Topic: Drought

Overview

Drought

Lake Oroville, a key reservoir in California's State Water Project,  shows the effects of drought in 2014.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 Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: San Jose Water Company – New drought rules limit lawn watering to two days a week

Brown lawns and dirty cars will soon be the norm in the South Bay. San Jose’s largest retail water provider on Wednesday announced new rules aimed at increasing water conservation as the state’s drought grows more serious — chief among them a limit on watering lawns and landscaping to no more than two days a week, and a ban on washing cars at home.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Valley’s westside farmers are angling for a water lifeline. Federal water officials could cut it off

As farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley struggle to irrigate crops and weather an ever-worsening historic drought, a bit of relief could be on the horizon courtesy of farmers in the north Valley. But it could be all for naught if Federal water managers don’t sign-off. What’s at stake? A proposed transfer of 100,000 acre-feet of water from the Southern San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) and Oakdale Irrigation District to farmers utilizing water from the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

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Aquafornia news High Plains Public Radio

Another dry year on the Colorado River could force states, feds back to negotiating table

Colorado River water managers could be pulled back to the negotiating table as soon as next year to keep its biggest reservoirs from declining further. The 2019 Drought Contingency Plan was meant to give the U.S. and Mexican states that depend on the river a roadmap to manage water shortages. That plan requires the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead, to drop to unprecedented levels before conservation among all the lower basin states — Arizona, Nevada and California — becomes mandatory. California isn’t required to conserve water in the reservoir until it drops to an elevation of 1,045 feet above sea level.

Aquafornia news Eos

New research: Better subseasonal-to-seasonal forecasts for water management

The considerable variability of precipitation within given water years [in California] and from year to year poses a major challenge to providing skillful long-range precipitation forecasts. This challenge, coupled with precipitation extremes at both ends of the spectrum—extremes that are projected to increase across the state through the 21st century as a result of climate change—greatly complicates smart management of water resources, upon which tens of millions of residents rely.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Western drought linked to parasitic fish kill on Klamath River

An ongoing fish kill has been plaguing the Klamath River since early May. The Klamath flows through Oregon and northern California, and like many water sources in the West, has seen water levels drop considerably due to extreme drought. A lower river means a slower and warmer river, which is what some parasites need to thrive. The parasite C.Shasta is expected to kill off nearly all of this year’s juvenile Chinook salmon in the Klamath.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

California drought is causing some tap water to taste like dirt

A muddy flavor in your tap water lately may not be the product of your imagination.  An algae bloom is causing water sourced from the Sacramento and American rivers to impart a “musty” taste to tap water. The bacterial bloom generates something called geosmin, which is harmless for consumption but is easily detectable due to its earthy smell and taste. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Opinion: Can California start taking droughts seriously, please?

Drought may be the sneakiest of natural disasters. Although human history teems with people engulfed by abrupt aridity — the Akkadians of four millenniums ago, the Maya in the ninth and 10th centuries A.D., the Great Plains farmers of the 1930s — even today drought is a poorly appreciated phenomenon. … The American West is once again facing drought, one of the worst on record. Across a vast region encompassing nine states and home to nearly 60 million people, the earth is being wrung dry. 
-Written by Farhad Manjoo, NY Times opinion columnist.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Lawsuit: Point Reyes negligent in tule elk die-off

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday is alleging the Point Reyes National Seashore was negligent in its wildlife management and violated federal law after more than 150 tule elk died in a park preserve last year. … Environmental groups and activists allege the Tomales Point elk died because of a lack of drinking water. Park staff said there were adequate water sources within the enclosure when the population decline occurred.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Don’t expect the speed of 1977 in latest plan for water across Richmond Bridge

Marin Municipal Water District will soon study the idea of returning the long-gone water pipeline to the upper deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. It’s a smart move if the district can locate another agency to sell them additional water. They also should understand times have changed in the past 55 years. Installing a new, hopefully permanent, pipeline won’t be the snap it was in 1977.
-Written by Dick Spotswood. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Where did Sierra snow go this spring? Not into California rivers and water supplies

California’s severe drought was made worse this year by a shocking surprise. Every year, much of the drinking water that flows through the taps of millions of Californians begins in the Sierra Nevada. Snow and rain fall on the vast mountain range during the winter months, and the water moves downhill into streams, rivers and reservoirs in the spring and summer. But this year, in a trend that startled water managers, much of that runoff simply vanished. … [T]he ground was so dry that the water soaked in before making it down the mountain.  

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

California water shortages: Why some places are running out

In Los Angeles, people have been hearing about the dangers of drought for decades. But in this land of infinity pools and backyard putting greens — better suited for rattlesnakes and scrub — water never seems to run out. Yet little Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, which gets a bountiful 38 inches of rain in an average year and sits near the headwaters of the Russian River, has been devastated by this year’s drought. Each resident has been told to use no more than 55 gallons per day — enough to fill a bathtub and flush a toilet six times. … When it comes to the impact of drought, location is key.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Racial tension builds in Klamath Tribes water, drought crisis

For decades, an agonizing war over [water] has divided indigenous people and the descendants of settlers of [the Klamath basin], which like much of the American West, is now plagued by drought. Family farmers often describe the conflict as one that pits them against federal bureaucrats who protect the suckerfish, imperiled as the lake grows more inhospitable. That portrayal, say members of the tribes, dismisses a tougher truth … about race, equity and generational trauma to a people whose history includes slaughter, forced removal of children, federal termination of their tribal status and loss of land …

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face water rights curtailments

The California priority water rights system is being put to the test, as state regulators impose emergency regulations and send notices of water unavailability to farmers who are trying to negotiate their crops through another drought year. Reacting to worsening dry conditions, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations last week to curtail water diversions in the Russian River watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

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Aquafornia news ABC15 Arizona

Groups come together to fund Arizona water conservation program impacting Colorado River

As the federal government prepares to declare a first-ever water shortage at Lake Mead, Arizona state leaders, Native American tribes, and philanthropic and corporate foundations are stepping up to help conserve water. This week, these entities committed to funding an $8 million gap to complete a landmark water conservation project with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the state of Arizona.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Sacramento drinking water tastes ‘earthy’ because of California drought

Something is off about Sacramento’s water. It smells and tastes a little “earthy,” residents are saying — an effect of compounding climate change crises: extreme heat, little to no precipitation and a historic drought that has gripped the region for the better part of a decade. Up and down the state of California, rivers, streams and reservoirs are drying up. In Sacramento, that has led to an increase in the concentration of geosmin in its drinking water, one of two organic compounds that give soil its characteristic smell.

Aquafornia news County of Sonoma

News release: Recreational water users urged to be cautious about toxic algal mats in local Rivers

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and Sonoma County Department of Environmental Health Services advise caution for anyone who boats, fishes or swims after harmful algal blooms (HABs) were discovered in multiple Sonoma County rivers. Because children and dogs are most susceptible to serious health impacts, it is recommended that they avoid touching any suspicious-looking algal material found in the water or along river banks.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: CA must abandon hydro power and embrace offshore wind energy

High temperatures are returning again this week — with the hottest months still ahead — and that means the demand on electricity will keep spiking. The answer to our problems is not in rivers or lakes but in the ocean. Last month, the Biden administration announced plans to build roughly 380 wind turbines in federal waters off the California coast. Eventually, the turbines will generate 4,600 megawatts — enough to power 1.6 million homes.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Sierra Pacific closes public access to forests due to drought, fire danger

Due to the extreme drought conditions and risk of wildfire, Sierra Pacific Industries is closing its California forest lands to public access. This closure began Monday, June 21, and will remain in effect until further notice. … The public’s use of SPI roads and walk-in access to their privately-owned lands will not be allowed. SPI will regularly evaluate the situation; however, it is anticipated the closure will remain in effect into fall.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought: Emergency project being built to protect California water supplies

In a new symbol of California’s worsening drought, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a $10 million emergency project to build a massive rock barrier through part of the Delta in Contra Costa County to preserve water supplies for millions of people across the state. The 800-foot long barrier — the size of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid laid on its side — is essentially a rock wall, 120 feet wide, built in water 35 feet deep. Its purpose: To block salt water from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay from flowing too far east and contaminating the huge state and federal pumps near Tracy …

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Next heat wave coming soon, centering on Northern California

The Bay Area enjoyed a significant cooldown on the first day of summer as the first major heat wave of the year subsided Sunday — but forecasters are predicting another record-breaking hot spell by next weekend. Last week’s heat wave saw a strong area of high pressure build from the Southwest desert, strengthening as it baked the central and southern regions of California … Experts said the heat is likely to intensify California’s already dire drought conditions and bring potential wildfire danger.

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Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

New bill would make it easier to transfer water throughout California

Growers are dealing with severe cutbacks in the surface water deliveries they normally receive from reservoirs. The lack of steady irrigation has already impacted spring cropping decisions made by farmers. … A bill introduced by Republican Congressman David Valadao would allow more water to be moved south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while keeping protections in place for fish such as the delta smelt and salmon.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

News release: Forty-two percent of public water supply wells in California’s San Joaquin Valley vulnerable, finds new report

Forty two percent of shallow wells supplying water to community water systems in California’s San Joaquin Valley are vulnerable to going partially or fully dry under the state’s minimum thresholds, finds a new report from the Pacific Institute. Most impacted wells are shallower, and tend to be in disadvantaged communities.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

This giant ‘inland ocean’ is Southern California’s last defense against drought

Mechanical engineer Brent Yamasaki set out amid the recent blistering heat wave to take stock of the giant dams, pumps and pipes that support Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County, the largest storehouse of water in Southern California…. water availability in Southern California “is expected to remain relatively stable over the next few years,” says Deven Upadhyay, the MWD’s chief operating officer. “Diamond Valley Lake is a key part of that forecast….”

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Aquafornia news SFist

Nearly all of California’s giant sequoias are in ‘exceptional drought’ areas

As California’s drought worsens, over 93% of all known giant sequoia trees currently exist in areas experiencing “exceptional drought” conditions — the most severe drought classification established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). … [H]uman activity and climate change threaten their continued existence. And now with drought conditions worsening across the West Coast, virtually every single one of the massive trees is now rooted in an area under exceptional drought conditions, leaving them prone to damage from wildfires.

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Aquafornia news The Coast News Group

San Elijo’s water reclamation facility named ‘Plant of the Year’

The San Elijo Joint Powers Authority’s water reclamation facility near San Elijo Lagoon on Manchester Avenue in Encinitas was named “Plant of the Year” by the California Water Environment Association, the agency announced today. The award recognizes accomplishments in compliance, innovative practices, cost-effectiveness and superior plant performance amongst wastewater agencies across California.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: California’s opportunity to shape worldwide biodiversity policy

California, like the rest of the world, must wrestle with a hard truth: Our climate has changed. As we face another water-shortage crisis, we must acknowledge a sobering reality: We’re not in a drought. This is our new normal. And we need to adapt. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t solve our drought, or the myriad other environmental crises, without protecting our ecosystems. And we can’t protect our ecosystems without acknowledging that this work is globally connected.
-Written by Assembly Member Laura Friedman, D-Glendale; LA-based environmental and social policy advisor Rosalind Helfand; and Mike Young, political and organizing director of the California League of Conservation Voters.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Why filmmaker Emmett Brennan walked 200 miles to spotlight L.A.’s water crisis

A few years ago, filmmaker Emmett Brennan discovered that the once-lush Owens Valley that sources water for Los Angeles is now mostly a stark desert, and he had to do something. The result is a meditative new feature-length documentary called “Reflection: A Walk with Water” that traces a 200-mile trek by foot along the entire length of the L.A. aqueduct to raise awareness about the way we use and misuse water. The film, with original music by Jacob Collier and Justin Kauflin, is streaming through June 23 as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Monday Top of the Scroll: Irrigation districts agree to send water from New Melones south to drought-stricken farmers

As much as 100,000 acre-feet of water — enough to meet the annual demand of more than 40,000 Tuolumne County residents for at least five years — that’s currently stored in New Melones Reservoir could soon be sent south to aid drought-stricken farmers under an agreement between the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

If Lake Powell’s water levels keep falling, a multi-state reservoir release may be needed

Lake Powell’s water level is the lowest it’s been in decades, and the latest 24-month projections from the Arizona and Utah reservoir show that it’s likely to drop even further — below a critical threshold of 3,525 feet by next year. A 20-year megadrought and a hotter climate has contributed to shrinking water supplies in the Colorado River. If Lake Powell’s levels continue to dwindle, it could set off litigation between the seven states and the 40 million people that all rely on the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

California Water: In Russian River’s fabled vineyards, the harvest of a drought

Rich with promise and potential, the grapes that create the Russian River Valley’s famed wines are ripening in the intense midday heat. But soon they’ll face the fight of their lives, deprived of water as the state diverts scarce supplies from agriculture to the region’s thirsty cities and subdivisions. … [Last] week, in a contentious step, the State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved an emergency regulation to halt agricultural diversions for up to 2,400 of the region’s water rights holders. Citing state law, the regulation prioritizes “health and safety,” saying agricultural use is “an unreasonable use of water and is prohibited.”

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water wells going dry in Madera County

On Sunday evening, a well motor failed in a Madera Ranchos community water system that serves around 1,000 homes. Last week, another well pump stopped working in Parksdale, southeast of Madera. Neither community has lost water service. Both are experiencing low pressure. Madera County Public Works runs both water systems. From Madera Acres to the Bonadelle Ranchos, private wells are running dry at an alarming rate. Self-Help Enterprises, an organization that supports communities with water challenges, has been tracking the problem.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

With fish on the brink of extinction, tribes say government must act

[T]he problem goes way beyond grazing. Dozens of tributaries and hundreds of springs feed Upper Klamath Lake, supplying plenty of good, clean water. A century of mismanagement has caused erosion of high phosphorus soils that accumulate in the bottom of Upper Klamath Lake. Now, annual algae blooms kill entire generations of young endangered fish every year. … All the problems in the Upper Klamath Lake flow downstream, affecting endangered salmon in the Klamath River as it runs to the Pacific Ocean. The Karuk, a Klamath River tribe, are worried that this could be another year marked by a historic fish kill. 

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Drought: Marin district details water pipeline, desalination plans

The Marin Municipal Water District has taken the first steps toward building an emergency water pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge for the first time in nearly 50 years to avoid potentially running out of water next summer. The district said Friday that it has hired a consulting firm, Woodard & Curran, to find potential water rights holders in the Central Valley willing to sell their allotments. This water could be pumped across the bridge via the pipeline and into Marin’s water system should the drought stretch into winter.

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Aquafornia news SF Gate

Lake Oroville’s depleted water levels may force power plant to shut down for the first time ever

Water lines on the banks of Lake Oroville in Butte County have depleted so rapidly that the reservoir’s hydroelectric power plant may have to shut down for the first time ever, straining an already encumbered power grid during the hottest part of the summer, California officials announced Thursday.  Since 1967, the Edward Hyatt Power Plant has been a crucial source of electricity for the area and usually has the capacity to power up to 800,000 homes, pumping water from the lake through its underground facilities, according to CNN.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Water Audit California sues St. Helena over water management

Water Audit California sued the City of St. Helena this week over its management of water. The watchdog group says the city is violating its “public trust” responsibilities relating to the Napa River and its aquatic habitat. It cites the city’s policies on groundwater pumping, well permitting, and water consumption by vineyards and wineries.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Water system maintenance causes concerns among some San Mateo County residents

Routine maintenance repairs on a portion of water system pipes along Cordilleras Creek left some San Mateo County residents concerned water was being wasted as the state enters a drought. … The Cordilleras Creek, one of two creeks running through Redwood City, also cuts through Redwood High School where [Redwood City resident Rudy] Tureillo works as a custodian. Typically the creek is “bone dry,” Tureillo said, but starting Wednesday, June 9, staff at the school noticed it was flowing strong.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Israel’s water conservative policies far exceed California’s

When Donald Trump referred to the COVID pandemic as a “plague,” he was implying that it was an act of God that couldn’t be blamed on the government. We are now told that the acute water shortage in California is the result of a “drought” that has, once again, lead to water restrictions. This biblical term obscures the responsibility that our local governments bear for this crisis. Countries facing far harsher climates and much scarcer water supply, like Israel, have adopted straightforward policies to avoid such crises. We should learn from their example.
-Written by Ron E. Hassner, the Helen Diller Family chair in Israel Studies and the co-director of the Helen Diller Institute for Israel Studies at U.C. Berkeley.

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Aquafornia news CNN

A California reservoir is expected to fall so low that a hydro-power plant will shut down for first time

Water in a key California reservoir will fall so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will be forced to shut down for the first time, officials said Thursday, straining the state’s already-taxed electric grid. An unrelenting drought and record heat, both worsened by the changing climate, have pushed the water supply at Northern California’s Lake Oroville to deplete rapidly. As a result of the “alarming levels,” officials will likely be forced to close the Edward Hyatt Power Plant for the first time since it opened in 1967…

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

As a hot, dry summer begins in California, more water wells are failing

In this blistering year in California, drinking water wells are going dry in increasing numbers, rekindling memories of the historic drought of 2012 to 2016, when more than 2,600 wells across the state stopped producing water. So many wells went dry in 2014 in the town of East Porterville that Tulare County supplied portable public showers. California is not yet to that level of emergency…. But because the trend lines do not look promising, government agencies and nonprofit groups are preparing for a difficult summer in which thousands of wells could fail.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

‘There’s no water,’ says California farm manager forced to leave fields fallow

Salvador Parra, the manager of Burford Ranch in California’s Central Valley agricultural breadbasket, is worried about the lack of water. California’s worst drought since 1977 has forced Parra to leave fallow 2,000 of his 6,000 acres and dig deep for water to save the crops already planted.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

California drought: Morgan Hill imposes mandatory water restrictions

Unlike most Bay Area cities, Morgan Hill gets 100 percent of its water from underground wells. And that’s a big reason why the city became the first in Santa Clara County to issue mandatory water use restrictions. … The mayor said he enjoys his green grass as much as the next person, but said mandatory watering cutbacks to just two days a week and only in the early morning or late evening hours mean it won’t look lush for long.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

When is it too hot to grow food in California?

Kou Her’s family has run the 12-acre Herr Family Farms in Sanger, just east of Fresno, for the last 20 years, raising a variety of vegetables for Bay Area produce and farmer’s markets. In those 20 years, Kou and his parents haven’t seen anything like the heat wave gripping the Central Valley this week. “I am terrified,” Her said by phone Wednesday evening. “I’ve never experienced three days of 110 before. I hope we don’t have significant damage by the end of the weekend.”

Aquafornia news Vox

2021 wildfire forecasts for the western US: heat, drought, uncertainty

Summer has not officially started yet, but wildfire season has already arrived in the US. Now an intense heat wave coupled with extreme drought is threatening to make things worse. Large wildfires have already burned 981,000 acres this year to date, more than the 766,000 acres burned by the same time last year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. In Arizona, more than 208,000 acres have burned, sending smoke into Colorado.

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Aquafornia news ABC News

Las Vegas weighs tying growth to conservation amid drought

Record-breaking heat and historic drought in the U.S. West are doing little to discourage cities from planning to welcome millions of new residents in the decades ahead. From Phoenix to Boise, officials are preparing for a future both with more people and less water, seeking to balance growth and conservation. Development is constrained by the fact that 46% of the 11-state Western region is federal land, managed by agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that are tasked with maintaining it for future generations.

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Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Klamath Trinity spring chinook salmon added to California endangered species list

The California Fish and Game Commission ruled unanimously to add Upper Klamath Trinity Spring Chinook to the California Endangered Species List.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought hurts power supplies as heatwave engulfs the West

California’s shaky power grid is on a collision course with an epic drought that’s depleting a major source of supply: hydroelectricity. The Western heatwave that began Wednesday has the manager of the state’s grid, the California Independent System Operator, warning of potential power shortages through the weekend. Although the organization stopped short of predicting another round of rolling blackouts, it appealed to Californians to conserve energy to get the state through a tough week.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Climate change batters the West before summer even begins

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, … At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water….And it’s not even summer yet.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: State restrictions reflect urgent need to conserve water

The state’s decision this week to cut off Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta access to thousands of farmers and water agencies highlights the need for serious and immediate conservation throughout the Bay Area and California. It’s been obvious for months that the state faces its most serious water shortage since the historic 2012-16 drought. Bay Area water agencies should be imposing mandatory water restrictions on users now.

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Aquafornia news Outside Online

The drought in the West is bad and it’s gonna get worse

In the same area of the mountains where the snow was 80 percent, river flows dripped out at 30 percent of their average. … [T]here’s not much water when there’s this level of aridity. Paddling, for me, is a benchmark, a tangible way to understand what all those drought maps and numbers mean. And these days, the bottom-scraping springtime runs feel like a creepy indicator of how bad things will be downriver, where those waterways are used to grow food, maintain ecosystems, fight wildfires, and provide drinking water.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem. A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. 

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Aquafornia news Sun Gazette

Tooleville water tainted with unregulated contaminant

 Instead of turning on the faucet to fill her pots to cook dinner, Maria Olivera turns to her drums of state issued water sitting next to the stove at her home in Tooleville. … Tooleville spans all of two dusty dirt roads at the edge of the Friant-Kern Canal, where the blue hue of flowing water is just out of sight over raised levees. Along with it, the basic human right of having clean drinking water. Nitrates from farming fertilizers have rendered the water undrinkable in Tooleville, and the community is dependent on biweekly water deliveries.

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Aquafornia news KCRW

Salton Sea: Why a nearby shrinking lake could be an answer to climate change

The first glimpse of the water driving down Highway 86 is breathtaking. From some angles, you can’t even see the other side of California’s biggest lake. It seems out of place in the vast desert expanse of the Imperial Valley, just north of the Mexican border, where it’s over 100 degrees for much of the year. But then the car door opens, and it hits: the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs.  At the shoreline is a sign saying not to touch the toxic water.

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Aquafornia news Sen. Bill Dodd

News Release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee on Wednesday. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California tells Central Valley farmers to brace for water shortages

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley. State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Lower Russian River flows to be halved under state order to preserve stored supplies

The Sonoma County water agency received permission Monday to immediately cut stream flows in the lower Russian River by more than half in an effort to conserve water stored in Lake Sonoma. Instream flows in the upper river, above Dry Creek, which is fed by releases from Lake Sonoma, already are being maintained at a very low threshold to keep as much water as possible in Lake Mendocino, the smaller of the two reservoirs.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California’s riparian woodlands at risk of decline

Riparian forests, those tree-filled regions running next to rivers and streams, host a breadth of important wildlife — but water management practices focused on meeting the needs of growing communities and agriculture may be putting their future in jeopardy. These woodlands serve to protect water quality and stream integrity, host wildlife and control flooding along water ways, but the ecosystems they support are in danger of failing in the coming decades.

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Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Can the US survive California’s drought?

The drought facing the Western United States is bad. Really bad. It’s become worse faster than the last one. As more of the United States suffers from drought conditions and water supplies are diminishing, water demands are rising. Smaller water supplies combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and other effects of climate change pose an enormous threat by creating a feedback loop that exacerbates drought conditions and increases wildfire risk across the United States. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

Blog: Can we save the San Joaquin’s salmon?

The intensive engineering of the river exacted a huge toll on its native ecosystems. No species suffered more than the Chinook salmon, whose epic migration from the Pacific Ocean to its spawning grounds in the High Sierra was cut short by numerous choke points, not the least of which was Friant’s impenetrable barrier of concrete. … Rife with compromises, [a 1988] settlement mandated that a mere half of the San Joaquin’s original flow be restored. The river’s many dams would remain, but alternative passages would be built and new spawning areas added in the lower river.

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Aquafornia news CBS8.com

How San Diego County reservoirs levels look amid California drought

Reservoirs throughout the west are showing signs of the drought that really turned severe over the winter. There may be records set by the end of this summer as some reservoirs are down near half capacity already. But is it all bad news? News 8’s Steve Fiorina went in search of answers regarding the status of our San Diego County lakes and reservoirs. Many reservoirs across California are lower than preferred as we deal with the ongoing drought. In San Diego, so far there are no worries.

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Aquafornia news LA Daily News

Editorial: Water rationing is not the solution for our drought

Not long after former Gov. Jerry Brown announced the end of a grueling six-year drought in 2017, the Legislature passed two controversial water-efficiency laws designed to promote even more conservation – even though residents have done a remarkable job reducing their water usage. Those new laws required utilities to reduce daily water usage by an average of 55 gallons per person by 2023. 

Aquafornia news Water Online

New toolkit arrives just in time for HAB season

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

Aquafornia news WhoWhatWhy

Wall Street is thirsting for your water

While water in the West becomes scarcer and droughts more frequent and more severe — thanks in part to changing weather patterns and rising temperatures triggered by carbon emissions — Wall Street views water as an “asset class,” a commodity like stocks, bonds, and real-estate that can generate enormous returns for shareholders, even in severe droughts. Or maybe, especially in water shortages. Institutional investors like One Rock are snapping up water rights just like others are snapping up rental properties to lease back to Americans at a profit…

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun News

Editorial: Grounded leadership needed in region brimming with water tensions

As the Southwest prepares for what’s forecast to be another mercilessly hot and dry summer, tensions over water scarcity are rising like the mercury. Farmers are facing bleak growing seasons and the possibility of farm failures in several areas due to cutbacks in water allocations for irrigation, creating friction between the ag community and cities on the dwindling water supply in the region. Rural communities in Nevada and elsewhere, already wary of incursions by urban areas into their water supplies, are on high alert as the water crisis deepens.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Public Press

Urban community farm adapts as exceptional drought hits home

At Crocker Amazon Park in the Excelsior, six acres of formerly underutilized land owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has been turned into an urban farm through the efforts of People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights, known as PODER. The urban community agriculture project, dubbed Hummingbird Farm, provides organic food as well as medicinal plants, and serves as a community and education hub in particular for young people.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Heat wave bringing triple-digit temperatures to L.A. area

A heat wave blanketing Southern California is driving blistering temperatures from the beaches to the mountains, triggering excessive-heat warnings and sparking fears that the hot, dry conditions are ripe for wildfires. With temperatures expected to reach triple digits in some areas, the National Weather Service issued an excessive-heat warning from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 9 p.m. Friday in the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties, not including the Santa Monica range.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

California is walking a ‘tight rope’ as hydropower supply fades

The catastrophic drought that’s gripping the U.S. West is claiming a new victim: the hydropower dams that much of the region depends on for electricity supplies. Low water levels in key reservoirs mean that hydropower supplies are declining. One of the hardest hit areas is California, where output has tumbled to the lowest in more than five years.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Dangerous heatwave grips US south-west as temperatures hit 120F in some areas

Dangerously hot temperatures across the US south-west will continue to climb this week, reaching higher than 120F (49C) in some areas, exacerbating the region’s already-dire drought conditions and increasing the risk of new fire ignitions. Extreme heat will be felt across much of Utah, along with southern and central California, Nevada and Arizona. More than 48 million people across the west are now under heat advisory watches or warnings …

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Drought in Tulare County never ends

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being. … Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought: Quake risk forces Silicon Valley to cut water use

California is known for its history of natural disasters, and in the Silicon Valley, two potential calamities — drought and earthquake risk — are converging to dry up water supplies in the hub of the state’s tech economy. In a meeting on Wednesday, board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District voted unanimously to declare a water shortage emergency — in part because a key county reservoir had to been drained to reduce earthquake risks highlighted by federal regulators. 

Aquafornia news Stanford News

Blog: Finding the ’sweet spots’ for managed aquifer recharge

Much of California’s $50 billion agricultural industry depends on groundwater. We typically see only what this water makes possible above the soil: almond and pistachio groves, citrus orchards, rows of lettuce and grapevines and cattle herds in a valley that supplies a quarter of the nation’s food even when surface water is scarce. But a lot is happening below the surface. Deep underground, intricate channels of sand and gravel weave through tightly packed clays and silts, allowing Earth to hold water like a sponge.

Aquafornia news NBC News

‘Dying of thirst’: The Cucapá in Mexico fight against climate change and oblivion

Lucía Laguna carries her fate tattooed on her face — from the corner of her mouth to her chin, black lines surf across her coppery skin — the tribal art honoring her people will also serve an important function later on. … But under the merciless sun, Laguna, 51, worries about the fate of the river and its impact on the Cucapá, her Indigenous people. A searing drought is exacerbating the deadly heat in a region that long ago saw its river flow diminished, after almost a century of U.S. engineering projects, as well as a focus on water for agriculture.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Joshua Tree closes trail for bighorn sheep during drought

It’s so dry at Joshua Tree National Park in southern California that a trail has been shut down to make sure bighorn sheep have access to water. Thirsty bighorn sheep need surface water to survive. As the drought becomes more extreme in Joshua Tree, herds have relied more on a spring near 49 Palms Trail. … To help make sure the bighorn sheep have the access to water they need, park officials are shutting down the 49 Palms Trail to all tourists.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California drought sparks perpetual fight about water

California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation. Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. … When California experiences one of its periodic droughts and reservoirs shrink from scant rain and snowfall, its perpetual conflict becomes even sharper.
-Written by Dan Walters, a CalMatters columnist

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Aquafornia news KSL TV

Cataract Canyon without Lake Powell: A monumental legacy of dried mud

Lake Powell has drastically shriveled during 20 years of drought, allowing dozens of miles of the Colorado River to become a river again in world-famous Cataract Canyon. But why have many of its legendary rapids failed to return? Three men from Moab have made it their crusade to study that issue and to document a stunning after-effect of Lake Powell: a river struggling to cut its way through a monumental legacy of dried mud.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Shocking water news in Arizona, Tucson should lead to more action

The problem, as always, is that water keeps flowing from the tap. Every other indicator is telling us we should be in red alert right now about Arizona’s climate and water situation. But when we turn the valve, even on these blazing days, drinkable water flows. It’s a luxury in this season and this place. And it makes it easy to turn away from the news. But we shouldn’t. 
-Written by Tim Steller.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: California heat wave heightens drought and fire fears

With a worsening drought gripping the West and wildfire season looming, California is bracing for the most severe heat wave of the year — one that promises to tax the state’s power supplies while also offering a grim preview of challenging months to come. The heat wave will bring triple-digit temperatures to the valleys and inland regions of Southern California as well as many parts of the rest of the state, heightening fire risks. It comes as parts of Northern and Central California are turning to water restrictions as the drought rapidly alters the landscape.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Healdsburg adopts mandatory 40% water conservation level

Residents of Healdsburg are under new orders to reduce their water use by 40% compared to a year ago — a challenging new threshold that doubles a mandatory 20% conservation level established in May that the city so far has been unable to meet.  In fact, May 2021 water consumption was 3% higher than in May 2020, though more recent usage figures demonstrate a rolling seven-day average reduction of 15%, according to a city staff report.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Clock is ticking on dreams of saving Salton Sea with water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

Coachella Valley-based architect Nikola Lakic knows how to fix the withering Salton Sea. Or, at least he says he does.  Lakic believes it’s possible to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez — or, perhaps, from the Pacific Ocean off the California coast — through a multi-billion-dollar system of pipes. He would construct mangrove habitat for natural water filtration, send desalinated water to geothermal plants and, amid all this, restore California’s largest lake. … Lakic is the author of one of 11 formal proposals for a “sea-to-sea” solution that the state of California is currently evaluating.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Some Arizona golf courses oppose a state plan for cutting water use

Managers of some Arizona golf courses are fighting a plan that would cut water use at a time when the state is being forced to confront shrinking water supplies. A group representing golf courses has been pushing back against a proposal by state officials that would reduce overall water use on courses, instead offering a plan that would entail less conservation. Opposition to the state’s proposal for golf courses has emerged over the past several months, aired in sometimes-tense virtual meetings …

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Lake Powell pipeline targets water promised to Utes in scheme the tribe sees as another racially based injustice

The water [that Utah] plans to tap for the Lake Powell pipeline was previously promised to the Ute Indian Tribe, which is now suing to get back its water and asserting that the misappropriation is one of a decades-long string of racially motivated schemes to deprive it of its rights and property.

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Aquafornia news NBC News

The West is the driest it’s been in 1,200 years – raising questions about a livable future

Water is increasingly scarce in the Western U.S. — where 72 percent of the region is in “severe” drought, 26 percent is in exceptional drought, and populations are booming. Insufficient monsoon rains last summer and low snowpacks over the winter left states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada without the typical amount of water they need, and forecasts for the rainy summer season don’t show promise. … The past two decades have been the driest or the second driest in the last 1,200 years in the West, posing existential questions about how to secure a livable future in the region.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Park Service installs water troughs at Point Reyes to help tule elk survive drought

Creeks and springs at Point Reyes National Seashore haven’t completely dried up but they’re looking parched enough that park staff set up three large troughs last week to ensure tule elk herds get enough water to make it through what could be an unprecedented drought. The 250-gallon troughs at the south end of the Tomales Point Tule Elk Reserve will stay in place at least until rains return next winter, National Park Service officials said.

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Aquafornia news Calaveras Enterprise

Local JPA working to enlist private capital for forest restoration

While fuel reduction can play an important role in limiting the severity of wildfire, lack of funding often hinders forest management efforts. The Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority (UMRWA), a joint powers authority comprised of Alpine, Amador and Calaveras counties and six water districts, recently initiated a novel funding approach to improve forest resilience to wildfire and safeguard communities and water resources.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Biologists, irrigators empty Tule Lake to improve habitat, fight disease

Once spanning 100,000 acres at the foot of the Medicine Lake Volcano, it’s unlikely that Tule Lake has been as low as it is now for millions of years. What used to be a massive network of open water and fringe wetlands is now essentially a giant mud puddle, spelling trouble for migratory birds that have used it as a rest stop for thousands of years. The solution, at least for now? Dry it up.

Aquafornia news NewsChannel 3-12 - Santa Barbara

Central Coast farmers concerned over ‘extreme drought’ conditions happening throughout region

Farmers are concerned for their crops as dry conditions has worsen throughout the Central Coast. Earlier this year, it started off a major storm. Ever since, farmers have not seen much rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, the ‘extreme drought’ conditions has expanded throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: How dire is the drought? One of California’s biggest reservoirs could hit its lowest level ever

Normally at this time of year, workers at Lake Oroville’s two marinas are preparing for a deluge of visitors eager to spend the summer lazing on houseboats, zipping across the water on speed boats or cruising the sprawling lake’s rocky nooks and coves in search of salmon. But this spring, after two years of scant rainfall, they’ve pulled about 130 houseboats out of the shallower reaches of the marinas and are closing boat launch ramps as the lake recedes, likely to record-low levels by the fall…Three of the lake’s five boat launch ramps have already closed, a fourth may close Monday and the last is expected to be shut down in weeks…

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Aquafornia news Insider

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

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

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Lake Mead declines to new low as Colorado River crisis deepens

Lake Mead has declined to its lowest level since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam, marking a new milestone for the water-starved Colorado River in a downward spiral that shows no sign of letting up. The reservoir near Las Vegas holds water for cities, farms and tribal lands in Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. Years of unrelenting drought and temperatures pushed higher by climate change are shrinking the flow into the lake, contributing to the large mismatch between the demands for water and the Colorado’s diminishing supply.

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Aquafornia news SF Gate

Mandatory water rules hit Bay Area county: See the cutbacks in your area

One of the largest water districts in the San Francisco Bay Area announced mandatory restrictions Wednesday and declared a water shortage emergency, signaling the seriousness of drought conditions across the region and state after two consecutive dry winters.  The Board of Directors for Santa Clara Valley Water District, which serves 2 million customers, unanimously approved a resolution requiring customers to reduce water use by 15% compared with 2019 levels. The board is also urging Santa Clara County to proclaim a local emergency.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin officials: Bridge water pipeline could be permanent

Officials are raising the prospect of a permanent water pipeline over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as a potential drought-fighting strategy for Marin County. … [Ben] Horenstein, the general manager of the Marin Municipal Water District, was among the participants of a teleconference on drought and wildfires organized by Assemblyman Marc Levine on Wednesday. … For Marin, Horenstein said, the focus now is on promoting as much conservation as possible through mandatory water use restrictions and rebates for water-efficient appliances and landscaping.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Water prices going up for 1.4 million in the East Bay

Higher bills will soon be on the way for the roughly 1.4 million people who get their water from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, but at least for now they won’t be required to cut their water use despite the drought. Beginning July 1, the agency will charge customers 4% more for both water and sewer services. And a year later, on July 1, 2022, the rate will climb another 4%. The district’s board of directors unanimously approved the rate increases at its meeting Tuesday as part of the $2.25 billion budget it adopted for the next two fiscal years.

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Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District

News release: Metropolitan helps advance stormwater capture and recycling projects

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is helping advance two local supply projects that will further diversify and strengthen the region’s water reliability, under two agreements approved Tuesday by the district’s board of directors. The board approved an agreement with the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Santa Margarita Water District to provide funding for a recycled water project. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Equity through adaptation

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

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors create standalone water agency

During the budget hearings on June 8, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a proposal for a standalone water agency to combat water insecurity in Mendocino County. This water agency will immediately focus on the local drought emergency and work on other water-related projects, such as water curtailment and groundwater management, in the future.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drought – Mandatory water restrictions approved for 2 million residents of Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County on Wednesday became the most populous county in California to impose mandatory water restrictions, saying that the worsening drought poses a significant threat to the local groundwater supplies that provide nearly half the drinking water for 2 million residents. On a 7-0 vote, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board declared a water shortage emergency and set a target of reducing water use 33% countywide from 2013 levels, a year the state uses as baseline. 

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Aquafornia news Reuters

Hoover Dam reservoir hits record low, in sign of extreme western U.S. drought

The reservoir created by Hoover Dam, an engineering marvel that symbolized the American ascendance of the 20th Century, has sunk to its lowest level ever, underscoring the gravity of the extreme drought across the U.S. West. Lake Mead, formed in the 1930s from the damming of the Colorado River at the Nevada-Arizona border about 30 miles (50 km) east of Las Vegas, is the largest reservoir in the United States. It is crucial to the water supply of 25 million people including in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Farm groups seek $49 billion for Western water, forests

Even as a federal infrastructure bill teeters on the brink of failure, more than 200 Western farm and water organizations pushing for canal and reservoir repairs are proposing nearly $49 billion for projects improving water conveyance, dam safety and forest health. In a letter June 9 to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, organizations ranging from Western Growers to the Idaho Potato Commission cited an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State agencies call on water managers to promote water conservation

With California experiencing its second consecutive dry year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) called on local and regional water suppliers to increase their conservation efforts, develop a contingency plan in the event of water supply problems, and urge Californians to save water amid ongoing dry conditions.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

PG&E says California wildfire season now far ahead of schedule

California’s drought is accelerating the start of the 2021 wildfire season — and intensifying the pressure on PG&E Corp. to prevent more mega-fires of the sort that drove the state’s largest utility into bankruptcy. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives said Wednesday they’ve begun gearing up for wildfire season weeks earlier than usual, including putting helicopters in the air to practice for PG&E’s “public safety power shutoffs.”

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Seeking a balanced plan – Sacramento River operations for 2021

With the harshest dry year in recent memory, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (Settlement Contractors) are working closely with federal and state agencies, as well as our conservation partners, to continually improve our operations and serve water for multiple benefits, including water for cities and rural communities, farms, birds, fish, and recreation.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: New resource page keeps you up-to-date with drought gripping West

For anyone trying to keep up with the unfolding drought in California and the West, the Water Education Foundation has created a special resource page that offers links to real-time reservoir data and water supply forecasts, an ongoing newsfeed to help you stay up to date on the latest news and tips so you can help conserve the region’s most precious natural resource.

Aquafornia news Fox 40

UC Davis works to help wine industry overcome drought conditions

Susan Tipton likes to talk about her award-winning wines produced at Acquiesce Winery in Acampo just outside Lodi, but these days she keeps a close watch on the current drought conditions as well.  Tipton took a big hit last year when winter rains didn’t materialize. … Coming into 2021, the vines were watered early with well water, and groundcover crops are used to retain water. But the water table in the area is dropping, adding to Tipton’s concern.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

NorCal conservationists float emergency water plan to save salmon

After years of drought, salmon in Northern California are facing extinction. Conservation groups in the region have drafted a water management plan that, if adopted, would send less water to Central Valley farmers and keep more cold water for fish. Last week, fishery advocates in Northern California submitted their temperature management plan to the State Water Resources Control Board. They want to change water operations in the Shasta, Trinity, Sacramento and Lower Klamath Rivers so the region’s salmon runs have enough cold water to survive.

Aquafornia news Senator Dianne Feinstein

News release: Feinstein secures Biden Administration commitment to request more drought funds

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner David Palumbo on the need to request additional funding to address the severe drought in the Western United States. Senator Feinstein has been pressing the bureau for months to request the ability to use funds for drought mitigation that Congress had initially set aside for other less urgently needed programs.

Aquafornia news South Tahoe Now

Whose water is it? Lake Tahoe water levels dropping quickly as demand increases

Those watching the level of Lake Tahoe know it is dropping quickly, and it’s not just because of a lack of snowfall this year and another year of drought. Understanding why the lake drops, and who causes it to drop (yes, there is a person – the watermaster), is key to knowing why the lake should be at its natural rim of 6,223 feet above sea level by the beginning of August. As of June 8 the lake is two feet above that rim. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: State water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board.   This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time. The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy. Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers.  Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow.  
-Written by Belinda Faustina, a strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news KTVU

Santa Clara Valley Water District poised to demand water cutbacks, declare drought emergency

Santa Clara Valley Water District board members plan to make it official; their water supply is at dangerously low levels and they’re recommending mandatory water restrictions.  The South Bay’s largest water provider in the South Bay, with more than 2 million customers, is expected to officially declare a drought emergency on Wednesday, calling on cities and private companies to cut water by 15 percent from 2019 levels.

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All Things Drought
Resources, tips and the latest information on the 2021 drought gripping the West

Lake Oroville shows the effects of drought in 2021.This page is a resource for all things drought – where you can find real-time reservoir levels, drought severity maps, special reports, a newsfeed of current developments and general background on droughts in California and the West, as well as answers to common drought questions and tips for how you can save water at home.

What is 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. During California’s 2012-2016 drought, much of the state experienced severe drought conditions: significantly less precipitation and snowpack, reduced streamflow and higher temperatures. Those same conditions reappeared early in 2021, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom in May to declare drought emergencies in watersheds across 41 counties in California.

Aquafornia news CNN

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead to reach lowest levels in decades as drought grips the region

A crippling drought in the western US is dropping the water level at Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam to a historically low level, putting pressure on the region’s drinking water supply and the dam’s electric capacity. By Thursday, Lake Mead’s water level is expected to sink to the lowest it’s been since it began filling during construction of the Hoover Dam, according to Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patricia Aaron.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Pulling out trees, trucking water for cows: California farmers take drastic measures in drought

Normally, the biggest vegetable grower in Sonoma County, Humberto Castañeda Produce, grows heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons and other crops on 180 acres outside of Santa Rosa. But this year, Humberto Castañeda and his son, Gabriel, are farming only 17 acres after receiving a fraction of their normal allotment of water from the city of Santa Rosa. … The Castañedas are among countless farmers across the state taking drastic measures to deal with the drought…

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Aquafornia news Stanford University-The Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: How ingenuity and desperate measures kept urban water flowing during the ‘77 drought

When a historic drought gripped California and the Bay Area, water managers came together to keep drinkable water in the homes of vulnerable areas in Marin and Contra Costa Counties. Two veterans of those efforts describe the dramatic process, and consider lessons it offers for today’s imminent drought.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Water: Amazing new map shows the path of every raindrop that hits the United States

Water is like electricity. Most people don’t think about it much until it’s gone. Now, as California and other Western states find themselves heading into a severe and worsening drought, a new interactive map is providing a breathtaking journey that shows where America’s water comes from and ends up. The project is called River Runner. It allows anyone to click on any place where a raindrop would fall in the United States, and then track its path through watersheds, into creeks, rivers, lakes and ultimately the ocean.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: How better data can help California avoid a drinking water crisis

[During the last drought], small rural communities reliant on shallow wells — many of them communities of color — were among the most affected. More than 2,600 households reported losing access to water because their wells went dry between 2012–16. (That number is likely an undercount as reporting was voluntary.) Much has changed however since the 2012–16 drought. Drought reporting systems such as MyDryWaterSupply are available today, and better data on domestic well depths and locations, as well as groundwater levels, aid our understanding of drought risk. 
-Written by Rich Pauloo, co-founder of the Water Data Lab; and Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Water.

Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

With new law, Las Vegas water agency bets on ‘aggressive municipal water conservation measure’ to remove decorative turf, conserve Colorado River supply

With Lake Mead approaching critically-low levels, the Southern Nevada Water Authority recently turned to the Legislature to double-down on its existing strategy for using less water: turf removal. … [Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager John] Entsminger, in a recent interview, said the prohibition would result in significant water savings. The removal of an estimated 3,900 acres of decorative turf could save roughly 9.3 billion gallons of water annually — about 10 percent of the state’s entire Colorado River allotment.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought – Mandatory water restrictions coming to Santa Clara County

In a major sign of California’s worsening drought, Santa Clara County’s largest water provider announced Monday that it is moving forward with plans to declare a water shortage emergency and to urge cities and water companies that serve 2 million residents in and around San Jose to impose mandatory water restrictions. The move will be the first time since the historic drought of 2012 to 2016 that Santa Clara County residents will face mandatory restrictions as the county becomes the most populous area in California to impose such severe measures.

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Aquafornia news KRQE News 13

As drought grips western U.S. cuts to water supply expected

A punishing drought is gripping much of the western U.S. Scientists are calling it a “mega-drought” brought on by climate change. It’s taking a dramatic toll on the Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people in seven states. For more than eight decades, the Hoover Dam has relied on water from Nevada’s Lake Mead to cover up its backside. But now at age 85 it finds itself uncomfortably exposed. Much of the water the dam is supposed to be holding back is gone.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Putting farmland out to pasture not an easy task

Not all farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will survive in a post-SGMA world. Estimates are that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will force between 500,000 to one million acres of land that’s currently farmed to be taken out of production to save groundwater. Which lands and what will become of those lands are major question marks at this point. If Gov. Newsom’s revised budget is approved as is, those questions could have an extra $500 million to help find answers.

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Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Battle over Southern California water czar is clash between old vision and new, observers say

The most important thing to understand: If you’re reading this, you live in a desert. And you can live in this desert because politicians, scientists and engineers have moved mountains, almost literally, to bring you life-giving water. The latest brawl in Water World plays out on this backdrop, and what comes out of your tap may well depend on the result. Will it come from recycled waste water? Desalination plants? A giant tunnel or two under the Delta? The answers will, in large part, depend on who’s chosen to lead the gargantuan Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people from Ventura County to the Mexican border. 

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Drought calls for desperate measures from Northern California farmers

California has seen its share of droughts, but the one happening now is so severe that a longtime dairy farmer has called it quits. … Bob McClure, a 60-year-old fourth-generation rancher of McClure Dairy, which was founded in 1889 and remains on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, … was already thinking about when he would wrap up operations at the dairy, but his decision to close at the end of May was “truly, truly driven by the threat of running out of water,” he said. 

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Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

New water management plan ponders steep cutbacks

When the Palo Alto City Council publicly backed the Bay-Delta Plan in 2018, it was swimming against the political tide. The plan, formally known as the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary plan, sets limits on how much water agencies can siphon from the three tributaries of the San Joaquin River. While it aims to protect salmon, steelhead and other river species, it has also attracted intense opposition and litigation from water districts that claim that the new restrictions will undermine the reliability of their water supply.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

From Shasta to Folsom, shriveled reservoirs show depths of California’s drought disaster

Instead of being flush with newly melted snow, Folsom Lake is the driest it’s been in springtime since the epic drought of 1977. Water levels are so low that temporary pumps probably will be installed to help move water out of the stricken reservoir. Water levels at Lake Oroville have plunged to the point that its giant hydropower plant could be idled for the first time ever this summer …  [C]onditions are so bad that major cities are drawing up conservation plans, farmers have scaled back plantings and environmentalists are angrily warning of massive fish kills.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Why upcoming storms may do more harm than good in West

Storms from the Pacific set to swing into the rain-starved West Coast this week may end up turning detrimental, AccuWeather forecasters say, by whipping up gusty winds and heightening the risk of lightning-induced wildfires. With over 87% of the Western states in moderate to exceptional drought, the news of Pacific storms poised to sweep onshore may sound good on the surface. However, the pattern will be a double-edged sword. Each storm is expected to arrive with “very limited moisture,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. 

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Amid mega-drought, rightwing militia stokes water rebellion in US west

Fears of a confrontation between law enforcement and rightwing militia supporters over the control of water in the drought-stricken American west have been sparked by protests at Klamath Falls in Oregon. Protesters affiliated with rightwing anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network are threatening to break a deadlock over water management in the area by unilaterally opening the headgates of a reservoir.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Las Vegas’s new strategy for tackling drought – banning ‘useless grass’

In Sin City, one thing that will soon become unforgivable is useless grass. A new Nevada law will outlaw about 40% of the grass in the Las Vegas area in an effort to conserve water amid a drought that is drying up the region’s primary water source: the Colorado River. Other cities and states around the US have enacted temporary bans on lawns that must be watered, but legislation signed Friday by the state’s governor, Steve Sisolak, makes Nevada the first in the nation to enact a permanent ban on certain categories of grass.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: 74% of California and 52% of the Western U.S. now in ‘exceptional’ drought

Drought conditions in California remain at record highs, with most of the state now classified in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, reflecting conditions across the Southwest, according to a new report from climate scientists. Much of the Bay Area and the northern Central Valley have been included in the most severe “exceptional drought” zone, along with much of southeast California, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

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Aquafornia news Business Insider

Water shortage in California could send food prices higher

A megadrought in California is threatening to push food prices even higher. The state is already facing its worst water shortage in four years and the its driest season has only just begun, according to data from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). As water levels continue to fall, farmers and ranchers will be unable to maintain key crops and feed livestock. As of Tuesday, nearly 75% of California was classified as in “extreme drought,” meaning the land does not have adequate water supplies to sustain agriculture and wildlife, according to the NIDIS. 

Aquafornia news Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Blog: GSAs shooting 50% on GSPs—DWR releases first GSP assessment results for high priority basins

The wait is over for some Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the first Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) assessments for four basins yesterday, June 3, 2021. DWR approved the 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Salinas Valley and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin. DWR determined both GSPs “satisf[y] the objectives of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and substantially compl[y] with the GSP Regulations.” 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Jobs and irrigation during drought in California

During droughts organizations and stakeholders look for ways of getting the most from every water drop. This is not an exception in California where roughly 40 percent of all water use (on average) is agricultural, 10 percent to cities and the rest is uncaptured or environmental uses (mostly on the North Coast). … Yet the notion that applied water in agriculture is often wasteful is common in media drought coverage.

Aquafornia news CBS News

“Mega-drought” takes dramatic toll on Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people 

Drought is taking a dramatic toll on the Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people in seven states – and may force the federal government to make a drastic and historic decision. For more than eight decades, the iconic Hoover Dam has relied on water from Nevada’s Lake Mead to cover up its backside. But now, at age 85, it finds itself uncomfortably exposed. Much of the water the dam is supposed to be holding back is gone.

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Aquafornia news Popular Science

Worsening droughts could increase arsenic in well water

Recent research from the US Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that droughts, particularly the prolonged kind happening in parts of the US, could increase the risk of harmful arsenic exposure for people that rely on well water. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the baseline quality of your drinking water may have been set in stone, literally. Arsenic is a common groundwater contaminant, largely because of local geology. In Maine, for instance, the formation of the Appalachian Mountains and volcanic activity came together to concentrate arsenic and other metals into cracks inside the bedrock…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s MWD wins best U.S. tap water at global tasting contest

In victories that make the state’s drought even crueler, two Southern California water districts have won the top prizes for best tap water in the U.S. at an international tasting contest. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California finished first and Santa Ana took second place for the nation’s Best Municipal Water on Saturday at the 31st annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia. Those two competitors finished first in the category in 2008 and 2018, respectively. Third place went to the Southwest Water Authority of Dickinson, in North Dakota.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Pinal farmers are facing water shortages. Shouldn’t they be growing less thirsty crops?

Why do Pinal County farmers keep growing alfalfa and cotton, two relatively water-intensive crops, particularly when their water supply is being so heavily cut?  It’s a common question. Most farmers know they need to grow more drought-adapted crops as their Colorado River water evaporates and growing seasons become even hotter and drier.  But farmers can’t plant lower water use crops that they can’t sell. Any crop they grow needs a market. And there are well-established markets for cotton and alfalfa – crops that produce higher yields in central Arizona than in most other places in the world.  
-Written by Joanna Allhands.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

He’s celebrated deserts all his life. Now he sounds the alarm

Annual rainfall totals illustrate how the naturally harsh desert environment is becoming even more stressed. [Jim] Cornett, who meticulously studies weather data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said less than 1 inch of rain has fallen at the Palm Springs airport since Nov. 1, well below averages of roughly 4.5 inches for the period over the last half-century, which were down from a 5.5-inch average before that.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 News

$10 million effort to assess San Diego’s aging dams

The City of San Diego plans to spend $10 million to carefully assess the structural needs of its aging dams, which are among the oldest in California. San Diego has nine dams that play an important role in the city’s water supply. By 2022, four will have stood for a century or more. Only three of the nine dams are rated in “satisfactory” condition by the state. The comprehensive assessment will span five years, giving city officials an itemized forecast of future repair needs and costs.

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Aquafornia news The Press

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

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

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

San Joaquin River flows halted to protect salmon

Flows into the San Joaquin River under a program to bring back native salmon will be stopped now through early September to try and protect fish already upstream. The flow reduction being instituted by the San Joaquin Restoration Program is in reaction to rapidly dwindling runoff coming out of the Sierra Nevada mountains this year.

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Scientists said the West was entering a megadrought. Now it’s twice as bad

Lake Powell is within just a few feet of its low level ever observed since it was first filled. Early season fires have already torched over 400,000 acres in Colorado and California’s reservoirs are 50 percent lower than they should be at this time of year before summer has even officially begun. A year after the skies over San Francisco glowed a hazy red as wildfires choked the Bay Area, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of real climate reckoning with drought in the western US at historic levels.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

In the Klamath River basin, the drought punishes everyone

This May, while collecting live fish for their annual aquatic pathogen assessment on the Klamath River in Northern California, Yurok Tribe biologists made a shocking discovery: over 70 percent of the young, ocean-bound Chinook salmon captured in their traps were dead. Almost all of the fish tested upstream were infected with Ceratonova shasta, a parasite that relies on both fish and annelid worms as hosts. Barry McCovey, senior fisheries biologist for the Yurok Tribe, expects most of the infected fish to die.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Drought losses mounting in Sonoma County agricultural sector

After farming squash, corn, melons, peppers and tomatoes by his father’s side since childhood, Gabriel Castañeda is stepping out largely on his own this year. With water in such short supply, his dad, Humberto, thought he might forgo raising summer fruits and vegetables this season and focus only on the 15 acres of wine grapes he grows near Fulton instead. But Gabe Castañeda, who had helped his father build Humberto Castañeda Produce into Sonoma County’s largest produce grower, wanted to see what he could do to keep the family’s 40-year farming tradition alive — even if on a very reduced scale.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County sued over care of Napa River

Water Audit California is suing to make Napa County increase oversight of groundwater pumping for vineyards, wineries, and other uses, claiming that the pumping affects the Napa River. The lawsuit said the county has a “public trust” duty to care for the river. The idea is that too much groundwater pumping from wells can keep groundwater from seeping into the river during dry months, to the detriment of fish and other aquatic life.

Aquafornia news Senator Bill Dodd

News release: Senate approves Sen. Dodd’s water project bill

Facing a statewide drought that is rapidly draining reservoirs and agricultural supplies, the bipartisan California Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to streamline improvements to the state’s outdated central water delivery system. … California’s 60-year-old water delivery system, known as the State Water Project, serves more than 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland through its 700 miles of aqueducts, canals and pipelines. It is the largest state-owned and operated water system in the world. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: Biden Administration releases FY 2022 budget proposal

The Biden Administration last week released its FY 2022 budget proposal. The $6 trillion dollar budget includes funding for several water resources priorities, including PFAS research and remediation, drought resilience, watershed protection, and infrastructure improvements. The Biden budget proposes an increase of 16.5% for discretionary, non-defense spending. Notably, the budget includes $27.9 billion for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), $17.4 billion for the Department of Interior (DOI), $6.8 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Adel Hagekhalil would be a good step forward for the MWD

Adel Hagekhalil is an inspired choice to be the next general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the agency that delivers the water ultimately used by half of the state’s population. He’s an engineer, a consensus builder and a champion of the movement to integrate management of different types of water — drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, environmental water — in order to reduce costs and use precious resources more efficiently. He may be exactly what the MWD needs at this point in its history…

Aquafornia news The Spectrum

How do Washington County residents feel about the Lake Powell Pipeline?

The WCWCD, along with the Utah Division of Water Resources, … started making plans [in the 1990s] to import Colorado River water from Lake Powell via a buried pipeline that would stretch 140 miles through rocky desert terrain, crossing some tribal lands and sensitive habitats. The project has inched its way forward over the decades since, finally advancing its federally-required Environmental Impact Statement through the public review process during the Trump administration, which identified the pipeline as one of its infrastructure priorities.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado to California Water Commission: Keep water funds meant for the Central Valley in the Central Valley

On Thursday, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) issued the following statement regarding a bi-partisan letter she sent that urges the California Water Commission to prioritize water storage projects in the Central Valley when assessing how to reallocate funds from Proposition 1: … California is currently in a state of emergency due to drought. As a result, the amount of water allocated to Central Valley farmers has been greatly reduced. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drought ravages California’s reservoirs ahead of hot summer

While droughts are common in California, this year’s is much hotter and drier than others, evaporating water more quickly from the reservoirs and the sparse Sierra Nevada snowpack that feeds them. The state’s more than 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be this time of year, according to Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California-Davis.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Amid dire Colorado River outlook, states plan to tap their Lake Mead savings accounts​

A complex and arcane water banking program in the lower Colorado River basin, adopted in 2007 and later amended, was designed to incentivize water conservation, prevent waste, and boost storage in a waning Lake Mead. The program has already proved its worth, lifting Lake Mead dozens of feet higher than it otherwise would have been…In the next two years, the program will be tested in another way, becoming a small but important source of water for Arizona and California even as the lake continues to fall to levels that haven’t been witnessed in several generations.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Irrigators say they plan to force open Klamath headgates and release water

Rising tensions in the Klamath Basin could come to a boil soon, as two Klamath Project farmers plan to breach the fenced headgates of the federal irrigation project’s main canal and try to release water, likely triggering a standoff with the federal government. Farmers Grant Knoll and Dan Nielsen bought property next to the headgates in April for $30,000 and have set up camp on the site. They are staffing a large canvas tent with volunteers from the local branch of People’s Rights, a national organization formed in 2020 by militant activist Ammon Bundy, and they’re trying to rally support.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s epic drought is parching reservoirs and worrying farmers

There is dry, and then there is desiccated. As any movie fan knows from the classic film Chinatown, California is an infamously thirsty place. But this year, even by its own standards, the state is shockingly, scarily parched. So far in 2021, the state has received half of its expected precipitation; that makes it the third driest year on record according to California’s Department of Water Resources.

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Aquafornia news NOAA

Blog: New strategy applies local knowledge and science to salmon and steelhead recovery in Northern California

Salmon and steelhead in Northern California have been in trouble for more than 100 years, primarily because of habitat damage and loss resulting from human activities. Climate change has only worsened these habitat problems. For the last 50 years, communities have worked to restore this habitat in hopes of reversing the fortunes of these fish. Scientists and local restoration communities are seeking new ways to maximize the benefits of habitat restoration so that rivers and streams can support healthy fish populations again.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California’s drought response will worsen harmful algae

Climate change has created new “seasons” that challenge communities across the nation. California now has a “fire season,” and sadly, we are embarking on harmful algal bloom (HAB) season again. NRDC has updated its national map of state-reported freshwater HABs, which tracks the HABs reported by states from 2008-2020 and shows that these toxic outbreaks are increasing across the country, making our rivers, lakes, and beaches unsafe for swimming, boating, and drinking. Between 2008 and 2020, over 44,000 HAB events were recorded across 38 states. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Search for groundwater gets high-tech boost

Groundwater is one of the hottest ticket items in California’s water world these days. But much about it is a mystery. Where is it? How does it move? Which are the best spots to percolate water into the ground for storage? At least two technologies hope to answer some of those questions: airborne electromagnetic surveys and interferometric synthetic aperture radar. That’s AEM and InSAR for short.

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Aquafornia news YubaNet

Blog: Significant fire potential above normal for June-August at and above 3,000 ft elevation

The Predictive Services 4-month outlook for the North Ops region calls for drier and warmer than average weather through September. There is some indication of a semi-regular low pressure trough positioned along the west coast much of the summer, which could lead to shorter stretches of intense dry heat. Fuels, both dead and live and of all size classes, are expected to dry to critical values earlier than usual at all elevations, leading to a start to the active fire season 4-6 weeks earlier than usual. 

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Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

News release: Faced with massive juvenile salmon infection and year after year of drought, Karuk Tribe declares a climate change state of emergency

In response to record low precipitation in the Klamath Basin, the Karuk Tribe has declared a state of emergency. This emergency declaration acknowledges the reality that climate change is upon us, and the dangers that it poses to rivers, forests, wildlife and communities. 

Aquafornia news San Clemente Times

Opinion: SCWD continues push for self-reliant water sources, desalination

How long could you last if water supply was cut off in the event of an emergency? Our region is nearly entirely reliant on water that is imported from hundreds of miles away. In the event of a catastrophe that would prevent water delivery from outside sources, experts recommend that there be at least 60 days’ worth of water supply. As of now, South Coast Water District could provide roughly 11 days’ worth.
-Written by Lillian Boyd.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: The numbers California’s drought manager wants you to see

With California’s rivers running low after two consecutive dry winters, state officials and local water agencies have pumped out a steady stream of drought declarations and calls for water conservation in recent weeks. It’s clear the Golden State is in a drought and it could escalate to a crisis, but, you may be wondering, just how bad is it?

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Farmers facing California drought impacts feel strain of low water supply

California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.

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Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Bay Area builds regional drought resilience

It feels like California’s 2011-2016 drought, our worst on record, had barely ended when the next one began. This is our second dry year in a row and, according to the state Department of Water Resources, the past winter tied for the third-driest on record. … [UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain] calls this our second major drought within a decade and, if you’re like me, you’re wondering if we’ve done anything since the last one to help keep water flowing from our taps. The answer is yes.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Folsom Lake shrinks to surprising lows over the weekend, water 68 feet lower than last year

The lack of Sierra snowmelt has significantly reduced the size of Folsom Lake. It’s 68 feet lower that it was last year, the equivalent of a five-story building. Only one of the lake’s 13 boat ramps was open over Memorial Day Weekend. … Besides the lack of snowfall, the ground has become so dry that, as the snowpack melts, it’s absorbed into the ground instead of going in the reservoir.

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Aquafornia news Lompoc Record

Despite drought, Santa Barbara County water supplies adequate for short term

Having received just 48% of normal rainfall for the water year, which began Sept. 1 and will end Aug. 31, Santa Barbara County may be experiencing a bit of déjà vu, having been placed in the “severe drought” category again by the U.S. Drought Monitor. But despite a winter that brought less than half the normal rainfall, the county’s water supply is generally in good shape, and able to provide enough for drinking, firefighting and irrigation in the short term, city and county officials said.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Mega-dairies, disappearing wells, and Arizona’s deepening water crisis

Cynthia Beltran moved to Sunizona with her seven-year-old son last autumn even though the area lacks functional drinking water wells, because it was all she could afford. She cannot afford the $15,000 cost of deepening her well, which dried up last year, and had been paying for a local firm to deliver water in a tanker. But at $100 a week it became too expensive, so now she will be relying on a friend to help her fetch water from her mother’s well. … Nearly 20 wells in Sunizona alone were deepened between 2015 and 2019, after they dried up. 

Aquafornia news Cronkite News

Drought in Arizona worst in 126 years

Arizona and other Western states just lived through the driest year in more than a century, with no drought relief in sight in the near future, experts told a House panel last week. The period from April 2020 to March 2021 was the driest in the last 126 years for Arizona and other Western states, witnesses said. It capped a two-decade stretch that was the driest in more than 100 years that records have been kept – and one of the driest in the past 1,200 years based on paleohydrology evidence, one official said.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Will drought fan the flames this fire season?

Will the current drought increase the chances of another bad fire season this year? We talked to Scott Stephens―a fire ecologist at UC Berkeley and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network―about the risks, and what can be done.

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Aquafornia news Undark

U.S. Southwest, already parched, sees ‘virtual water’ drain abroad

Driving into Southern California’s Palo Verde Valley from the Arizona border, fields of vibrant green appear out of the desert like a mirage. Near the town of Blythe, water from the Colorado River turns the dry earth into verdant farmland, much of it to grow a single crop — alfalfa, a type of plant used mainly to feed dairy cows. For decades, a significant portion of alfalfa grown here and elsewhere in the western United States — as much as 17 percent in 2017 — has been loaded onto trucks, driven hundreds of miles to ports on the west coast, and shipped around the world, mainly to China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. 

Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast/blog: Episode 22 – Nurturing Nature

The driest year California has experienced since the 1970s will have wide-ranging impacts in the West. In the Sacramento Valley, a reduced water supply will lead to about a 20 percent reduction in rice plantings. The loss of about 100,000 acres of rice fields has implications well beyond the farm level. The reduced plantings will impact rural communities that depend on agriculture as their foundation. It’s also a concern for wildlife, which greatly depend on rice fields for their habitat.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Amid historic drought, a new water war in the West

The brewing battle over the century-old Klamath Project is an early window into the water shortfalls that are likely to spread across the West as a widespread drought, associated with a warming climate, parches watersheds throughout the region. In Nevada, water levels have dropped so drastically in Lake Mead that officials are preparing for a serious shortage that could prompt major reductions in Colorado River water deliveries next year. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed 41 counties under a state of emergency.

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Aquafornia news Politico

Urban water districts consider mandatory conservation as drought deepens

Urban water agencies are planning to impose mandatory conservation orders after federal water managers slashed deliveries this week amid a rapidly deepening drought. The Bureau of Reclamation cut water deliveries from the Central Valley Project by about half. That has prompted the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which serves 2 million residents in the Silicon Valley region, to consider a potential conservation order at its board meeting next month.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Conservationists say time running out to save endangered salmon in Sacramento River

As the extreme drought causes various agencies to squabble over dwindling water supplies, conservationists say the state is still not doing enough to prevent an endangered run of salmon from dying in the Sacramento River. At issue is how the federal Bureau of Reclamation manages water flows from Shasta Lake into the Sacramento River, which is both the spawning grounds for chinook salmon and the main water source for Central Valley farms. If the bureau releases too much water to irrigation districts, the river level could drop low enough and warm enough to kill off 50% of the eggs … 

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Aquafornia news PBS

2021 could be one of the driest years in a millennium, and there’s no relief in sight

Nearly half of the country — from the Pacific coast to the Great Plains and upper Midwest — is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions. That’s expected to get worse throughout the summer. … UCLA climatologist Park Williams: “This drought is far from over. 2021 is shaping up to potentially be the driest of all of the drought years in the last century, and definitely one of the driest of the last millennium.”

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Aquafornia news Reuters

‘Big risk’: California farmers hit by drought change planting plans

Joe Del Bosque is leaving a third of his 2,000-acre farm near Firebaugh, California, unseeded this year due to extreme drought. Yet, he hopes to access enough water to produce a marketable melon crop. Farmers across California say they expect to receive little water from state and federal agencies that regulate the state’s reservoirs and canals, leading many to leave fields barren, plant more drought-tolerant crops or seek new income sources all-together. … Stuart Woolf, who operates 30,000 acres, most of it in Western Fresno County … may fallow 30% of his land.

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Aquafornia news NBC Los Angeles

Drought takes toll on Big Bear Lake

The drought is taking a major toll on local lakes, most notably Big Bear Lake, one of the most beautiful views in Southern California. After another dry winter, water officials say the lake could hit historically low levels by fall. Many of the people who live and work in the area are concerned because they say the lake is shrinking.

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Aquafornia news Senator Melissa Hurtado

News release: Hurtado releases statement after the State Water Resiliency Act passes Senate 34-1

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following statement after her bill, Senate Bill 559—The State Water Resiliency Act – passed the Senate 34-1 … The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will allocate $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct…

Aquafornia news Idaho Falls Post Register

Opinion: When will major push to desalinate water in American Southwest begin?

As reality plays out, I continue to read how the drought in the American West is causing levels in Lake’s Mead and Powell to plummet. I also continue to see no action or accountability to take bold action to resolve the issue as uncontrolled development continues in the greater Phoenix and Las Vegas areas. … There are 17 desalination plants operating in California and the one in Carlsbad — the Claude Bud Lewis Desalination Plant — is the largest in the U.S. 
-Written by R.B. Provencher, a former manager for the U.S. Department of Energy and retired in Idaho Falls.

Aquafornia news Zocalo

Opinion: California’s next water war is starting underground, in the Mojave Desert

Can California regions regulate groundwater without destroying their businesses and communities? That’s the question being posed as regions and localities implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law that brought regulation to California’s diminishing groundwater supplies.
–Written by columnist Joe Matthews

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Friday Top of the Scroll: As California’s drought worsens, the Biden Administration cuts water supplies and farmers struggle to compensate

The impacts of California’s deepening drought hit home for Central Valley farmers earlier this week, when federal officials announced they didn’t have enough water to supply many of their agricultural customers. Urban users south of San Francisco in Santa Clara County saw their normal water deliveries cut in half. California ships water to cities and farms through a combination of state and federal programs that oversee a complex network of hundreds of miles of dams, reservoirs and aqueducts throughout the state.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Epic drought tests Hoover Dam as water levels in Lake Mead plummet

Hoover Dam towers more than 700 feet above Black Canyon on the Arizona-Nevada state line, holding back the waters of the Colorado River. … Since 2000, the water level in the reservoir, which is the largest in the country, has dropped about 140 feet. Lake Mead is now just 37% full, headed for a first-ever official shortage and sinking toward its lowest levels since it was filled.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought spurs worry, opportunities for water solutions in California

[D]uring a panel discussion about water issues in the Golden State hosted by California state Senator Josh Becker… the discussion was surprisingly upbeat. “We can do this,” said Felicia Marcus, a fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program and former chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We just have to build more efficient communities and use technology to track every drop.”

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

‘Worse-case’ CAP shortages threaten the Tucson aquifer’s delicate balance

Back in 1977, President Jimmy Carter wanted to put the Central Arizona Project on a hit list of 17 water projects he found too expensive and environmentally destructive. … [N]ow, as CAP’s first water shortages draw near, a more subtle, long-term threat to the Tucson area’s water future is emerging because of climate change.

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Aquafornia news KMPH

Local push to raise levels in two storm water reservoirs

Two large reservoirs in our backyard are capable of holding 40,000 acre feet of water to recharge the underground table. But federal rules prevent them from reaching capacity and it will take an act of Congress to change the rules. Big Dry Creek Reservoir in Clovis and Fancher Creek Reservoir east of Clovis together can hold 40,000 acre feet of storm water. That’s water that can eventually stream into the underground water table. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

News release: Regional water authority urges urban water providers to take action to help the lower American River

In response to the dry conditions in California, the Regional Water Authority (RWA) Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution on May 13 urging their urban water providers to take actions, such as asking customers to voluntary conserve and sustainably shifting to groundwater, to help the environment of the Lower American River. The RWA represents twenty (20) water providers serving two million people in the Sacramento region.

Aquafornia news KCRW

Opinion: Joe Mathews on the fight over groundwater rights in the California desert

Can California regulate groundwater without destroying its own communities? That’s the question being posed as regions implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law regulating California’s diminishing groundwater supplies. Groundwater is buried in aquifers, underground spaces between rocks, soils, and sand. Layers of aquifers are called groundwater basins. California has hundreds of them. Eight-five percent of Californians depend on groundwater …

-Written by Joe Mathews, who writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. 

Aquafornia news KDRV

Siskiyou County water ordinances spark claims of racial profiling and discrimination

Following recent ordinances from Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors that prohibit the transfer of water along certain county roads without a permit, ripple effects have been seen throughout the community. The emergency ordinances were passed in an effort to crack down on illegal marijuana grow operations. … [The conflict] has fanned the flames of racism, saying they are seeing community members racially profile Asian Americans in the community because the Shasta Vista subdivision is known to have a large Asian American population.

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Commission punts NMWD well appeal

The appeal filed by Gordon Bennett of a proposed well outside of Point Reyes Station was rejected on Monday by planning commissioners, who said they did not have the expertise to evaluate it.  Mr. Bennett says he will now appeal the project to the Board of Supervisors, and will keep appealing until someone addresses his concerns about maintaining a minimum flow for endangered coho salmon in Lagunitas Creek. 

Aquafornia news Big Think

Interstate water system: a national pipeline for water

California’s water woes are severe and worsening. A second dry year in a row has diminished the state’s water supply, and almost three-quarters of the state is in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two highest categories. With the rainy season over and a hot, dry summer ahead, water shortages and brushfires are imminent. …

Aquafornia news Science Times

California town sinks 2 feet per year; here’s why Corcoran slowly turns into sinkhole

Over the past decade, the farming town of Corcoran, California, has been sinking two feet every year as agriculture firms pump underground water to irrigate crops. The 7.47 square-mile area in California’s San Joaquin Valley has 21,960 people and has sunk 11.5 feet in the last 14 years. According to the USGS California Water Science Center, the sinking is the product of agriculture industries pumping underground water to irrigate their crops for decades. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought worsens. What’s ahead for fish, farms, cities

In just a few weeks, California’s water conditions have gone from bad to terrible. Sacramento residents have been asked to cut water usage 10%. Their counterparts on the Russian River are being told to reduce their consumption 20%. Farmers across the Central Valley are letting fields lie fallow and dismantling their orchards. Government agencies are warning of massive fish kills on the Sacramento River. After a warm spring dried up practically the entire Sierra Nevada snowpack — and robbed California of enough water to fill most of Folsom Lake — state and federal officials have been forced to dramatically ramp up their drought response plans.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought prompts delivery cutback from federal government

California’s water supply got cut again Wednesday, with the federal government reducing allocations to cities and farms as the drought intensified. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that municipal water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project will have this year’s allocations slashed from 55% down to 25% — a level not seen since the drought of 2015. That could put additional pressure on the municipalities around greater Sacramento that depend on supplies from Folsom Lake, whose water levels have sunk dramatically this spring. The reservoir is at 46% of its usual capacity for late May.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Congress seeks long-term solutions for drought crippling Western US

A crippling drought — largely connected to climate change — is gripping the Western United States, affecting over 70 million people and around 40% of the U.S.  … Farmers, scientists, tribal officials, foresters and other groups affected by the worsening drought testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife hearing on Tuesday, asking lawmakers for both short-term relief and long-term solutions from the worsening conditions.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

‘Ammon Bundy coming.’ Water cutoffs ignite rebellion in CA

In the summer of 2001, local farmers and other activists armed with saws and blowtorches breached a chain-link fence and opened the headgates of a federal canal that supplies farmland in Oregon and far Northern California. Local farmer Grant Knoll was among the activists there that year. The protesters forced the gates open three times but were eventually blocked by U.S. marshals. Now, with a drought just as severe as two decades ago — and with farmers’ water again cut off — he’s prepared to fight again.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

As water flowed through the Kern River, court finds Bakersfield violated agreement

Who has the right to water in the Kern River? It has been the subject of fierce legal battles throughout Bakersfield’s history, and on Friday, the Ventura County Superior Court tried to answer a part of that question. In a court ruling, Judge Kevin DeNoce found the city of Bakersfield must supply the North Kern Water Storage District with 20,000 acre feet of water it owed the district in 2020 and pay the district $2.8 million to reimburse groundwater pumping costs the district incurred last year. It’s the latest court decision in a long-running dispute, and it threatens to limit the city’s ability to use water from the Kern River.