Topic: Delta Issues

Overview

Delta Issues

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.

Aquafornia news The Press

Annual Delta waterway cleanup scheduled for Saturday

Environmentally minded residents of East County have an opportunity to help make the Delta a little better. The annual Delta Waterway Cleanup will take place Saturday, Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Delta Protection Commission (DPC) sponsors this event, and has similar ones scheduled in each of the five counties that adjoin the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta. In Contra Costa County, volunteers will focus their efforts on Bethel Island. The Delta cleanup is part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest annual volunteer event.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s Chinook salmon population is disappearing

For centuries, spring-run Chinook salmon, among California’s most iconic fish, would rest for weeks in these historically cold waters after their brutal upstream journey. Then they would lay eggs and, finally, perish to complete one of nature’s most improbable life cycles. No longer. What once was a place where life began is now one of untimely death. The creek is simply too warm, an astounding 10 degrees warmer than average in some parts of these spawning grounds.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

‘Eyes in the sky’ help police California water use

Michael George is not a spy — but he does use some of the same equipment. George, a gregarious talker, is a lawyer by trade, and in his current role as Delta watermaster he oversees the use of water in one of the country’s most contested waterways. The Delta in this case is the Sacramento-San Joaquin, a jumble of fertile land, diked islands, tidal flows, and meandering sloughs that is the heart of California’s engineered water system.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face mounting stress amid hard times

California farmers and ranchers have no shortages of stress this year. They face drought and water supply cuts, devastating wildfires and pandemic impacts. There are also labor shortages and financial pressures from fluctuating commodity prices or trade disruptions. These impacts inspire serious discussions in agricultural communities about looking after farmers’ mental health.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water suppliers cast 1st challenge to strict drought rules

Freshly cut off from their chief water supply, a group of California water agencies in one of the state’s most fertile farming areas sued on Wednesday to freeze the latest round of emergency drought rules. In a lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, the suppliers argue they were denied due process when state regulators ordered thousands of landowners last month to cease diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta due to drought conditions.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Politico

‘This is a lose-lose’: Drought, wildfires complicate Biden’s California water plans

As climate-driven drought and wildfires rage in California, the Biden administration is struggling to navigate the hard politics that come with deciding who gets access to the state’s precious — and dwindling — water supplies. … Now the Biden administration is delaying action on the fundamental question at the heart of California’s long-running water wars: How much water should be reserved for species protections, at the expense of the state’s powerful agricultural industry?

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Understanding people in the face of rapid environmental change

We cannot solve our most pressing environmental and natural resource management challenges with a better understanding of the biophysical environment of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta alone – we need social science. To address our natural resource management challenges, we must build cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders, find a compromise between conflicting interests and values, and face tradeoffs that require hard decisions about whose needs we prioritize.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Delta curtailments update – California State Water Resources Control Board’s emergency regulations are adopted; curtailment orders issued to 4,500 delta water users

As discussed in our July 28, 2021, Policy Alert, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) recently adopted the Draft Emergency Reporting and Curtailment Regulation (Regulation), to authorize curtailments of water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta).  The Regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and became effective on August 19, 2021.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Blog: Is high Delta outflow in the autumn necessary for the conservation of delta smelt? Data and analyses say no, the IEP’s spin doctors say yes

Recently, the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) — an interagency consortium charged “to provide and integrate relevant and timely ecological information for management of the Bay-Delta” — released a report presenting data and studies regarding a major conservation action for delta smelt, referred to as the Fall X2 Action. The Fall X2 Action purports to benefit the delta smelt during the autumn by increasing outflow through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta during that period in years where there is above normal precipitation in the preceding winter and spring.

Related article:

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects Dr. Joshua Israel for new science division manager

The Bureau of Reclamation’s California Great-Basin Region announced today the selection of Dr. Joshua Israel as the new Science Division Manager for the Bay-Delta Office. This new position will increase support for the region’s science efforts. … Dr. Israel will provide support to the Bay-Delta Office Manager on managing the complex interagency and intergovernmental activities for the operation of coordinated state and federal facilities, as well as Reclamation’s restoration and recovery responsibilities. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Grab your ticket for virtual journey into California’s water hub

Join us for a Sept. 9 virtual journey into California’s most critical and controversial water region in the state, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and learn how the drought is impacting water quality and supply. The Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals, supports the state’s two large water systems – the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project – and, together with the San Francisco Bay, forms an important ecological resource. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Why is the Delta starving?

The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is one of the most-studied ecosystems in the world—and one of the most degraded. We spoke with PPIC Water Policy Center adjunct fellow and senior scientist emeritus James Cloern about his new study, which estimates just how much primary production (the largely photosynthesis-driven process that forms the base of the Delta’s food chain) has been lost—and how the state might restore some of it. 

Aquafornia news KRCR

Bureau of Reclamation explains releases from Shasta Dam

Shasta Lake is at about 30 percent of capacity, the lowest it’s been at this time of year since 1977. KRCR spoke with Bureau of Reclamation Area Manager Don Bader on a windy morning on top of Shasta Dam. He says a water schedule is set in February and adjusted as necessary. The release from Keswick Dam is about 8,000 cubic feet per second (CFS). Normally it would be 12,000 CFS. The reason that much water is flowing downriver is for freshwater fish in the delta and agricultural diversions.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Tracking sturgeon in the San Francisco Estuary

White sturgeon may not typically be considered “charismatic megafauna,” but Veronica Larwood thinks they deserve the recognition. A biological science technician with the U.S. Geological Survey in Sacramento, she served as lead author of a study in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science investigating the fish’s use of specific estuarine habitats.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR completes installation of emergency salinity drought barrier

After three weeks of round-the-clock work, the emergency drought salinity barrier (EDSB) was completed in late June. The barrier will help prevent saltwater contamination of water supplies used by millions of Californians who rely on Delta-based federal and state water projects for at least some of their water supplies.

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Cost of regulatory compliance more than triples in six-year period

A study tracking regulatory compliance costs in California was recently released, with striking findings. Researchers looked at data from 22 different farms of various sizes in the San Joaquin Valley between 2012 and 2018. During that timeframe, regulatory costs increased by 265 percent. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and co-author of the report, Lynn Hamilton said several factors contributed to the significant increase. 

Aquafornia news State Water Contractors

Report: SWC Annual Science Report

Science is about more than data and research, it’s about teamwork. Collaboration is key, and the State Water Contractors are committed to working together with our partners in academia, government, non-profit and the private sectors to invest in California’s water future. The SWC and Member Agencies participated in multiple interagency and stakeholder working groups tasked with determining how to implement permit requirements, including the Spring-Run Chinook Salmon Juvenile Production Estimate Core Team and Delta Coordination Group for summer-fall habitat actions for Delta Smelt.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save the dates for our fall events, join our team, check out our drought page and moving sale

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Water Education Foundation … we are busy preparing to move to a new office near the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers, planning a blend of virtual and in-person programming for the fall and offering a sale on our beautiful water maps and guides so we don’t have to move them. We’re also looking to hire a programs and communications manager who is passionate about all things water in California and across the West. Resumes are due July 23.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Potentially dangerous algae discovered in water basins in North Natomas parks

California water inspectors have discovered evidence of algae that could pose a risk to humans and pets at North Natomas parks, prompting city workers to plant signs warning locals to steer clear of the water. … The algae bloom coated the city’s water and flood control basins, which collect and store water run-off. The presence of algae itself isn’t unusual, especially during a season of unprecedented droughts and red-hot temperatures, officials said. But exposure to the harmful algae toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and eye irritation.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A Delta in distress

Global warming has already left its mark on the backbone of California’s water supply, and represents a growing threat to its first developed agricultural region, state experts have warned in a new study. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fuels California’s $3 trillion economy, including its $50 billion agricultural industry, sustains more than 750 plant and animal species and supplies 27 million people with drinking water.  But global warming is likely to destabilize the landscape that made the delta a biodiversity and agricultural hotspot …

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Key players in California water confront drought, fish and more at Modesto summit

A key message emerged when California water leaders gathered in Modesto: Stop grumbling about drought, and get cracking on real fixes.  Rep. Josh Harder, R-Turlock, convened the Thursday afternoon summit at the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.  Several speakers called for new reservoirs and groundwater recharge to hold wet-year surpluses for use in dry times like 2021. The manager of a West Side irrigation district invited others to follow her lead in using water recycled from city sewage plants. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

From California’s water wars to America’s culture wars: a media analysis of the Delta smelt controversy

In recent decades Americans’ attitudes about environmental issues have become polarized along partisan lines. Yet, while significant research demonstrates this broad trend, we know less about the meso-level processes producing and sustaining such divisions. Drawing on over 3,000 news articles, nearly 14,000 Tweets, and Google search data, Dr. Caleb Scoville, an Assistant Professor of Sociology and a 2020-2021 Neubauer Faculty Fellow at Tufts University, analyzed the public sphere controversy surrounding the Delta smelt, an endangered species of fish caught in the center of California water politics.   

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Heat, drought conditions could bring more harmful algae to Sacramento waterways

Hot temperatures have many headed straight to local waterways to cool off, but experts say high heat and a bad drought this year can be ideal conditions for harmful algae. It’s an issue that’s not always top of mind. … According to state data, popular waterways in the immediate Sacramento area are safe. People headed to the American River or Folsom Lake for the Fourth of July are in the clear. But the state labels part of Discovery Bay near San Francisco as a danger area, with a warning not to swim or touch the scum on the water. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Delta adapts – Creating a climate resilient future

The time to act is now. Climate change is already altering the physical environment of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh (Delta), and we will continue to experience its effects through hotter temperatures, more severe wildfires, and prolonged droughts. Over the long term, climate change in the Delta is expected to harm human health and safety, disrupt the economy, diminish water supply availability and usability, shift ecosystem function, compromise sensitive habitats, and increase the challenges of providing basic services. Many of these impacts will disproportionately affect vulnerable communities.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Opinion: California budget surplus a rare opportunity to create climate strategy

There is no drought – the Los Angeles Times wrote in a recent editorial. The Times argued “if ‘drought’ means a period of dry years followed by a return to the norm, California is not in drought. The current climate is the norm.” That analysis has important implications for Stockton and other communities along the San Joaquin River and in the Delta. As our precipitation increasingly swings between drought and flood, each extreme challenges our communities.
-Written by Douglass Wilhoit, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and a former San Joaquin County supervisor; and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director and co-founder of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: State, federal agencies award over $10 million for new Delta science

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are pleased to award over $10 million to fund 16 critical scientific studies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and Suisun Marsh over the next three years. … At its June 24 meeting, the Council voted to approve $9,611,012.75 to fund 16 projects, with Reclamation contributing over $3.42 million toward four of these projects. The State Water Contractors will co-fund one of these 16 projects, pushing the grand total awards to over $10 million.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Partnership

Cooking food in a Sacramento shipping channel?

The learned doctors attending the bedside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta agree on one thing: the patient is not doing well. What ails it, many students of the case suggest, is dehydration: the perennial artificial drought induced by withdrawals of water for human use, whether pulled from feeder rivers or extracted from the Delta itself. … Recently, though, attention has turned to what might be called a comorbidity: malnutrition. Delta waters simply don’t generate enough basic food, in the form of phytoplankton, to sustain the food chains … 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta ISB: 21st century science for 21st century environmental decision making: the challenges and opportunities of near-term iterative ecological forecasting

What if we could predict changes to ecosystems in the same way we can predict the weather?  An emerging field of science is working towards making that a reality. In areas such as fisheries, wildlife, algal blooms, wildfire, and human disease, we often need to know how ecosystems and the services they provide might change in the future and how human activities can affect those trajectories.  

Aquafornia news Water Online

New toolkit arrives just in time for HAB season

With harmful algal blooms (HABs) being forecast to increase, in part due to the effects of climate change, more water systems can expect to face problematic cyanotoxin conditions more frequently and for more days per year. In its efforts to mitigate the negative effects of such increases, the U.S. EPA has enhanced its information resources for water utilities by issuing a new Cyanotoxins Preparedness and Response Toolkit.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery. … Because the [Bureau of Reclamation’s] plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Equity through adaptation

In Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson’s December blog on the Delta Adapts Initiative, she wrote that “anticipating and preparing for the climate crisis has always been integral to pursuing our agency’s mission” and recognized that, due to socio-economic inequities, not all communities will be impacted equally by the climate crisis. In phase one of our Delta Adapts Initiative, the Vulnerability Assessment, we sought to understand the factors driving increased climate change vulnerability and to identify the most vulnerable communities. 

Aquafornia news Insider

California releasing 17 million salmon into the SF Bay to boost economy

California is rolling out a fresh strategy to keep its economy afloat — releasing 17 million salmon into the San Francisco Bay. Millions of Chinook salmon raised in hatcheries will bypass California’s drought-stricken riverbanks to be released directly into colder, downstream sites in the San Francisco Bay, in an attempt to maximize their survival rate amid some of the most extreme environmental conditions the state has ever faced. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation continues increased flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

The Bureau of Reclamation is continuing increased flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with Delta outflow requirements. Additional flow releases began on the lower Stanislaus River on June 10. The increased flow of 1,500 cubic feet per second will occur for an extended duration. Increased river flow can create hazardous conditions including higher water levels, faster currents, colder water, and potential entrapment. … Recreationists and visitors should take safety precautions when near or on the lower Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Stop fighting over water long enough to agree on just this

California’s water wars are legendary, complex and ongoing. To avoid getting too far in the weeds, media often boil it down to a dispute over who should have priority to a limited supply of water — people or fish. The real beauty of aerial snow surveys is that it’s one thing that farmers and environmentalists can agree on. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s Opinions Page editor.

Aquafornia news The Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: State takes action on water exports from the Delta

Construction of a temporary salinity barrier on the False River is underway after an emergency request by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The barrier, necessitated by worsening drought conditions, is intended to help preserve water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by reducing saltwater intrusion. The declaration of a drought emergency made by Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 10 suspended the requirement that a project of this nature complete a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) assessment.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Stewardship Council: Non-native species in the Delta, contemplating the future of the DISB, and Regional San treatment plant upgrade

At the May meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Steve Brandt, Chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, provided a brief background on the Delta Independent Science Board, reported on the Board’s recently completed review on non-native species in the Delta, and discussed the Board’s approach going forward in light of the recent compensation issues.  Also, Dr. Laurel Larsen spotlighted a recent study looking at the effects of the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District plant upgrade on phytoplankton.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: CA decides to sacrifice salmon for agribusiness profits

Late Friday the State Water Resources Control Board appeared to tentatively approve a temperature management plan for Shasta Dam that sacrifices salmon and fishing jobs for agribusiness profits this year, violates water quality standards, and leaves California woefully unprepared if next year is also dry.  Specifically, the State Water Board indicated that they would approve a temperature management plan if it achieves 1.25 million acre feet of water in Shasta at the end of September.  As the State Water Board knows, allowing storage to drop that low is estimated to kill more than 50% of the endangered winter run Chinook salmon and … the vast majority of the fall run Chinook …

Related article:

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Dollars and drought – Windfalls for innovation or entrenchment?

California’s Governor Newsom recently declared a drought emergency throughout much of California and announced over $5 billion in new water program investments.  These twin emergency and funding announcements are a classic “bad-news creates good news story” (and potentially vice versa) for California’s water problems. They are opportunities for innovation and making long-term improvements for California’s water problems.  They also can reward and entrench less effective programs and approaches.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Facing a drought, California’s farmers make hard choices

In wetter times, these feathery beds of asparagus would produce generations of tender green spears, reaching for the vast San Joaquin Valley sky. [Last] Monday they were disked into the dry dirt, their long lives cut short by unreliable and expensive water. … With no guarantee of irrigation water this summer, Del Bosque and other California farmers are making tough choices, sacrificing one crop to save another. The strategy is part of a larger and longer agricultural shift here in the heart of California’s $50 billion agriculture industry: Low-value, high-water crops are disappearing from the Golden State.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

New research: Survival of migrating juvenile salmon depends on stream flow thresholds

Juvenile salmon migrating to the sea in the Sacramento River face a gauntlet of hazards in an environment drastically modified by humans, especially with respect to historical patterns of stream flow. Many studies have shown that survival rates of juvenile salmon improve as the amount of water flowing downstream increases, but “more is better” is not a useful guideline for agencies managing competing demands for the available water.

Aquafornia news KMPH

Will the nutria ever be wiped out in the Valley?

The swamp rat population in Central California is beginning to diminish. But a state biologist says elimination is still a few years away. FOX26 reporter Rich Rodriguez updates us on the nutria… one of Valley agriculture’s biggest enemies. The State Department of Fish and Wildlife has spent more than three years trying to round up and euthanize nutria.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State proposes to add funding for water goals

As more of California sinks into extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the Legislature to appropriate billions of dollars to address critical water needs. In the “May revise”—an update to the budget proposal he initially submitted to the Legislature in January—Newsom proposes to spend nearly $3.5 billion on water supply and resilience projects, with total investment reaching $5.1 billion over multiple years. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Bluetech workforce, desal could solve California water crises

Facing extended drought, diminishing snowpack, and depleted aquifers, California water managers face a harsh reality: our 20th century water systems – essentially linear designs in which fresh water is extracted, centrally treated, distributed to users, returned as wastewater, and finally treated and discarded – are breaking down. Although this approach has served us well for decades, we can no longer sustain ourselves with a paradigm that uses water once and throws it away.
-Written by Peter Fiske, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and executive director of the Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Water Innovation.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA conference: The decade of water resilience – Developing solutions for our water future

Last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) held their spring conference virtually.  Keynote speakers included Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.  In his speech, [Crowfoot] discussed the Newsom Administration’s priorities, calling this the ‘decade of resilience’, and giving three principles for going forward.  He also discussed the Voluntary Agreements.  Director Karla Nemeth gave the Thursday morning keynote speech, touching on the Department’s response to drought, SGMA implementation, the Delta Conveyance Project, and the water use efficiency regulations.

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Stewardship Council guts independent peer review in the Delta Science Program

The seven members of the Delta Stewardship Council were seated in 2010. The Council appointed ten prominent scientists to the Delta ISB. Over the next decade, the Delta ISB produced over 30 scientific reviews, averaging over 3,000 hours of work per year. But in 2020, the work of the Delta ISB stalled. The Delta Stewardship Council reduced funding for the Delta ISB by over 90%. 

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Blog: Captive breeding of Delta smelt: Worthy experiment or well-intended folly?

Delta smelt have nearly ceased to appear in “pelagic” fish surveys carried out in their narrow geographic range in the upper San Francisco Estuary. As trawl-generated index values for delta smelt have declined over the past quarter century – understand there is no reliable estimate of the size of the delta smelt population — the chorus of voices advocating for captive rearing and releases of the species has grown louder. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

California — already in the clutches of another drought emergency —  is looking over its shoulder at what happened last time, anticipating the worst and evaluating the strategies that worked and those that failed. So is California in a better position to weather this drought? Some things are worse, some better: Groundwater is still being pumped with no statewide limits, siphoning up drinking water that rural communities rely on. In northern counties, residents are reliving the last disaster as water restrictions kick in again, but in the south, enough water is stored to avoid them for now. … The upshot is California isn’t ready — again.

Related articles:

 

Aquafornia news Reuters

As drought dries California rivers, salmon take truck rides to sea

During a typical spring, the silver young salmon swimming in long tanks at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery east of Sacramento would be released into the American River and then make their way out to the Pacific Ocean to grow to adulthood. But with extreme drought now gripping California and much of West Coast, the rivers are too warm for the salmon to survive. This week, the 3.5-inch (90-mm) smolt, as the young fish are known, embarked on a much different journey when they were loaded on to trucks and driven to the San Francisco Bay for release into cooler waters.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Advancing flood-mar: What are the possibilities?

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, the Commission continued examining the state’s role in conveyance projects by hearing from two experts on flood-managed aquifer recharge, or Flood MAR. First, Dr. Graham Fogg, UC David professor emeritus of Hydrogeology, discussed scaling up Flood MAR and how that will likely present new conveyance needs.  Then, Jenny Marr, Supervising Engineer at the Department of Water Resources, outlined the state’s approach to flood Mar.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation increases flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a plan to increase flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with meeting Delta salinity and outflow requirements. Additional flow releases will begin on the lower Stanislaus River on May 10 and will reach a total flow of 1,000 cubic feet per second and again on May 11 to reach 1,500 cfs. This increased flow of 1,500 cfs will likely occur for an extended duration. During the increased releases, water levels will be higher and currents faster. Visitors should use caution when near or on the Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Voluntary agreements are a bad deal for California’s fish and wildlife

On Friday, a coalition of conservation groups, fishing organizations, stakeholders in the Delta, and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe sent this letter to the Biden Administration, urging the Administration not to endorse the so-called “Voluntary Agreements” for the Bay-Delta watershed. Unfortunately, the State of California continues to negotiate backroom deals with the biggest water users in the State that fail to protect and restore water quality in the Bay-Delta, threatening thousands of fishing jobs, farms and communities in the Delta, and the health of this watershed and its native fish and wildlife. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Conveyance and water rights; Considerations for conveyance across the Delta

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, as part of their continuing work on examining the state’s role in financing conveyance projects that could help meet needs in a changing climate, the Commissioners heard from a panel of speakers about state policy considerations for conveyance and the cross-cutting issues of flood-managed aquifer recharge (flood-MAR), green infrastructure, collaborative partnerships and governance, and innovation. … Michael George, Delta Watermaster, … pointed out that it’s physically, ecologically, and economically impossible to squeeze water out of the Delta for export. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: River flows helps CA Delta estuary, fish — not wasted water

It’s that time of drought again. During one of the driest years on record, once again curtailing water deliveries to local farms, Fresno-area lawmakers wasted little time trotting out one of their favorite falsehoods. That every year, including the parched ones like 2021, California “wastes” millions of gallons of water by “flushing it to the ocean.” Central San Joaquin Valley residents have heard this declaration so often and for so long, from the mouths of politicians and parroted on talk radio, that many of us believe it’s true. 

-Written by Marek Warszawski

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations

News release: Did BOR shift economic burden from water contractors to taxpayers?

On Monday May 3rd, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the West Coast’s largest trade organization of small-scale commercial fishermen and women, signed on to a letter asking Representative Katie Porter (D – Ca 45th) in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations and Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to open an investigation into Reclamation’s manipulation of government cost accounting standards and its own longstanding criteria for allocating costs owed by Central Valley Project water and power contractors (Contractors).

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Anticipating and addressing the impacts of the drought

California’s current drought is already off to a strong start, with some major challenges already looming just two years in. Compared to the drought of 2012‒16, the normally wetter Sacramento and North Coast regions have been hit much harder than the rest of the state. Beyond the local challenges this poses, drought in the Sacramento region is already having statewide implications, given its key role in supplying water to farms and cities further south. 

Aquafornia news California Farm Bureau

Blog: President’s message – Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential. During the coming few months, as California struggles through another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed public officials feel the same way. [A]n overarching, long-term problem needs to be solved to make sure farm employees can not just work safely, but can have jobs, period: water supplies.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought declaration would trigger war over water supply

Experts say a statewide drought declaration … could bring significant consequences for the regulatory structure governing California’s complicated water-delivery system. Many farmers believe an emergency order could loosen environmental regulations and free up water supplies for them. Environmental groups fear the very same thing – that more of California’s dwindling water supply could be directed to farming at the expense of fish and wildlife.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Sierra Fund

Report: New tools to remediate California’s abandoned mine lands

Gold Rush communities celebrate their mining past but are largely unaware of the lasting impacts of that era. For more than 100 years public and private investors have purchased and developed land for public uses seemingly unaware of the presence and implications of the physical and chemical hazards found on abandoned mine lands (AMLs). As a result, residents of the Sierra Nevada’s Gold Country – the state’s headwaters – are living on top of and surrounded by abandoned mines. The toxic metals discharged by legacy mines continue to flow down river and deposit into the San Francisco Bay Delta …

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Watching for harmful algal blooms in a dry year

With the dry year facing California, there is increased awareness about water quality issues and particularly harmful algal blooms. The Natural Resources Agency in its Report To The Legislature on The 2012–2016 Drought provided that “the drought’s most visible water quality impact was harmful algal blooms (HABs), which were reported more frequently during the 2012–2016 drought than during prior droughts.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom promises while the Delta dies

The West Coast’s most important estuary is dying, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has hastened its demise. As he took office two years ago, Newsom promised to generate voluntary agreements among farmers, environmentalists and government officials on the rules for allocating water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … [C]onditions in the delta have grown so dire that in March the National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that high water temperatures could kill 90% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River this year.
-Written by Jacques Leslie.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Opinion: Recall politics? No thanks, because the Delta keeps losing either way

Today’s commentary breaks my heart.  Why?  Because Restore the Delta is focused on water quality issues, flood control issues, future planning, and training the next generation of local water experts – for that is where hope exists.  We are focused on the future because in some ways we have become very cynical about any positive meaningful change to Delta management presently — from the lack of care at the highest levels of government, to local pockets of Delta communities that will not acknowledge the deterioration of the estuary before their eyes.

-Written by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who serves on the Executive Committee at Large for Restore the Delta. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Revitalizing California’s floodplains benefits people and wildlife

Throughout California’s history, rivers have been diverted, rerouted and contained by concrete. While these actions have brought agriculture and communities to arid land, and reduced large-scale flooding, it has also eliminated some of the natural benefits provided by untamed rivers. Today, efforts are underway to restore some of the natural riparian areas to the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Virginia Madueño appointed to the Delta Stewardship Council

California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Virginia Madueño to serve as a member of the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) effective April 14, 2021. The compensation for this position is $50,497.

Aquafornia news Red, Green, and Blue

Blog: Yurok and Karuk Tribes respond to Klamath Operations plan during severe drought

The Klamath River Basin is in a dire situation this year. The plan curtails irrigation diversions to less than 10% of demand while failing to meet the biological needs of salmon and other fisheries downstream. … Reclamation also announced $15 million in immediate aid to the Klamath Project through the Klamath Project Drought Relief Agency, an additional $3 million in technical assistance to Tribes for ecosystem activities in the basin, as well as funding for groundwater monitoring in the basin.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation adjusts Sacramento River operations to benefit salmon amid drought conditions

Reclamation announced today that spring-time operations at Shasta Dam will adjust to benefit endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River during this critically dry water year. … No additional water from Shasta Reservoir will be released during this temporary adjustment—only the withdrawal elevation and timing of water releases will change.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Alameda County Water District names next general manager

The Alameda County Water District board has promoted Ed Stevenson to serve as the district’s new general manager. The district, which provides water to roughly 350,000 homes in Fremont, Newark and Union City, announced that  Stevenson, a 24-year district employee, will take over after current general manager Robert Shaver retires on July 1 following 30 years of service. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Record

Fifth annual H2O Hackathon returns as students solve algal bloom problem

After a year hiatus because of COVID-19, the H2O Hackathon returned to San Joaquin County on Saturday with middle school, high school and college students tackling a virtual challenge to help solve California’s water problems. … The challenge for this year’s event was to protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary from harmful algal blooms, bacteria that live in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments that grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Harmful algal blooms in the Delta (and elsewhere)

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

Aquafornia news Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

News release: Nancy Vogel named Deputy Secretary for Water at California Natural Resources Agency

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. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Delta tunnel authority changes leaders as Newsom fights the recall by turning to billionaire champions of the project

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SF Baykeeper sues Biden administration to list local longfin smelt as endangered species

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.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

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

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

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: The dam problem for the Bay-Delta estuary

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.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Drastic measure to meet Delta outflow

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).

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Ensuring the reliability of the State Water Project, Part 1: Strategic Priorities and Programs

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 California. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Complexities – Thinking about the San Francisco Estuary during the 2021 Bay-Delta Science Conference

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:

Aquafornia news California Department of Justice

News release: California Department of Justice expresses concern over proposal to allow exploratory drilling in the Suisun Marsh

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 requested permit.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: With San Francisco Bay on life support, Newsom withholds the cure

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 Baykeeper.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Council hires new Chief Deputy Executive Officer

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 January.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

April Fools Blog: Looking for a new challenge? Retrain as a Delta Smelt

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 non-renewable contracts. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta bundle features map and layperson’s guide at a special price

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.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California and feds still plan to drain reservoirs & kill salmon

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 grounds. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Strong state oversight needed to ensure California’s wetlands are protected

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.

Related article:

  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Blog: Refreshing the Estuary Blueprint

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.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Water shortages and fires loom after a dry winter

The lack of rain and snow during what is usually California’s wet season has shrunk the state’s water supply. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water as it melts over the spring and summer, is currently at 65 percent of normal. Major reservoirs are also low. Two state agencies warned last week that the dry winter is very likely to lead to cuts in the supply of water to homes, businesses and farmers. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also told its agricultural water customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to expect no water this year.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Press

California seeks input on Delta benefit program

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

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

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

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

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Water war continues to affect salmon run

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 Coastside fisheries.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

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

Aquafornia news California Division Of Boating And Waterways

News release: Division of Boating and Waterways begins control efforts in the Delta for aquatic invasive plants

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.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Water use in California

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 water.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative habitat creator

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 operations.

Aquafornia news California Trout

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

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

Aquafornia news California Trout

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

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

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water on our floodplains for multiple benefits: the proof is in the projects

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.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

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

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: As drought alarms sound, is California prepared?

We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water management throughout the state.  Are we ready to manage our freshwater ecosystems through another drought?
-Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow, and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KQED

Environmental groups urge feds to reject gas drilling project in North Bay wetland

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 harvest mouse.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

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

Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the long-term average. During a press briefing on Friday morning, John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial fishermen.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Watermaster update: Preparing for a dry year in the Delta; addressing problems in the south Delta

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

The California commercial salmon season, due to start May 1, will be only about half as long as last year’s season, after the Pacific Fisheries Management Council settled on three proposals for the dates and months fishing can take place this season. The main reason for the shorter season is the smaller number of adult Sacramento River salmon expected to be in the ocean this spring and summer. While commercial fishing boats were permitted to go out for 167 days total last year, the three proposals for the 2021 season would only allow fishing for a total of 78 days, 94 days or 104 days. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Groundwater session added to April 22-23 virtual Water 101 workshop

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.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Hot off the press! Our map of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has a new look

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.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom should kill plan to drain state reservoirs

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. 

Aquafornia news The Denver Channel

The most vulnerable levees in the nation have a lot in common

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Sex misconduct at MWD hints at deeper problems

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.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Multi-agency collaboration restores critical habitat for endangered Delta smelt, other native species

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 Joaquin Delta.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map
Published March 2021

Delta Map for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

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. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Saving fish from extinction

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. 

Aquafornia news The (Vacaville) Reporter

Online public meeting planned to discuss groundwater sustainability

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. Wednesday. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving the health of California’s freshwater ecosystems

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 generations.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California’s wet season nears an end with big concerns about drought

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.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Bad news – CVP and SWP plan to drain CA’s largest reservoirs

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.

Aquafornia news The Reporter

Congress passes Garamendi bill to expand National Heritage Area into Rio Vista

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. 

Aquafornia news WHYY

A tiny fish is on the brink of extinction. Does it matter that another just like it is thriving?

[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.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: The SFPUC is tarnishing SF’s record as an environmental leader

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 Committee

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California must face water quality challenge in federal court

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. 

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Magazine

Christy Smith appointed to Delta Stewardship Council

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.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Assessing climate change vulnerabilities

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. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Smoothing the bumps in the road to ecosystem restoration

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…

Aquafornia news The Press

Delta Stewardship Council holds resilience scavenger hunt

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. 

Aquafornia news The Press

Delta study examines climate change effect

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 – global warming. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee / The Guardian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump’s California water plan troubled federal biologists. They were sidelined

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.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Eat prey loon – lessons from juvenile loons in Wisconsin

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.

Aquafornia news California Waterblog

Blog: Can Japanese smelt replace Delta smelt?

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.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Citing support for a grand bargain, Water Board member calls it quits

State Water Board Member Tam Doduc believes the board will approve a Bay-Delta Plan that includes voluntary agreements with agricultural water interests.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save the date for our virtual Water 101 workshop in April

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.

Aquafornia news The Reporter

New federal law may boost Delta, Bay restoration, protection

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 aid…

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: Salmon dwindling while SFPUC fiddling

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

Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

New Delta carbon market could boost Bay Area water security

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.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Reflections on 2020 as We Move Forward in 2021

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.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The floodplain forward – Bypasses and fish habitat

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. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Environmental turnaround — 8 issues that will pivot in California’s favor under Biden

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 regulations. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A Swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California

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 in California.

Aquafornia news California Farm Water Coalition

Blog: Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction – We can change that

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.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Survey yields no Delta smelt for third year

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. 

Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Opinion: Serious dam issues, aqueduct sinking but we’ll have high-speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield

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 staggering.

Aquafornia news Delta Science Program

Survey: Delta Independent Science Board Assessment

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 Delta stakeholders.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Delta tunnel would be costly and an ill-conceived response to today’s challenges

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.] 

Foundation Event

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Virtual Workshop Occurred Afternoons of April 22-23

Our 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 workshop was held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Western Water Water Education Foundation

ON THE ROAD: Cosumnes River Preserve Offers Visitors a Peek at What the Central Valley Once Looked Like
Preserve at the edge of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes valley oak forests and wintering grounds for cranes

Sandhill cranes gather at the Cosumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento.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.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law Jennifer Bowles Nick Gray

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

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
Aquafornia news KQED Science

California leads lawsuit against rollback of endangered species protections

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.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

A desert oasis in western Imperial Valley

Known as the Ocotillo-Coyote Wells Aquifer, the presence and importance of this groundwater has long been known and utilized by the inhabitants and people traveling through the Valley.

Announcement

Registration Now Open for the 36th Annual Water Summit; Take Advantage of Early Bird Discount by Registering Today
Join us Oct. 30 for key conversations on water in California and the West

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 event page.

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.

Announcement

2019 Water Summit Theme Announced – Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning
Join us October 30 in Sacramento for our premier annual event

Sacramento RiverOur 36th annual Water Summit, 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.

2019 Water Summit
Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot gave keynote lunch talk

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 West.

Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront
100 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

BREAKING NEWS: Newsom officially shrinks Delta water project

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 system.

Aquafornia news State Water Contractors

Blog: Beyond the Pumps: Can We Study Flow Needs?

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 salmon.

Western Water California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water Gary Pitzer

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.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.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Gavin Newsom brings different view to Delta water issue

By rejecting the twin tunnels proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom has sent an important message that new thinking is required to address California’s complex water issues.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Josh Harder unveils water plan for Central Valley

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 communities.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Bruce Babbitt Urges Creation of Bay-Delta Compact as Way to End ‘Culture of Conflict’ in California’s Key Water Hub
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Former Interior secretary says Colorado River Compact is a model for achieving peace and addressing environmental and water needs in the Delta

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gives the Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum.  Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How California is defying Trump’s environmental rollbacks

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 endangered fish.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Top leader at Interior Dept. pushes a policy favoring his former client

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.

Aquafornia news CALMatters

Opinion: Newsom can confront climate change by restoring rivers, habitat

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 freshwater supply.

Aquafornia news ABC News Bakersfield

California Farm Bureau Federation files lawsuit to block plans for San Joaquin River

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”.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Newsom inherits California water strife from Jerry Brown

As his term as governor drew to a close, Jerry Brown brokered a historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions of gallons of water to help ailing fish. He also made two big water deals with the Trump administration. It added up to a dizzying display of deal-making. Yet as Gavin Newsom takes over as governor, the state of water in California seems as unsettled as ever.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Daily Bruin

UCLA researchers suggest water crisis prevention techniques in paper

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 agencies.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Will Gavin Newsom change the state’s water course? Fish and farmers will soon find out

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.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Big Northern California water deals will trickle down to San Diego

Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’ lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Feinstein, McCarthy push rider to fund Calif. storage plans

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.

Related Editorial:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Could this obscure California agency derail Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels?

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.

Aquafornia news California Magazine

Tunnel Vision: This water plan might make a splash in the Delta

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.

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

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

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California tunnels project circling the drain after elections

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Trump criticizes — and again mischaracterizes — California’s water management

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.

Related Article:

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
One-day workshop included optional groundwater tour

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 state.

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 resources.

 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 experts Thomas 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
Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Despite Risk of Unprecedented Shortage on the Colorado River, Reclamation Commissioner Sees Room for Optimism
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Commissioner Brenda Burman, in address at Foundation’s Water Summit, also highlights Shasta Dam plan

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanThe Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of California water industry people.

During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees that agreement can be reached.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom, John Cox a world apart on environmental issues

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 cost-effective.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Tunnel foes shift focus to Delta’s most disadvantaged communities

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.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

When Water Worries Often Pit Farms vs. Fish, a Sacramento Valley Farm Is Trying To Address The Needs Of Both
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: River Garden Farms is piloting projects that could add habitat and food to aid Sacramento River salmon

Roger Cornwell, general manager of River Garden Farms, with an example of a refuge like the ones that were lowered into the Sacramento River at Redding to shelter juvenile salmon.  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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Delta tunnels cost soars to nearly $20 billion when accounting for inflation

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.

Announcement

Annual Water Summit to Focus on Critical Issues from the Headwaters to the Delta
Registration now open for Sept. 20th event in Sacramento; some sponsorship opportunities still available

Our annual Water Summit, being held Sept. 20, will feature critical conversations about water in California and the West revolving around the theme: Facing Reality from the Headwaters to the Delta. 

As debate continues to swirl around longer-term remedies for California’s water challenges, the theme reflects the need for straightforward dialogue about more immediate, on-the-ground solutions.

Announcement

Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman to be Keynote Speaker at Water Summit
Registration now open for Sept. 20th event in Sacramento

Reclamation Commissioner Brenda BurmanBrenda Burman, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, will give the keynote lunch address at our 35th annual conference, the Water Summit, to be held Sept. 20 in Sacramento.

The daylong event will feature critical conversations about water in California and the West revolving around the theme: Facing Reality from the Headwaters to the Delta.

Western Water Space Invaders Gary Pitzer

It’s Not Just Nutria — Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has 185 Invasive Species, But Tracking Them is Uneven
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Delta science panel urges greater coordination, funding of invasive species monitoring

Water hyacinth choke a channel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.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 in remediation.

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.

Western Water Water Education Foundation

ON THE ROAD: Cosumnes River Preserve Offers Visitors a Peek at What the Central Valley Once Looked Like
Preserve at the edge of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes valley oak forests and wintering grounds for cranes

Sandhill cranes gather at the Cosumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento.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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Gov. Brown warns that Delta tunnels project could be jeopardized if momentum is not maintained

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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: San Jose water agency delays $650 million Delta tunnels vote

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.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Long road still ahead for California’s Delta tunnels plan

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Dangerous non-native rodent found near Stockton — moving closer to Delta

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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Destructive swamp rodents are knocking on the Delta’s door

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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Southern California plans to spend $11 billion on the Delta tunnels. Who will end up paying?

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.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s 2-tunnel Delta project back on track with SoCal water district’s vote

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.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Event included optional Delta Tour

One of our most popular events, Water 101 details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.

McGeorge School of Law
3285 5th Ave, Classroom C
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law Gary Pitzer

Does California’s Environment Deserve its Own Water Right?
IN-DEPTH: Fisheries and wildlife face growing challenges, but so do water systems competing for limited supply. Is there room for an environmental water right?

Sunset in Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaDoes 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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

BREAKING NEWS: Brown administration working to scale down $17 billion Delta tunnels project

Faced with a shortage of money and political support after seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects, a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water from Northern California to the south.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: The Delta smelt heads for extinction, marking a half-century of failed California water policy

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 and judges.

Announcement

Deepen Your Knowledge of California Water and Visit the Delta
Popular Water 101 Workshop includes optional one-day Delta Tour

Deepen your knowledge of California water issues at our popular Water 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 resource.