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 National Geographic

Megadroughts could return to southwestern U.S.

Described in a comprehensive new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, scientists now understand the causes of the megadroughts common during the medieval period. With climate change, they predict more megadroughts in the future.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

‘A Higher Priority’: Humboldt County, water district square off over zoning changes

If you’ve read stories about the disaster afflicting Flint, Michigan, you are probably grateful we still have good drinking water in Humboldt County. But the agency that provides water to a majority of county residents is increasingly worried about the future and going head-to-head with the county Planning and Building Department to protect water quality.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Seeding clouds and atmospheric river research among efforts explored on Edge of Drought Tour that starts in Burbank

During our Edge of Drought Tour Aug. 27-29, we’ll visit an atmospheric river observatory in Santa Barbara that specifically monitors the meteorological phenomenon and also visit Lopez Lake to hear from the County of San Luis Obispo on their cloud seeding efforts.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Coleman Hatchery expresses optimism for future fish returns

The Coleman National Fish Hatchery is expecting good returns of their fish in the foreseeable future after a few lean years of comebacks. … Mother Nature worked with the hatchery this year providing high water levels and spring storms, said Galyean. When nature was not working in the hatchery’s favor was during the recent drought.

Aquafornia news Quartz

Artificial intelligence is changing the way we farm

High-tech firms like Ceres, Prospera, Farmers Edge, and the Climate Corporation are using artificial intelligence to help famers decide when to plant, water, spray, and harvest their crops. As climate change worsens rainstorms in the Midwest and drought in California, the technology could also help growers navigate more severe and volatile weather.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

PG&E installing weather stations, cameras to defend against wildfires

The embattled utility, which sought bankruptcy protection in January with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities for the deadly California wildfires of 2017 and 2018, plans to have at least 600 weather stations operating in high-risk fire areas of its 70,000-square-mile territory by the year’s end.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Close to $3 million of water has reached Ventura County’s overstressed groundwater basin

Close to $3 million worth of water has rushed down the Santa Clara River over the past several weeks to recharge groundwater basins in the Oxnard Plain. The release was part of a deal between the United Water Conservation District and Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency to help recharge aquifers still struggling after years of drought.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: The state of wildfire risk reduction in California

After a few horrific years of extreme wildfires, California has been taking steps to reduce future risks with new programs, increased funding, and new policy efforts. We talked to Van Butsic—a land use scientist at UC Berkeley and an adjunct fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center—about these efforts.

Aquafornia news the Confluence

Blog: A California-European Union workshop on sustainable groundwater management and conflict resolution

Gathering California water policy and decision-makers along with groundwater stakeholders and users, the workshop gave participants the opportunity to meet European Union (EU) water specialists, exchange experiences and ideas, and compare California and EU issues and solutions.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: California’s struggle for water certainty continues

For many years, federal “biological opinions” for delta smelt and winter run chinook salmon have dictated restrictions on operations of the pumps, reservoirs and canals of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project… Informed by a decade of science and on-the-ground experience with what we know has not worked, long-awaited new federal biological opinions are finally nearing completion.

Aquafornia news KUNC

As Southwest water managers grapple with climate change, can a ‘grand bargain’ work?

Water managers on the Colorado River are facing a unique moment. With a temporary fix to the river’s scarcity problem recently completed, talk has begun to turn toward future agreements to manage the water source for 40 million people in the southwestern U.S. … Some within the basin see a window of opportunity to argue for big, bold actions to find balance in the watershed.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Trinity River restoration project a collaborative success

During a recent trip to the Trinity River, I learned about the many challenges facing its salmon and steelhead populations. … But there is hope and evidence of progress in realizing ecological benefits of the past. A holistic approach to habitat restoration doesn’t rely on a single silver bullet solution, but applies a comprehensive set of actions that rely on collaboration between local tribes, federal and state agencies, and local government agencies…

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Opinion: Put your public water outreach programs on steroids

How can the short memory of the public maintain the long-term commitments of water projects and conservation behaviors? On one hand, California’s recent extended drought demonstrated that the public water users could reduce their water use, but can it be maintained permanently?

Aquafornia news Pacific Standard

Groundwater depletion may cause domestic wells to dry out

A new study looked at more than half a century of well depth trends to gain new insights into the management of the critical resource. … The team found that, between 1950 and 2015, across most of the country, groundwater users are drilling wells deeper and deeper. But well depths did not increase everywhere … which means that, in some places, wells might dry up.

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Aquafornia news KBAK

Water Blueprint proposes parallel waterway for the sinking Friant-Kern Canal

The Friant Water Authority is confident a parallel canal is the best solution. This new one will be built in a way that prepares for subsidence. A new canal would also benefit from the Ground Water Management Act of 2014, which will regulate how much and when water is pumped out of the ground, preventing what some believe is the main cause of subsidence.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Water district OKs deal with Santa Cruz

The Soquel Creek Water District board met … voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the city of Santa Cruz to build a tertiary treatment plant for its Pure Water Soquel project onsite at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Facility, which also will supply the water supply for the project.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Study explores groundwater pumping and surface water connections

Groundwater pumping has caused stream flow in U.S. rivers to decline by as much as half over the last century, according to new research by a University of Arizona hydrologist that strengthens the connection between groundwater and surface water.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Shasta County judge rejects effort to move Shasta Dam lawsuit to Fresno

A judge has rejected a San Joaquin Valley irrigation district’s request to move a lawsuit against raising the height of Shasta Dam to Fresno County. Westlands Water District, based in Fresno, wanted to move the lawsuit against it to its home county, but a judge has ruled the case will remain in Shasta County.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: A listening California should consult the real experts on water

The Natural Resources Agency, California EPA, and California Department of Food and Agriculture want the public’s input on how best to manage and deal with an uncertain water supply in the future. It seems every new administration in Sacramento must deal with water issues in California that never seem to get fixed.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater authority board discusses mandatory well registration

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors took the first step Thursday to require all groundwater wells in the valley to be registered by Oct. 1. … That first step also included a pumping fee to pay for the required groundwater sustainability plan due to the Department of Water Resources by Jan. 31, 2020.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Opinion: Drought contingency plans embrace water marketing

The state drought plans move gingerly toward encouraging transfers of water by using clever euphemisms that avoid any mention of water marketing. … These euphemisms are tools that usher in a new frontier in western water law that will increase resilience in the face of droughts, floods and forest fires fueled by climate change.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Opinion: Federal freshwater and saltwater fisheries biologists should work under the same roof

The Trump Administration last year proposed to combine the responsibilities of both the NMFS and the USFWS under one federal roof. This would promote more efficient, effective, and coordinated management of all ESA responsibilities for anadromous and freshwater fish in Western watersheds, from the highest reaches of our headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

Aquafornia news Physics World

Green water could help California’s farming woes

More effective use of green water – rainfall stored in soil – could mitigate irrigation demand for some of California’s most important perennial crops. So say US researchers who simulated 13 years’ growth of alfalfa, grapes, almonds, pistachios and walnuts under different irrigation strategies.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

District raises water and sewer rates, despite protests

After objections from the public and lengthy discussions, Ramona Municipal Water District Board of Directors approved four types of rate increases recommended by staff. … Water rates have not been adjusted for three years.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Editorial: State water plan update worth just a yawn

The latest update of the California Water Plan was released this past week. You may not have heard the news. You may not even know there is a California Water Plan. And that’s just fine, because it doesn’t mean a darn thing.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Justice Department motions for judge to revisit ruling on Agua Caliente tribe lawsuit against Coachella Valley water districts

Key parts of the case were dismissed in April by U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal, who ruled that the tribe did not have a claim of harm because it has always had enough water… Now, the federal government intends to make its case that this ruling should be reversed.

Aquafornia news Register-Pajaronian

Pajaro Valley Water’s alternative groundwater sustainability plan approved

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently notified Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency that its Basin Management Plan (BMP) was approved and considered functionally equivalent to a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).

Aquafornia news ABC7 News

Compton, Willowbrook residents can look forward to clean tap water after dealing with ‘contaminated’ water

Nearly 7,000 customers who live in the old Sativa Water District complained for months about murky brown water with a foul odor coming from their pipes. … Los Angeles County, which now has control of the water district, is taking old wells offline and connecting them to a neighboring water company.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: Snowmelt pushes Lake Tahoe water level close to legal limit

Lake Tahoe is the fullest it’s been in nearly two decades. Officials say the alpine lake on the California-Nevada line is approaching the legal limit after snowmelt from a stormy winter left enough water to potentially last through three summers of drought.

Aquafornia news St. George News

Army Corps of Engineers grants extension for Lake Powell Pipeline plans

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted Utah a 30-day extension to provide desired documentation and plans related to the Lake Powell Pipeline, according to state water officials.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: As the climate gets hotter and drier, state’s water plan must consider all options

At the same time the snowpack is dwindling, droughts are expected to become more severe. One example: scientists predict a strong likelihood that the Colorado River Basin will experience a megadrought of 20 to 50 years in duration during this century.

Aquafornia news EOS.org

Restoring natural fire regimes can yield more water downstream

The new study capitalized on the unique data set available from Yosemite’s Illilouette Basin, which is the only watershed in the U.S. West with a restored fire regime where enough hydrological data have been collected to allow model validation. The results demonstrate how large-scale forest restorations may affect water resources, a topic of considerable interest across much of the region.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Montecito water rate study on desal deal with Santa Barbara gets delayed

A long-awaited Montecito Water District rate study, planned for release this May, will not be finished until later this year, officials said this week. The study can’t proceed until the district finishes negotiating the terms of an agreement for buying into Santa Barbara’s desalination plant.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: All Californians should have safe, clean water. But How?

When Gov. Gavin Newsom called for constructing and maintaining delivery systems to get water to at-risk communities in his State of the State address, he received widespread support. But the fight over funding for the project got divisive – and fast.

Aquafornia news Mt. Shasta Herald

Opinion: Klamath dam removal will benefit fishing guides and anglers

As a small business owner who leads fishing tours for anglers from within and beyond the region, I understand that taking these dams out may lead to a short-term dip in business. But the long-term benefits of dam removal outweigh the near-term costs to my family and my livelihood.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Salmon restoration: Input gathered for 2020 East Sand Slough side channel project

The project is a part of the restoration of salmon habitat stemming from the Central Valley Improvement Act and will take place on the left bank of the Sacramento River at the East Sand Slough… It reconnects the East Sand Slough to the Sacramento River during minimal flows by excavating the main channel and entrances.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

New history exhibit shows city’s deep relationship with water is everywhere

The city’s evolving relationship with water is the subject of the Historical Society of Long Beach’s new exhibit “Water Changes Everything.” The free exhibit, which opened Friday and runs through June 2020, shows how “water has determined the history of Long Beach,” said Kaye Briegel, the long-time board member who helped put the show together.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Friday Top of the Scroll: LA’s Kern County sludge farm to stop receiving free Bakersfield water

For around 20 years, Los Angeles has shipped a large portion of “biosolids” from its toilets to fertilize a farm it owns just west of Bakersfield. Bakersfield, in return, has been providing an annual load of 18,000 acre-feet of free water to the farm. However, after passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the value of treated wastewater increased.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Coalition of agencies, environmentalists sees future for aging dam

While California contemplates new dams for its thirsty future, it’s also thinking about taking out old ones. Along with advancing plans to demolish three dams atop the Klamath River, there’s a movement to rethink and possibly take out a water and power dam in the Mendocino County back country.

Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

Twain Harte CSD installs raw-water draft point for firefighting

District Fire Chief Todd McNeal, who proposed the project, said the draft point will allow firefighters to pull raw water from the reservoir during an emergency and take pressure off the treated-water system.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

California strawberries are about to get tastier and more environmentally friendly

Scientists at UC Davis have developed five new types of the berry set to hit the market this fall. … Researchers say these new strawberries are the best of both worlds: the strawberries will use less water, fertilizer and pesticides and still produce more, healthier, higher-quality strawberries.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

State dissatisfied with Napa wine country groundwater plan

State Department of Water Resources officials emphasized they aren’t claiming well water use is harming the subterranean reservoir beneath the Napa Valley floor. Rather, they said a more than 1,000-page basin report submitted by Napa County doesn’t allow them to make a judgement.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: The Groundwater Game: A new hands-on way to learn about groundwater management

One evening, at a community center in the Sacramento Valley, a teacher, a civil engineer, a tomato farmer and a local foundation board member found themselves standing above a table, feverishly competing to scoop the most glass beads from a large, communal bowl. But there was a catch.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water safe to drink in quake-shaken California town

Residents of a small Southern California desert community hit hard by this month’s big earthquakes no longer need to boil tap water. San Bernardino County authorities announced Wednesday the boil-water notice for Trona and neighboring areas has been lifted and citizens do not need to rely on bottled water.

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Aquafornia news Lawn & Landscape

On the mend

California Landscape Contractors Association’s Sandra Giarde … points out that parts of California are already teetering back on the edge of a drought again. Laws have yet to change that were put into place to conserve water during the drought, such as rules against hosing down concrete sidewalks. Those bans will only slowly be lifted by each municipality over time, if they’re even lifted at all.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Hot and Cold: Dialing in on temperatures for winter-run salmon

Winter-run Chinook’s need for cool temperatures has meant recent catastrophic losses when temperatures got too high, but a few recent studies have altered our understanding of this species’ temperature tolerance. This new knowledge may allow water managers to actually release less cold water overall, while still improving winter-run survival.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Secretary Crowfoot talks about the water resilience portfolio, delta conveyance and more

Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot discussed the Governor’s water resilience portfolio and reiterated the Newsom administration’s support for modernized conveyance in the Delta. That was followed by a robust discussion that included Delta conveyance, water storage, emerging contaminants and PFAS, among other things.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR approves nine alternatives to groundwater sustainability plans

Following extensive technical review, DWR approved seven existing groundwater management plans and two 10-year sustainable yield analyses as alternatives under SGMA. One existing groundwater management plan and five 10-year sustainable yield analyses were not recommended for approval as alternatives.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

Cuyama passes pay-to-pump groundwater sustainability structure

Cuyama landowners will soon have to pay to pump groundwater, a decision that some say will place the burden of Cuyama’s dwindling water supply largely on farmers’ shoulders.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Salmon study may foil Trump’s plan to boost water deliveries to Central Valley farms

Federal biologists worked frantically this year to meet a deadline to assess the environmental impacts of Trump administration plans to send more water to Central Valley farmers. But the biologists’ conclusion — that increased deliveries would harm endangered Chinook salmon and other imperiled fish — would foil those plans.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Zone 7 has backup plan to keep water moving in power outages

If PG&E shuts down power as part of its plan to prevent fires in northern California, the water will keep flowing in the Valley, thanks to Zone 7 Water Agency’s preparations. … Zone 7 has two plants for water treatment and distribution … Both  have backup generators in case power stops. Each has a three-day supply of fuel, but the agency also has contracts with other generator suppliers who can each roll out at least three days of juice.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Desert Water Agency to elect members by district starting in 2020

The Desert Water Agency board voted 5-0 on Tuesday to move from at-large to elections by division, or district, beginning in November 2020. The move comes nearly eight months after a Mailbu law firm asked the agency to switch in order to comply with the California Voting Rights Act.

Aquafornia news MyNewsLA.com

L.A. mayor nominates longtime water expert to MWD board

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Tuesday nominated a longtime water-resources expert for a seat on the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors. Tracy Quinn serves as the California director of water efficiency for the Natural Resources Defense Council and has almost two decades of water policy experience.

Aquafornia news Forbes

The importance of groundwater and of predicting human impacts on it

Water hidden beneath the earth’s surface comprises 98% of the planet’s fresh water. On average, this groundwater provides a third of all total water consumed… Before we even start to improve groundwater management, we must better understand and measure it, says international groundwater expert Craig Simmons, from Flinders University in Adelaide.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Dozens of environmental groups want to contribute to Newsom’s water portfolio plan

A coalition of 55 environmental, fishing, and water policy groups has written Gov. Gavin Newsom, backing his Water Portfolio planning process, and announcing that they plan to take an active part with their own proposals for the plan.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Opinion: The changing Delta’s challenges

Many Delta problems are worsening. Climate change is raising sea levels and temperatures, making floods and droughts more extreme and will likely further alter the mix of species. State legislation to end overdrafting of groundwater will increase demands for water from the Delta from farmers in the San Joaquin Valley struggling (mostly in vain) to find replacement water.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Ties between the Delta and groundwater sustainability in California

Groundwater overdraft is a major problem globally and has been a persistent and growing problem in California for decades. This overdraft is predominantly driven by the economic value of water for agricultural production and cities.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Clovis secures its future growth with FID water deals

The Clovis City Council has approved landmark water deals with the Fresno Irrigation District that officials say will secure the city’s growth for decades to come. According to the Clovis General Plan, the city expects 280,000 residents in 2083 — 2.5 times its 110,000 population. Plans call for Clovis to grow northeast and southeast.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

DWR releases final California Water Plan Update 2018

Update 2018 presents a vision for greater collaboration and alignment among water sectors and institutions, sound strategies, and long-term investments needed for the sustainable management of the California’s water supply.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

SGMA sharpens focus on conjunctive use

Requirements to balance supplies in California groundwater basins have refocused attention on how best to achieve recharge, and on what’s known as the conjunctive use of surface and groundwater supplies. Some irrigation districts have been recharging groundwater in that manner for years or even decades.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation awards $5.1 million in research for new ways to desalinate and treat water

The Bureau of Reclamation announced that 30 projects will receive $5.1 million from the Desalination and Water Purification Research Program to develop improved and inexpensive ways to desalinate and treat impaired water.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

California’s 2019-2020 budget has millions for water projects and healthcare programs

Brokered in large part by rookie state senator for California’s 14 Senate District, Melissa Hurtado, the southern portion of the Valley has gained tens of millions of dollars of investment in drinking water, asthma mitigation, aging and disability resource centers and Valley Fever research.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

IID votes to lower conserved water payments to farmers

Initially, farmers had been contracted $285 per acre/feet for conserved water and the IID welcomed all participants. However, due to the farmers’ innovation and ingenuity, the total acre/feet saved the past three years exceeded the amount needed for the QSA transfer.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Grass lawn removal rebate increases in Malibu

The rebate for Malibu residents who remove grass landscaping has been increased from $4 to $5 per square foot of turf removed, the City of Malibu announced Monday. The incentive is part of the Malibu Smart water conservation program offered by the City of Malibu, County of Los Angeles and West Basin Municipal Water District.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: An opportunity to restore fish abundance on the Eel River

The Eel River—once home to the state’s third-largest salmon and steelhead runs, all of which are now listed as threatened―may see the return of healthy fisheries in coming years. A unique opportunity to remove a dam that blocks fish from reaching spawning habitat has arisen. We talked to Curtis Knight, executive director of CalTrout, about the situation.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Researching California’s extreme weather, storm-by-storm

Tashiana Osborne is a PhD student with the Scripps Institution for Oceanography at UC San Diego where she works within the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes on atmospheric river research: As a graduate student, you already have an incredible amount of experience, including working as a storm chaser and intern at NASA. Can you tell us a little more about your current research?

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Heat waves likely to become longer, more intense — even in Bay Area, study shows

Summers in San Francisco may soon feel more like the warmer East Bay. The East Bay may soon feel more like Sacramento. And Sacramento — well, it might just be too hot to stick around any longer. One of the most detailed studies on rising temperatures suggests that few places in the United States will be unaffected by extreme heat by the middle of this century.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Larry N. Olinger, vice chair of Agua Caliente tribe, dies at age 80

Larry N. Olinger, the tribal council vice chairman and a former chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, died Monday morning, the tribe said. He was 80 and lived in Palm Springs. … While on the tribal council, Olinger worked to resolve a longstanding dispute between the tribe and the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency.

Aquafornia news Voices of Monterey Bay

Monterey County gives Cal Am the green light

Monterey County supervisors voted Monday to let California American Water start construction on its desalination plant even before the state Coastal Commission makes a decision on the technology involved.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

‘Toxic stew’ stirred up by disasters poses long-term danger, new findings show

New research shows that the extreme weather and fires of recent years, similar to the flooding that has struck Louisiana and the Midwest, may be making Americans sick in ways researchers are only beginning to understand.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

In new climate, California’s wildfires are 500 percent larger

Californians may feel like they’re enduring an epidemic of fire. The past decade has seen half of the state’s 10 largest wildfires and seven of its 10 most destructive fires, including last year’s Camp Fire, the state’s deadliest wildfire ever. A new study, published this week in the journal Earth’s Future, finds that the state’s fire outbreak is real—and that it’s being driven by climate change.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Plan to sustain Santa Cruz County drinking water unveiled

Keystone projects for the midcounty planning effort, mandated by the state for all groundwater-dependent agencies, include stormwater runoff management, Soquel Creek Water District’s Pure Water Soquel advanced water treatment plant, and the city of Santa Cruz’s ongoing efforts to develop a supplemental water supply that would primarily make use of unused winter river runoff, likely through new storage options.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Invertebrates with altitude: Effects of drought in mountain streams

Benthic macroinvertebrates, including insect larvae, worms, snails, and other backbone-lacking creatures, often rule the alpine waterways. However, their high-altitude homes put them on the front lines of climate change, which threatens to have major impacts on mountain streams. This is particularly true of streams in the Sierra Nevada of California…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

A hike through Sedona with Bruce Babbitt into the Oak Creek wilderness

In the 1990s, he played a central role in some of the country’s biggest environmental decisions. … He could have chosen to wrap up his career when he left office at the end of the Clinton administration in 2001. But Babbitt has remained actively engaged in issues he cares about.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Five things you need to know about SB-200: california’s proposed clean drinking water fund

The California Legislature recently passed SB-200 that will create an annual fund of $130 million to tackle the state’s drinking water problems. Here are five things you need to know about SB-200…

Aquafornia news Photographic Museum of Humanity

The illusion of limitless water

In black and white, John Trotter documents the use of water from the Colorado River, tackling the social, political, and environmental impact of the way it’s dealt with. Spanning over years and kilometres, his ongoing essay is a dire political outcry.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

New strawberry varieties on the way – tastier, cheaper, better for the planet, UC Davis says

They’ll use less water, less fertilizer and fewer pesticides – and they will probably be cheaper. The Public Strawberry Breeding Program at UC Davis just announced five new strawberry varieties that will be on the market in the fall and are expected to benefit farmers, sellers and consumers alike.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Climate change threatens freshwater fish

Fish die-offs in freshwater lakes are an increasing threat in California, and experts say climate change is to blame. … In a 2014-2017 report, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found that high summer temperatures were not only worsening the quality of the water, but drying out freshwater bodies that hosted endangered species.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Monday Top of the Scroll: Administration sidelines federal biologists who could stand in way of more water for Calif. farmers

Just days before federal biologists were set to release new rules governing the future of endangered salmon and drinking water for two-thirds of Californians, the administration replaced them with an almost entirely new group … to “refine” and “improve” the rules, according to an email obtained by KQED. Environmental groups said the Department of  Interior is interfering with the science…

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: Megadroughts and desalination — another pressing need for nuclear power

Only 15 out of the thousands of desalination plants operating today worldwide are powered by nuclear. A small one is at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant in California, slated to be closed soon. The plant could power several huge desalination plants for decades that could desalinate its own cooling water, removing the most commonly stated problem with the plant.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

‘Greywater’ could help solve Colorado’s water problems. Why aren’t we all using it?

Colorado was the last Western state to legalize greywater usage in 2013. Officials say that by 2050, our water supply could fall short for over one million people. … Colorado’s Water Plan wants to close the gap and recognizes greywater as one tool to help make that happen. However, not a single state-approved greywater system has been built since it was legalized.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star-News

Arcadia, these are your rules for using water during the summer months

The drought may be over, but Arcadia residents and businesses must restrict their irrigation and water consumption yet again this summer as the city’s mandatory water conservation program continues to push through its first of eight phases.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Arizona senators propose drought bill

A bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema would put aside hundreds of millions of dollars for water storage projects, water recycling, and desalination plants. … The bill is also sponsored by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers seek to slow desert water project

A project to pump billions of gallons of water out from under the Mojave Desert and sell it to people in Southern California could be slowed by a bill approved for the first time on Thursday by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California Senate Bill 1 a dangerous over-reaction

Proponents have said SB 1 will keep Trump from delivering more water to farms, thereby harming endangered fish. That sentiment is exactly what makes SB 1 so dangerous. It relies on the worn-out trope that California’s water issues boil down to “farms versus fish.”

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Feds seek comment on tweaks to California water operations

Seeking to implement updated scientific methods to its operations in the Golden State, the Bureau of Reclamation released a draft environmental impact report on the coordinated operations between the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project on Thursday.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

National relevance of takings case reflected in Monday hearing in D.C.

A longtime court case involving the shutoff of water to multiple water users in the Klamath Basin in 2001 attracted wide-ranging attention from Pacific Northwest-based organizations and those within the legal community in Washington, D.C. Nearly 90 minutes of oral arguments were heard Monday at the U.S. Court of Appeals at the Federal Circuit.

Western Water California Water Map

Your Don’t-Miss Roundup of Summer Reading From Western Water

Dear Western Water reader, 

Clockwise, from top: Lake Powell, on a drought-stressed Colorado River; Subsidence-affected bridge over the Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley;  A homeless camp along the Sacramento River near Old Town Sacramento; Water from a desalination plant in Southern California.Summer is a good time to take a break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting a chance to do plenty of that this July.

But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned for later this year, we want to help you catch up on Western Water stories from the first half of this year that you might have missed. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Communities still gaming out what the future of groundwater will be

To better understand groundwater markets, attendees at the meeting played a groundwater market game, which was developed by the Environmental Defense Fund and the University of Michigan to teach players about the challenges of managing scarce groundwater resources.

Aquafornia news BBKLaw.com

Blog: Irrigation district may refuse water delivery to rule violators

An irrigation district may adopt and enforce reasonable rules related to water service, and may terminate water delivery for failure to comply with such rules, a California appellate court ruled. Although this case involved an irrigation district, the decision may also strengthen other water providers’ authority to adopt and enforce rules relating to water service.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

150 million trees died in California’s drought, and worse is to come

A new study, just published in Nature Geoscience, reveals an elegant formula to explain why some trees died and others didn’t — and it suggests more suffering is in store for forests as the climate heats up.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin golf course’s threat to endangered salmon debatable

The golf course property, now earmarked by its nonprofit owner the Trust For Public Land for “rewilding” after a fierce community battle over its future, sits in the headwaters of the Lagunitas Creek watershed. The watershed … is a spawning and rearing ground for coho salmon and steelhead trout, both of which are on the endangered species list.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix pledges additional $2.5 million for Padre Dam reclaimed water plan

The $650 million project involves a joint financial partnership between Padre Dam, Helix, San Diego County and the city of El Cajon. The Helix board voted 4-1 last week to continue funding the Advanced Water Purification project, which is expected to have reclaimed water flowing into faucets by 2025.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The fight over Monterey Peninsula’s water future is a debate over who gets to decide

What is at stake is the water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. Consuming water drawn from the Carmel River is no longer feasible, neither ecologically nor legally. But the power to decide on an alternative supply is largely vested in the hands of public officials from outside the region.

Announcement

Explore a Scenic But Challenged California Landscape on Our Edge of Drought Tour
August 27-29 Tour Examines Santa Barbara Region Prone to Drought, Mudslides and Wildfire

Pyramid LakeNew to this year’s slate of water tours, our Edge of Drought Tour Aug. 27-29 will venture into the Santa Barbara area to learn about the challenges of limited local surface and groundwater supplies and the solutions being implemented to address them.

Despite Santa Barbara County’s decision to lift a drought emergency declaration after this winter’s storms replenished local reservoirs, the region’s hydrologic recovery often has lagged behind much of the rest of the state.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Border wall: If people can’t get through, neither can the river

Despite being on opposite sides of the immigration debate, environmental groups who oppose border barriers generally mirror cattle rancher John Ladd’s concerns about the river. They say a wall or fence across the San Pedro could have devastating consequences to its hydrology, as well as the endangered species that call the river home.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Editorial: General Plan update must include water supply

It is vital for a local resilient water supply that the county acknowledge and address the limited, local resource of freshwater in the redo of the county’s General Plan.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: How Parker Dam might have been the Colorado River’s first

If you want to dam rivers, as we were inclined across much of the 20th century, the location of the current Parker Dam on the Lower Colorado River makes sense – a narrow gap just downstream from the confluence of the Colorado and Bill Williams rivers on the Arizona-California border.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan, but face a hotter, drier future

The plan is historic: It acknowledges that southwestern states need to make deep water use reductions – including a large share from agriculture, which uses over 70% of the supply – to prevent Colorado River reservoirs from declining to critically low levels. But it also has serious shortcomings. It runs for less than a decade. And its name suggests a response to a temporary problem.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Agricultural water agencies refine efficiency plans

Agricultural water suppliers must develop annual water budgets and drought plans that meet requirements of recently enacted legislation, and are meeting with state officials to comply with the updated law—a process that could ultimately affect water costs for California farmers and ranchers.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Challenges and opportunities for integrating small and rural drinking water stakeholders in SGMA implementation

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is an historic opportunity to achieve long-term sustainable groundwater management and protect drinking water supplies for hundreds of small and rural low-income communities, especially in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California’s future weather will alternate between drought and atmospheric rivers, study says

Remember the parade of atmospheric-river storms that deluged the Bay Area last winter, giving us the wettest rainy season in 20 years? There are a lot more of those on the way, scientists say. But California will also experience more periods of extreme dryness, according to a new study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: PG&E’s planned power shutdowns could choke off vital water supplies

Utilities, including several in the Bay Area, simply don’t have the backup power to replace the electricity that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. normally provides for water delivery and sewage treatment. The agencies are trying to make their operations more energy efficient and adding alternative power sources in case the cord is cut, but it may not be enough.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Opinion: In one Tucson neighborhood, residents must grow green grass or pay

A governing document called the Winterhaven Neighborhood Standards and Landscaping Guidelines make the desired effect clear: “Winterhaven’s dominant use of green lawns and non-native trees creates a Midwestern environment that is unique in Tucson …”

Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

Blog: Study to assess regional pipeline for delivering Colorado River water

A new study will explore the viability of a regional pipeline to transfer water from the Colorado River to benefit multiple users in San Diego County and across the Southwest. The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved funds for the two-year study at its June 27 Board meeting.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

South San Joaquin Irrigation District delivers prosperity

A bold move by farmers to form the South San Joaquin Irrigation District 110 years ago literally changed the economic fortunes of Manteca, Ripon and Escalon. And no way else did SSJID have as big as an impact as it did on Manteca.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Bill to fix Friant-Kern Canal continues forward progress

The bill that will provide support for necessary repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal is continuing to make forward progress in the California legislature. Senate Bill 559 (SB-559) … was voted through the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee in the Assembly on July 2. The bill itself is seeking $400 million to make important upgrades and repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Market-based program would encourage farmers to buy, sell local groundwater

The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District’s pilot program, set for testing later this summer or early fall, would allow certain landowners to buy or sell groundwater to or from another property owner within the district.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Got surface water? Groundwater-only lands in the san joaquin valley

We estimate that nearly 20%—or 840,000 acres—of irrigated cropland in the valley has no access to surface water. … With groundwater cuts looming and no other water supply to fall back on, groundwater-only areas are on the front line of the effort to bring basins into balance.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: MWD’s new chair, Gloria Gray, prioritizes reliability of supply & affordability

Industry veteran Gloria Gray took the helm at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In this interview, Gray shares how she plans to steer the largest water supplier in the nation through changing political priorities and climate conditions to continue safeguarding the future of California’s water.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio initiative listening session

The California Water Commission held the first listening session at its June meeting with a panel of water management experts offering their perspectives on what a climate-resilient water portfolio might look like.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Are pistachios the nut of the future?

Pistachio trees require somewhere between one-third and one-half as much water as almond trees. Unlike almond trees, pistachio trees don’t die during extended droughts. Their metabolism merely slows and when water returns, they start producing nuts again. … Pistachios can also handle, as Duarte’s team discovered, levels of salt that have already killed many an almond tree.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Editorial: Dam opening sparks moment to reflect

On the last Saturday in June, a road in Butte County was opened. That in itself isn’t anything unusual. Roads are opened and closed regularly around here. But it was the significance of this road that makes it a remarkable occurrence. It was the road over Oroville Dam.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Trump said water wars ‘easy’ to fix. What do farmers say now?

On June 28, farmers gathered in Los Banos to ask questions of President Trump’s agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue. GV Wire took the opportunity to ask growers if they believed Trump was doing enough to bring water to farmers. Generally, they said they like how things are progressing.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty, six decades later

The original treaty was implemented before the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, the 1973 Endangered Species Act and a host of legal shifts that bolstered Indigenous rights… These hallmarks of change emphasize the need to include environmental protection and equity in an updated treaty.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: Let rivers flood: Communities adopt new strategies for resilience

In 2016 California’s rainy season kicked off right on schedule, at the beginning of October. … By February there was so much water filling Northern California’s rivers that Oroville Dam, the tallest in the country, threatened to break after its spillway and emergency spillways both failed. It was a wake-up call. In just a few months California had gone from five-year-drought to deluge, ending up with the second wettest year on record for the state.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Sierra Nevada Conservancy awards $3 million for restoration projects

Each of the selected projects strike at the heart of the Sierra Nevada watershed improvement program, SNC’s large-scale restoration initiative designed to improve ecosystem and community resilience in the region.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Borrego Air Ranch: A desert community in peril

The survival of a tiny, unique desert neighborhood is threatened because more than 60 years ago the community decided to form a small water district instead of digging individual wells. Borrego Air Ranch is built around a private air strip where residents’ garages double as airplane hangers.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey in default on agreement after missing Monday deadline

Pure Water Monterey, the highly touted recycled water project, is in default on a water purchase agreement with California American Water after failing to meet a Monday deadline for delivering potable water even as the project’s costs rise amid the delay.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California needs to build Sites Reservoir. Here’s why

We need a broad portfolio of solutions that includes storage above and below ground, conservation, and other options such as traditional recycled and potable reuse to help ensure we can better manage this vital resource when the next inevitable drought comes along. … One part of that solution is the proposed Sites Reservoir.

Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

Mother Lode still feeling remnants of strong winter

Signs of the strong winter that the Central Sierra experienced in 2018-19 are all around Tuolumne County two weeks into summer, from a record tying late opening for Tioga Pass in the High Sierra on Monday to the nearly brimful New Melones Reservoir in the foothills.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Friant water blueprint focused on counties south of Delta

An important blueprint for the success of farming in the Central Valley is being developed to present to California government officials. This blueprint outlines what must be done to get water to the eight counties south of the delta. The blueprint is a critical step to help keep farmers in business due to the pressure from the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

A bold experiment to recharge Fresno’s aquifer appears to be working

The experiment to super-energize water recharging efforts at Fresno’s Leaky Acres appears to be working. … Tommy Esqueda, then the director of Public Utilities, described the system to me as “putting ‘unique’ straws in the ground. The depth and spacing of these ‘straws’ are designed to maximize groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news UPI

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Loss of deep-soil water triggered forest die-off in Sierra Nevada

Between 2012 and 2015, very little rain and snow fell on California. Aquifers shrank and the land dried out. … New research suggests the loss of deep-soil water best explains why the mountain range’s trees were unable to withstand the drought and heatwave.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Rainfall to Groundwater

Blog: How does groundwater get there? Some basics

Oscar Meinzer (1942) credits Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) with having advocated the infiltration theory slightly before Palissy’s time, basing his theories on observations made when he was in charge of canals in the Milan area. … Such a scenario might explain why California DWR staff and like-minded academics and nonprofits have all jumped on the bandwagon of managed aquifer recharge.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought, fish, and water in California

With a big collective sigh of relief, Californians rejoiced that we have largely recovered from 2012-2016 drought. But this is not a time for complacency… This should thus be a time to develop new and better strategies for reducing impacts of severe drought on both natural and developed systems.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Santa Barbara South Coast water supply looks promising heading into summer

Santa Barbara County’s water supply outlook has improved significantly with a winter of strong rains, and this is reflected in a noticeably fuller Lake Cachuma. However, the effects of the years-long drought will take several years for some water sources to recover…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Why Modesto’s effort to plant 5,000 trees ended with rising costs and dead trees

Greg Dion, Cal Fire’s regional urban forester for the San Joaquin Valley, said Modesto used outdated research in calculating the cost of buying, planting and maintaining the 5,000 trees. … Modesto also started planting trees while the region still was in the grip of a devastating drought.

Aquafornia news University of California

News release: California forest die-off caused by depletion of deep-soil water

A catastrophic forest die-off in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range in 2015-2016 was caused by the inability of trees to reach diminishing supplies of subsurface water following years of severe drought and abnormally warm temperatures.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Mexican waters eyed as source to save California’s Salton Sea

From sea to shining sea may take on a new meaning in California, as state officials are reviewing billion dollar plans to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to help raise water levels at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: New USBR modeling shows substantial reduction in Mead, Powell risk over the next five years

The unusually wet winter (with an assist from new Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan water reduction rules) has substantially reduced the near-term scare-the-crap-out-of-me risks on the Colorado River for the next few years, according to new Bureau of Reclamation modeling.

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Reservoirs planned near Denver would divert South Platte water

Colorado officials are planning to build multiple large reservoirs on the prairie northeast of Denver to capture more of the South Platte River’s Nebraska-bound water, then pump it back westward to booming metro suburbs struggling to wean themselves off dwindling underground aquifers.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Even after a rush of snow and rain, the thirsty Colorado River Basin is “not out of the woods yet”

It will take as many as 13 water years exactly like this one to erase the impacts of long-term drought in the West, Colorado River District engineers say.

Related article:

Headwaters Tour 2020
Field Trip - September 10-11

Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. 

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Even after a rush of snow and rain, the thirsty Colorado River Basin is “not out of the woods yet”

In the long-term puzzle of ensuring that the Colorado River — the main artery of the American West — provides water to the millions of people in the basin who depend on it, the challenges are mounting. Does 2019’s water stand a chance of making a meaningful impact? Water experts say the answer is: Sadly, not likely.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Droughts may behave like dominos: Stanford study

As the United States moves into the summer months, a recent study examines whether a drought in California can be linked to one in the Midwest. The Stanford-led study published in Geophysical Research Letters finds that regions may fall victim to water scarcity like dominos across the nation, the university news service reported.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fearful of being the next Paradise, Grass Valley confronts its fire vulnerability

As another fire season looms, here in the small city of Grass Valley, as in much of Gold Country where historic mining towns nestle up to sprawling, wooded mountains, things are different this year. What used to be a leisurely wind down to summer, marked by high school graduations and the excitement of vacation, has become a rush to action.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Camarillo Acorn

Council awards bid for long-discussed desalter

The facility would serve two main purposes. In addition to weaning Camarillo customers off imported water from Calleguas Municipal Water District, it would also help filter out the everincreasing amount of salt found in the plumes of water beneath much of the eastern half of the city.

Aquafornia news Casa Grande Dispatch

Pinal farmers may still face water reduction despite massive snowpack

The update reported an excellent May in terms of Colorado River Basin run-off, yet Central Arizona Water Conservation District board members underscored that still-half-full reservoirs point to the need for continued conservation.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

The Pacific lamprey may be key to preserving Yurok culture

Keith Parker’s groundbreaking biology research regarding a new subspecies of Pacific lamprey, recently published in the science journal Molecular Ecology, may be the key to saving his tribe’s way of life. … Parker hopes that his research will open the door to further investigation of the lamprey, because the future of his tribe lies with this bizarre-looking, prehistoric fish.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Past year of California water was record-setting

As the 2018-19 water year came to a close Sunday, record-setting snowpack in the Sierras and above-average rain means several reservoirs are near full capacity heading into the dry summer months. Here’s a look at the past 12 months of California water.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Resilience to water scarcity: How Central Valley farmers can adapt to climate change

SGMA inevitably means less water for irrigating farms. … On one path, the valley could become a patchwork of dusty barren fields, serving a huge blow to the agriculture sector and rural communities and further impairing already poor air quality. … On another path, the valley could transform into a pioneering agricultural region that not only puts food on our nation’s plates but also supports thriving wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, soil health, groundwater recharge and flood control.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Navajo, Hualapai water-rights bills get warm reception in House hearing

Tribal leaders urged House lawmakers Wednesday to support a handful of bills that would guarantee water to their tribes in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico and fund the water treatment plants and pipelines to deliver it.

Aquafornia news Governor's Office

News release: Gov. Newsom announces appointments

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced several appointments, including the reappointment of several of the state’s top water policy officials.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Climate change behind CA wildfires? Many voters think so

The polling firm FM3 Research found that a plurality of California voters surveyed (27 percent) said climate change is behind state wildfires. Another 17 percent of voters believe that human error is the leading cause of wildfires, 12 percent believe it’s forest mismanagement and 11 percent believe it’s drought.

Aquafornia news Valley Roadrunner

Opinion: In a few years California will begin to implement indoor water restrictions

Enjoy the days of long, endless hot showers while you may. … Eventually all households will be required to stay within a 55 gallon per day per resident indoor water usage for showers, baths, laundry and dishwashing.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: CA liability law threatens water districts by saddling them with fire costs

After the Freeway Complex Fire, the Yorba Linda Water District was slapped with a lawsuit and ultimately had to pay a $69 million judgment. Even though the court determined the district didn’t ignite the fire or act inappropriately, the district was still held liable for fire damages because the fire incapacitated the pumps needed to push water to the fire hydrants in one neighborhood.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Utah, other states urge California to sign 7-state drought plan for Colorado River

Most of the seven states that get water from the Colorado River have signed off on plans to keep the waterway from crashing amid a prolonged drought, climate change and increased demands. But California and Arizona have not, missing deadlines from the federal government.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Federal government wants to accelerate wildfire protections

The proposed rule changes include an expansion of “categorical exclusions.” These are often billed as tools that give land managers the discretion to bypass full-blown environmental studies in places where they can demonstrate there would be no severe impacts or degradation to the land.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mark Arax’s ‘The Dreamt Land’ traces California’s fear of a handful of dust

On the ground, it’s hard to get a fix on the Central Valley; it flashes by as dun-colored monotony — a sun-stunned void beyond the freeway berms. … But in “The Dreamt Land,” former L.A. Times reporter Mark Arax makes a riveting case that this expanse … as much as the world cities on its coast, holds the key to understanding California.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Water management is tough. Let’s tackle it together

Of all the issues that have crossed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk during his first 100 days in office, water might very well be the most complex. … I am an almond grower from Merced County, and we in the California almond community are all rooting for the governor, his fellow policymakers and regulators to succeed in finding viable solutions and common ground.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo County set to extend Paso Robles groundwater restrictions

First adopted in 2013 amid drying wells over the basin, the county offset ordinance put a theoretical moratorium on agricultural pumping. But the policy is set to expire later this year when North County leaders adopt a basin-wide sustainability plan—even though that plan could take another several years to fully take effect.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California regulators approve PG&E power outages to prevent more wildfires

California regulators have approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid catastrophic wildfires like the one sparked by power lines last year that killed 85 people and largely destroyed the city of Paradise.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Arizona Municipal Water Users Association

Blog: Will Our Drought Ever End?

Earlier this month the governor’s Drought Interagency Coordinating Group unanimously voted to inform the governor that Arizona’s long-running drought declaration should continue. This means Arizona has been in a state of drought for more than 20 years, surpassing the worst drought in more than 110 years of record keeping. Now that our drought has been extended yet again, it leaves many to wonder what it will take to get us out of this drought.

Aquafornia news UC Davis

News release: Thinning forests, prescribed fire before drought reduced tree loss

 The study, published in the journal Ecological Applications, found that thinning and prescribed fire treatments reduced the number of trees that died during the bark beetle epidemic and drought that killed more than 129 million trees across the Sierra Nevada between 2012-2016.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California needs Senate Bill 487 for watershed surveying

In my 40 years at the California Department of Water Resources, I have seen changes in climate that have convinced me that the full picture is changing and our extrapolation methods are losing value rapidly. This is especially true in extreme years, wet or dry – such as 2015, when the statistics are just not going to be accurate enough to meet our growing water management needs.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Federal bill to help fund water storage expansion for Central Valley

A congressional bill includes almost $14 million in funding for water projects in the Central Valley and Northern California. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, said he was successful in working the funding into an Energy and Water Development appropriations bill that includes spending for infrastructure across the nation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The West has many wildfires, but too few prescribed burns, study finds

Despite years of scientific research pointing to prescribed or “controlled” burns as a successful method of clearing brush and restoring ecosystems, intentional fire-setting by federal agencies has declined in much of the West over the last 20 years, the study found. “This suggests that the best available science is not being adopted into management practices…” the report warns.

Related article:

Aquafornia news WSIL TV

Herrin, Ill., plans to send treated wastewater to drought-stricken area

Steve Frattini, mayor of Herrin, Ill., went to a water conference a few years ago in California amid a severe drought. So he started working on a plan to send water to the area. The water is from the city’s wastewater treatment plant … The Wastewater Treatment Plant has a rail line nearby that would be used to transport the water… Initially, Frattini said the water would go to the area near the Salton Sea in southern California, a sea that’s been drying up for years.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Is overwatering really so bad?

Even though the Russian River watershed has received roughly 130 percent of the average rainfall this season, it is time to discuss the impacts of overwatered landscapes as the dry weather returns and irrigation controllers turn on.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

PG&E wants to make a massive investment in weather stations. Here’s why

California’s rich landscape of rolling hills and steep canyons has potentially hundreds of thousands of microclimates, which makes fire prediction an incredible challenge. That’s why PG&E wants to build a dense network of weather stations, which they hope will illuminate the humidity, wind speed, and temperature of Northern California’s varied landscape.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Seeking more water, Silicon Valley eyes Central Valley farmland

The largest water agency in Silicon Valley has been secretly negotiating to purchase a sprawling cattle ranch in Merced County that sits atop billions of gallons of groundwater, a move that could create a promising new water source — or spark a political battle between the Bay Area and Central Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: The Colorado River’s biggest challenge looms

States that share the river’s water finalized a big agreement last month, but an even larger challenge determining the river’s future is just around the bend, expert John Fleck explains.

Aquafornia news Claremont Courier

Opinion: Little-watched water districts helping Trump administration drain California desert

Cadiz is using Three Valleys Municipal Water District in eastern Los Angeles County and the Jurupa Community Services District in Riverside County to co-sponsor what they’re calling a “peer review” of its groundwater plan, written by four scientific consultants.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Orange County water board vacancy draws ‘unprecedented’ interest after Newsom kills twin tunnels project

After much speculation about whether Janet Nguyen might run for one of Orange County’s hotly contested congressional seats in 2020, the Republican former state senator has thrown her hat in a surprising ring. And she’s not alone. Nguyen is one of seven people vying to fill a board of directors seat with the Municipal Water District of Orange County.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Are big dams renewable energy? California Democrats split

In an effort to combat climate change and reduce smog, former Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed a landmark law that requires California’s utilities to produce 60 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030. But hydroelectric power from large dams doesn’t qualify as renewable, because of another state law, passed nearly 20 years ago, that aimed to protect salmon and other endangered fish. That’s not right, says State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Support Newsom’s ‘reset’ to a one-tunnel project

The Kern County Water Agency supports the state’s “reset” to a one-tunnel approach because it is more cost effective and still prepares California’s water system for earthquakes and climate change while protecting the Delta’s fish and communities.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Making key policy decisions in advance of droughts

It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t have clearly defined priorities. This is true for sudden-onset crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset crises, like droughts.

Aquafornia news Anchorage Daily News

Southeast Alaska is seeing its first extreme drought ever recorded, climatologists say

The southernmost portion of Southeast Alaska, including Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell and Metlakatla, has been in a drought for the last two years… Last week, though, the drought was updated to a D3, or “extreme” drought, the second-highest category the U.S. Drought Monitor measures. It’s the first time those conditions have ever been recorded in Alaska, according to the Drought Monitor.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: John Wesley Powell at 150: How can we tell better stories?

Rather than unquestioningly celebrating Powell and his legacy, this year gives us the chance to think about a couple of points: First, how are we telling Powell’s story now, and how have we told it in the past? Is it, and has it been, accurate and useful? Second, whose stories have we excluded, ignored, and forgotten about in the focus on Powell?

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour Weekend

Amid drought, Phoenix plans for a future with less water

As the Colorado River’s flow declines, water supplies in seven states are imperiled by potential shortages. That includes Arizona, which passed legislation outlining steps it would take if water from the river continues to decrease. But what does a water shortage mean for Phoenix?

Aquafornia news The Pacific Institute

Blog: Can California shift to proactive drought preparedness?

Precipitation in California is highly variable from year to year, and climate change is increasing this variability. … To address this and other challenges, the state passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1668 and Senate Bill (SB) 606 in June 2018. Known jointly as the Water Conservation Legislation, these bills were drafted in response of Governor Jerry Brown’s 2016 executive order to “make water conservation a California way of life.” There are six key components…

Aquafornia news Western Water

150 years after John Wesley Powell ventured down the Colorado River, how should we assess his legacy in the West?

University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Charles Wilkinson … described the Western icon and one-armed Civil War veteran as a complex character, a larger-than-life person and an early visionary of wise water use in an arid West. Wilkinson spoke recently with Western Water about Powell and his legacy, and how Powell might view the Colorado River today.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Bureau of Reclamation bumps Westside water allocation to 70 percent

The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms provided an added boost to the already above average precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still about 150% of average for this time of year.”

Related articles:

Aquafornia news KHTS

Santa Clarita solar company offering ‘smart’ sprinkler controller to save water during rain

The “smart” sprinkler controller … uses the internet to detect when rain is in the forecast and automatically delays the system so the homeowner doesn’t even have to think about it. In addition, the controller syncs to smartphones, allowing the homeowner to easily adjust watering schedules manually as well.

Aquafornia news KALW

A small city fights plans for a desalination plant

The desalination plant would have seven wells sloping into the ground and sucking up water underneath the dunes, removing the salt, and sending it to cities on the Monterey Peninsula … but not Marina. They wouldn’t get any of the desalinated water because they’re not served by CalAm. Biala and other Marina residents oppose the plant because they think it will cause irreversible damage to their town’s ecosystems.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Late-season rains mask looming fire danger as lush plants turn dry and explosive

Giant green stems with budding yellow flowers greeted hikers along a narrow path beneath the soaring Santa Monica Mountains on a recent drizzly day. This is where, just seven months ago, the worst fire in Los Angeles County history swept through, destroying more than 1,000 homes and blackening miles of hillsides and canyon. But thanks to one of the wettest seasons in years, rains have transformed the fire zone back to life with great speed.

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Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Rural Nevadans unite with environmentalists over water bill fears

Nevada ranchers, environmental groups and American Indian tribes are sounding the alarm over legislation they say could drain the water supply from rural areas throughout the state. They’re worried about Assembly Bill 30 in the Nevada Legislature after negotiations over arcane language in the bill broke down in recent days.

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Dodd’s water flow gauging legislation passes Senate

Legislation that would require the state to enhance its river and stream gauging system has cleared the state Senate. … The bill requires the Department of Water Resources and Water Control Board to improve and enhance the monitoring system, including filling those gaps that are found, as well as assess a funding source to complete the work.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Cadiz bill passes California Senate, now to Assembly

The California Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require additional environmental review for groundwater transfers that would affect desert areas, which would put a major roadblock in front of a controversial water project proposed in the Mojave Desert by Cadiz Inc.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: What’s behind California’s lawsuit against Westlands, raising Shasta dam?

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his allies have filed a lawsuit to stop Federal water users from participating in the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal dam. … Plain and simple, this is a lawsuit waged against Central Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Managing drought in a changing climate: Four essential reforms

Last fall, a team of researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studied the state’s response to the extreme drought conditions, distilling their findings down to four essential reforms that will better prepare the state to adapt to the impacts of climate change. At the Association of Water Agencies of Ventura County’s Annual Symposium held in April of 2019, Ellen Hanak, Director of Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center gave this recap of their research.

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Aquafornia news CSUN Today

CSUN students help link communities with clean water

CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies is helping in these efforts.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Domino droughts: How droughts travel across continents

Could a drought in California be linked to a drought in the Midwest? A recent Stanford-led study published in Geophysical Research Letters finds that regions may fall victim to water scarcity like dominos toppling down a line.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Almond growers learn about their ‘largest challenge’

The session, “Navigating the Waters,” drew a crowd of about 150 farmers to the International Agri-Center in Tulare last week, where attendees heard from water-agency leaders, state water officials, farmers and others on a range of topics with the goal of helping almond growers make informed water decisions.

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Sonoma County approves plan to offset groundwater fees in the Santa Rosa Plain

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan, the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000 annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Update provided on imported water goal

A firm hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is already in the initial phase to find sources of imported water for the valley, according to a progress report delivered at a Thursday board meeting. … Capitol Core Group, retained in March, is looking at what water supply options are available and how to secure funding to ultimately purchase and develop infrastructure to deliver into the valley.

Aquafornia news KUOW

Drought emergency declared over nearly half of Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency across nearly half the state. The drought declaration covers the Olympic peninsula, the North Cascades, the eastern Cascades and most of southwest Washington. It allows local governments to tap into $2 million in state funding to respond to hardships caused by the drought. … Snowpack is now at its fourth-lowest level in the past 30 years.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Learn about atmospheric river research and forest management on Headwaters Tour, June 27-28

Our Headwaters Tour June 27-28 highlights the connection between fire and water with an up-close look at the critical role healthy Sierra forests play in water supply and quality across California. We will also learn about a new initiative between Yuba Water Agency, the California Department of Water Resources and University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography to study how atmospheric rivers affect the location, duration and intensity of storms.

Aquafornia news Inkstain

Blog: What the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan means in practice

I ran down a quick summary this morning of the relevant data, comparing recent use with the cuts mandated under the DCP. It shows that, at this first tier of shortage, permitted use is less than the voluntary cuts water users have been making since 2015. In other words, all of the states are already using less water than contemplated in this first tier of DCP reductions.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

August tour examines lurking threat of drought along the California coast

On our August Edge of Drought Tour, we’re venturing into the Santa Barbara area to learn about the water challenges and the steps being taken to boost supplies. The region’s local surface and groundwater supplies are limited, and its hydrologic recovery often has lagged behind much of the state despite the recent lifting of a drought emergency declaration following this winter’s storms.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Interior Department pulls support from Klamath dam removal project

Recently-appointed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has rescinded a letter of support that Obama-era Interior Secretary Sally Jewell wrote in 2016. … Matt Cox is with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit formed to implement the dam removal agreement. He says rescinding Jewell’s letter has no legal effect.

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