of the proposed
Representatives of California Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama
administration began making their pitch for approval Tuesday to
build a pair of massive water tunnels under the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta.
By the time the Sacramento River winds its more-than-400-mile
course from the slopes of Mount Shasta past the state capital,
it’s well into its leisurely stride, running slowly by fields
of sweet corn, tomatoes and alfalfa. But this lazy stretch of
river, just south of Sacramento, is a metaphorical whitewater.
This week, Governor Jerry Brown’s controversial water project
is back in the public eye. State officials are launching a
marathon series of hearings for the “twin tunnels,” as they’re
known, that will ultimately decide the fate of the project.
When testimony begins Tuesday in a months-long hearing that
could decide the fate of the $15 billion Delta water tunnels,
amid all the acronyms and complexities and water-wonk jargon
there will be a simple, consistent theme: Trust. Or
Still swirling in controversy, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed
$15.5 billion re-engineering of the troubled Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta is heading into a critical phase over the next
year that could well decide if the project comes to fruition.
Crunch time starts Tuesday.
California officials don’t have to pay property owners to
access their land to conduct preliminary testing before
deciding whether to move forward with a $15.7 billion plan to
build two giant water tunnels to supply drinking water for
cities and irrigation for farmers, the California Supreme Court
ruled Thursday. … Officials promoting the tunnels will
present plans to state water regulators in hearings starting
In a win for the state, the California Supreme Court declared
Thursday that the state has the right to go on private property
for soil and environmental testing as part of a plan to divert
fresh water under or around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta on
its way to Central and Southern California.
A Southern California agency that provides drinking water for
19 million people officially became a substantial Delta
landowner for the first time Monday after escrow closed on its
$175 million purchase of several large islands.
Four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and a
chunk of a fifth are now officially the property of the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, district
officials announced Monday.
Working from a bland, windowless office on the 13th floor of
the Resources Building, one of California’s newest state
employees focuses on the one issue from which all else flows,
water. Bruce Babbitt has signed on to help Jerry Brown fix what
the governor calls the California WaterFix.
In a failed effort to protect endangered fish, the federal
government decided without proper study to default to
restricting the giant pumps at the bottom of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta. So argues a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S.
District Court in Sacramento by a powerful consortium of water
A long-sought plan to restore the Delta’s ailing environment
and bolster the reliability of its water supplies was declared
invalid by a judge Friday, possibly throwing another wrench in
the governor’s plan for water tunnels through the region.
A judge clarified late Thursday that a sweeping 21st century
plan for the Delta is “invalid,” a decision applauded by Delta
advocates who had argued the plan didn’t go far enough to
protect the fragile estuary from massive water exports.
In a decision that could delay or complicate Gov. Jerry Brown’s
plan to build two huge tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday that a comprehensive
management plan for the estuary is no longer valid. … State
officials say they plan to appeal.
In California’s 3rd Senate District, two colors stand out: blue
and green. Blue for water, green for money. … The Brown
administration’s plan to build tunnels in the delta to carry
northern water south is the single most controversial issue in
Saying they wanted to go beyond what they’ve done in the past,
state officials resumed water hyacinth removal efforts at the
downtown Stockton waterfront earlier than normal on Wednesday
with the blessing of federal biologists.
State water regulators are proposing to dismiss a record
$1.5-million fine they intended to levy against a Northern
California irrigation district accused of ignoring
drought-related cuts in water diversions.
A judge has upheld major provisions of a state plan that lays
out a long-term strategy for managing the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, rejecting most complaints included in a cluster
of long-standing lawsuits.
A plan that was supposed to serve as a comprehensive roadmap
for the Delta through the year 2100 now must be partially
rewritten, after a judge this week ruled on complaints stemming
from no fewer than seven lawsuits.
A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge on Thursday cleared
the way for a Southern California water district to complete
its purchase of 20,000 acres of land in the Delta, ruling that
it was too soon to say how the property would be used.
Southern California’s largest water supplier can move ahead
with plans to buy sprawling farmland that could be used to help
build twin tunnels far to the north through the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, a judge ruled Thursday.
Picking up on Sen. Ted Cruz’s criticism of environmental
protections for fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Carly
Fiorina, Cruz’s newly-announced running mate, moved Saturday to
reinforce his presidential campaign’s appeal to conservatives
and farm interests in the Central Valley.
In a setback for Delta advocates, a San Joaquin County Superior
Court judge on Friday declined to grant a restraining order
that would have temporarily blocked a Southern California water
agency from purchasing more than 20,000 acres of land in the
heart of the estuary.