Topic: Drought

Overview

Drought

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

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

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

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: California must help kill sleazy Westlands water deal

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

Aquafornia news KUNC

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

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

The Arizona Department of Water Resources is working on revising a model based on outdated assumptions and incomplete data that have perpetuated the myth that Pinal County is facing a water shortage.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

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Public-funded Oroville Dam advertisement called ‘propaganda’

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

Aquafornia news The Revelator

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

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

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

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Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

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

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

Aquafornia news The Hill

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

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

Aquafornia news Grist.org

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

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

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

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

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

Aquafornia news KUNC

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

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

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

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

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

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: New paper with Anne Castle on risk of Colorado River curtailments in Colorado, Upper Basin

Here’s the nut: Water supply in the Colorado River could drop so far in the next decade that the ability of the Upper Colorado River Basin states – Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico – to meet their legal obligations to downstream users in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico would be in grave jeopardy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Trump Delta water policy threatens Stockton as well as salmon

The city’s fate is linked inextricably with the San Joaquin River… Much of the water upstream is diverted for agriculture, although a legal settlement ensures that the river no longer runs dry. Additional diversions at the downriver end … greatly reduce the amount of water that actually makes it through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the San Francisco Bay and then the Pacific. It is as if one of the state’s two great arteries … is detached from its heart.

Aquafornia news Bay Nature Magazine

How to start adapting to California’s “precipitation whiplash”

Much of California enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate where the weather typically swings like a pendulum from warm, dry summers to cool, wet winters. …  While the pendulum has always swung here, there’s evidence that its swings are now getting more dramatic, and anyone who’s lived here in the last few years has seen it firsthand.

Aquafornia news Outside Magazine

The West’s water shortage is fueled by human error

Five of the seven water-stressed western states along the Colorado River—Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming—don’t yet track how they use their limited water in any kind of systematic, accessible way, teeing up potential shortages as the region dries.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Opinion: The EPA says we need to reuse wastewater

On September 10, 2019, at the 34th Annual WateReuse Symposium in San Diego, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan for public comment—containing 46 proposed actions, to be accomplished by a mix of federal, state, private, local and private stakeholders, in order to promote 10 strategic objectives.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Big California water district backs away from Shasta Dam expansion

The nation’s largest water agency signed an agreement that legally bars it from participating in a controversial plan to raise Shasta Dam, a move applauded by environmental groups that fiercely opposed the proposal out of fears enlarging the state’s biggest reservoir would swamp a stretch of a protected Northern California river and flood sites sacred to a Native American tribe.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Rainfall: When’s it coming and when should we worry?

Normally between Oct. 1 and mid-November, if historical averages are any guide, the Bay Area has received nearly 2 inches of rain, and Los Angeles and Fresno each have received about an inch. But so far this year? None.

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Aquafornia news Bitterroot Magazine

Dust kicked up from the West’s drying lakes is a looming health hazard

Matt Dessert does not want to sue San Diego, nor does he want to start a legal battle with the state of California. But the growing threat to Imperial County’s air quality may leave Dessert, an officer with the county Air Pollution Control District, with little choice.

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Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Sonoma County drills wells to study groundwater sustainability

The shallow wells Sonoma County’s water agency is drilling near 11 waterways have nothing to do with delivering water to 600,000 residents of Sonoma and Marin counties. Instead, the 21 wells will serve as measuring sticks to determine whether pumping groundwater in the county’s three basins … is curbing the flow in creeks inhabited by federally protected fish and other species.

Aquafornia news Brookings Institution

Blog: As fire ravages California, our infrastructure is still not equipped to handle climate change

Here’s the scariest part: What’s happening in California is not an isolated problem. From saltwater-ravaged tunnels in New York to flooding in Houston to water loss along the Colorado River, it is clear that we did not design our infrastructure and communities to manage our new climate realities. While Congress and statehouses across the country debate how much to spend on traditional repairs and maintenance, we ignore a more fundamental question: What will it take to redesign our entire approach to infrastructure for an era of climate insecurity?

Aquafornia news Patch.com

JPA formed to govern East County water purification program

The creation of the JPA marks a key milestone in moving forward the project that will create a new, local, sustainable and drought-proof drinking water supply using state-of-the-art technology to purify East San Diego County’s recycled water.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Sudden oak death spreading fast, California’s coastal forests facing devastation

It is the forgotten killer when compared to our increasingly frequent climate calamities, but the virulent pathogen known as sudden oak death remains active and is spreading death so fast it could destroy California’s coastal forest ecosystem, UC Berkeley scientists reported Thursday. The deadly microbe has now established itself throughout the Bay Area and has spread along the coast from Monterey to Humboldt County…

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion: Pinpointing water content in mountain snow will help California water management

Based on DWR’s own documents, it appears that an aerial snow observator is the most important science- and data-focused program that needs to be expanded statewide, so that the integral aquifer recharge program can play its role in Governor Newsom’s Water Resiliency Portfolio.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Tijuana and Rosarito to ration water supply for the next two months

Starting Monday, authorities in Tijuana and Rosarito will ration water for the next two months because of a limited supply, according to the Baja California Public Service Commission. Roughly 140,000 households and business in the border cities will go without water service for up to 36 hours every four days.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Climate change and the future of California’s water

Dr. Geeta Persad is a senior climate scientist with the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. … In this presentation from the 2019 State of the Estuary conference, Dr. Persad discussed the ways in which climate change is going to fundamentally transform how, when, and where California gets its water and how those changes will have profound impacts for the state and for the San Francisco estuary in particular.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Opinion: Long-term reliability and resilience requires investment

El Dorado Irrigation District has been making preparations for these power shutoffs since 2018. After analyzing areas in our system that would need to be bolstered in the event of large-scale power outages — pump stations or other facilities without backup power — we asked the EID Board of Directors to approve $800,000 to purchase generators that could be utilized across our 220-square-mile service area.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Rosamond treatment plant gets upgrade

The revamped and expanded plant is expected to be operational in spring 2021 and will do so with a new name — The Rosamond CSD Water Reclamation Plant — to better describe its ultimate purpose. In addition to handling the community’s wastewater disposal, the plant will recharge the underlying groundwater basin, providing additional groundwater for the District to pump.

Aquafornia news Voices of Monterey Bay

Coastal Commission staff wants more study of desal impact

Cal Am Water’s experts may have seriously underestimated the potential impact the company’s proposed desalination plant would have on the existing water supply nearby, the staff of the California Coastal Commission concluded in a report released this week as a supplement to its exhaustive report on the overall project.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Green Building Council

Blog: Deploying on-site water reuse in California and nationwide

How do we mitigate the “yuck factor” that many people have about reclaimed water use, when it’s been proven safe and effective elsewhere? These concerns were discussed at GreenerBuilder 2019, USGBC’s conference in the Pacific region, hosted in San Francisco, where industry experts from across the state led a panel discussion on tactics to improve onsite water reuse.

Aquafornia news KCRA TV

Unprecedented effort to combat risk of catastrophic wildfire announced

One year after the devastating Camp Fire sparked, a diverse group of land, water and environmental managers who have not always seen eye to eye announced … a plan to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the North Yuba watershed. The announcement Thursday includes a Memorandum of Understanding … to thin and restore 275,000 acres of forest on a pace and scale that will prioritize community safety, forest health and resilience.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The disconnect between groundwater legal systems and groundwater hydrology

The Groundwater Resources Association’s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress featured David Sandino, Senior Staff Counsel at the Department of Water Resources, who spoke about the disconnect between legal groundwater systems and how the system actually works; and Maurice Hall, Associate Vice President of Ecosystems-Water at the Environmental Defense Fund, who spoke of how more holistic and inclusive groundwater management can increase the resilience of our water supply…

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Climate change is driving California’s wildfires. The Kincade Fire? Not so much

The Kincade Fire, the year’s largest, has burned more than 77,000 acres of Sonoma County’s chaparral. Sage, shrubs, coastal live oak and madrones spot the grassy woodlands. Sure, there are areas with forest canopies here, but they are not nearly as thick as in the Sierra. Now that it’s about 88% contained, fire scientists say that strong winds, not forest fuel, drove the Kincade’s growth.

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Aquafornia news California Weather Blog

Blog: Increasingly unusual dry autumn conditions persist; fire season continues until further notice

October 2019 ended up being a shut-out in the precipitation department in many regions–yielding the 10th driest October on record in over 100 years of record-keeping. More significantly, though: this extremely dry and relatively warm pattern has now persisted into November, and appears likely to continue for at least another 10 days.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water unveils details of its emergency plan

In response to concerns about power outages, wildfires and the water used to put them out, local water officials unveiled details of an emergency plan Tuesday, explaining how SCV Water is prepared for emergencies.

Aquafornia news Modern Farmer

New spray could help crops hold onto water during droughts

With drought becoming a more frequent and lasting longer, scientists have really been booking it to try to find potential solutions for crops. … A new possibility comes from researchers at the University of California, Riverside, in the form of a chemical that triggers plants to stop growing—and start storing water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

PUC struggles to regulate PG&E on California wildfire safety

Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken to making public statements almost daily about PG&E’s shortcomings. Yet some elected officials and other experts believe the state itself — specifically the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the company — should take some blame for the PG&E crisis. These critics say the commission hasn’t been aggressive enough about cracking down on PG&E’s safety flaws.

Aquafornia news East Bay Express

Trump administration plan allows Delta water managers to kill off winter-run Chinook salmon

Eight-hundred pages into the text of a lengthy new report, federal biologists have quietly granted government water managers permission to nearly exterminate an endangered run of Sacramento River salmon so they can send more water south from the river’s delta to farmers in the arid San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news ABC News Bakersfield

California health: Can desalinated water help Kern County’s water needs?

If California goes into another drought and Kern County needs an extra supply of water, Santa Barbara is open to partnering with communities like Kern County. “We’re able to do exchanges with people, so you could in theory have someone in the Central Valley be a partner in desal,” said Joshua Haggmark, water resource manager for Santa Barbara.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Study: Climate change and drought killing off Mojave Desert birds

Shrinking water resources due to climate change are driving major declines in Mojave Desert bird populations, according to a new study from researchers at University of California, Berkeley.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California urged to update water plans for increasingly wild weather

Casting climate change as a direct threat to California’s water security, a panel of experts on Tuesday said the state must plan for the “new normal” by modernizing water infrastructure before the next great disaster.

Aquafornia news KSBW TV

Editorial: Desal – No sale

Now is the time to focus on Pure Water Monterey and scrap the desal plans. If 10 years from now the recycled water project doesn’t do the trick, and there’s still a need for a desal plant, we can be optimistic that future advances in technology will make any desal option more environmentally-friendly and less expensive.

Aquafornia news IntraFish

Nordic Aquafarms given green light to pursue California land-based facility

The board of directors of land-based salmon producer Nordic Aquafarms approved the company’s proposed investment plans to pursue a land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farm in Humboldt County, California… Nordic Aquafarms will receive financial incentives from a California county government to move forward with its land-based facilities in Humboldt County.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Does a rain-free October signal a return to drought in California?

According to the Drought Monitor, almost one-fifth of California is either abnormally dry or in moderate drought, as of the end of October. … Three months ago, only 4.32% of California was abnormally dry…

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Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: With California’s water at stake, progress finally triumphs regress

Welcome to the Two States of California: one boasts one of the largest economies in the world while another is shamed with water rationing, third-world power outages, uncontrolled wildfires, an ever-expanding homeless population riddled with medieval diseases. This is the tale of the latter California and the continued alarmism about its water.

Aquafornia news Discover Magazine

Why desalinating water is hard — and why we might need to anyway

In places like San Diego and Dubai, where freshwater is scarce, humans turn to machines that pull the salt out of seawater, transforming it into clean drinking water. … Many researchers are working to improve the technology so it can reach more people — and address climate change without contributing to it.

Aquafornia news WaterOnline.com

California wildfires lead to water treatment struggles

The latest extreme blaze in California, known as the Kincaid Wildfire, has burned tens of thousands of acres, prompted the evacuation of thousands of residents, and consumed more than 100 structures. And naturally, as with any widespread catastrophe, there have been significant impacts on regional water treatment operations.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

California wildfire risk could drag into December

Wildfire risk will remain substantial in much of California through at least this month, the National Interagency Fire Center said Nov. 1 in its monthly National Significant Wildfire Potential Outlook. Risk will persist into December in some areas.

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Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Opinion: Despite wildfires and drought, California keeps building

The Gold Rush might have ended 140 years ago, but its ethos of extraction still dominates California. It’s not just the farmers adding tens of thousands of acres of orchards and vineyards in a state famous for drought. It’s the developers building new subdivisions across Northern and Southern California—houses marching out to the chaparral, hill and forest, straight into the path of wildfire.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Debate: Does watering Arizona’s suburbs promote affordable housing or urban sprawl?

To authors of a new, highly critical study, Arizona’s system of groundwater management encourages urban sprawl. But to an official and lobbyist for a homebuilders group, the system encourages construction of affordable housing.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

For years, a public water district blurred the line between business and government — with a developer’s brothel workers at the helm

Officials who oversee a water district exempt from state regulation work and live at a brothel owned by the public face of the world’s largest industrial park, raising questions about whether governmental powers such as eminent domain are being wielded by a private entity.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

LandWatch wants Seaside to commit swapped water to Campus Town project

LandWatch, the nonprofit environmental watchdog, has in effect said it will support the city of Seaside’s Campus Town if the project will obtain its 442 acre-foot water supply without increasing groundwater pumping. Campus Town … proposes building up to 1,485 housing units on 85 acres of former Army land next to CSU Monterey Bay …

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Trump stymies California climate efforts even as state burns

For the past three years, countries and companies around the world have looked to California as a counterweight to the Trump administration’s aggressive dismantling of efforts to combat climate change. But this past week, as wildfires burned across the state — fires that scientists say have been made worse by a changing climate — and as at least five large carmakers sided with President Trump’s plan to roll back California’s climate pollution standards, the state’s status as the vanguard of environmental policy seemed at the very least diminished.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

In Napa Valley, winemakers fight climate change on all fronts

Wine producers are grappling with a maelstrom caused by a warming planet: heat waves, droughts, cold snaps, wildfires and more.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Delta group critical of federal move to change water priorities

An environmental group, highly critical of a federal agency’s newly proposed recommendations to protect endangered species in the Delta, states that they would seriously harm those species and their habitat. The new recommendations, released Oct. 22 by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, are to be used as guidelines for operating the federal pumping plant in the Delta.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Gov. Bruce Babbitt: Rural counties should take charge of groundwater

Babbitt spoke at a conference of county supervisors from across Arizona Tuesday, calling for new legislation that would give county officials the authority to manage groundwater. He said while the 1980 law has had “a lot of success” in managing groundwater in urban areas from Phoenix to Tucson, its main flaw has been leaving groundwater pumping unregulated in rural parts of the state.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Bureau of Reclamation takes up review of Lake Powell Pipeline

The elimination of the major hydropower components of the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline means a new federal agency will review the project and determine if it is environmentally sound to move forward.

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Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water agencies stress need for disaster plan

In case of an emergency such as an earthquake or wildfire, one key element that could be disrupted, and for an extended period, is water. To that end, area water agencies and government officials gathered Wednesday in Lancaster as the Greater Antelope Valley Water Emergency Coalition to discuss preparations and resources available in case of water disruptions in an emergency.

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Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

New laws may result in water rate increases

In order to keep up with the state’s underground water recharge laws, sooner or later, local water rates will likely need to increase. That was the message local water management officials gave in a joint presentation at the Oct. 21 Selma City Council.

Aquafornia news Stanford School of Engineering

Q&A: How do we develop new sources of usable water?

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $100 million research grant to the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) to lead an Energy-Water Desalination Hub. Meagan Mauter explains how this very large and potentially transformative project will work, and Stanford’s role in the work.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Editorial: What would you do if there was no water?

It’s never too early to start educating youngsters on the importance of conserving water. Fifth-graders at Manzanita Elementary School got a first-hand look at the process of making water clean, during the Palmdale Water District’s “Imagine a Day Without Water” event.

Aquafornia news Fast Company

This sponge-like nanomaterial creates water from thin air

The sponge-like nanomaterial … is designed to be used in existing dehumidifiers, where it can help HVAC systems save energy at the same time that it offers a new source of water. … A large mall in Southern California may be one of the first to pilot the system.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Taking on tough challenges at the State Water Board

The State Water Board is central to addressing many of California’s major water challenges, including protecting water quality for drinking and for the environment, addressing drought and water conservation, and managing the allocation of surface water. We talked to Sean Maguire, a civil engineer who was appointed to the board by former governor Brown in December 2018, about priority issues.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Newsom must fight Trump’s Delta fish extinction plan

The Trump administration last week launched an attack on the health of San Francisco Bay and Delta and California’s salmon fishing industry with new rules allowing big increases in water diversions from this teetering, vulnerable ecosystem. … The new Trump administration rules replace prior ones that weren’t strong enough to protect salmon and other wildlife in the last drought. They only make the situation worse.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: Big if it works: New system aims to pull water right out of the sky

Called WEDEW (wood-to-energy deployed water), it is a collaboration between Skysource and ALL Power Labs and uses local biomass gasification… It converts the biomass into biochar, hot humid air and electricity. Water is condensed out of the hot humid air in a process that mimics the way clouds are formed (the hot humid air hits cold air and forms droplets of rain) and stored in a tank

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Klamath River Compact Commission boosts visibility

Prior to a commission meeting earlier this year, the Commission hadn’t met since 2010, according to Curtis Anderson, commission member representing the California side of the river. … “We’re seeing if we can be helpful by at least providing information and providing an opportunity for people to raise concerns concerning the Compact itself,” Anderson said.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Colorado River Basin story map highlights importance of managing water below the ground

EDF created an online story map … to provide a more holistic view of groundwater supplies and challenges in the seven-state Colorado River Basin (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming), drawing from recent research. Here are four key highlights from the story map that demonstrate the importance of groundwater and the challenges of groundwater management in the arid West:

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Perspectives on groundwater sustainability: Adam Livingston with Sequoia Riverlands Trust

Adam Livingston is the Director of Planning and Policy at the Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT). … Clean Water Action’s Communication’s Manager, Nina Foushee, interviewed Adam about the role of land trusts in sustainable groundwater management.

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Understanding Streamflow Is Vital to Water Management in California, But Gaps In Data Exist
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A new law aims to reactivate dormant stream gauges to aid in flood protection, water forecasting

Stream gauges gather important metrics such as  depth, flow (described as cubic feet per second) and temperature.  This gauge near downtown Sacramento measures water depth.California is chock full of rivers and creeks, yet the state’s network of stream gauges has significant gaps that limit real-time tracking of how much water is flowing downstream, information that is vital for flood protection, forecasting water supplies and knowing what the future might bring.

That network of stream gauges got a big boost Sept. 30 with the signing of SB 19. Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the law requires the state to develop a stream gauge deployment plan, focusing on reactivating existing gauges that have been offline for lack of funding and other reasons. Nearly half of California’s stream gauges are dormant.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Montecito thirsting for new water source

After years of negotiations, the Montecito Water District is closing in on a deal to buy 1,430 acre-feet of water from the City of Santa Barbara, every year for the next 50 years. … The city would produce the extra supply at its $72 million desalination plant, at a yearly cost to Montecito of $4.3 million.

Aquafornia news Salinas Californian

Central Coast plan to shift water to wealthier areas meets protest

Activists and local government officials across Monterey County have banded together to fight a proposed desalination plant that could double the cost of water for some residents and endanger an aquifer that serves low-income communities.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Less groundwater likely available

The East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Water Agency is racing the clock when it comes to meeting the state’s requirements by next year but the message is this: Those who use groundwater will have to prepare for the possibility of pumping 10 percent less than they have in the past, beginning as soon as next year.

Aquafornia news UCLA

News release: On water sustainability, L.A. County earns C+ from UCLA environmental report card

Dismal grades for polluted groundwater and water bodies like the Los Angeles River brought down the overall average grade in the 2019 Sustainable LA Grand Challenge Environmental Report Card for Los Angeles County on Water.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Rising drought risk spurs most cash into water funds in a decade

Investors are starting to pay more attention to water shortages and how to turn them into long-term investments. Water-related exchange-traded funds attracted more money in the nine months through September than in any full year since 2007, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Yurok vice chairman touts tribal forestry practices at Congressional hearing

Prescribed burns have to become a central component of forest management if humans want to effectively battle the climate crisis, the vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe told members of Congress on Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

The world can make more water from the sea, but at what cost?

Desalinated seawater is the lifeblood of Saudi Arabia, no more so than at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, an international research center that rose from the dry, empty desert a decade ago. … Desalination provides all of the university’s fresh water, nearly five million gallons a day. But that amount is just a tiny fraction of Saudi Arabia’s total production.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Francisco Estuary health report offers mixed review

The health of North America’s largest estuary, the San Francisco Estuary, is showing some signs of improvement, but much of the historic damage caused to the massive watershed has either not improved or worsened, according to a new report.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘It’s where we come from’: The River People in Mexico left without a river

It was on the Colorado River that González, now 82, taught her children, just like her parents and grandparents taught her, to fish with canoes and traps made from willow trees which flourished on the riverbanks. Now, the river stops at the US-Mexico border and the lakes are dry and native vegetation is confined to reforestation projects.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump team weakens Delta protections for California smelt, salmon

In a move that would boost water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and Southern California cities, federal fishery agencies are weakening decade-old endangered species protections for some of the state’s most imperiled native fish populations.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday Top of the Scroll: Imperial County seeks to declare Salton Sea emergency, wants disaster funds

Imperial County is seeking to declare a public health emergency at the Salton Sea … aiming to force Gov. Gavin Newsom and federal officials to free up emergency funds and take immediate action to tamp down dangerous dust.

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Aquafornia news ABC10.com

California’s Delta smelt are dying: How this affects the state’s water

The Delta smelt is such a small and translucent fish that it often disappears from view when it swims in the turbid waters of its home in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, it’s also been disappearing from the Delta entirely.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Second year of Santa Cruz to Soquel Creek water transfers to continue

In an update to the water district board of directors this week, officials from both agencies described how Soquel Creek will expand its distribution of city water to a greater part of its service area this winter.

Aquafornia news Axios

The water crisis U.S. cities don’t see coming

Aging water treatment systems, failing pipes and a slew of unregulated contaminants threaten to undermine water quality in U.S. cities of all sizes. … Still, with only a handful of exceptions, “water systems aren’t designed to focus on health, they’re focused on cost-containment,” says Seth Siegel, whose book “Troubled Water,” released this month, examines the precarious state of water infrastructure in the U.S.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

The lost river: Mexicans fight for mighty waterway taken by the U.S.

The Colorado River serves over 35 million Americans before reaching Mexico – but it is dammed at the border, leaving locals on the other side with a dry delta.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Change in California water will prevent catastrophe, build a more resilient valley

Change is hard. It’s human nature to resist it. So it’s not surprising that some Central Valley farmers and water managers are raising alarm bells about the most sweeping change to state water law in a century, saying in a recent Fresno Bee series that the consequences will be “excruciating” and “catastrophic.”

Aquafornia news EOS.org

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

New research tracking 1.8 million trees found that tall trees died at more than twice the rate of smaller ones toward the end of extreme and persistent drought.

Aquafornia news CNBC

Money from socially responsible investors flows into US water stocks

A growth in sustainable funds is lifting share prices for U.S. water utilities as investors seek to inject more money into socially responsible companies.

Aquafornia news National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

News release: Winter outlook: Warmer than average for many, wetter in the north

Warmer-than-average temperatures are forecast for much of the U.S. this winter according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. … Drier-than-average conditions are most likely for Louisiana, parts of Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma as well areas of northern and central California.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

State letter chides San Luis Obispo County for diminished role of agriculture in groundwater plan

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture called out San Luis Obispo County in a letter expressing concern about irrigated agriculture’s “limited” involvement in crafting groundwater plans over the Paso Robles basin.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water explores potential for managed aquifer recharge to aid California’s groundwater basins

To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Aquafornia news TriplePundit

Blog: World’s largest berry company bets big on water stewardship

Growing berries can be a water intensive proposition, with the added challenge that prime growing regions are often located in areas of high water stress: Eighty percent of Driscoll’s acreage globally can be found in California and Mexico, regions which coincide with significant water risks to businesses and the communities in which they operate.

Aquafornia news KESQ TV

Aerial view shows environmental disaster at the Salton Sea

Audubon California’s Salton Sea Program Director Frank Ruiz served as the guide for this trip. Ruiz says the Salton Sea is receding at an alarming rate, about 6-inches a year, exposing toxic lake bed which is evident from the air.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As developers built homes, Arizona groundwater levels fell. It can’t continue, report says

A set of water rules that has fueled rapid growth in Arizona’s suburbs is riddled with weaknesses, according to a new report by researchers at Arizona State University, who argue the system needs to be overhauled to protect homeowners from rising costs and to ensure sufficient water supplies for the future.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: California likely to see a dry winter, a federal report warns. But nothing’s certain

The coming winter is likely to be dry in California, and drought conditions may begin to emerge in the central part of the state, federal climate experts warned Thursday. But forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also said weather patterns are fickle this year, and there’s no clear sign that another prolonged drought like the one that squeezed California earlier this decade will settle in.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

California scientists hope to breed climate resilient trees

When California’s historic five-year drought finally relented a few years ago the tally of dead trees in the Sierra Nevada was higher than almost anyone expected: 129 million. … But some trees did survive the test of heat and drought. Now, scientists are racing to collect them, and other species around the globe, in the hope that these “climate survivors” have a natural advantage that will allow them to better cope with a warming world.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

State requirements face off with federal law in decision requiring more water from Lake Cachuma for steelhead

For more than 20 years, California pondered what to do about steelhead in the Santa Ynez River. On Sept. 17, the State Water Resources Control Board finally made a decision. It voted to pass an order that will increase water releases from Lake Cachuma.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Ventura approves $200 million wastewater recycling plan

The Ventura City Council approved a $200 million-plus plan Monday that will give the city more drinking water and greatly reduce the treated wastewater its sewer plant releases into the Santa Clara River estuary. The big-ticket item in the city’s plan is a new plant that will take wastewater that once went into the estuary and treat it to drinking water standards…

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: As groundwater law plows forward, small farmers seek more engagement

Dennis Hutson worries small farmers may not have the resources to adapt to the potentially strict water allocations and cutbacks that might be coming. Their livelihoods and identities may be at stake. “You grow things a certain way, and then all of a sudden you don’t have access to as much water as you would like in order to grow what you grow,” he says, “and now you’re kind of out of sorts.”

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin’s wet year offers little comfort for firefighters

The ample rainfall in Marin County this past water year has acted as a double-edged sword. While the storms that touched down in the winter and spring filled reservoirs and moistened vegetation, they also created more fire fuel that is now beginning to fully dry out during what firefighters are calling a critical period in the fire season.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Why we need to treat wildfire as a public health issue in California

Deadly fires across California over the past several years have shown how wildfire has become a serious public health and safety issue. Health effects from fires close to or in populated areas range from smoke exposure to drinking water contaminated by chemicals like benzene to limited options for the medically vulnerable. These kinds of threats are becoming major, statewide concerns.

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Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Metropolitan Southern California’s use of Colorado River water on track to be the lowest this year since the 1950s

The reasons are twofold. First, a big Sierra snowpack (the fifth largest since 1950) meant a larger allocation via the California State Water Project – a 75 percent allocation (which is really bigger than it sounds – it’s a big allocation). Second, Met’s become much more nimble in conserving water and juggling the various supplies within its service territory.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Lake Mendocino benefits from high-tech weather forecasting system

Lake Mendocino made it through a typically long, hot summer with an abundance of water and now, thanks to an ongoing experiment with high-tech weather forecasting, the reservoir can retain more water through the winter, benefiting people, fish and farmers along the Russian River.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

The monsoon was a total letdown for the Southwest

In Arizona, the mountainous city of Flagstaff normally gets 8.3 inches of rain in monsoon season but had 2.08 inches — the driest in more than 120 years of record keeping. The Grand Canyon airport, Teec Nos Pos on the Navajo Nation and Show Low also had record low rainfall.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Court ruling pauses Cal Am desal plant project

A Monterey County Superior Court judge has called a halt to work on the California American Water desalination plant project, at least temporarily, while a California Coastal Commission appeal challenging the project’s source wells is pending.

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Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Court dismisses lawsuit against Crystal Geyser, county

The court denied the petitioner’s challenge, which questioned the validity of the county’s Environmental Impact Report, according to the Statement of Decision. Crystal Geyser purchased the former Coca Cola water bottling facility on Ski Village Drive in 2013 with hopes of bottle sparkling spring water and eventually producing Juice Squeeze drinks there.

Aquafornia news EOS.org

Wildfires affect water resources long after the smoke clears

The number of wildfires burning across the western United States over the past 6 decades has been steadily increasing, and those fires are growing larger and more severe, especially in mountain areas where more than 65% of clean water resources for the West’s 75 million people originate. What happens when fires intersect water resources is the subject of two new papers in Hydrological Processes.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Long-term projections show insufficient groundwater in Pinal County, Arizona

Arizona’s top water official presented new long-term projections Friday showing that Pinal County doesn’t have enough groundwater to provide for the fast-growing area’s cities, farms and many planned subdivisions over the coming decades.

Aquafornia news MyValleyNews.com

Opinion: Imagine a day without water

While Southern Californians appreciate the work that’s needed to provide a consistent water supply, most people carry on with their busy lives as long as water comes out of the taps. Because water pipelines are out of sight, they are also mostly out of mind. But try to imagine for a moment a day when water didn’t just flow from the faucets.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Multi-million dollar plan proposed to change Kings County groundwater management

Kings County’s groundwater management will begin a 20-year transformation in 2020. Five local groundwater agencies presented more information behind the groundwater sustainability plan in a public outreach meeting Thursday night.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

San Diego Foundation awards $364,000 for local projects to address climate change

The San Diego Foundation has awarded $364,000 to six nonprofit programs that promise to strengthen regional resilience in the face of diminishing water supplies due to climate change.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Wastewater project could create drought-proof drinking water for 500,000 Southern California homes

In its effort to establish a new, drought-proof source of water that could serve a half-million Southern California homes, the Metropolitan Water District on Thursday, Oct. 10 unveiled a $17 million pilot plant that will bring wastewater to drinkable standards.

Aquafornia news Voices of Monterey Bay

Opinion: Cal Am looks to the future

While cities on the Monterey Peninsula have been working to address housing needs and the business community is actively looking to create more jobs, there is one component they all need to complete their plans – reliable, drought-proof access to water.

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Opinion: Getting ready for winter rains

Drainage in Southern California was built around getting storm water to the ocean quickly, but we now know that slowing down these flows and encouraging water to soak into the groundwater basin is preferable.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Dispute resolution processes: Thinking through SGMA implementation

Building the capacity to resolve disputes and work together is critical for a sustainable water future. However, recent analysis conducted by Water in the West … suggests that alternative dispute resolution processes are rarely used even when included in water management agreements.

Aquafornia news HowStuffWorks.com

How the Salton Sea became an eco wasteland

California’s largest inland lake, the Salton Sea, lies in the Imperial and Coachella valleys. The lake, which is more than 50 percent saltier than the Pacific Ocean, is becoming more salt than water because it’s essentially evaporating. The lake and the area that surrounds it — once hotspots for tourism and wildlife — have essentially become ghost towns.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

With no El Niño, how does California’s winter shape up?

Will we have a second straight year of big snows and periodically heavy rains? Or is California headed for the start of another drought?

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Groundwater governance Q&A with Anita Milman

An expert in water governance, Anita Milman’s research focuses on understanding the interplay of technical, institutional and social dimensions of water within governance processes. … Below, Milman discusses keys to successful groundwater governance, implications toward achieving water security and her research activities at Stanford. 

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

As cost of delivering water climbs, Tustin looks at raising household rates

For the first time in five years, Tustin is looking at passing along those increases to consumers through a rise in rates. Early next year, the City Council will vote on a multi-year, incremental rate hike. If council members approve the staff proposal, rates almost immediately will increase 6% per year for five years.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Hydro company proposes to dam Little Colorado River

Pumped Hydro Storage LLC is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study the sites east of Grand Canyon National Park over three years. None of it will move forward without permission from the Navajo Nation. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said he’s been briefed by tribal economic development officials about the proposals — but hasn’t talked with anyone from Pumped Hydro Storage.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

We’re back, baby! Fresno top ag county once again

A big part of the reason for Fresno County falling short of the No. 1 ranking those years was due to California’s five-year drought that began in late 2011— the worst in the state’s recorded history — causing major water shortages in the western end of Fresno County that forced farmers there to limit their farming or let fields go fallow.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Reimagining our water system: Sites Reservoir as 21st century infrastructure

Building on the Governor’s call to “position California to meet broad water needs through the 21st Century” there are unique opportunities in the Sacramento River Basin to more effectively integrate 21st Century infrastructure into our multi-benefit water management approaches to help achieve resiliency.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Chinook salmon flocking to revitalized San Joaquin River

A staggering number of Chinook salmon are returning to a California river that hasn’t sustained salmon for decades due to agricultural and urban demands, giving biologists hope that threatened fish are finally spawning in their native grounds without human help.

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Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Inside California’s Central Valley water crisis

California’s Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States… But a seven-year drought has threatened the viability of the valley’s farmland, and many rural communities have suffered greatly as a result. Joris Debeij’s short documentary When a Town Runs Dry offers a window into the front lines of the water crisis.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Opinion: Profit and Trump’s attack on Bay protections

Areas under Clean Water Act, or CWA, jurisdiction are not prohibited from being filled for development, but if developed, the act does require federal oversight, permitting and full mitigation for any loss of wetlands and wildlife habitat. Removing CWA protections would likely make the 1,400-acre salt pond site more profitable to develop, and thus more difficult to purchase for tidal marsh restoration.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Hotter fires are transforming California’s forests

Hotter-burning wildfires are transforming California’s forests, and not for the better. A new study from UC Davis finds high-intensity fires leave fewer trees and a less diverse population of plants behind. … Those intense fires transform forest into shrubland. And according to Richter, the more frequent and the larger the area burned at these high-severity sites, the larger the shrub fields left behind.

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Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Beware Trumpian claims that fish don’t need water (Part 1)

Over the past decade, state and federal agencies have continued to publish peer reviewed scientific research that largely strengthens our understanding of how the volume, timing, temperature, and quality of water – and the operations of existing dams and water diversion facilities, including the state and federal water projects – adversely affect salmon and other fish and wildlife.

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Aquafornia news NOVA

Scientists may now be able to predict forest die-off up to 19 months in advance

In July of 2015, California’s forests began to crumple. Parched from more than three years of severe drought, trees died in droves, transforming entire swaths of the Sierra Nevada from vibrant green to dull, lifeless red. … But as Mukesh Kumar and his colleagues would discover, California’s trees had sounded a subtle death knell long before they breathed their last.

Aquafornia news Golden Gate Xpress

Fish farmers work to restore the San Francisco Bay

The loss of oyster reefs in the bay has affected its entire ecosystem. Oysters are natural filter feeders, filtering out small sediments and contaminants in the water. The unclean water has made it difficult for underwater grass to grow, reducing habitats for fish. The California Shellfish Initiative … works to advance local restoration plans for the bay, partnering with the California Coastal Conservancy to rebuild its native oyster reefs and wetlands.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Los Angeles, a city known for its freeways, is about to plant a ton of trees

The ambitious tree-planting project falls under the purview of Rachel Malarich, the city’s forest officer—a job that was just created in August to “oversee the growth of Los Angeles’ urban forest” as part of Garcetti’s Green New Deal. … The project will grow what’s already the largest urban forest in the country, making what happens in Los Angeles an important model for other cities looking to go green.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California water czar seeks resource collaboration, not combat

For E. Joaquin Esquivel, California has made great strides in fighting climate change and transitioning to a cleaner energy sector. Now, he said, it’s water’s turn. “Water, I think, is ready for that moment,” said Esquivel, the chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board who took over from longtime chair Felicia Marcus in February.

Aquafornia news Business Insider

Orange County’s pure drinking water comes from filtered sewage

Whenever I visit my hometown of Orange County, California, I get to sip some of the purest drinking water in the US. The quality is sometimes hard to spot, since many drinking-water contaminants are odorless, tasteless, and invisible to the human eye. Even in cities where the water is contaminated with lead, residents have reported that their taps are crystal clear. But in Orange County, the water is actually as clean as it looks.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey project nears finish line with ceremony

The project is the first of its kind to tap agricultural run-off among a variety of wastewater sources for conversion into potable, drinking water that would represent about a third of the Monterey Peninsula’s new drinking water supply.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

San Francisco Bay study gives 20-year window into marine life, climate impacts

On a biological scale, 20 years is like the blink of an eye — if not faster. But for San Francisco marine biology researchers, 20 years is priceless in what it can tell about the changing nature of the bay’s wildlife, especially in the face of a changing climate.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Is California ignoring wildfire science as it adds more homes?

Scientists have increasingly found that loss of property and life from fire is overwhelmingly the result of precariously placed housing in and bordering wildland areas — residential developments that are, themselves, a major driver sparking conflagrations.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

This ancient fruit holds secrets for how to farm in climate change

Katie Fyhrie, a grower at Cloverleaf Farm in Davis, Calif., worries that the farm won’t be able to keep producing stone fruits—which depend on the timing and duration of winter chill—in the long-term. … With that in mind, Fyhrie and her team have started growing elderberries.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

UC Cooperative Extension survey results on cannabis cultivation

A UC Cooperative Extension survey of California registered and unregistered marijuana growers will help researchers, policymakers and the public better understand growing practices since cannabis sales, possession and cultivation first became legal for recreational use.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Volunteers celebrate 10 years of combating silt, pollution in Tijuana River Valley

Pulling weeds is not usually a great way to start a party. But filling a dumpster with invasive species was just the right activity to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Tijuana River Action Month on Saturday.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Protecting our groundwater, and our future

As a berry farmer in Coastal California my entire life, I have been a vocal supporter of groundwater regulation. … We are now seeing the profound risk of losing this critical resource, unless we collectively act soon to preserve groundwater resources for both the next decade and future generations.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Groundwater overdraft numbers ‘don’t add up,’ and that’s a big problem

Here in Kern County, state-mandated water budgets presented by several large ag water districts and groundwater sustainability agencies have painted a far rosier groundwater picture. So rosy, the numbers simply couldn’t be believed…

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

East Kaweah sets hearing for groundwater plan acceptance

Based on the most detailed data they have available, the East Kaweah has a supply of 125,000 acre feet per year of ground water available for use without threatening overdraft. However, Hagman notes that the East Kaweah has overdrafted their portion of the basin by 28,000 acre feet on average, per year.

Aquafornia news MyValleyNews.com

Riverside judge dismisses challenge to WMWD water rate structure; a victory for customers who use water efficiently

Western Municipal Water District, which provides water to Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and Rancho California Water District in southwest Riverside County, won a court challenge from two excessive water users to share their higher costs with those who efficiently conserve their water usage and save on their water bills.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Shrinking water supply puts Mojave Desert birds on the brink

Bird populations in the Mojave Desert have collapsed over the last century, and now scientists say they know why: The animals’ bodies can’t cope with the hotter and drier weather brought on by global warming.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Environmental bill’s veto sparked surprise

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of a major environmental protection bill angered and surprised environmentalists – and left some wondering what happens next.

Aquafornia news Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Blog: How groundwater management activities can affect water quantity and quality

The paper is intended to help groundwater managers avoid inadvertently contaminating water supplies as they change management practices to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. It focuses on natural contaminants such as arsenic, chromium, and uranium, as well as contaminants that can pose a threat to human and ecosystem health…

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Environmentalists push for removing dam along Colorado River

Environmental groups that have long pushed to bring down a huge dam along the Colorado River are suing the federal government, alleging it ignored climate science when approving a 20-year operating plan for the dam near the Arizona-Utah border.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: The next big California vs. Trump fight is over water and endangered species

Just how far will Gov. Gavin Newsom go in his high-profile fight with the Trump administration over environmental protections? The next few months will provide an answer, as Newsom is forced to take a stand on Trump rollbacks in a long-contested battleground — the Northern California Delta that helps supply more than half the state’s population with drinking water and fills irrigation canals on millions of acres of farmland.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

A ‘chilling message’: Trump critics see a deeper agenda in California feud

President Trump’s political feud with California has spread collateral damage across more than a dozen other states, which have seen their regulatory authority curtailed and their autonomy threatened by a Trump administration intent on weakening the environmental statutes of the country’s most populous state.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Warm it up: Balancing the needs of sturgeon, salmon, and humans

How does one achieve temperature and flow targets for listed species with such different requirements, while also meeting the needs of human water users? A recent study sought to achieve an equitable solution by using a multi-objective approach to identify trade-offs and model an optimal dam release scenario to meet the needs of salmon, sturgeon, and humans…

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Next step? Make AZ a strong voice among Colorado River states

We now have an opportunity to build on the successful Arizona process that led to the DCP signing. Arizona is stronger together. And that will serve us well as we work toward the next step – maintaining a stable, healthy Colorado River system as we face a hotter and drier future.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Montecito takes a step toward recycled water

On the heels of a severe drought and years of water rationing, a longstanding plan to provide recycled water for the vast lawn at the Santa Barbara Cemetery is finally gaining some momentum. At a joint committee meeting this week, members of the Montecito Water and Sanitary District boards and staffs tentatively agreed to collaborate on recycled water for the cemetery…

Aquafornia news Voices of Monterey Bay

Opinion: Public water now

Over 30 years, Cal Am’s Desal would cost $1.2 billion while the Pure Water Monterey expansion would be only $190 million. But the cost in dollars is not the only comparison that should be made. The environmental cost comparison is also dramatic.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

California water permit warnings for commercial cannabis farmers

Although the Water Board made clear that they are not, at this time, issuing notices of violation, the letters serve as a shot across the bow to an industry that is beginning to appreciate the importance of compliance with environmental regulations and portends more significant enforcement efforts in the near future.

Aquafornia news KCRA TV

PG&E installs weather stations in foothills: What you need to know

PG&E has installed more than 600 weather stations at locations all across the Sierra foothills in Northern California and plans to more than double that in the next three years. … The weather stations provide multiple sets of eyes on an area that has very dry vegetation with a real danger of wildfires. They also give PG&E a better handle on when it may be necessary to de-energize the power lines.

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Aquafornia news Rich Pauloo

Blog: Race To The Bottom

There simply isn’t enough water in any given year to support all of the crops and livestock, so farmers and ranchers depend on groundwater pumped from deep, underground aquifers. Groundwater, like oil, is a limited resource, and in California it’s consumed at an alarming rate.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Eco-groups sue feds, allege Glen Canyon Dam plan ignores climate change

Lake Powell’s long decline may be on hiatus after this year’s snowy winter, but activists still are raising concerns that climate change could render Glen Canyon Dam inoperable. This time, they are taking their concerns to court, asking a federal judge to invalidate the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s 20-year operating plan for the towering dam..

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Blog: Facing the forever drought

California isn’t in an official drought and under mandatory water conservation, but climate change means that saving water is always crucial. That’s why a recent announcement should not go unnoticed: The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District won state approval to deliver recycled water to agricultural and habitat conservation land in the southern part of the county.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

River flows are falling worldwide as groundwater is depleted

A new study released Wednesday says that diminishing groundwater is causing the level of streams and rivers to fall as well. Like the shrinking aquifers, surface water is critical to farms, towns and cities for everything from food to trade to energy production. … In watersheds such as California’s Central Valley, the Midwestern U.S.’s high plains, the Upper Ganges and the Indus in South Asia, groundwater is already being depleted.

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Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Recycled water contract extended

The Palmdale Water District extended its contract with the Los Angeles County Sanitation District 20 for recycled water, as projects for this water have been delayed for circumstances beyond their control.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Can dry farming help save California’s vineyards?

California’s most recent drought lasted many long, parched years… There was plenty of suffering to go around, but some vineyards fared less terribly than others—historic parcels east of San Francisco, in Contra Costa County, for example. Planted at the turn of the last century by Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish immigrants, they rely on a technique called dry farming rather than irrigation.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Water storage agreements OK’d

The Antelope Valley Watermaster gave preliminary approval to the first two water storage agreements to come before the Board tasked with overseeing the 2015 court settlement that set limits on groundwater pumping for users across the Valley.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Appeals court dismisses Klamath groundwater dispute

The Oregon Court of Appeals won’t resolve a dispute over the impact of Klamath basin wells on surface waters due to newly imposed regulations in the area. The appellate court has dismissed the case because it’s moot and unworthy of review after the Oregon water regulators adopted different rules governing surface water interference from wells in the Upper Klamath basin earlier this year.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

New water year kicks off with a surplus in California

California has more water stored in its reservoirs than it did a year ago after a marathon wet winter that pounded the state with rain and blanketed its mountain ranges with snow.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Blog: Four lessons from the front lines of California’s water wars

From mandatory drought restrictions to billions of dollars’ worth of drought-proofing projects, San Diego and the entire West has for years had a complicated relationship with its water – and it’s not going to get any easier or any cheaper any time soon.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California’s water year starts with a large increase in reservoir storage. Here’s why

California is enjoying an increase in average water reserves due to increases in snowfall and precipitation, according to the Department of Water Resources.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Resnicks set a record with Caltech gift, but altruism isn’t the whole story

Although the $750 million represents a personal gift to Caltech rather than a corporate gift from the Resnicks’ principal corporate entity, The Wonderful Company, they’re engaged through that company in some arguably unsustainable environmental practices.

Aquafornia news KSBY

Santa Maria residents could see water and sewer increases for the next 4 years

The proposed water rates include a fixed meter charge per month and a variable consumption charge per unit of water. The city says most single family residences will see about a $15 increase in January of 2020. … The last rate increase was approved by the city council five years ago, but he says a lot has changed since then.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Newsom administration faces difficult tests on water this fall

While I’m deeply disappointed that Governor Newsom vetoed SB 1, the governor’s veto is also a troubling sign for several big tests on California water coming this fall…

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Opinion: Trump administration makes right move in repealing 2015 water rule

Recently, authority over many streams, pools, and lakes in the United States reverted from the federal government to the states. The Trump administration repealed the 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule, under which the federal government claimed authority to regulate virtually any body of water it wished.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water vending businesses tap into customer fears over water quality

Water vending machine companies compete aggressively to sell water outside of supermarkets and pharmacies at an incredible markup. The industry is only lightly regulated – last year the California Department of Public Health inspected just two machines in San Diego County.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Westlands Water District stops work on Shasta Dam study after court loss

Following losses in court, a Fresno-based irrigation district has backed off its plans to do an environmental study on raising the height of Shasta Dam. The Westlands Water District announced Monday that it has stopped working on the report because it could not meet the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s schedule for the project.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Times

To guard against drought, Santa Maria looks to acquire rights to suspended state water supply

Santa Maria and several other Central Coast Water Authority members are planning to claim an additional 12,214 acre-feet of state water that was set aside decades ago. The move — which would be funded by issuing a $42 million bond — would increase Santa Maria’s annual right to state water from 17,820 to over 27,000 acre-feet each year.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield’s water usage drops as residents’ behavior becoming more efficient

Bakersfield residents deserve a round of applause, at least in terms of the city’s water usage. So far in 2019, city residents have saved 3,348 acre feet of water compared to 2013 quantities. Cumulatively, the city has cut water usage by nearly 12 percent since 2013, an average year before drought struck the state.

Aquafornia news Seattle Times

In California, orcas and salmon have become so scarce people have forgotten what once was. Will the Northwest be next?

If there is a hell for salmon, it probably looks like this. There were many more golf balls in the water than salmon this summer, whacked there by enthusiasts at Aqua Golf, a driving range on the bank of the Sacramento River. Below the surface, the gravel salmon need to make their nests had been mined decades ago to build Shasta Dam, 602 feet tall and with no fish passage. The dam cut off access to all of the cold mountain waters where these fish used to spawn.

Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Citizens advisory commission created in response to Oroville Dam crisis

The California Natural Resources Agency is hosting an inaugural public forum designed to address issues related to the Oroville Dam, according to a press release from the CNRA. 

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Aquafornia news Patch.com

Ballona Wetlands: Malibu Lagoon’s resounding success

The final of six yearly Comprehensive Monitoring Reports performed by The Bay Foundation based on detailed scientific monitoring data prove the Project wholly succeeded in meeting its goals, performance standards and success criteria, and requires no supplemental work.

Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Templeton Community Services District celebrates new drought-resistant water supply project

The project, called the Upper Salinas River Basin Conjunctive Use Project, captures existing wastewater flows generated within the eastside of the District and will return these flows back to the Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. The wastewater undergoes treatment and is then discharged into the river alluvium that contains the Salinas River underflow providing subsequent conveyance to district wells…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Two new Grand Canyon dams could be built by Phoenix company

A Phoenix company wants to build two hydroelectric dams less than five miles from the eastern border of Grand Canyon National Park, submerging several miles of the Little Colorado River and the endangered fish habitat it protects.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

The Santa Cruz River starts thriving again, water supply is restored

The river is carrying year-round flows down a stretch on the Tohono O’odham Nation’s San Xavier District that until recently was dry for more than 70 years except after big rains. And here, unlike through downtown Tucson, the water is once again coming up from the aquifer naturally — not being added artificially through effluent.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

$100 million desalination project to be led by Berkeley Lab

In an effort to widen the use of a nearly limitless — but expensive — source of water for California and other places worldwide that are prone to shortages, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been selected to lead a $100 million project aimed at bringing down the cost of desalination.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

The Interior secretary wants to enlarge a dam. An old lobbying client would benefit

For years, the Interior Department resisted proposals to raise the height of its towering Shasta Dam in Northern California. The department’s own scientists and researchers concluded that doing so would endanger rare plants and animals in the area… But the project is going forward now, in a big win for a powerful consortium of California farmers that stands to profit substantially…

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

In major move, Utah pulls most hydropower out of Lake Powell pipeline

Utah’s proposed Lake Powell pipeline will cost less to build and be easier to permit under a decision announced Wednesday to cut major hydropower components from the controversial project that would move 86,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water to St. George.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Oregon releases plan to reduce water temperature in Klamath Basin

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued a new plan to reduce water temperatures for endangered fish in the Upper Klamath and Lost River watersheds, though it could come at a price for farmers and ranchers.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Often short of water, California’s southern Central Coast builds toward a drought-proof supply

The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Inside the desert resort rethinking water conservation

When the Coachella Valley became a hub of tourism in the 20th century, spas and resorts were built around springs, whose unusually lithium-rich waters were touted as therapeutic. There are more than 20 such establishments in the 30 square miles that make up Desert Hot Springs, one of which is the recently-refreshed Two Bunch Palms resort.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

IWVGA board talks future administrative structure

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rolled out concepts for an administrative structure that could eventually cement the new agency as an independent entity — should money ever be found to fund them.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: ‘Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?

On the Changala family farm in Tulare County, the past and future are separated by a dirt road and a barbed-wire fence. On the south side sits a wheat field. On the north, a solar farm, built three years ago, sending electricity to thousands of Southern Californians. Alan Changala sees little difference between the two.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must embrace groundwater management, and expand it

Over the last five years, more than 250 groundwater sustainability agencies have formed to manage groundwater at the local level and dozens of groundwater sustainability plans are in progress. … So what do we still need to make the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act a success?

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward A Drought-Proof Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Water agencies in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo counties look to seawater, recycled water to protect against water shortages

The spillway at Lake Cachuma in central Santa Barbara County. Drought in 2016 plunged its storage to about 8 percent of capacity.The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.

Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.

Aquafornia news Del Mar Times

Santa Fe Irrigation selects multi-tiered structure for water rate increases

The Santa Fe Irrigation District board recommended moving forward with a new five-tier rate structure for its proposed three percent water rate increase. The board is expected to make a final decision on the rates by January 2020 to ensure the financial stability of the district and meet its objectives of equity across customer classes and encouraging conservation.

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