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 SJV Water

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

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

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

OID and SSJID cancel large water sale to thirsty West Side

The worsening drought has canceled a large water sale to West Side farmers by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts. They announced Wednesday that their own customers will need the water, which had been declared surplus in early March. A revised forecast of Stanislaus River runoff scuttled the sale, which could have brought up to $25 million to the sellers.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Releases on the Trinity River to significantly increase flow this week

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

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

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

Aquafornia news The Signal

News release: SCV Water receives state PSPS grant

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

Aquafornia news University of California

Blog: A path toward clean drinking water for all Californians

California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water that meets those criteria. A new study published by the California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems. 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

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

Congressman Jim Costa (D–Fresno) introduced a bill on Thursday that would provide over $800 million in funding to water projects in California. If the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act is enacted, $653 million in Federal funds will go to restore the capacity of three canals in the Central Valley, and $180 million will be used to restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. 

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Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

New front in Santa Barbara County’s pot wars

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

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

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

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

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Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: CNRA launches website public input questionnaire

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

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath Project to receive historically low water allocation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation delivered a gut-punch to Klamath Project irrigators Wednesday, announcing a historically low water allocation as the basin struggles with extreme drought. Farms and ranches in the Project will receive an initial allocation of just 33,000 acre-feet — the lowest total since the shutdown of 2001 and barely 8% of historical demand. That is dramatically lower than the bureau’s original estimate of 130,000 acre-feet based on hydrological conditions at the beginning of March.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Raising Shasta Dam threatens McCloud River, sacred tribal lands and salmon

Shasta Dam, which rises over 600 feet, flooded much of our tribe’s homeland and inundated dozens of our sacred sites. It stopped our salmon from reaching their spawning grounds. And by holding back water when it is needed by the river, Shasta Dam has driven our salmon to the brink of extinction. That threat continues in the proposal to raise Shasta Dam. That project would flood more of our sacred sites and further harm salmon. The Trump administration made that project their top priority water infrastructure project in the nation. 
-Written by Caleen Sisk, the spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

Aquafornia news Havasu News

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Epic drought means water crisis on Oregon-California border

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes. Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is working with congressional delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

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Aquafornia news Jacksonville Journal-Courier

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Harmful algal blooms in the Delta (and elsewhere)

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

Aquafornia news KSBW

Monterey County must rescind Cal-Am desal approvals

The Superior Court of California, County of Monterey has told Monterey County it must rescind all approvals for the Cal-Am desalination project. According to the court, the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the desal project with identifying a water source. The court ruling also means that the county can’t retroactively correct the issue.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Scores of tule elk died at Point Reyes seashore in 2020

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

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

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

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

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

On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our 2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Blog: Colorado launches major new series of stream protections

Advocates, such as the Colorado Water Trust, a nonprofit that spearheaded the new approach, say the tools can be used as templates across other river basins, where older water rights are already spoken for. … Across Colorado nearly 40,000 miles of streams flow year-round and, as a result, have the potential to receive protection under the state’s Instream Flow Program. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of the Interior

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

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

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

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

There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know to understand California water. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

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

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

Aquafornia news Water World

Opinion: Keeping water affordable

California households face over $600 million in household water debt, with some 1.6 million homes — roughly 12 percent of all state residents — dealing with an average of $500 in arrears. The findings show clear racial inequities, with households of color bearing the brunt of this debt. More than 130 smaller utilities across the state will need federal help in the next six months if they are to survive. It is clear that we need a solution now. 
-Written by Michael Carlin, the acting general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Innovation needed to solve state’s water challenges

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

Aquafornia news Scientific American

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

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

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Controversial project is becoming a pipeline in the sand for local water agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is no stranger to conflict – virtually all of its dealings over the past decade have been shaped by its feud with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Now that feud is fueling fights within the agency itself.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Podcast: Updating the status for water from the Colorado River

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

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

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Aquafornia news Poseidon Water

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

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

Aquafornia news KOLD News 13

Extreme conditions now sparking drought contingency plan for first time

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

Aquafornia news New Mexico In Depth

A century of federal indifference left generations of Navajo homes without running water

[T]he 800 to 900 people in Tohatchi, and another 600 to 800 in Mexican Springs, eight miles to the west, all depend on a single well and single pump. If the pump running it fails, or if the water level in it drops — both issues that have troubled nearby Gallup this year — water will cut out for the homes, the head-start center, the schools, the clinic, the senior center, five churches, and the convenience store and gas station. … [T]he Navajo Nation has waited more than a century for pipes and water treatment plants that would bring drinking water to all of its people while watching nearby off-reservation cities and farms grow, swallowing up water from the Colorado River Basin that the tribe has a claim to.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina Coast water storage upgrade starts up, district adds new GM

A new $15 million Marina Coast Water District water storage project designed to increase water storage by more than 3 million gallons and replace a septuagenarian Army water tank and other aging infrastructure is moving forward as the district brings on a new general manager.

Aquafornia news Green Matters

Here’s how climate change has affected human health

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

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration declares California drought disaster. What is Newsom waiting for?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 California counties as natural disaster areas last month because of the drought. And, over the weekend, Fresno Congressman Jim Costa said on KSEE-24’s Sunday Morning Matters program that Gov. Newsom should declare a statewide emergency because of the dangerously dry conditions. …Yet, Newsom… last week rejected a request from a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers from the Valley to declare a statewide drought emergency. 

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Aquafornia news Patch

Ballona Wetlands fire: The ecological story

The Patch reports the Fire Department investigation found the source of the March 23rd brush fire in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve to be a homeless encampment in the area of origin. The fire was accelerated by strong winds. While the causes of these incidents are always concerning, there is another important part of the story: an ecological and historical one. Why did an intense brush fire burn at all in a wetland? After all, wetlands are supposed to be wet.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Advocates protest at Point Reyes National Seashore after deaths of rare tule elk, demand removal of fence

Dozens of people gathered at Point Reyes National Seashore Saturday to protest after the deaths of more than 100 rare tule elk. Last week, the National Park Service announced 152 elk in a fenced preserve died in 2020 because of overpopulation and drought conditions. The drought has reduced the amount of water in the area, leading to limited access and malnutrition.

Aquafornia news Brookings

Opinion: Pot, water theft, and environmental harms in the US and Mexico

The government of Mexico is on the verge of legalizing cannabis for industrial, medical, and recreational purposes, legislation that would make Mexico only the third country to legalize all aspects of cannabis production and all types of the plant’s use. … Water theft in California is alleged to be frequently associated with legal and illegal cultivation of cannabis. It equally pervades legal and illegal cannabis cultivation in Oregon and Colorado. 
-Written by Vanda Felbob-Brown.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tensions rise in water battle along Oregon-California line

One of the worst droughts in memory in a massive agricultural region straddling the California-Oregon border could mean steep cuts to irrigation water for hundreds of farmers this summer to sustain endangered fish species critical to local tribes. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water allocations in the federally owned Klamath Project, is expected to announce this week how the season’s water will be divvied up after delaying the decision a month.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Southern California water price jumps 48% in 3 weeks as rainy season disappoints

Californians received a double dose of not so happy water news last month; cutbacks were made to water allocations and a key water price index surged higher. … The state’s Department of Water Resources has wasted no time in sounding alarm bells; officials have already announced 50 percent cutbacks from December 2020’s projected water allotments to State Water Project allocations for the 2021 water year. California residents were warned “to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users.”

Aquafornia news CBS News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Western U.S. may be entering its most severe drought in modern history

[S]ome scientists [are] saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought. That’s because in 2000, the Western U.S. entered the beginning of what scientists call a megadrought — the second worst in 1,200 years — triggered by a combination of a natural dry cycle and human-caused climate change. In the past 20 years, the two worst stretches of drought came in 2003 and 2013 — but what is happening right now appears to be the beginning stages of something even more severe. And as we head into the summer dry season, the stage is set for an escalation of extreme dry conditions, with widespread water restrictions expected and yet another dangerous fire season ahead.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Salton Sea dust, air quality to get closer look in California

California’s shrinking Salton Sea is getting a closer look scientifically with the state, local air districts, and community groups examining air, water, and even dust from the parched shoreline where water was once plentiful. The increased scrutiny comes as the state has continuously failed to meet dust suppression and habitat goals set in a 2017 management plan to restore nearly 30,000 acres of the state’s largest body of water by 2028. The sea spans Imperial and Riverside counties near the Mexican border, where disadvantaged communities breathe some of the nation’s worst air and suffer from high asthma rates. Chronic nosebleeds are also common.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 2021 spring flow releases on the Trinity River as part of restoration program

The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that this year’s restoration flow schedule for the Trinity River will begin on April 16. Each year, the Trinity Management Council advances a flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River. Due to lack of precipitation and snowpack in the Trinity Mountains this winter, the flow schedule for 2021 is scaled to a critically dry water year. Critically dry is one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to decide how much reservoir water will be released in support of the program’s goals to improve habitat for anadromous fish—fish that migrate to fresh water from salt water to spawn—like salmon and steelhead.

Aquafornia news KRON4

Rare elk population declining due to drought conditions

In the North Bay, parts of the region are classified under moderate to extreme drought conditions. The National Park Service says 152 tule elks have died from these drought conditions, and the situation is causing controversy over their habitat. … The National Park Service announced a declining population in 2020 due to lack of food caused by drought-like conditions.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California braces for extreme 2021 wildfire season – it’s very dry out there

The chamise plants that blanket California’s shrubby chaparral should have grown new sprouts by now, flowering after winter rains before baking in the arid summer heat. They are highly flammable and abundant in wildland areas — and, for that reason, a bellwether to wildfire researchers. This month, a San Jose State University team analyzing moisture levels was shocked at what it found at study sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. At two locations researchers found no new growth to cut from the shrubs. It’s an ominous sign of just how dry the vegetation is around California, where boundless numbers of plants and trees have been starved of life-sustaining water thanks to an entire winter of paltry precipitation. Those dry plants are fuel for wildfires, and they’re primed to burn explosively.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Cadiz faces new suit over water pipeline

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

Aquafornia news KTLA

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

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

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Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

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

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

Aquafornia news Outdoor Life

California waterfowl threatened by dry refuges, botulism

With a salmonella outbreak in eight states already under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control, officials are watching in California for another disease that impacts waterfowl. Botulism killed thousands of waterfowl and other birds last year on two national wildlife refuges near the border of California and Oregon. Some estimates were as high as 60,000 dead birds. The Lower Klamath Basin and Tule Lake national wildlife refuges were among the first created more than 100 years ago. Millions of waterfowl and shore birds, along with songbirds, migrated along the Pacific Flyway into the two refuges and beyond. Today, between severe restrictions on water flowing into and out of the refuges and a crippling drought that shows no sign of letting up, the refuge marshes are going dry. 

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Aquafornia news UC San Diego News Center

New research: Scientists map “pulse” of groundwater flow through California’s Central Valley

Groundwater is a key resource for water users in California’s Central Valley, a major agricultural hub with an economic output of tens of billions of dollars annually. Surface deformation in the Central Valley has long been linked to changes in groundwater storage, but the timing and movement of water flow beneath the surface has been poorly understood due to a lack of reliable data. Now, for the first time, scientists at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and School of Global Policy and Strategy, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey are using advanced satellite data to map the “pulse” of groundwater flow through the San Joaquin Valley, the southern portion of the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news ABC10 

California slips further into drought status

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

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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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 Inside Climate News

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

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

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Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water receives $3.5M grant for Vail Dam rehabilitation 

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

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California appoints analyst to study Salton Sea water importation

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

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Taiwan’s drought pits chip makers against farmers

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

Aquafornia news Deseret News

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

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

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California needs comprehensive groundwater management

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

Aquafornia news BBC News

The water fight over the shrinking Colorado River

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

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Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California legislators want Gov. Newsom to declare state of emergency over water ‘crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas] Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

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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 Manteca Bulletin

SSJID, OID still waiting for federal approval of plan to help threatened fish & stressed farmers

OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water — have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated 1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5 percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the Delta.  

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water for multiple benefits – Why spring diversions on the Sacramento River are important

As we begin spring in the Sacramento Valley, the region illuminates – we see the brown landscape turn verdant, and the Valley bustles with activity as people share the hope of a new year and collectively cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. With the dry year in Northern California, the water resource managers are working overtime to carefully manage our precious water systems including rivers, streams, reservoirs and diversions to serve multiple benefits. To effectively do this, water resources must be managed in an efficient manner, with the same block of water often used to achieve several beneficial uses as it moves through the region’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

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

Our two-day Water 101 Workshop begins on Earth Day, when you can gain a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource. One of our most popular events, the once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23. California’s water basics will be covered by some of the state’s leading policy and legal experts, including the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in the state, as well a look at hot topics and current issues of concern.

Aquafornia news 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 Voice of OC

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

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

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Colorado River Indian Tribes will get $209K to stop water loss from irrigation canals

The Colorado River Indian Tribes will receive $209,000 for irrigation canal projects, Congressman Paul Gosar announced Tuesday. The federal funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior to help CRIT pay for canal lining. The project is intended to help stop water seepage from the canal. CRIT relies on the Colorado River as its primary source of water, and water conserved with help the Tribes meet existing demand during times of drought, Gosar said. The project will line nearly 4,000 feet of the earthen canal with a membrane covered in sprayed concrete. The stretch of canal has been identified as having the most significant seepage rate of all 232 miles of canals in the Colorado River Irrigation Project, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Aquafornia news Colorado State University

New research: Trees have unexpected impacts on water use in northern Colorado

Colorado’s water supply is under threat from climate change and population growth. Limiting outdoor use is an increasingly popular approach to conserving water, yet to implement effective conservation policies, utilities managers need a better understanding of local outdoor water consumption. … [Colorado State University’s Melissa McHale] said trees can provide long-term benefits even if they need to be watered directly when they are first planted. … The research team found that residential properties with a higher ratio of vegetation cover to lot size tended toward less water consumption. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Third-driest year reported in California

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has marked 2021 as the third-driest water year, a period marked from October to March, on record for the Golden State, potentially setting up another deadly wildfire season after last year’s record setting blazes. The department’s annual snow survey released this month recorded precipitation levels at 50 percent the annual average for the water year.  The dry conditions can also be seen in the state’s water supply, with the department reporting that California’s major reservoirs are at just 50 percent of overall capacity.

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Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast: Moving forward in a dry year

Tractors are working ground in the Sacramento Valley, as the 2021 rice season is underway. Whether it’s farmers, those in cities or for the environment, this year will pose challenges due to less than ideal rain and snowfall during the fall and winter. Jon Munger At Montna Farms near Yuba City, Vice President of Operations Jon Munger said they expect to plant about one-third less rice this year, based on water cutbacks. As water is always a precious resource in this state, rice growers work hard to be as efficient as they can. Fields are precisely leveled and will be flooded with just five-inches of water during the growing season. Rice is grown in heavy clay soils, which act like a bathtub to hold water in place. High-tech planting and harvest equipment also help California rice farms and mills operate at peak efficiency.

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 The Associated Press

Vegas water agency asks lawmakers to ban ornamental grass

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

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Aquafornia news University of Colorado Boulder

New research: Increased winter snowmelt threatens western water resources

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

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

LaMoreaux tapped for Palmdale Water District Authority

The general manager for a local water utility company joined the Board for the Delta Conveyance Design Authority. Palmdale Water District announced on Monday that Dennis LaMoreaux has been appointed as an alternate director for the Authority.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Colorado River drought deepens, Arizona prepares for water cutbacks

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Kamala Harris visits Oakland to tout federal jobs plan

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

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Nevada farmers and conservationists balk at “water banking,” an idea also being weighed in Colorado

Rural water users are panicking over a proposal to create a market for the sale and purchase of water rights in Nevada, unconvinced by arguments that the concept would encourage conservation. Lawmakers on Monday weighed whether so-called “water banking” would be preferable to prevailing water law doctrines that govern surface and groundwater rights disputes in the driest state in the U.S. A legislative hearing about two proposals to allow water rights holders to sell their entitlements pitted state water bureaucrats against a coalition of farmers, conservationists and rural officials. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

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

California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating megafires. … Just four years since the state’s last drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of drought to come.

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Aquafornia news The Daily Beast

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

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

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Podcast: Jeff Kightlinger

In this episode John Howard and Tim Foster welcomed the longtime but soon-to-be-retired Metropolitan Water District of Southern California head honcho Jeff Kightlinger for a wide-ranging discussion that covered the status of the Delta Tunnel Project, climate change and the snow survey, the drought, working from home, jukeboxes, his punk rock roots and Dan Walters‘ connection to the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State will hear Kern River water rights case

Is there water available on the Kern River and, if so, how much? Parties to the long-running river dispute will finally get a hearing by the State Water Resources Control Board on those questions, at least. The big question — who should get the water? — will have to wait. Still, this is the first significant public movement on the Kern River in the past 11 years.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

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

Perhaps more than any other part of the country, California stands to benefit from the $2.2 trillion proposal introduced last week by President Biden…. the sweeping plan would inject huge sums of money into wider roads, faster internet, high-speed trains, charging stations for electric cars, airport terminals, upgraded water pipes and much more. … The infusion is being seen not only as the path to a long-overdue upgrade of the freeways, dams and aqueducts that have long been California’s hallmark but also as a way to scale up and export the state’s ambitious climate policies.

Aquafornia news The Weather Network

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

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

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado’s snowpack was almost normal this winter, but it may not be enough water for the year

The blizzard that dumped snow along the Front Range in March helped Colorado nearly reach its average snowpack for the winter, federal data shows. But last year’s historically dry weather means that streams are likely to run lower than normal, potentially restricting the amount of water some consumers can use, experts said… Areas east of the Continental Divide had above average snowpack, but the Colorado River Basin on the west was below average….

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

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

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

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022

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

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Aquafornia news Food Tank

Ecologists use mushrooms to detoxify soil and water after wildfires

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

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

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

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

Aquafornia news California Trout

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

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

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

UC Merced study imagines solar panels atop irrigation canals

Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California.  The idea has already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as one of several options for boosting the solar part of its electricity supply.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Deal to help fish threatened by federal agencies

Water releases designed to benefit the critical outmigration of juvenile salmon on the Stanislaus River as well as assist farms and communities along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley already starting to suffer the effects of two consecutive dry years is languishing in the federal bureaucracy. Up to 100,000 acre feet is proposed to be released that belongs to the South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts that would provide a critical impulse flow from April 15 to May 15. That water based on measurements at Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River would significantly improve the survivability of the threatened salmon.

Aquafornia news The Times-Independent

State: Moab could safely use more water

Preliminary estimates from Utah’s Division of Water Rights show that the Spanish Valley Watershed, which includes Moab, can safely withdraw 50-100% more water than it currently uses each year. The range of uncertainty in part has to do with the difficulties that come with accounting for groundwater and in part from the range of possibilities in how much climate change affects water availability in the valley. State Engineer Teresa Wilhelmsen praised research by the U.S. Geological Survey that she said “provides a wealth of information on movement of water between the various components of the aquifer system” in Moab.

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Aquafornia news National Review

Opinion: Reform California’s water policies

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news Galt Herald

Groundwater status, plan discussed at meeting

Seven agencies that have been working together to sustain the groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin, which includes the communities of Galt, Herald, Wilton and Rancho Murieta South, held a workshop March 24. The presentation was intended to help residents understand how groundwater will be used in the next two decades in the Cosumnes Subbasin. The group has until Jan. 31, 2022 to submit its plan to the state on how it intends to meet its target of replacing 20,000-acre feet per year (AFY) in underground basins called aquifers to sustain the groundwater. One of the takeaways from meeting is the plan will cost $2.25 million in the early years. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news UC Irvine

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

Rain is scarce in much of California, and most of California’s people live in water-starved regions. And yet the state is, by some measures, the fifth largest economy in the world. How? Because during the last century, California has built a complex network of dams, pumps and canals to transport water from where it falls naturally to where people live. But climate change threatens to upend the delicate system that keeps farm fields green and household taps flowing. In this episode of the UCI Podcast, Nicola Ulibarri, an assistant professor of urban planning and public policy who is an expert on water resource management, discusses how droughts and floods have shaped California’s approach to water…

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

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

Aquafornia news Latham & Watkins

Blog: California water law – Legal challenges of water supply assessments

Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” This remains true in California, where drought conditions, climate change, and population growth throughout the state’s history have made water an increasingly valuable and regulated resource. The legal landscape involves complex questions related to water quality, water sustainability, and competing claims to water rights. One notable area of controversy involves the adequacy of water supply for new development projects.

Aquafornia news KAWC

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

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

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

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

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

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Aquafornia news Western Slope Now

2020 Drought: One of the worst in Colorado history

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

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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Aquafornia news CNN

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

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

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Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

No movement on groundwater protection bills

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

Aquafornia news 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 Legal Planet

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

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

Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: Rural, disadvantaged California community solves century-old water quality issue by tapping the sky

Arsenic naturally occurs in the region’s groundwater and Allensworth is served by two groundwater wells that have contained arsenic levels up to 60 percent higher than state defined safety levels for drinking water. … To tackle those challenges in Allensworth, the community is collaborating with SOURCE to outfit their local community center with two Hydropanels to sustainably generate drinking water. The Hydropanels use the warmth of the sun to draw clean, pollutant-free water vapor out of the air through a patented, water-absorbing material and into a reservoir inside the panel. 

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 The Sacramento Bee

Sierra, Sequoia national forest plans revised after California fires

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

Aquafornia news 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 KCRA

Lessons learned from previous California drought helpful in ‘dry years’

As the rain season comes to a close across Northern California, water districts are keeping a close eye on rain totals that are below average, and water managers are explaining what another “dry water year” means for our region. According to California’s Department of Water Resources, or DWR, the state is well into its second consecutive dry year. That causes concern among water managers. However, it comes as no surprise. … With the memory of drought years between 2012 and 2016 not too distant, [DWR information officer Chris] Orrock explained how lessons learned from that time period are still being implemented.

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Aquafornia news GoBankingRates

Blog: 6 alarming facts about America’s water industry

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

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

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

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

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

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

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

Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Despite blizzard, Colorado’s critical mountain snowpack shrinks

Despite the recent history-making blizzard on Colorado’s Front Range, statewide snowpack sits at 92 percent of average as of March 19, down from 105 percent of average at the end of February, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Just two river basins, the Arkansas and the Rio Grande, are registering above average at 101 percent and 106 percent respectively. Among the driest are the Gunnison Basin, at 86 percent of average, and the San Juan/Dolores, at 83 percent, both in the southwestern part of the state.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

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

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

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah is a leader in cloud seeding and could prove as a model for boosting a drought-stricken West’s water supplies

Utah’s winter sports industry may claim the greatest snow on Earth, but for skiers and water watchers alike, there is hardly ever enough powder. For nearly 50 years, the second-driest state in the nation has been giving natural winter storms an engineered boost to help deepen its snowpack through a program largely funded by state taxpayers, local governments and water conservancy districts. More recently, the states that rely on water from the lower Colorado River — California, Arizona and Nevada — have been paying for additional cloud seeding in Utah.

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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.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: USC student tackles Kern River for media project

It may surprise you (it surprises me all the time) but a lot of young people are deeply interested in how our world runs. Especially young people who also have a passion for journalism. One of those young people, Jonathan Horwitz, a graduate fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, contacted me some months ago asking about water. He wanted to do a multimedia project on the subject and eventually settled on the complexities of the Kern River. Below is a link to his finished product, which I think deserves an A+.

Aquafornia news Valley Water

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

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

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

St. Helena set to impose penalties for exceeding water rations

The city is getting ready to impose new penalties for water customers who exceed their rations during St. Helena’s Phase II water emergency. On Tuesday the City Council told staff to bring the recommended penalties back for adoption at the April 13 council meeting. The new penalties would take effect May 1. Meanwhile, city officials will develop clear conservation targets and look at adjusting the city’s water management policies, including how water allocations are calculated.

Aquafornia news Perkins Cole

Blog: Conviction for violation of Clean Water Act required knowing discharge “into water”

The Ninth Circuit reversed a conviction for three counts of violations under the Clean Water Act because the district court failed to instruct the jury that the defendant needed to knowingly discharge material “into water” to convict. … In the summer of 2014, Lucero executed a scheme under which he charged construction companies to dump dirt and debris on lands near the San Francisco Bay, including wetlands and a tributary subject to the Clean Water Act. Although Lucero admitted to “walking the land” where the dumping happened, the period when the dumping occurred was unusually dry due to drought. The trial court found Lucero guilty on two counts of discharges into wetlands and one count of discharge into a tributary.

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

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

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

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

Aquafornia news Science News

Simple structures can help streams survive wildfires and drought

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

Aquafornia news The Spectrum

Opinion: The water tap – exceptional drought calls for exceptional measures. Or does it?

Last week, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order declaring a statewide drought emergency. In the press release that followed, he urged Utahns to “evaluate their water use and find ways to save not only because of current drought conditions but also because we live in one of the driest states in the nation.” The suggested water-saving recommendations … included … fixing leaks; running full loads (dishwashers and washing machines); turning off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, soaping up, doing dishes or rinsing vegetables; reducing showers by at least one minute; waiting to water; and planning now for the irrigation season by implementing water-wise landscaping or purchasing a smart irrigation controller.
-Written by Joan Meiners, an Environment Reporter for The Spectrum & Daily News through the Report for America initiative by The Ground Truth Project.

Aquafornia news Cornell Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Vallecitos Water District wins awards for sonic tech disrupting algae blooms

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

Aquafornia news The Press

California seeks input on Delta benefit program

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

Aquafornia news KCRA

Below-average winter prompts California water conservation

The second consecutive dry winter has prompted state water managers to reduce allocations to the state water project that supplies millions of Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. The state Department of Water Resources announced this week that it will only be able to deliver 5% of the requested allocations following below-average precipitation across the state. That figure is down from the initial allocation of 10% announced in December. Many of the state’s major reservoirs are recording just 50% of average water storage for this time of year, and won’t see a major increase due to a snowpack that is averaging just 65% of normal, according to state statistics..

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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.”

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Aquafornia news AgNet West

Blog: SGMA video series now available in three languages

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

Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

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

Aquafornia news Politico

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

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

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Aquafornia news Arizona PBS

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

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

Aquafornia news The Daily Sentinel

Water outlook a concern for endangered fish

Meager anticipated snowmelt runoff is expected to mean another challenging year for maintaining even below-optimal levels of flows in the Colorado River downstream of the Palisade area for the benefit of endangered fish. … What’s referred to as the 15-Mile Reach of the river between the Palisade area and the Gunnison River confluence is of particular concern for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, which focuses on four endangered fish. The stretch is primarily used by two of the fish — the razorback sucker and Colorado pikeminnow. But it’s also used by a third, the bonytail. And a fourth, the humpback chub, which favors downstream stretches such as Westwater Canyon, indirectly benefits from efforts to bolster flows in the 15-Mile Reach.

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 Long Beach Post News

Monthly water bills could increase over 150% for Catalina residents

Catalina Island residents could see their monthly water bills will rise more than 150% over the next five years if a state commission approves a proposal by Southern California Edison. The utility company, which acquired the electric, water and gas utilities on the island in 1962, filed a request with the California Public Utilities Commission in late October seeking approval for rate increases to offset increased operating expenses and other costs, some of which are related to past drought conditions, according to a public notice issued by SCE. During the most recent California drought, city of Avalon Mayor Anni Marshall said the island’s businesses and 4,200 residents—like many across the state—reduced water consumption by 40%, cutting SCE revenue.

Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: Water solutions are climate adaptation solutions

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

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

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

California water officials tell communities to prepare for potential water shortages

An extra dry summer with potential for water shortages – that’s what state and federal officials are telling Californians to prepare for. Predictions for 2021 are bleak. Lake levels are low and the Sacramento region is not getting the spring showers many hoped for. According to the US drought monitor, most of the Central Valley is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. This week the Department of Water Resources lowered its expected forecast of water deliveries made to cities and farms by half. But any conservation restrictions would be up to local authorities.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Las Gallinas sewage agency expands recycled water system

The Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District completed construction this week on an expansion of its water recycling system, increasing the district’s recycled water production capacity nearly fourfold. …The expanded system allows the district to treat roughly 5.4 million gallons of recycled water per day at its headquarters at 300 Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael. That’s up from the district’s previous capacity of 1.4 million daily gallons.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Spandrio to resign from the Casitas Municipal Water District board

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

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

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

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

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

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

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

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

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

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

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought is real and California is now facing water restrictions

State and federal water officials have delivered their most dire warning yet of California’s deepening drought, announcing that water supply shortages are imminent and calling for quick conservation. Among a handful of drastic actions this week, the powerful State Water Board on Monday began sending notices to California’s 40,000 water users, from small farms to big cities like San Francisco, telling them to brace for cuts. It’s a preliminary step before the possibility of ordering their water draws to stop entirely. 

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Aquafornia news County of Sonoma

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

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

Aquafornia news Stanford

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

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

Aquafornia news Anthropocene Magazine

Irrigation canals covered in solar panels are a powerful combination

Shading California’s irrigation canals with solar panels could reduce pollution from diesel irrigation pumps while saving a quarter of a billion cubic meters of water annually in an increasingly drought-prone state, a new study suggests. Pilot studies in India and small simulations have shown that so-called “solar canals” have lots of potential benefits: Shading the water with solar panels reduces water loss from evaporation and keeps aquatic weeds down. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: America’s drinking water future

In 2020 wildfires ravaged more than 10 million acres of land across California, Oregon and Washington, making it the largest fire season in modern history. Across the country, hurricanes over Atlantic waters yielded a record-breaking number of storms. While two very different kinds of natural disasters, scientists say they were spurred by a common catalyst – climate change – and that both also threaten drinking water supplies. As the nation already wrestles with water shortages, contamination and aging infrastructure, experts warn more frequent supercharged climate-induced events will exacerbate the pressing issue of safe drinking water.

Aquafornia news Estuary News

Scientists nail climate links to extreme events

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

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

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

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

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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 KUER

A Colorado River showdown is looming. Let the posturing begin

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

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Aquafornia news UC Davis Magazine

Why are natural disasters intensifying?

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

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Aurora, Colorado Springs get federal OK to test if controversial reservoir in Eagle County wilderness is feasible

White River National Forest officials on Monday said Aurora Water and Colorado Springs Utilities can move ahead with test drilling to determine whether a controversial dam on Homestake Creek in Eagle County is technically feasible…. conservation groups say they are adamantly against any new water transfers to suburban water users across the Continental Divide and will oppose every approval step….Environmental groups oppose new dams on Homestake in part because they would take water out of tributaries that feed the already-depleted Colorado River.  

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Blog: Colorado establishes water equity task force

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

Aquafornia news The Guardian

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

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

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

State warns of possible water shortages

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

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Aquafornia news Patch, San Jose Spotlight

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news Ecowatch

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

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

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

World Water Day highlights value of water

While water shortages and lack of access are usually associated with developing countries, there were more than 2 million people in the United States without running water or basic indoor plumbing as of 2019, according to the U.S. Water Alliance. Among them are members of the Navajo Nation who drive 40 miles every few days to haul water to their homes; communities in California dealing with contaminated wells; and people across the country living with outdated water systems.

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Aquafornia news National Geographic

As the U.S. faces an uncertain water future, millions of Americans are coming together to conserve water

Witnessing the devastating effects of drought in rural California and India at the age of 11 spurred Shreya Ramachandran to action. She devoted years to researching the reuse of grey water—lightly used water from sinks, showers, and laundry—and painstakingly tested the environmental safety of organic detergents. The nonprofit Ramachandran founded, the Grey Water Project, has inspired thousands of people to build their own “laundry to lawn” grey water systems. Now a high school senior, she’s collaborated with several California water agencies and the United Nations Global Wastewater Initiative, and created a grey water curriculum for elementary students to show them that small actions can make a big difference.

Aquafornia news Daily Californian Weekender

Opinion: Why do we have lawns anyway? (And what we can do instead?)

To have enough excess time and energy in your life to spend on cultivating a lawn means that you are a successful member of society — not just economically, but in spirit and values. But where did this obsession come from? A lawn, taken out of context, is a very peculiar landscaping choice. … There are tons of alternatives to lawns that can be more appropriate for the California climate. Xeriscaping, or the practice of using drought tolerant plants for decorative landscaping, is rapidly becoming more popular as homeowners are trying to keep their front yards looking neat and elegant while cutting down their water costs and environmental impact. 
-Written by Landon Iannamico, staff writer for the Daily Californian 

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 Westlands Water District

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

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

Aquafornia news West Side Index & Gustine Press-Standard

Groundwater recharge project will bank water for future use

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Board approves Pure Water Monterey expansion report spending

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

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Students find saving water ‘elementary’

When a region’s groundwater is critically depleted and its dirt as hard as a frying pan, how do you refill the aquifer? Ask a fifth grader. Actually, ask the fifth and sixth grade combination class at Bakersfield’s Munsey Elementary School taught by Barbara Elrod. Elrod’s students discovered a pretty cool way to both conserve water and recharge aquifers through “grey water.” That’s water from sinks, showers and washing machines. Turns out most of that water has soap in it and soap is a surfactant. 

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

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

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

Aquafornia news California Trout

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

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

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Putting solar panels on California canals could solve two crises

A new analysis finds that covering water canals in California with solar panels could save a lot of water and money while generating renewable energy. Doing so would generate between 20% and 50% higher return on investment than would be achieved by building those panels on the ground. The paper, published Thursday in Nature Sustainability, performs what its authors call a techno-economic analysis, calculating the impacts and weighing the costs and benefits of potentially covering the thousands of miles of California’s open irrigation system.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

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Aquafornia news High Country News

The Biden administration’s critical role in Indian Country

Tribal leaders see President Joe Biden’s administration as an opportunity to increase tribal consultation regarding issues like water management, oil and gas leasing, and land conservation. Here, we look at four major projects … that the new administration is tasked with advancing…. Negotiations among federal, tribal and state governments on water flows and allocations in the Colorado River Basin began last year and are set to conclude by 2026…. After years of political, social and regulatory barriers, the undamming of the Klamath River is within sight…. 

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Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Projects throughout the Western United States receive $42.4 million in grants from Reclamation to conserve and use water more efficiently

The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $42.4 million in grants to 55 projects throughout 13 states. These projects will improve the water reliability for these communities by using water more efficiently and power efficiency improvements that water supply reliability and generate more hydropower…. In California, near the Arizona border, the Bard Water District will receive $1.1 million to complete a canal lining and piping project. The project is expected to result in annual water savings of 701 acre-feet, which will remain in the Colorado River system for other uses.  

Aquafornia news SFist

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

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

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news California Trout

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

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

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Aurora and Colorado Springs want more water. The proposed solution — a new reservoir — would have far-reaching impacts

While most people in Colorado live on the Front Range, most of the state’s water is on the West Slope. That’s where the snowpack melts and makes its way into the Colorado River. Much of that water flows to places like Denver through a series of dams, reservoirs, pumps and pipes. Aurora and Colorado Springs want to bring more of that water to their growing cities, which are the state’s largest after Denver. To do that, they want to dam up Whitney Creek in Eagle County south of Minturn and create a reservoir that could supply water for thousands of new homes.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Coyote Valley: $16 million deals preserve San Jose open space

In the latest effort to protect Coyote Valley, a Palo Alto environmental group has closed three deals totaling $16.5 million to purchase 331 acres in the scenic expanse of rural land on San Jose’s southern edges … The three properties purchased in the most recent deals, left undeveloped, also will be used to provide natural flood protection for downtown San Jose. The idea is that when Coyote Creek is flooding, as it did in 2017, causing $100 million in damage, its waters can be deliberately spread over the open area to seep into the groundwater table instead of all rushing downtown into neighborhoods.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

News release: Drought may lead to elevated levels of naturally occurring arsenic in private domestic wells

An estimated 4.1 million people in the lower 48 states are potentially exposed to arsenic levels that exceed EPA’s drinking water standards A new U.S. Geological Survey study highlights the importance of homeowners testing their well water to ensure it is safe for consumption, particularly in drought-prone areas. … The states with the largest populations facing elevated arsenic levels in private domestic well water during the simulated drought conditions are Ohio (approximately 374,000 people), Michigan (320,000 people), Indiana (267,000 people), Texas (200,000 people) and California (196,000 people).

Aquafornia news EurekAlert!

New research: Losing rivers

The interplay between surface water and groundwater is often overlooked by those who use this vital resource due to the difficulty of studying it. Assistant professors Scott Jasechko and Debra Perrone, of UC Santa Barbara, and their colleagues leveraged their enormous database of groundwater measurements to investigate the interaction between these related resources. Their results, published in Nature, indicate that many more rivers across the United States may be leaking water into the ground than previously realized.