Topic: Drought

Overview

Drought

Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a fact of life in California and the West, with water resources following boom-and-bust patterns.

No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the West than in other regions of the country.

Most of the West experiences what is classified as severe to extreme drought more than 10 percent of the time, and a significant portion of the region experiences severe to extreme drought more than 15 percent of the time, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Experts who have studied recent droughts say a drought occurs about once every 10 years somewhere in the United States. Droughts are believed to be the most costly of all natural disasters because of their widespread effects on agriculture and related industries, as well as on urbanized areas. One of those decennial droughts could cost as much as $38 billion, according to one estimate.

Because droughts cannot be prevented, experts are looking for better ways to forecast them and new approaches to managing droughts when they occur.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is California headed back into drought, or did we never really leave one?

A persistent ridge of high pressure has taken up residence in the eastern Pacific, and it shows no sign of budging. It is diverting storms into the Pacific Northwest region, which means more dry weather for California. But did the drought in California ever really end? Climatologist and weather expert Bill Patzert thinks Southern California continues to be mired in a two-decade drought…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Arizona weighs water bills, farms push back against reporting data

While the Arizona Legislature considers how to respond to problems of falling groundwater levels in rural areas, the agriculture industry is pushing back against proposals that would require owners of large wells across the state to measure and report how much water they’re pumping.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Time to act is now on California’s water system

Access to reliable, clean drinking water should be a fundamental human right for all Californians. Unfortunately, many disadvantaged communities throughout the state lack access to clean drinking water, and our aging water delivery infrastructure threatens water reliability for millions of California residents.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Is California headed back into drought, or did we never really leave one?

A persistent ridge of high pressure has taken up residence in the eastern Pacific, and it shows no sign of budging. It is diverting storms into the Pacific Northwest region, which means more dry weather for California. But did the drought in California ever really end? Climatologist and weather expert Bill Patzert thinks Southern California continues to be mired in a two-decade drought…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California may be sliding back into drought; lawmakers and advocates warn now is the time to prepare

New federal data show that California may be sliding back into drought, just as the Legislature is starting to pursue ways to make sure residents are prepared for water shortages. Due to weeks of dry weather about 10 percent of California and more than half of Nevada are in drought mode, the federal government reported Thursday.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Water use remains low in Santa Cruz County, report finds

As the county reports advances in water protection and conservation technologies, water use continues to remain lower that previous years, the Santa Cruz County Water Resources Management Status Report shows.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Rockies snowpack good, but dryness could threaten Colorado River flow

Warren Turkett, a natural resource analyst for the Colorado River Commission of Nevada, told commissioners Tuesday that a warm summer and lack of precipitation in the upper Colorado River Basin last year left soil drier than normal, which is expected to cut the amount of water flowing into Lake Powell to 20 percent below average based on current projections.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news KSBW TV

New online interactive tool helps Californians prepare for future drought

This rain-year has brought an alarmingly dry winter in California so far, according to climate change experts. Now, there’s a new tool to help Californians navigate your water supply. It’s an online tool that allows a person to see the groundwater levels in their area. The tool then gives a representation of what could be at risk or impacted if a drought hits.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California is dry with no rain in sight. Should we start worrying about drought and wildfire?

California’s alarmingly dry winter continues, with no meaningful snow or rain in sight. Although it’s far too soon to predict a drought, experts said wildfire risks could worsen this summer as a result of the shortage of precipitation.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

There are rivers in the sky drenching the U.S. because of climate change

Climate change is spurring a new, deep dive into a complex, little-studied weather system blamed for creating billions of dollars in flood damage across the western U.S. Atmospheric rivers are narrow ribbons of concentrated moisture that originate in the Pacific and can flow thousands of miles before dropping rain and snow on land.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A February without rain could boost wildfire danger in Northern California

Meteorologists say much of Northern California likely will not see a drop of rain in February, heightening concerns that summer will arrive with below-average rainfall and tinder-dry hillsides susceptible to wildfire.

Related article:

Aquafornia news National Parks Traveler

Traveler special report: As goes the Colorado River, so go the parks

A warming climate has been linked to human activity around the world, and has affected the Colorado River System as well. The impacts are substantial, from reduced water flows, threats to indigenous species and the influx of new invasive species along the river system.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Friday Top of the Scroll: What happened to the rain? California in a dry rut, snowpack shrinks

California is stuck in a dry spell amid what is historically the wettest time of the year. But while the Sierra snowpack is dwindling and rainfall totals are below normal, weather watchers are not concerned about a drought. “One dry year doesn’t make a drought,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesperson for the California Department of Water Resources.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Water management in California is crossing a major milestone, and we still have more work to do

Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Reducing reliance on the Delta and improving regional self-reliance: Two sides of the same coin

One of the top priorities outlined in the Newsom Administration’s recently released draft Water Resilience Portfolio is reducing reliance on any one water source and diversifying supplies – key strategies for making our water supply systems more flexible, adaptable, and resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Ecologists see little difference between unimpaired and (truly) functional approaches to flow

From an ecologist’s perspective, river habitat and species population sizes and life histories were shaped by unimpaired flow patterns (including volume and natural variability) across seasons and years. Science from across the world, other regions in the US, and right here in California suggests that we can take some of that flow for other uses, but must preserve adequate volume and natural patterns of variation if we want native species to survive.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

To study atmospheric rivers, scientists need to get close. So they fly to them

The Air Force research crew on the WC-130J Super Hercules airplane was cruising at 28,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, preparing to deploy 25 weather-sensing devices over a long band of water vapor known as an “atmospheric river” when the hazards of air travel got in the way of science.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Four Corners drought in 2018 was worsened by human-caused climate change, researchers say

The Four Corners drought of 2017 and 2018 caused $3 billion in losses and prompted the Navajo Nation to issue an emergency drought declaration. Now, new research in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society suggests a sizable portion of the drought’s impacts stemmed from human-caused climate change.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Vast amounts of valuable energy, nutrients, water lost in world’s fast-rising wastewater streams

Vast amounts of valuable energy, agricultural nutrients, and water could potentially be recovered from the world’s fast-rising volume of municipal wastewater, according to a new study by UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Some droughts are ‘perfect.’ Here’s why

Connie Woodhouse and David Meko, professors at the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, found the most recent span of 100 years, when five perfect droughts hit California, was not unusual compared to past centuries.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

Stanford student’s invention gives her a worldwide platform to advocate change

Kiara Nirghin, ’22, developed a unique polymer that can keep crops hydrated during dry spells. The innovative research has garnered her global recognition, including top honors at the Google Science Fair.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California ag faces a decade of challenges

On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers complicated and expensive, Joe Del Bosque and other growers face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … The farm’s water costs have already more than doubled in the past 10 years…

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Placer County continues work on French Meadows restoration project

Placer County, along with the U.S. Forest Service will continue restoration efforts at the French Meadows reservoir, 30 miles south of Soda Springs, with plans to treat over 3,800 acres of forest this year. … This year they expect to remove 9 million board feet of timber, three times the amount removed last year, and 15,000 green tons of biomass that will be chipped, hauled and used for energy production.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

As forests burn around the world, drinking water is at risk

The situation in Australia illustrates a growing global concern: Forests, grasslands and other areas that supply drinking water to hundreds of millions of people are increasingly vulnerable to fire due in large part to hotter, drier weather that has extended fire seasons, and more people moving into those areas, where they can accidentally set fires.

Related article:

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: The California Environmental Flows Framework

One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is “how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question and others.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Water levels in South Bay reservoirs well below average

In the South Bay, Santa Clara County’s 10 reservoirs combined are at about two-thirds of their normal levels at this point in the year. Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos is just half full. Water managers say local groundwater supplies remain strong so the reduced Sierra snowpack is not yet of critical concern.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

City of Ventura faces calls to drop legal action, water adjudication

People crowded into an Ojai junior high school auditorium recently after thousands received legal notices or a court summons from the city of Ventura. The city notified 14,000-plus property owners in the Ventura River watershed of a potential adjudication of water rights. That move came years after the city faced legal action over its own water use.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

As California preps for more ‘horizontal hurricanes,’ Air Force gathers intel over Pacific

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron’s mission over the coming months: C-130s — departing from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii; or from Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield — will each release 25 sensors called dropsondes into a forming atmospheric river system. As the dropsondes fall from 25,000 feet along two V-shaped paths covering hundreds of miles, they send back readings on the gathering storm’s water vapor content, temperature, wind speed and direction.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Less turf, fewer pools shrink per-home water use in Phoenix area

Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore. A recent study of single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

After a dry January, California snowpack is trending below normal

The California Department of Water Resources conducted the second monthly snow survey of the year Thursday morning at Phillips Station snow course in the Sierra Nevada, south of Lake Tahoe. Snowpack across the state is averaging 72 percent of what’s normal for the start of February.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Santa Monica Daily Press

City Council approves water rate hike to fund water self-sufficiency projects

The Santa Monica City Council approved a water self-sufficiency plan Tuesday that will double the price of water and wastewater removal by 2024. The rate increases will finance about $42 million in infrastructure projects that will allow Santa Monica to stop importing water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California by 2023.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must include desalination in water portfolio

Understanding why desalination is so critical to California’s water future is a lot like building a personal budget. With a changing climate, growing population and booming economy, we need to include desalination in the water supply equation to help make up an imported water deficit.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Wildfires a hot topic during national weather conference at Stateline

Wildfires are feasting on overgrown, overcrowded and undermanaged forests, warmer temperatures have created longer fire seasons and officials are trying to prevent another environmental catastrophe. That was all just part of the discussion Monday during Operation Sierra Storm, a national weather conference sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority…

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Program preps communities for next drought

In preparation for the inevitable, Self-Help Enterprises … has launched a new and innovative Emergency Services Division that will reach and engage diverse and vulnerable populations around natural disasters, such as drought, fire, flood and earthquake. The program will also help families receive urgent access to clean water, help with water well replacement and water filtration services as needed.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: The final demise of unimpaired flows

The concept of unimpaired flows has endured (much longer than reasonable in my opinion). While it was argued that unimpaired flows would allow resource assessments to be founded on the “natural” hydrology of the stream network, this had fundamental drawbacks.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California water department must face reality of climate change

As we enter a new decade, California faces increasing environmental challenges caused by climate change, creating an uncertain future for our water resources. … It is time for California’s Department of Water Resources to implement water policy for the state that shores up our precious waterways and diversifies water supplies in the face of these imminent threats.

Aquafornia news Good Beer Hunting

Changing tides: How breweries are combating water shortages and working towards sustainability

For many businesses in drought-ridden states like California, water supply issues aren’t a problem for the future—they’re happening right now. … For the Cloverdale-based Bear Republic Brewing Company, the impact was especially devastating, due to the city’s heavy reliance on the water supply of the Russian River. 

Aquafornia news L.A. Daily News

Opinion: Water plan should focus on the future, not the past

Time and time again seemingly well-intentioned initiatives and repeated attempts to develop a comprehensive water management solution have failed, despite cautionary tales. However, 2019 witnessed the horizon of a new initiative called the Voluntary Agreements that could do what few, if any, past plans, efforts, or reports could do – unite water management and develop collaboration.

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Ontario sets 0% water conservation goal

Despite growing concerns of a below-average rainfall season, the city of Ontario revoked mandatory conservation measures this week, setting a 0% water conservation target with state regulators. … The City Council approved the change from mandatory Stage 2 water conservation to voluntary conservation on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Aquafornia news Smart Water Magazine

Scientists connect 2018’s Four Corners drought directly to human-caused climate change

The 2018 Four Corners drought — centered on the junction between Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico — put the region deep in the red. An abnormally hot spring and summer indicated that climate change was clearly at work, but that was about as much as most people could say… Climate scientists from UC Santa Barbara have now distilled just how strong an effect human-induced warming had on that event.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

January will end on a dry note in Southern California as the jet stream locks into a zonal pattern

January’s rainfall has been unimpressive to date, and Jan Null, veteran meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services, agrees that the last week of the month looks relatively dry. Seasonal precipitation totals for Northern and Central California continue to fall behind normal.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Between wildfires, land in the US West has short 10- to 15-year reprieve

In wildland forest locations, they found that drought-ridden and drier locales like Idaho and Colorado have longer stretches of post-burn protection (about 20 years) because the woody debris in those forests require extreme drought to carry fires and the land lacks grassy fuels. Coastal California, however, receives more moisture and grassy fuel grows quickly, increasing the risk for reburn, seeing that negative feedback disappear after about 10 years.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Birds in California’s desert are dying

These networks of habitat and water that run under and across our desert are essential to stop the loss of bird species diversity. These linkages, flowing through our communities, under our highways, bubbling up in the livestock allotments of our public lands or pulsing within renewable energy development zones, are not easily replaced. The loss and degradation of these connected lands and waters are contributing to the current crisis.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Controlled burns prevent California wildfires, study says. Why aren’t there more?

Landowners are afraid of going bankrupt if a prescribed burn escapes control, the interviewees told researchers. Meanwhile, state and federal workers see little praise for successful controlled burns, and face fears and possible backlash from a risk-averse public, wary of wildfire smoke and mishaps. The Stanford experts suggested those perceptions among the public aren’t accurate.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: As water agencies balk at the tunnel’s price tag, DWR turns to a desperate ransom strategy

Since July, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State Water Contractors have engaged in fruitless negotiations over how to pay for a single-tunnel Delta Conveyance Facility. On December 23, right before the holidays, DWR made their 6th proposal to the State WaterContractors with a major shift in approach.

Aquafornia news Rancho Santa Fe Review

Santa Fe Irrigation approves rate increases, protest level not reached

The Santa Fe Irrigation District approved three percent water rate increases for the next three years at a Jan. 16 hearing. … The rate increases aim to help meet the district’s objectives to ensure equity across customer classes, encourage conservation and maintain financial stability as it faces challenges such as the rising costs of imported water.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tulare County agency approves groundwater sustainability plan; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns

Now the hard work begins which includes determining just how much water growers can pump out of the ground. A big factor in deciding how much groundwater can be pump will be mitigating the decreased level of water in the Friant-Kern Canal, another major topic addressed at Friday’s meeting.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump admin fast-tracks Colorado River pipeline

Utah first proposed building a 140-mile pipeline from Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border more than a decade ago. The plan, however, was waylaid by environmental and other reviews during the Obama administration. … Reclamation signaled to the state that it wants to move swiftly on the plan, in recognition of how it was stalled at FERC…

Related article

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Beetles and fire kill dozens of ‘indestructible’ giant Sequoia trees

The deaths of the trees, some of which lived through the rise and fall of hundreds of empires, caliphates and kingdoms – not to mention the inauguration of every US president – have shocked researchers in their speed and novelty.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Time’s up on groundwater plans: One of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained

The landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires some of the state’s thirstiest areas form local “Groundwater Sustainability Agencies” and submit long-term plans by Jan. 31 for keeping aquifers healthy. Together, those plans will add up to a big reveal, as groundwater managers finally disclose how badly they believe their aquifers are overdrawn…

Related article:

Aquafornia news Cannabis Now

Climate change puts spotlight on the drought resistance of marijuana

Mediterranean climates include California, and dry-farming of cannabis is catching on in the Emerald Triangle as a part of the general trend toward sun-grown and organic product.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Rain and snow return, but it won’t be enough to quench Northern California’s needs

More rain and snow area headed to Northern California on Tuesday, although the storm won’t be nearly enough to make up for what’s been a relatively dry January. … The Department of Water Resources’ precipitation index was at 63 percent of normal for the Valley and Sierra. The Sierra snowpack is 82 percent of normal.

Aquafornia news Brentwood Press

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration seeks input on water plan

As Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration attempt to establish a comprehensive and cohesive water policy for the state, officials are seeking public input on the draft water resilience portfolio released earlier this month. The document was issued in response to Newsom’s April 2019 executive order directing his administration to inventory and assess a wide range of water-related challenges and solutions.

Aquafornia news KRON TV

New radar system in San Jose will make more accurate weather predictions

Inside the dome on top of the Penitencia Water Treatment plant in San Jose is the first permanent x-band weather radar system in the Bay Area. “The radar system that you see up there is collecting crucial data as we speak,” said Norma Camacho, CEO of Valley Water.“ Camacho joined the San Francisco P.U.C., Sonoma Water and other partners in unveiling the new system, which will improve weather forecasting across the region.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Here’s how much better last fire season was than the previous two

Last year, with those recent calamities haunting the state, officials took some unprecedented steps to avert a devastating repeat. Did they work? Well, judging by the results tallied at the end of the year, something went right.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Newsom administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio puts California on course to climate resilience

While Newsom has been forced to address climate change on many fronts during the past year – think wildfires, blackouts and automobile standards – the state’s myriad water challenges must remain a priority. Our state’s water system is decades old and needs to be re-envisioned for a new era.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Wildfire and water challenge solutions featured in documentary to air on KVIE

UC Merced researchers outline solutions to the severe wildfire problems in California’s mountain forests and closely linked water resource challenges in a documentary premiering on KVIE, the Sacramento affiliate of PBS, later this month. The new film “Beyond the Brink: California’s Watershed” highlights the critical need to reverse a century of fire suppression in Sierra Nevada forests…

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: An ounce of prevention: Australia and California could benefit from forest management

The fires raging in Australia present a sadly recognizable scenario, a new normal that, after two years of devastating wildfires in California, we in the United States have become all too familiar with. Policies intended to return forests to a more “natural” state with less proactive human management have created disastrous conditions…

Aquafornia news Futurity.org

Blog: ‘Perfect droughts’ hit California water sources 6 times a century

Severe droughts have happened simultaneously in the regions that supply water to Southern California almost six times per century on average since 1500, according to new research. The study is the first to document the duration and frequency of simultaneous droughts in Southern California’s main water sources—the Sacramento River basin, the Upper Colorado River Basin, and local Southern California basins.

Aquafornia news The Grocer

How US almond growers are struggling to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem

Californian almonds will benefit from a new public campaign next week to capitalise on the explosion in plant-based eating… However, the environmental reputation of the almond sector is much less favourable. It was once labelled a “horticultural vampire” by US magazine New Republic for its perceived role in California’s most recent droughts.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

The Colorado River had a stellar 2019, but this year’s forecasts are below average

Right now, the April-July runoff is supposed to be 82% of average. That compares to 145 % of average in 2019, the second-best runoff season in the past 20 years, says the federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. Despite last year’s excellent river flows, most experts also say the Colorado still faces long-term supply issues…

Aquafornia news Morgan Hill Times

Opinion: District updates groundwater charge zones

Because the amount of groundwater pumped out far exceeds what is naturally replenished by rainfall, Valley Water’s groundwater management activities are critical to maintaining healthy groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Opinion: Save the Chinook and Coho salmon

Every year since 2014, I have petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board to end the widespread practice of irrigation, especially of cattle pastures, outside the legal irrigation season. So far, however, State Water Board staff have not taken effective action to end the illegal water use and the resulting degradation of Scott River stream ecosystems…

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water portfolio lays out state’s long-term plans

Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed strategies. Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration described the document as an effort to guide water management in a way that works for people, the environment and the economy.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Sites Reservoir proposal receives $6M in federal funds

Sites Reservoir will receive $6 million from the federal government as part of a bipartisan spending bill that was signed by President Trump at the close of 2019.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA panel: Establishing groundwater allocations under SGMA

As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to achieve sustainability. … At ACWA’s fall conference, a panel discussed the legal framework, different types of groundwater rights, lessons learned from existing groundwater production allocation programs, and potential pitfalls …

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Teamwork will be key to balancing the overcommitted Colorado River

Along with long-term drought and climate change, the overcommitment of the Colorado River is a big reason why Lake Mead has dropped to historic levels in recent years. Fixing it could be a big problem for Arizona.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Westlands backs governor’s Delta water strategy

Consistent with the science developed over the last three decades, the Newsom administration is pursuing comprehensive, watershed-wide solutions that address the numerous factors that limit the abundance of native fish in the Delta. These types of solutions are the ones that are most likely to achieve the state’s co-equal goals of the 2009 Delta Reform Act…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Myth about huge California fines for shower and laundry usage won’t die. Here’s what’s true

California will impose new limits on water usage in the post-drought era in the coming years — but a claim that residents will be fined $1,000 starting this year if they shower and do laundry the same day isn’t true. It wasn’t true when the state’s new conservation laws were enacted in 2018, and it isn’t true now — despite a recent report on a Los Angeles television station …

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County adopts plan to avoid pumping too much groundwater

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors adopted a plan on Tuesday meant to maintain groundwater and keep users from pumping too much from underground basins. … Officials said the plan also lays out efforts to try to recharge groundwater — in other words, replace water sucked out from underground.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Colorado River overcommitted on water availability

In the early years of the 20th century, leaders across the West had big dreams for growth, all of which were tied to taking water from the Colorado River and moving it across mountains and deserts. In dividing up the river, they assigned more water to users than the system actually produces.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A change of plans

Governor Newsom’s administration recently released a draft Water Resilience Portfolio plan… This plan also emphasizes diverse relatively precise policy initiatives for state agencies, often in support of local and regional water problem-solving and with some aspirations to bring state agencies together. It is a good read, clearly reflecting intense and diverse discussions over several months.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California Democrat rolls out green new deal to fight climate change, poverty

Citing a lack of action by Congress and the Trump administration, a group of California Democrats said it’s up to the state to continue fighting the “existential” threat of climate change by simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas emissions and improving the standard of living for low-income communities and people of color.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Rapid changes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta both diminish scientific certainty and increase science’s value

These changes will be substantial, multi-faceted, and often rapid. Some changes will be irreversible. Many changes are inevitable. Some will say today’s Delta is doomed. It will be important for California to develop a scientific program that can help guide difficult policy and management discussions and decision-making through these challenges.

Aquafornia news Chino Champion

Chino Hills named in lawsuit for not submitting water reports

The city of Chino Hills was named with three other entities in a class-action lawsuit filed Dec. 17 in San Bernardino Superior Court by the Natural Resources Defense Council for not submitting a water conservation report required by the state for three consecutive years. The other entities were San Bernardino County, Rancho Cucamonga and Redlands.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Time to move faster on cutting Colorado River use, conservationist warns

The Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada need to cut total water use by 18% from their 2000-2018 average to bring Lakes Mead and Powell into a long-term state of balance, says Brian Richter. Richter is president of the nonprofit group Sustainable Waters and a former director and chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy’s Global Water program.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

State agencies release draft water resilience portfolio

State agencies on Friday released a draft water resilience portfolio with a suite of recommended actions to help California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, aging infrastructure and other challenges.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona Legislature could stop the state’s next water war. Will they?

Another water war is getting underway. This time we are not fighting California. It’s a family feud right here in Arizona. Urban versus rural. Phoenix and Tucson ganging up on the rural communities along the Colorado River in western Arizona.

Aquafornia news Maricopa Monitor

Drone on the range: Farmers take to the skies to save water and money

Farmers for decades have used huge machines to plant, grow and harvest their crops, but more and more Arizona farmers today are using tiny, remote-controlled aircraft to boost yields and save water and money.

Aquafornia news KSBY

San Luis Obispo County leaders test cloud seeding to raise Lopez Lake Reservoir levels

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recently approved a winter cloud seeding project that could add millions of gallons of water to the Lopez Lake Reservoir and supply thousands of homes.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

California water cutbacks could take large area of farmland out of production

California is increasing regulations on groundwater. For many farmers in the state, it is a step too far. The law’s critics say it could lead to a loss of half a million acres of farmland in California’s Central Valley. As Kerry Klein of member station KVPR in Fresno reports, some farmers are so worried, they’re quitting.

Aquafornia news KCBX

Local professor’s fog research catches attention of the Defense Department

The Department of Defense recently awarded a $266,589 grant to a California State University Monterey Bay professor to continue his research into fog. Reporter Michelle Loxton spoke with Daniel Fernandez about how this grant will take his research to the next level.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Pajaro Valley water project balances ag and saltwater intrusion

The nearly $4 million project, assisted with $3.4 million in state grants and a $1 million match from Pajaro Valley Water, is expected to further reduce groundwater pumping in the area, so as to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California can solve its water shortage with the water we have. Here’s how

California is at a water crossroads. We can continue our costly, 100-year-old pattern of trying to find new water supplies, or we can choose instead to focus on smarter ways of using – and reusing – what we already have.

Aquafornia news KESQ TV

County board approves $350K to support Salton Sea rehab

The supervisors authorized the disbursal from the Coachella Valley Air Quality Enhancement Fund to help pay for the planned north end restoration of the 360-square mile lake, which will include the establishment of a lagoon to overlay exposed playa and mitigate the resulting atmospheric impacts.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Providing safe drinking water in the face of disasters: Lessons from Lake County

Climate change is already affecting water management across the state. Small rural communities with ongoing drinking water challenges are especially vulnerable to greater extremes brought on by a warming climate. We talked to Jan Coppinger, a special district administrator from Lake County, about how the county’s small water systems have dealt with an especially devastating string of natural disasters.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Foes seek to block permanent water contract for Westlands

Environmental groups, tribes and upstream water users in California yesterday sought to block a permanent water delivery contract between the Interior Department and the Westlands Water District. At issue is a proposed deal between Westlands, an agricultural powerhouse in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and the Bureau of Reclamation in which Westlands pays off its debt to the government to guarantee deliveries in perpetuity without future contract renewals.

Aquafornia news KUNC

With drought plans finished, water managers pause Colorado River negotiations

In theory, a demand management program would pay users to conserve in the midst of a crisis in order to boost the river’s big reservoirs. How it would work, who would participate and how it would be funded are still unanswered questions. Another concern is how to make the program equitable — so it doesn’t burden one user over another.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Roll Call

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversight

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to send more water to his district.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Quartz

Drought is crippling small farmers in Mexico—with consequences for everyone else

This isn’t just a problem for Mexico. These growers are the custodians of rare varieties of maize that may hold the secret to more sustainable agriculture. If they lay down their tools, their crops could begin to vanish.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Rural development loan aids Sites Reservoir Project in California

In a recent exclusive interview, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Western Farm Press that the low-interest loan will help fund projects associated with the off-stream storage site in western Colusa County. … “The USDA is putting up almost $500 million in rural development funds,” Perdue said.

Aquafornia news Popular Mechanics

Water desalination just got a lot better

A mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a new, micro-thin material to make membrane water desalination even better. Amir Barati Farimani, with fellow researchers Zhonglin Cao and Vincent Liu, has calculated how much better his metal organic framework (MOF) works than the traditional membrane method.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

Can a Grand Vision Solve the Colorado River’s Challenges? Or Will Incremental Change Offer Best Hope for Success?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: With talks looming on a new operating agreement for the river, a debate has emerged over the best approach to address its challenges

Photo of Lake Mead and Hoover DamThe Colorado River is arguably one of the hardest working rivers on the planet, supplying water to 40 million people and a large agricultural economy in the West. But it’s under duress from two decades of drought and decisions made about its management will have exceptional ramifications for the future, especially as impacts from climate change are felt.

Western Water Jennifer Bowles Jennifer Bowles

Exploring Different Approaches for Solving the Colorado River’s Myriad Challenges
EDITOR’S NOTE: We examine a debate that emerged from our Colorado River Symposium over whether incrementalism or grand vision is the best path forward

Jenn Bowles, Water Education Foundation Executive DirectorEvery other year we hold an invitation-only Colorado River Symposium attended by various stakeholders from across the seven Western states and Mexico that rely on the iconic river. We host this three-day event in Santa Fe, N.M., where the 1922 Colorado River Compact was signed, as part of our mission to catalyze critical conversations to build bridges and inform collaborative decision-making.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Opinion: Don’t go into the tunnel

Votes of support by local jurisdictions bring the project one step closer to reality. Reality is a costly giant tunnel that would divert Sacramento River water bound for the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and transport the water directly to Central Valley farms and urban users in the Bay Area and Southern California.

Aquafornia news U.S. News & World Report

Friday Top of the Scroll: U.S. water chief praises Colorado River deal, sees challenges

States in the U.S. West that have agreed to begin taking less water next month from the drought-stricken Colorado River got praise and a push for more action Thursday from the nation’s top water official. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told federal, state and local water managers that abiding by the promises they made will be crucial to ensuring that more painful cuts aren’t required.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

A model for the future of water

With a low rumble from a large pipe, water began flowing into a dirt basin at 25th Street West and Elizabeth Lake Road Thursday morning, christening the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project and marking the debut of a new water storage endeavor in the Valley. Inside the basin, water flowed from holes in a round structure to begin flooding the bottom, where it will begin to percolate through the soil to the aquifer beneath.

Aquafornia news Lompoc Record

Editorial: Essential ingredient for living

There are a number of very evident reasons, however, that Vandenberg Air Force Base is at the top of the Pentagon’s water-scarcity list…

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Can recharge net metering contribute to sustainable groundwater management?

Dr. Michael Kiparsky is the founding director of the Wheeler Water Institute within the Center for Law, Energy, and Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law. In this presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Dr. Kiparsky discussed a pilot project in the Pajaro Valley designed to incentivize private landowners to do groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Conservation key as decades-long drought continues

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said Wednesday that Nevada has been a national leader in water conservation by reducing demand on the Colorado River and investing in infrastructure over the past two decades. In Las Vegas for the Colorado River Water Users Association’s annual conference, Burman declined to say, however, whether she sees Nevada’s share of the river’s water increasing…

Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

A year later, ‘water grab’ plan settlements still stuck

A year later, issues triggered by a contentious plan by state water regulators to increase unimpaired river flows for the benefit of fish remain firmly mired in red tape.

Aquafornia news Valley Citizen

Blog: Draining the last great aquifer: A group project

Environmentalists who had high hopes Gavin Newsom would lead the way to sustainable water use in the San Joaquin Valley are waking up to the knowledge that the new governor isn’t going to be any more effective than the old governor. Sustainability is just too big a lift.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona will soon start getting less water from the Colorado River

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will start taking less water from the Colorado River in January as a hard-fought set of agreements kicks in to reduce the risk of reservoirs falling to critically low levels. The two U.S. states agreed to leave a portion of their water allotments in Lake Mead under a deal with California called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP…

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Golf course, CVWD cooperation key to keeping groundwater control local

There are two things already baked into the desert’s cake guaranteed to inject a bit of what ails the rest of the state — the full flowering of the regulatory scheme mandated by the state’s 2014 Groundwater Sustainability Act and reductions in Colorado River allocations made necessary by a drying Colorado River Basin that is already badly over allocated.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California voters call climate change their top priority

Pummeled by fires, drought and floods, California’s Democratic primary voters put fighting climate change at the top of their list of issues for the next president to tackle. Nearly half of likely Democratic primary voters call the issue the No. 1 priority for the next president, according to a new statewide poll…

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Baja California water supplies remain at critical levels

Tijuana and Rosarito residents may have gotten a brief reprieve from scheduled water shut-offs, but the delivery of water throughout Baja California is a vulnerable system in need of urgent repairs, state and water officials stressed this week.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It would mean total annihilation’ – Some farmers sell off fields ahead of groundwater law

Farmers are worried… Some feel angry, even betrayed by lawmakers and the environmental groups that have pressured them into what they see as ever-tightening regulations on the ag industry. While many disagree with SGMA, most do acknowledge that California’s unrestricted groundwater use has been unsustainable.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Trump takes aim at trickle-down toilets, faucets

President Donald Trump said on Friday he has directed his environmental regulators to find answers to what he said is a big problem – water-conserving showers, faucets and toilets.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Standing too close to the elephant: addressing scales in restoration and fisheries conservation

Dr. Rachel Johnson is a research biologist with the NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and UC Davis with over 15 years’ experience working on various aspects of conservation and fisheries biology. In this presentation from the 2019 State of the Estuary conference, Dr. Johnson discussed the importance of developing a holistic framework among aquatic ecosystems and management authorities.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Planned Palm Springs arena has big water needs, adds to climate footprint

The planned downtown Palm Springs entertainment arena, like many desert projects, is a thirsty one, requiring almost 12 million gallons of water each year to accommodate an American Hockey League affiliate team and other visitors.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Megafarms and deeper wells are draining the water beneath rural Arizona – quietly, irreversibly

Unfettered pumping has taken a toll on the state’s aquifers for many years, but just as experts are calling for Arizona to develop plans to save its ancient underground water, pumping is accelerating and the problems are getting much worse. Big farming companies owned by out-of-state investors and foreign agriculture giants have descended on rural Arizona and snapped up farmland in areas where there is no limit on pumping.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California urged to rethink 40 years of ‘piecemeal’ freshwater protections

The bitter drought validated scientists’ warnings that despite longstanding endangered species protections, the state’s outdated and overtaxed water management plans are failing in the face of climate change. … A report released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California recommends the state stop prioritizing individual species recovery plans and adopt holistic management methods that improve entire freshwater ecosystems.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: One Delta, one estuary; Connecting California through water

In her address to the State of the Estuary conference, Felicia Marcus spoke about the connections of the Delta to all Californians and the importance of working together and more broadly to solve the challenging problems before us.

Aquafornia news News 4

Multiple agencies take part in restoration project for the Lake Tahoe Basin

With the new strategy, land management agencies will increase the pace and scale of restoration actions, including forest thinning, prescribed fire, and meadow, aspen, and stream restoration. It will also provide a science-based framework to guide continued forest and watershed restoration over the next two decade.

Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

Securing SoCal water to benefit NorCal salmon

Rather than physically move water hundreds of kilometers across earthquake country between Northern California and San Bernardino, the plan involves reallocating water virtually, just as you would electronically transfer funds from one bank account to another. Once the Chino Basin Program is operational, in times of drought the southern region can draw water from the new reserve instead of from the State Water Project… That will mean water impounded by Oroville Dam can be released into the Feather River, benefitting endangered chinook.

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Q&A on groundwater sustainability with Jane Wagner-Tyack of the League of Women Voters

I assumed the different local water agencies were in regular contact with their customers about important issues like groundwater and that they would be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about what was happening with SGMA. I learned that that was not the case. This is not a subject that engages people who don’t already have some reason to be concerned about it.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Finished Paso Robles groundwater sustainability plan awaits final approval

The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance. Between 1981 and 2011, the 684-square-mile aquifer serving 29 percent of San Luis Obispo County residents and 40 percent of its agriculture lost 369,000 acre-feet of water.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fishing groups sue federal agencies over latest water plan for California

The fracas over California’s scarce water supplies will tumble into a San Francisco courtroom after a lawsuit was filed this week claiming the federal government’s plan to loosen previous restrictions on water deliveries to farmers is a blueprint for wiping out fish.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California should take over PG&E and possibly other utilities, former top regulator says

Following a string of utility-sparked wildfires that have killed scores of Californians and destroyed billions in property, the former top regulator of California’s electric grid says it’s time for sweeping change — a public takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric and possibly other private utilities, which would be transformed into a state power company.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Q&A with Linda Estelí Méndez Barrientos

In my current research, I have been studying the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, commonly known as SGMA, in California. SGMA is one of the world’s largest-scale policy experiments on collective action to manage natural resources. At the same time, pervasively disparate access to water resources in the Central Valley made SGMA the perfect case study to test some of the power asymmetry theories I have been working on with my colleagues.

Aquafornia news Military.com

More than 100 military bases now at risk of water shortages, GAO finds

The list of bases cited by the report was not limited by geographical area and ranged from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina in the East to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Camp Pendleton, California in the West.

Aquafornia news CNBC

Christmas tree prices rise as drought and fire hit crops, farms close

Last year, the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, California, and burned a Christmas tree farm to the ground. The fire occurred just months after three other Christmas tree farms were wiped out in Northern California.

Aquafornia news KMJ Radio

State is forecasting small water allocation

The California Department of Water Resources announced an initial State Water Project allocation of 10% for the 2020 calendar year. According to a DWR announcement, the initial allocation is based on several factors, such as conservative dry hydrology, reservoir storage, and releases necessary to meet water supply and environmental demands.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Reuters

Trading water: Can water shares help save California’s aquifers?

California is by far the United States’ most populous state, as well as its largest agricultural producer. Increasingly, it is also one of the country’s most parched places. But Edgar Terry, a fourth-generation farmer in Ventura County, just outside Los Angeles, thinks he has a key to reversing worsening water stress: establishing tradeable rights to shares of fast-depleting groundwater aquifers.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Turbidity and Insights on flow-habitat-fish abundance curves in policy-making

California’s water policy community continues to be embroiled on how best to manage what remains of California’s native aquatic ecosystems, particularly for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries. One aspect of this controversy is the dedication and use of habitat and flow resources to support native fishes.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Politicians knew the inconvenient truth about the Colorado River 100 years ago — and ignored it

As conventional wisdom has it, the states were relying on bad data when they divided up the water. But a new book challenges that narrative. Turn-of-the-century hydrologists actually had a pretty good idea of how much water the river could spare, water experts John Fleck and Eric Kuhn write in Science be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River. They make the case that politicians and water managers in the early 1900s ignored evidence about the limits of the river’s resources.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water in the bank: Coalition of agencies develops ‘historic’ sustainable groundwater plan

There’s progress to report in the momentous task of ensuring that San Joaquin County and surrounding communities have enough water to meet anticipated needs for the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

How racism ripples through California’s pipes

And as in other parts of the United States, black migrants were met with Jim Crow-style racism: “Whites Only” signs, curfews and discriminatory practices by banks. Often, the only places black families could settle were on arid acres on the outskirts of cultivated farmland — places like Teviston… Today, the legacy of segregation in the Central Valley reverberates underground, through old pipes, dry wells and soil tainted by shoddy septic systems.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water fight between Kern district, Kings River managers

Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water grab.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Pioneertown residents now have clean tap water — for the first time in decades

For three years, residents of the unincorporated San Bernardino County desert town have used twice-a-month shipments of bottled water because local wells were no longer meeting state standards for drinking water. … That changed in September, when work finished on a new pipeline that pulls clean water from a well 4 miles away in Yucca Valley.

Aquafornia news KUNC

New monitoring program hopes to boost science on Colorado River headwaters

A new federal program hopes to fill knowledge gaps on how water moves through the headwaters of arguably the West’s most important drinking and irrigation water source. The U.S. Geological Survey announced the next location for its Next Generation Water Observing System will be in the headwaters of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. It’s the second watershed in the country to be part of the program…

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Is it drought yet? Dry October-November 2019

Should we worry about a drought yet? Yes, this is California, where droughts and flood can happen in any year, and sometimes in the same year… No, not especially anyway, because … there is not strong correlation between October-November precipitation and total water year precipitation.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona tribes oppose plan to dam Colorado River tributary

Native American tribes, environmentalists, state and federal agencies, river rafters and others say they have significant concerns about proposals to dam a Colorado River tributary in northern Arizona for hydropower.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: ’Bomb cyclone’ could break records as it slams into the West Coast, bringing 100 mph winds and blizzard conditions

In the forecast stretching from Tuesday through Friday are plummeting temperatures, hurricane-force gusts that could reach or exceed 100 mph in some locations, giant waves of up to 37 feet, as much as four feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada and heavy rain in lower elevations between San Diego and Salem.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Bi-national conference tackles border region’s water issues

A bi-national conference at San Diego State University was aimed at analyzing water resources in the Baja California and San Diego border region where challenges include cross-border pollution and water scarcity… Experts at the Reborder 2019 conference discussed ways to improve regional access to “a secure and reliable water supply” through wastewater treatment and desalination.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Wildfires and climate change

A constellation of factors has primed California to burn big: more development in the forests, undergrowth that’s no longer cleared out by natural fires—and, importantly, climate change, which has been drying out the land and making fires bigger and the fire season longer.

Aquafornia news Daily Pilot

Opinion: Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant will receive $585 million in credit assistance

Orange County has long been recognized as a worldwide leader for developing state-of-the-art, environmentally sensitive new water supply technology, and we are not resting on our laurels. … This month, it was announced that the Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Plant will receive $585 million in credit assistance under the EPA’s WIFIA program.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tale of three regions: Study probes drought-forced change in water policies

Aside from advanced economies and Mediterranean climates that sustain long growing seasons, California, Spain and Australia share an intermittent feature that reshapes their overburdened water systems every time it rears its ugly head: drought.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

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

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

Aquafornia news Phys.org

El Niño swings more violently in the industrial age, compelling hard evidence says

El Niños have become more intense in the industrial age, which stands to worsen storms, drought, and coral bleaching in El Niño years. A new study has found compelling evidence in the Pacific Ocean that the stronger El Niños are part of a climate pattern that is new and strange.

Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Opinion: Delay of water feasibility study disappointing

You might ask why anyone would want to study whether water could be piped from Paradise to Chico. It’s actually pretty simple.

Aquafornia news EurekAlert

News release: A study compares how water is managed in Spain, California and Australia

The study demonstrated the following: big legislative reforms in water management in these three areas have always come about as a consequence of important droughts. … One of the main differences lies in how water ownership is managed and how the market is regulated in this field.

Aquafornia news KPBS

After wet winter, why is Tijuana running low on water?

Water shutoffs aren’t uncommon in the growing cities of Tijuana and Rosarito. But they’re rarely announced beforehand, and they’re often isolated to certain neighborhoods after pipes or pumps fail. Earlier this month, however, Tijuana officials announced that it was planning wide-ranging shutoffs for the next two months, in an attempt to replenish a vital reservoir that is perilously low.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Farmers file claim asking for ‘cooperative approach’

The complaint filed in court on Nov. 19 asks the court to “impose a ‘physical solution’ amongst nine groundwater users in the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin (“Basin”) to preserve and protect the Basin’s water supply, the investment-backed expectations of agriculture, and the economy that is dependent upon that supply.”

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Embattled water district an economic boon for Arizona, homebuilders’ study says

A district that recharges renewable water supplies to allow new housing development brings in about $13.4 billion a year in economic benefits, says a study written for a homebuilders’ group. …  The report goes against the grain of recommendations made over the years by academics, environmentalists and others to limit enrollment of new subdivisions in the district, saying that could cause a major economic setback for the state.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

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

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news KCBS Radio

California suffers abnormally dry conditions, drought likely

Despite a winter storm forecast to hit the Bay Area soon, California may be headed for another drought. The National Weather Service’s latest drought forecast, released Thursday, shows that California is likely to develop a drought between now and the end of the February, with abnormally dry conditions covering most of the state.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Capistrano Dispatch

Reservoir project in California aims to store recycled water

A reservoir and water dam project aiming to store recycled water is on track, according to water management officials. The Santa Margarita Water District gave a tour of the Trampas Canyon Reservoir and Dam on Saturday, Nov. 16. Construction began in January 2018 and is expected to finish by 2020.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Can a new approach to managing California reservoirs save water and still protect against floods?

Known as Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO), the approach centers on using the latest forecast technology to plan for the arrival of atmospheric rivers. Those are the torrents of moisture in the sky that barrel into California from the Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric rivers are critical to the state’s water supply, accounting for as much as half of its annual precipitation. But they can also cause catastrophic flooding.

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Can a New Approach to Managing California Reservoirs Save Water and Still Protect Against Floods?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pilot Projects Testing Viability of Using Improved Forecasting to Guide Reservoir Operations

Bullards Bar Dam spills water during 2017 atmospheric river storms.Many of California’s watersheds are notoriously flashy – swerving from below-average flows to jarring flood conditions in quick order. The state needs all the water it can get from storms, but current flood management guidelines are strict and unyielding, requiring reservoirs to dump water each winter to make space for flood flows that may not come.

However, new tools and operating methods are emerging that could lead the way to a redefined system that improves both water supply and flood protection capabilities.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

A case study of the Fox Canyon groundwater market

Sarah Heard is Director of Conservation Economics & Finance with the California chapter of The Nature Conservancy… At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Heard gave this presentation on the Fox Canyon Groundwater Market in Ventura County, the first groundwater market since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

West Basin approves desalination-plant impact report — while dozens of foes stand against it

West Basin Municipal Water District took the next steps Monday toward building a desalination facility in El Segundo, a project that has drawn fierce opposition from conservation groups — including some who staged a rally before the meeting.

Aquafornia news KCET

Video: Restoring the river with the Yurok, Hupa and Karuk

For the past two centuries, California has relied heavily on the natural resources of the North Coast region, exploiting its pristine watersheds for agriculture and its forests for timber. … Now the Yurok are working with local and state organizations to revitalize the forests, rivers and wildlife, a comprehensive feat requiring collaboration among community leaders up and down the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Recognizing the Delta’s place in the greater watershed and beyond

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is hitched to so many things. Our estuary is a critical habitat for fish and wildlife, home to millions of people, and the hub of our state’s water delivery system. From the Sierra Nevada to the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, what happens in one part of the Delta watershed affects the entire estuary.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

‘They’re going to dry up’: Debate erupts over plan to move water from farmland to suburbs

A private company and the town of Queen Creek are proposing a water deal that would leave 485 acres of farmland permanently dry near the Colorado River and send the water used on that land to the fast-growing Phoenix suburb. The company GSC Farm LLC is seeking to sell its annual entitlement of 2,083 acre-feet of Colorado River water — about 678 million gallons — to Queen Creek for a one-time payment of $21 million.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Water coalition aims to coordinate conservation efforts

The water coalition has been meeting since 2018 and started under the facilitation of Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary of the Interior on water and western resources. … The coalition aims to address challenges to fisheries, water supply, and waterfowl and forest health.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Soquel Creek Water District recycled water project awarded $50M state grant

The pricetag for recycled drinking water just got less expensive for Mid-County customers. The State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved a $50 million grant for Soquel Creek Water District’s pending Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

With new deal, Palo Alto banks on recycled water for drought protection

Seeking to fortify the city against future droughts, the Palo Alto City Council endorsed on Monday a long-term agreement with Santa Clara Valley Water District and Mountain View to build a salt-removal plant in the Baylands and then transfer the treated wastewater south.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater plan’s potential adverse impact on ag

When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority technical and policy advisory committees reviewed a draft sustainability plan, it left many with questions and criticisms. The plan may also leave uncertainty for the valley’s agricultural industry. They face the brunt of the plan’s water sustainability requirements when the plan is implemented…

Aquafornia news KUNC

New analysis spells out serious legal risk to Colorado River water users

Ambiguity exists in the language of the river’s foundational document, the Colorado River Compact. That agreement’s language remains unclear on whether Upper Basin states, where the Colorado River originates, are legally obligated to deliver a certain amount of water over a 10-year period to those in the Lower Basin: Arizona, California, and Nevada.

Aquafornia news Voice of Orange County

Newport Beach set to consider water rate hike

Water rates have not increased in Newport Beach since 2014. If approved, starting Jan. 1, water rates will increase 7.4% each year until 2024. After 2024, the proposal calls for water rates to rise by 2.5% each year until 2029. The average household … can expect a $3.38 per month increase in its water bill for the first year, according to a staff report.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Coachella water district approves $40 million loan for Oasis farm water pipeline

The Coachella Valley Water District on Monday approved taking on outside financing for what is believed to be the first time in its 101-year history for a $40 million pipeline to bring more Colorado River water to the region’s farmers, freeing up valuable groundwater for other uses.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Is rain done in 2019? Is California in a drought? What to know as weather stays dry

It’s been warmer than normal. It’s been drier than normal. For most of the region, it hasn’t rained more than a sprinkle or a brief thunderstorm here or there in about six months. Northern California weather has done a relatively quick 180 in 2019.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news AgWeb

Blog: California can keep the water flowing

California is in trouble. We can’t keep the lights on, the fires out, or the air clean. Worst of all, from my perspective as a farmer, is that we’ve failed to keep the water flowing. That may change, thanks to the Trump administration.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Water scarcity in Nevada hits ‘critical mass’

Nevada’s director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said Nevada has already reached the point of “critical mass” or the breaking point when it comes to the problem of water scarcity. … “We are up against that much strain in our water resources across the state,” Director Brad Crowell said.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Westlands contract shakes the waterscape

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Health of our families, communities depends on safe water

California took a historic step forward this summer with the passage of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. This fund seeks to provide new targeted investments to end the state’s drinking water crisis, where one million Californians are impacted by unsafe water each year. Unfortunately, successful implementation of the fund is on a potential collision course with another California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act…

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Path To sustainability: Workshop covers plan for groundwater

Groundwater in Tulare County, especially in Porterville, has been a hot topic of discussion for quite sometime. As groundwater levels have begun to subside, a viable and woking plan to maintain the groundwater has been state mandated, and the implementation of this plan is set to be put in action by January 31, 2020. But what exactly is the plan, and who is at stake?

Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

West Basin Municipal Water District to weigh proposed desalination plant in El Segundo

A proposed desalination plant in El Segundo could soon be one step closer to reality. The West Basin Municipal Water District will hold a special meeting in Carson on Monday, Nov. 18, where the board will weigh whether to certify an Environmental Impact Report for the proposal. … The board has not yet selected a company to build the proposed plant, which could cost more than $400 million.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Our wacky weather: From record heat to snowfall as first storm of season rolls in

The first storm of the season is set to roll into Southern California this week, bringing rain and the potential for snow at higher elevations, but the area isn’t completely in the clear for fire danger, weather officials said Monday.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Ancient aquifers are dropping as Tucson suburbs pump groundwater

Since 2009, the water level has dropped 7.3 feet a year in one of two SaddleBrooke Ranch wells and 1.7 feet a year in the other, says the Arizona Water Co., a private utility serving the development. This is one of many suburban developments surrounding Tucson where underground water tables are falling and are likely to fall much farther over the next century, state records show.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water authority would pay $30 million to Raiders under proposed decade-long advertising contract for water conservation

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is proposing a 10-year marketing deal with the future Las Vegas Raiders that will pay the NFL franchise more than $30 million in tax dollars over the next decade, enabling the agency to use team logos and place advertising in the $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Are atmospheric rivers the reason for Northern California’s extreme weather?

Sasha Gershunov, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, is one of the nation’s experts on atmospheric rivers. ARs are one of the planet’s most extreme weather events, he said, and their impact on the state is both good and bad. They’re a critical source of water for the Golden State’s bountiful agriculture, thick forests and ecosystems, snowpack and drinking supplies, dropping 50% to 60% of the entire state’s annual precipitation.

Aquafornia news City Watch

Opinion: Unsustainable California

The recent rash of fires, like the drought that preceded it, has sparked a new wave of pessimism about the state’s future. But the natural disasters have also obscured the fact the greatest challenge facing the state comes not from burning forests or lack of precipitation but from an increasingly dysfunctional society divided between a small but influential wealthy class and an ever-expanding poverty population. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: And we wait. 81% of California abnormally dry as seasonal rains fail to materialize

California’s drought-prone hills and valleys are on the verge of another troubling dry spell. The U.S. government’s Drought Monitor on Thursday classified more than 80% of California as abnormally dry because rain has eluded the state for most of the fall. Forecasting models, meanwhile, suggest little change in the near future.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: California must help kill sleazy Westlands water deal

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

Aquafornia news KUNC

New analysis spells out serious legal risk to Colorado River water users

Declining flows could force Southwest water managers to confront long-standing legal uncertainties, and threaten the water security of Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Pinal County has plenty of water. We just need to prioritize demand

The Arizona Department of Water Resources is working on revising a model based on outdated assumptions and incomplete data that have perpetuated the myth that Pinal County is facing a water shortage. In fact, Pinal County has plenty of water for today, tomorrow and 100 years from now.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: SGMA: State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge

The streamlined permitting process is an important component of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation, as it may assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in more efficiently obtaining the necessary water rights to divert and recharge water during high flow events.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Public-funded Oroville Dam advertisement called ‘propaganda’

The latest public relations effort cost California water ratepayers $29,000 to produce an eight-page color advertising insert that ran in recent days in six Sacramento Valley newspapers including The Sacramento Bee. … Critics argue it’s inappropriate for a state agency to be spending public money on an advertisement that they say serves little purpose other than to try to make the government look good.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: ‘Science Be Dammed’: Learning from history’s mistake on the Colorado River

The problem in the 1920s was neither the lack of good science nor the inability of decision-makers to understand the basin’s hydrology. … In an era driven by politics of competition for a limited supply of river water and federal dollars, those decision-makers had the opportunity to selectively use the available science as a tool to sell their projects and vision for the river’s future to Congress and the general public.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Consultant: Cal Am purchase can be paid for with rate savings

It will cost Monterey Peninsula ratepayers about $574.5 million, all in, to acquire California American Water’s local water system, but that cost can be covered in rate savings under public ownership with some leftover to lower local customers’ water bills.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Climate whiplash: Wild swings in extreme weather are on the rise

The intensity of wildfires in places like California are a symptom of climate change, experts say, but the whiplash effect poses a different set of problems for humans and natural systems. Researchers project that by the end of this century, the frequency of these abrupt transitions between wet and dry will increase by 25 percent in Northern California and as much as double in Southern California if greenhouse gasses continue to increase.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Wind and solar can save the planet — can they save our water supply, too?

Hydropower facilities store water in reservoirs in order to release it in a constant flow and produce energy consistently. If wind turbines and solar panels, paired with battery storage, took the pressure off of these facilities to fill the needs of the grid during a drought, more of that water could be released downstream for agricultural use, preventing further groundwater depletion.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

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

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

Aquafornia news KUNC

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Historically left out, Colorado River tribes call for more sway in Western water talks

Arizona’s portion of the Drought Contingency Plan became a unique example in the basin of tribal leaders asserting themselves in broader discussions about the river’s management. … With the drought plan done, some tribal leaders say their water rights can’t be ignored any longer.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Opinion: As the Vegas pipeline fight persists, remember Owens Valley

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Las Vegas water grab and pipeline –– which has been in various stages of development since 1989 –– would forever tarnish public lands and waters in Eastern Nevada and Western Utah. The idea is a direct descendant to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Trees that survived the California drought could contain the key to climate resilience

Scientists are breeding the trees that survived California’s historic drought to make the forests of tomorrow more resilient. A greenhouse full of 10,000 baby trees descended from 100 of those survivors will eventually be planted around the Lake Tahoe area. The researchers hope efforts like this can buy ecosystems time to adapt to the planet’s rapidly changing climate.

Commands