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 Visalia Times Delta

Tulare County supervisors to support water over high-speed rail

Tulare County Supervisors will vote to approve a letter of support for proposed legislation that will bring up to $3.5 billion for water infrastructure improvements. The money comes at a cost to California’s biggest undertaking — high-speed rail.

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 The Desert Sun

Lawmakers advance bill to increase oversight on Cadiz’s Mojave Desert Water Project

A bill that could block a Los Angeles-based water supply company from pumping water out of a Mojave Desert aquifer passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, extending the yearslong fight over whether the environmental impact of groundwater extraction merits additional scrutiny.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Opinion: We were warned 150 years ago about our water shortage. We have to do better

The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people. It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century. We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have to do better.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Can small-scale farmers grow a healthier California?

Aidee Guzman is focusing on these small farms to find out whether, ecologically, this diversity has any positive effects on soil health. Her work won’t be published for another two years, but there is already a large body of research that explains how large monocropping operations strip soils of their nutrients and make them less capable of storing carbon… As she works, she is documenting a potential alternative to the industrial mega-farms of the valley and the West.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Pacific Grove set to sell $6.3 million in water credits, thanks to recycled water project

The idea was to count the reductions in water consumption thanks to new irrigation sources, and count that water toward the city’s water yearly water allowance. After that, the city would make those excess water credits available for sale to the residents and businesses that had languished on the city’s water waiting list, sometimes for years.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea: Ideas abound to fix the California lake. Will any work?

Many have gazed across its shimmering expanse and seen an idea just as big to fix it. … So far, with the exception of geothermal energy, none have seen the light of day. But with new interest in Sacramento, the rough outlines of immediate, medium range and long-term plans to protect public health and restore wildlife are taking shape.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Opinion: One good year does not end a drought

It takes more than one wet year to not only refill reservoirs but also recharge aquifers and return moisture in parched soils to normal levels. … All this upstream snowpack and rain is predicted to boost Powell to 47% of capacity by the end of the year, another three or four feet, but there’ll still be plenty of the “bathtub ring” visible. It’s been 36 years since Powell was full. It’s not likely it’ll ever fill again.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

The Drought Contingency Plan is done. Now what?

After months of tense, difficult negotiations, a plan to spread the effects of anticipated cutbacks on the drought-stricken Colorado River is nearing completion. On Monday, representatives of the seven states that rely on the river will gather for a formal signing ceremony at Hoover Dam, the real and symbolic center of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

As Nevada legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom

In the ceaseless conflict over how to use the state’s available water — and maybe then some — a varied group of water users and lawmakers sang a refrain older than Nevada: “Everyone is going to court in the end.” … The ghosts of litigation — past, present and future — loomed over the Thursday Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing that stretched until 8 p.m. and offered insight into why it’s so difficult to update Nevada water law.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: This Arizona bill supports local planning for resilient groundwater supplies in two rural counties

Arizona relies on groundwater for about 40% of its water supply, yet groundwater resources outside of the state’s biggest urban areas are largely unprotected and unregulated… HB 2467, a bill that passed in the Arizona House and currently awaiting a final vote in the Senate, takes an important step forward to address groundwater challenges in Mohave and La Paz counties.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Stay cool, babies: Growth and temperature tradeoffs for juvenile Chinook

Although they spend their lives hidden beneath the surface, fish are directly affected by the weather happening outside their aquatic world. This is particularly true of species that rely on watersheds in regions like California, where the availability of water changes dramatically with the seasons.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

NASA’s GRACE: What researchers have learned from water in motion

When you hear news about ice loss from Greenland or Antarctica, an aquifer in California that is getting depleted, or a new explanation for a wobble in Earth’s rotation, you might not realize that all these findings may rely on data from one single mission

Aquafornia news Capitol Media Services

Pinal County farmers make another plea for $20M from state to drill wells

Insisting the state made a commitment, a central Arizona lawmaker and farmers he represents are making a last-ditch pitch for $20 million from taxpayers to drill new wells and water delivery canals. Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said Thursday the farmers in Pinal County agreed to give up their right to Colorado River water to help the state come up with a plan to deal with the drought. In exchange they were given the right to take additional water out of the ground.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Senate should OK SB 307 to give California more review of Cadiz aquifer harvesting project

California must defend our scarce and sacred resources … The legislation, authored by Sen. Richard Roth of Riverside, authorizes state agencies to conduct independent review of the Cadiz project, restoring safeguards eliminated at the federal level and ensuring any pumping from underneath Mojave Trails and protected desert lands is sustainable. 

Related article:

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water News looks at challenges ahead in next round of Colorado River talks

Stakeholders throughout the Colorado River Basin just wrapped up arduous negotiations on a drought plan. There’s little time to rest, however. Stakeholders are expected to begin the even more difficult task of hammering out sweeping new guidelines for delivering water and sharing shortages that could re-imagine how the overworked river is managed.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

Owens Valley groundwater basin goes low

Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low priority. That prioritization would have had an impact three years ago. Medium and high priority basins are required to form an agency and sustainability plan; low basins are not.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Commentary: Key conflicts roil California’s ever-evolving waterscape

The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the next few years will write an entirely new chapter in California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps shifting water from agriculture to urban users and environmental enhancement.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Latinos rely heavily on Colorado River water amid plans for cutbacks

This river provides water for one-third of Latinos in the United States. Latinos make up the bulk of agricultural workers harvesting the produce this river waters. We boat, fish, swim and recreate along its banks. We hold baptisms in its waters. Therefore, it is critical to engage the growing Latino population on water-smart solutions.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom administration is getting closer to water deals

With the administration’s leadership, representatives of farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive negotiations on a complex package of actions that would increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is months away, but we are making progress.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Our Towns: National policies have local effects

Five years ago, Deb Fallows and I made the first of what became many visits to the farming town of Winters, California. … When we first visited five years ago, the main question for the area’s nut-tree farmers, and for California’s agricultural economy as a whole, was whether the state’s drought-ravaged water supplies could support such commercially valuable but water-intensive crops.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Developing a decision-support framework for curtailment

What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed? California water rights law says that certain water users must curtail their water diversions — in other words, reduce the amount of water they divert or stop diverting water altogether. … But following water right priorities is not always straightforward, and other aspects of state and federal law complicate the picture …

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: The Cadiz project to drain the desert is a bad idea

The U.S. Geological Survey studied the land and the water and, in 2002 … concluded that the proposed pumping would far exceed the rate of natural refill. The National Park Service submitted comments in 2012 stating that Cadiz’s estimates are “3 to 16 times too high.” The Geological Survey, in 2017, reported that there was no information to lead it to change its 2002 conclusions. … And that ought to have been the end of it.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: What does the Colorado River drought plan mean for California?

The DCP … provides assurance against curtailments for water stored behind Hoover Dam. This is especially important for the Southern California water agencies, whose ability to store water in Lake Mead is crucial for managing seasonal demands. Some significant challenges must still be addressed, however.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Opinion: Drought recovery in Carpinteria

Because of the wet weather this winter, the district is proposing to lower its Stage Two Drought Condition to a Stage One Drought Condition, which would lift many mandatory drought water-use restrictions.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

April water use up 8% in Manteca; growing faster than city population

Last month there was an 8 percent increase in water compared to April 2018. Meanwhile the population over the same time period went up 2,759 residents or just over a 3 percent increase. … Using a five-year yardstick with the city adding just over 9,000 residents since 2014, per capita water consumption is down by more than 10 percent from April 2014 to April 2019.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Newsom crafts smart water portfolio for California

In reality, the WaterFix could not increase water exports while protecting the Delta ecosystem. That’s because California’s snow and rainfall are highly variable, making it unlikely that existing supplies can meet increasing water demands reliably into the future. Plus, the science demonstrates that San Francisco Bay’s fish and wildlife need more water, not less, to flow from the Central Valley to the Bay.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herand & News

Opinion: Only FERC will decide dam removal, not Compact Commission

Various parties have recently claimed that the Klamath River Compact Commission has authority over the proposal to remove four dams in the Klamath Hydroelectric Project. … This argument, while creative, is wrong. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (or FERC) will decide whether the proposed dam removal is in the public interest.

Aquafornia news Aspen Times

Colorado to make tough decisions when it comes to water usage in Drought Contingency Plan

The West is still in the midst of a long-term water shortage in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, primary reservoirs that serve 40 million people. For that reason, the Upper Basin states — Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico — have to also come up with their own drought contingency plans. That means Colorado might be heading into choppy waters as one of the requirements of a drought contingency plan — demand management — could pit communities and regions against each other …

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

Bunker Hill Basin reported below full after 2017-18 water year

According to an engineering investigation released by the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District on March 7, the Bunker Hill Basin, which stores the groundwater used by the San Bernardino Valley, remains 570,718 acre-feet below full water storage following the 2017-18 water year. … The water year brought a reported 56 percent of average annual precipitation and 161,708 acre-feet of groundwater production.

Aquafornia news The Harvard Crimson

Opinion: Harvard’s investment in land and natural resources

For rural communities in the central coast region of California, the name “Harvard” does not connote excellence. For these communities, where water is scarce and becoming scarcer, it evokes greed and exploitation. As California takes its first steps to regulate groundwater in the midst of a worsening water crisis, Harvard’s endowment fund is investing millions into vineyards that pump inordinate amounts of water from California’s critically overdrafted groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Western Water News

Friday Top of the Scroll: With drought plan in place, Colorado River stakeholders face even tougher talks ahead on river’s future

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict. … But as the time for crafting a new set of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the overworked Colorado River is managed…

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must adapt wastewater policy to climate change

In California, treated wastewater also is a critical source of water for the environment, and, increasingly, a source for recycled water. Climate change is worsening water scarcity and flood risks. Advancements in engineering and technology can help prepare wastewater agencies for a changing climate. But significant shifts in policy and planning are needed to address these challenges.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

El Niño has rapidly become stronger and stranger, according to coral records

A new category of El Niño has become far more prevalent in the last few decades than at any time in the past four centuries. Over the same period, traditional El Niño events have become more intense. This new finding will arguably alter our understanding of the El Niño phenomenon. Changes to El Niño will influence patterns of precipitation and temperature extremes in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Americas.

Aquafornia news Pacific Standard

Six months later, how are the communities affected by the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire recovering?

Last November, two blazes, the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire, caused mass destruction in California. Here’s how the affected communities are recovering half a year later.

Aquafornia news The Reporter

Garamendi applauds cancellation of twin tunnels, suggests alternative plan to Newsom

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to withdraw permits for the proposed Twin Tunnels project in favor of a smaller single tunnel, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, issued a letter to the governor expressing support for the decision while also outlining alternative water plans.

Aquafornia news Fox40

Capitol-to-Capitol: Finding better water management for California

When it rains in California, it pours. But when it doesn’t, California’s drought years can have a devastating impact on the state. California’s water experts are looking for ways to better store water during rainy years like 2019 so the state can have it during years when the rain and snow inevitably dry up.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Soquel Creek Water board advances Live Oak treatment site

Locking in a $3.2 million sale price, the Soquel Creek Water District board will enter an initial five-month “option to purchase” agreement to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel in Live Oak. The purchase option period … is designed to give district officials time to survey the 2505 Chanticleer Ave. land, assessing its ability to serve as home to the proposed Pure Water Soquel plant.

With Drought Plan in Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Talks are about to begin on a potentially sweeping agreement that could reimagine how the Colorado River is managed

Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, shows the effects of nearly two decades of drought. Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Wildfire burn zones deplete snowpack across West, fueling more fire and snow loss, research shows

The effect of wildfires on snowmelt is more widespread and longer lasting than people thought and has ramifications across the region, where cities … rely heavily on melting snow to replenish water supplies. What’s more, human-caused global warming is feeding the spread of fires, which contributes more to the deterioration of snow, thus extending and intensifying the fire season.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

After its 12 wettest months on record, the United States is virtually drought-free for the first time in decades

Drought affects just 2 percent of the country — about the smallest area since the federal government began official monitoring in 2000. Meanwhile, NOAA data show the last 12 months (May 2018 to April 2019) were the wettest on record for the nation.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Summer tours explore California’s plentiful mountain snowpack and a lurking threat of drought along the coast

Get a firsthand view of California’s diverse water resource issues with two of our summer tours — to the Sierra Nevada headwaters that were blessed this winter with a plentiful snowpack, and a Southern California coastal region chronically prone to drought.

Aquafornia news PasadenaNow.com

The end of California’s drought shouldn’t mean the importance of water is forgotten, city officials say

To kick off Water Awareness Month, PWP is partnering with the City of Pasadena Public Health Department for Rethink Your Drink Day, a statewide initiative to encourage the public to switch from sugary drinks to healthy drinking water. At the event, PWP and the Public Health Department will promote drinking great-tasting Pasadena tap water with a variety of family- friendly activities and giveaways.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

San Lorenzo Valley Water District criticized over proposed environmental budget cuts

In the district’s “high-level” draft budget proposal for the 2019-2010 fiscal year projects a 4% increase in annual spending, and includes a $45,000 operational savings secured through cutting funding for water conservation and education programs for the coming year.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Groundwater recharge in the SGMA era

Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was always going to be tricky. Part of the necessary growing pains of SGMA is determining how the revolutionary statute interacts with traditional tenets of water law. As with any other sweeping legislative change, SGMA does not provide direct answers for every practical question which arises as the law is put into place.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Finally, California and IID reach agreement on Salton Sea access and liability

The Imperial Irrigation District board of directors voted Tuesday to allow access across its lands for critically needed state wetlands projects at the Salton Sea, designed to tamp down dangerous dust storms and give threatened wildlife a boost. In exchange, California will shoulder the maintenance and operations of the projects, and the state’s taxpayers will cover the costs of any lawsuits or regulatory penalties…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

CVP districts seek ways to enhance water supplies

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project, may update its 65% allocation for south-of-delta agricultural contractors later this month. But Lon Martin, general manager of the Los Banos-based San Luis Water District, said landowners who are planting crops and must secure water for the remainder of the year “cannot wait until May and June to make decisions.”

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The California water model: Resilience through failure

A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past mistakes. California’s highly variable climate has made it a crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.

Aquafornia news The Aggie

Is vertical farming a solution for feeding our growing cities?

Vertical farming also brings potential for solving our current and projected water issues in California. By using hydroponic system technology, water is constantly recycled and uses 98% less water per item than traditional farming. Adopting this technology would be greatly beneficial for our future, considering that California’s agricultural sector uses 40% of our water.

Aquafornia news Mohave Valley Daily News

Bureau of Reclamation projects Lake Mead to stay above shortage trigger

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the snowpack in the Upper Basin is nearly 140% above average as of April 15 and it forecasts that seasonal inflow to Lake Powell will be at 128% of average. … “These developments may lessen the chance of shortage in 2020,” Terry Fulp, BOR’s Lower Colorado regional director, said in a prepared statement.

Aquafornia news PasadenaNow.com

The end of California’s drought shouldn’t mean the importance of water is forgotten, city officials say

Pasadena Water and Power is partnering with the city’s Department of Public Health in celebrating the month of May as Water Awareness Month, and Wednesday, May 8, as Rethink Your Drink Day. PWP General Manager Gurcharan Bawa said the utility plans to engage with community organizations in Pasadena during the entire month in an effort to educate people about the importance of water as a precious resource.

Aquafornia news Physics World

Weighing water from space

By monitoring tiny changes to the Earth’s gravitational field, the GRACE satellites have been pinpointing the distribution of fresh water on our planet for almost two decades. But as Marric Stephens explains, a new follow-on mission is also helping with plans for a space-based gravitational-wave detector

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A little-known company is quietly making massive water deals

In the past several years, Los Angeles-based Renewable Resources Group has helped sell 33,000 acres of land to California’s most powerful water agency, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Documents obtained by Voice of San Diego raise fresh questions about those deals. Now, Renewable may be working on another deal that could rearrange the distribution of water in California forever.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: DWR withdraws approvals and permit applications for WaterFix

DWR has not yet disclosed whether it intends to withdraw the WaterFix bond resolutions, which are subject to numerous challenges in litigation DWR filed to validate the bonds. It remains unclear what will happen with the validation action now that the project and cost estimates these items are based on no longer exist.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A war is brewing over lithium mining at the edge of Death Valley

In a formal response to the drilling proposal, a dozen environmental organizations expressed concerns about the effects on ground and surface water if exploration leads to an industrial-scale mine. … Among those who have spoken against the plan are officials at Death Valley National Park.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: The Delta twin tunnels project is dead

Gov. Gavin Newsom killed the divisive twin tunnels project Thursday, calming fears that have roiled the delta communities and dominated California water politics for more than a decade. It is a signature decision for the young administration.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California must embrace desalination to ensure water supply

In one key respect, California is lagging behind many other parts of the world. Climate change is causing drought and water shortages everywhere, but California has been slow to adopt a solution that over 120 countries are using: desalination.

Aquafornia news The Grass Valley Union

Opinion: Protect against water grabs like Centennial Dam

Nevada Irrigation District is a very bad steward of the Bear River and Auburn Ravine, which it uses as a ditch to deliver water to its paying customers downstream with little regard for the ecology of Auburn Ravine.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

‘Desperately needed’: Congress OKs more than $29 million in disaster relief for California fisheries

It’s taken four years but fishermen along California’s North Coast who have seen crab and salmon seasons truncated and even closed altogether will finally see some relief after $29.65 million in federal disaster relief funding was approved by Congress. It was in the 2015-16 year the Dungeness crab fishery and the Yurok Chinook salmon fishery both collapsed due to poor water quality.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Checking the water jug that is Lake Powell

The giant reservoir, formed by Glen Canyon Dam, was under 40 percent full the last week of April. And a lot of water is still being released from the reservoir, more demands on the water are expected, and the water supply above the reservoir, in the sprawling Colorado River system, is expected to decrease.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Western Water

With Colorado River drought plan in place, stakeholders face even tougher talks ahead on river’s future

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multi‐year drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict. But as the time for crafting a new set of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the overworked Colorado River is managed…

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

As California dries out, significant wildfire potential looms for Pacific Coast states this summer

A wet winter is not necessarily good news regarding the potential for wildfires in the summer, especially where summers tend to be dry. This is because the extra precipitation can lead to a more robust growth of grasses and other vegetation that can become fuel for fires as they dry out.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona’s water future largely depends on these people’s work

The drought contingency plan is in the can (well, mostly), and an unusually wet winter means we’ll likely avoid the water shortage declaration everyone was expecting in 2020. If this were the past, we’d take a few months off to revel in our success. But thank goodness we’re not living in the past. Arizona’s water leaders know that the drought plan didn’t solve anything.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom officially kills Jerry Brown’s Delta twin tunnels

The Newsom administration announced it is withdrawing permit applications that the Brown administration had submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and several federal agencies. Instead, the administration said it will begin environmental studies on a one-tunnel project.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Experts weigh in on the snowpack, and how a new water treatment facility benefits the valley

There’s a need to use the available surface water from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs so the groundwater can replenish itself. That’s where the new Southeast Fresno Surface Water Treatment Facility comes in. … Michael Carbajal, Director of Public Utilities for the City of Fresno. says that before 2004, we used 100% groundwater to meet drinking water demand. “We’re hoping to get up over 50% meaning, 50% of our drinking water demand through surface water,” says Carbajal.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

A spring ritual: Groundwater pumping discussions under way

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power released its operation plan, focusing on pumping volumes, April 20, kicking off a series of events that historically has ended with a volume at or near the proposed maximum. The water extractions will be used in the valley for irrigation, enhancement/mitigation projects and for export.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Federal district judge rules in favor of water agencies on latest issues in Agua Caliente litigation

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a decision … finding that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians lacked standing to seek adjudication of its claim to quantification of its reserved groundwater right and its claim regarding groundwater quality.

Aquafornia news Fontana Herald News

Local leaders hold groundbreaking event for Village of Heritage Recycled Water Project

The Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Cucamonga Valley Water District and the City of Fontana held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Village of Heritage Recycled Water Project in the northwestern area of the city. About 8,200 linear feet of pipeline will be installed in an effort to decrease the use of imported water in Fontana, officials said. The pipeline will be an extension of the existing Baseline recycled water pipeline…

Aquafornia news Westsideconnect.com

Residents reminded of water conservation rules

The winter was wet, and the memories of California’s record-setting drought years are receding. But as the weather warms and irrigation systems are once again operating, city officials remind local residents that Newman’s water conservation rules remain in effect.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Water is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue

DCP puts safeguards in place to help manage water use now and better deal with a potential shortage. Utah, Arizona and the five other Colorado River basin states wisely chose to include conservation measures in the DCP — and shared in their sacrifice to avoid costly litigation and imposed cuts. Congress and the states should be commended for this bipartisan, collaborative process.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Water supply and quality challenges in the San Joaquin Valley

Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, testified today (April 30, 2019) before the Assembly Subcommittee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, at a hearing on balancing water needs into the future in the San Joaquin Valley. Here are her prepared remarks.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Dam removal opponents keep up their fight

As the Klamath River Renewal Corporation announced that they’ve contracted with a company for removal of four Klamath dams last week, opponents continue to insist the organization is ill prepared for the expense and consequences of removal.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water board faces lawsuit over new wetlands rules

With the Trump administration trudging ahead and re-writing another Obama-era environmental law, wary California regulators last month approved new protections for wetlands in the Golden State. … Hoping to freeze the new wetlands rules, a coalition consisting of several California water suppliers and the city of San Francisco sued the water board late Wednesday in state court. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Imperial Irrigation District threatens Coachella Valley withdrawal

“3.1 million acre-feet of the (Imperial) Valley’s entitlement to Colorado River water is now up for grabs in Sacramento and it ought to concern all of us,” IID Board President Erik Ortega said Tuesday afternoon in El Centro. “That’s why I’m calling today for the general manager to bring back to this board a plan for the divestment of IID’s energy assets in the Coachella Valley.”

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California drought turned some trees into ‘zombies’

Although seven years of drought in California finally relented this March, high heat and lack of water have caused a severe decline in the health of some trees, with many now essentially suspended between life and death, Sacramento-area arborist Matt Morgan said.

Aquafornia news SF Weekly

Even after all that rain, S.F. barely broke even for the winter

If it doesn’t rain another drop for the rest of this “winter,” we got exactly 0.13 inches more than an ordinary season, putting 2018-19 at almost exactly the historical average.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Opinion: Permanent conservation regulations

Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606 established indoor and outdoor irrigation regulations, making water conservation a permanent way of life. This draconian and arbitrary rationing legislation tramples upon the personal rights of individuals to make choices regarding their beneficial use of water, undermines local conditions and local control, the state’s water rights priority system and area-of-origin water right assurances.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom says he has a fresh approach to California’s longtime water woes

At first blush, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest action on water seems fanciful and naive. But it has logic and conceivably could work. Newsom wants to reexamine practically everything the state has been working on — meaning what former Gov. Jerry Brown was doing — and piece together a grand plan for California’s future that can draw the support of longtime water warriors.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: It’s OK to stop, take a deep breath with state water policy

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call on Monday for a new comprehensive water plan for California looks like a smart timeout on one of the state’s trickiest and most intractable battlefronts. As with many political hot potatoes, there is no way to make everyone happy when it comes to water management, because the sides have mutually exclusive goals…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Fire claims California cabin, site of snowpack survey

The property, a peaceful meadow  at 6,820 feet elevation near Echo Summit, is also home to … a monthly event that attracts hordes of reporters and photographers who tromp through the property on snowshoes. … Carol Pearson would usually watch the proceedings from the window of the small cabin, built in 1938, where she’s lived the past 20 years. Now Pearson, 67, has been displaced by fire. Her cabin burned to the ground in a chimney fire April 12, killing one of her cats.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Fingerprint of climate change on drought traced to 1900

Researchers revealed Wednesday the fingerprint of climate change on drought and the long-term effect on global water supplies can be traced to 1900. … Lead author Kate Marvel, a climate modeler at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, said, “It’s mind boggling. There is a really clear signal of the effects of human greenhouse gases on the hydroclimate.”

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California and Imperial Irrigation District near Salton Sea projects agreement

Imperial Irrigation District general manager Henry Martinez and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot have reached an agreement in principle that the state will be responsible for construction and maintenance of more than 3,700 acres of wetlands aimed at controlling toxic dust and restoring wildlife habitat. In exchange, the water district will sign easements for access onto lands it owns that border California’s largest lake.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

NASA takes guesswork out of measuring California’s snowpack

To better measure the water in our snow, California is sending sharper eyes up into the sky. Two sensors peer out from a turboprop aircraft, soaring from Mammoth Yosemite Airport over the white Sierra Nevada – collecting data that tells us almost exactly how much water we’ll have this summer.

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: The vicious climate-wildfire cycle

In the Western US, climate change is a major driver behind the near doubling in burned area that we’ve experienced over the past 35 years, and has contributed to an increase in the frequency and severity of fires, while lengthening the fire season in some regions.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Experts tell how water availability affects land values

One of the most frequently recurring themes of last week’s business conference of California agricultural appraisers was the impact the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, known as SGMA, is having on land values. … Another recurring theme was the tight availability of farm employees and the rising costs associated with those employees. One result has been the increase in plantings of nut crops, which require fewer people to tend and harvest.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Colorado River: NEPA looms over drought plan enthusiasm

Some lawyers say the Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, may be built on shaky legal ground and could be vulnerable to litigation — depending on how the Bureau of Reclamation implements it. One California water district has already sued to block it.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Reinventing the tomato for survival in a changing world

Born and raised in Northern California, Brad Gates has been organically farming tomatoes in the region for 25 years, working on small leased plots and introducing new varieties with cult followings… For most of that time, he sold his tomatoes to top restaurants, including Chez Panisse in Berkeley. But a few years ago he completely rethought his work. Galvanized by climate change, he joined a growing number of farmers who are trying to find a future for their threatened crops.

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Despite abundant snowpack, water still limited for some farmers

It’s an exceptional year for Sierra snowpack — 150 to 200% in some places. Mountain snow is the main water source for agriculture on the Valley’s west side. But those farmers are getting just 65% of their allocation… Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says it’s frustrating that in a water year this good, some farmers still can’t get enough of it to grow food.

Aquafornia news NBC Southern California

Garcetti outlines ‘Green New Deal’ for Los Angeles

Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday unveiled a Green New Deal for Los Angeles, setting aggressive new environmental goals in a range of areas, including electric autos, air quality, trees and public transit. … The plan includes a reiteration of some previous commitments, but also sets some new benchmarks, including sourcing 70% of L.A.’s water locally and recycling 100% of all wastewater for beneficial reuse by 2035.

Aquafornia news Mustang News

How a water conservation senior project turned into a company of 25 employees with nationwide reach

In the midst of the record-breaking California drought in 2014, three Cal Poly students decided to use their senior project to try to help stop water leaks. They began designing a device that would monitor a consumer’s water usage during the month and hoped it would inspire people to pay closer attention to their consumption.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

A new effort to save birds pinpoints in amazing detail where they fly

As California’s Central Valley grew into the nation’s leading agricultural corridor, the region gradually lost almost all of the wetlands that birds depend on during their migrations along the West Coast. But a dramatic turnaround is underway in the valley. Dozens of farmers leave water on their fields for a few extra weeks each season to create rest stops for birds. The campaign has not only helped salvage a vital stretch of the north-south migration path called the Pacific Flyway but also tested a fresh model for protecting wildlife.

Aquafornia news CityLab

The town that extended ’smart growth’ to its water

Westminster, Colo.’s, comprehensive plan estimates how much water each type of building would use. Then the city built GIS software that overlays water resources and infrastructure over the comprehensive plan—making it easy to see, for example, how much water a proposed strip mall might use. It’s a step up from the typical water-per-capita measure that most cities rely on… It also helps planners guide developers to smarter construction.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Cal Am withdraws appeal of desal permit denial

Cal Am announced it had been told by city officials its request for the mayor and two council members to recuse themselves due to alleged bias against the desal project would not be honored. The company will now appeal the commission’s denial directly to the Coastal Commission.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Few details in Newsom’s water policy directive

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water needs in the face of climate change.The executive order includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking water to impoverished communities.

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Aquafornia news Yuba Water Agency

News release: Yuba Water Agency, DWR launch research to enhance reservoir operations

This research will supply information needed for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to update the 1970’s-era water control manuals, which dictate the storm-season operations of both reservoirs. Yuba Water’s goal is to have a new water control manual approved about the same time the agency completes construction of a new, planned secondary spillway at its New Bullards Bar Dam, estimated for completion in 2024.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

New Trampas reservoir in south O.C. overcoming hurdles; public tours offered

Despite cost increases and weather-related delays, construction of the 1.6 billion-gallon Trampas Canyon Reservoir in south Orange County is well underway and officials continue pointing to long-term savings to be gleaned by reducing the need for imported water. … Construction costs have soared from the 2016 estimate of $56 million to $83 million today…

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Drought-resistant plants help save money

Spring has come to California and drought-resistant plants are a good option for residents looking to add some new plants. These drought-resistant plants can help save money, because they require less water.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: Newsom offers a new approach to California’s water issues

By rejecting the twin tunnels proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom has sent an important message that new thinking is required to address California’s complex water issues.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Is it really drought contingency or a missed opportunity?

In the DCP, there was no consideration of deeper conservation, no consideration of mechanisms to shift our state to less thirsty crops, and no consideration of what kind of development is sustainable. There was no consideration of our other rivers and the need for ecological flows.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Calistoga’s Crystal Geyser partners with conservancy group to protect watersheds

Crystal Geyser Water Company of Calistoga has partnered with a nonprofit watershed conservation group for the protection and restoration of forested watersheds and natural sources of drinking water. … The partnership has created a new initiative, called Spring for Life, and was announced April 16.

Aquafornia news Redlands Daily Facts

Keep conserving, officials say, San Bernardino valley groundwater basins are ‘historically low’

As the Inland area dries out from this winter’s soaking, residents might be tempted to crank up their lawn sprinklers, and wash the dust off their driveways, but not so fast, water officials say. All that rain has done little to erase the deficits in local groundwater basins which are at historic lows thanks to two decades of drought.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Harder water bill a bipartisan effort

As a full Tuolumne River flowed behind them, a diverse set of government leaders and water stakeholders gathered alongside Congressman Josh Harder Wednesday afternoon in Modesto to unite under one important cause: protecting water in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Opinion: Sen. Feinstein – Working together to better prepare California for the threat of wildfires

Governor Newsom last month declared a wildfire state of emergency in California. The governor’s action’s followed a Cal Fire report that more than half of the state’s wildlands – 25 million acres – face a very high or extreme fire threat, placing hundreds of nearby communities at risk.

Aquafornia news Wired

How the Blockchain Could Protect California’s Aquifer

In Solano County, near Sacramento, [Alex] Johnson is working on what he says could be a model for parched ag regions around the state. … Last month, working with IBM and a company called SweetSense, Johnson’s team began deploying simple, solar-powered sensors, originally developed to monitor creaky groundwater pumps in East Africa. The sensors will be used to detect how much water is flowing in real-time. … Farmers will use that data to trade their water on (what else?) a blockchain platform.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

A look back at the specifics of a wild, wet and snowy winter in California and the Southwest

Following a pretty dry 2017-18 season, the storms came back with a frenzy this season across the Southwest, helping to propel many places to above-average precipitation.

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.

That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Josh Harder unveils water plan for Central Valley

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years. His bipartisan water legislation unveiled Wednesday promises federal support for storage and innovation projects to address shortages that too often plague Valley agriculture and communities.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

How ski resorts in California are preparing for warmer winters

North America is not a snow globe, and as the real globe warms, one trend is clear: winter is shrinking and snow is melting. In the last 50 years alone, the frozen mantle that caps the Northern Hemisphere in the dark months has lost a million square miles of spring snowpack. …Coastal ranges like the Sierras and Cascades, where winter temperatures hover close to the freezing point, are most at risk.

Aquafornia news Capital & Main

Growing awareness: Climate change and California’s crops

Last month the U.S. Drought Monitor declared California drought-free for the first time since 2011, thanks to a series of winter storms. But the long-term prognosis is for more droughts and severe weather, which will profoundly affect state agriculture. While farmers and lawmakers are taking notice, few see an immediate threat.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Judge dismisses parts of tribe’s lawsuit against local water districts

A federal judge has dismissed portions of a yearslong lawsuit brought by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians against the Coachella Valley’s local water districts, ruling against the tribe’s attempt to quantify its rights to groundwater. The judge ruled Friday that the tribe’s access to water has not been sufficiently harmed to adjudicate the matter.

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Aquafornia news KESQ TV

Mission Springs Water District representative: ‘We’ve been hijacked by Desert Water Agency’

A report from a citizen advisory committee in Desert Hot Springs is asking lawmakers in Sacramento to “re-work” a state law, which went into effect in 2015, that allowed the Desert Water Agency in Palm Springs to take over management authority of the groundwater distributed by the Mission Springs Water District, to people living in Desert Hot Springs and surrounding areas. John Soulliere, MSWD’s Public Affairs Officer, says his district has been “hijacked”…

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Napa County watershed divide widens

On April 9 after three years and two unsuccessful ballot measures — Measure C failed by a razor-thin margin in June — the Napa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved greater protections for native woodlands from development and buffer zones for watersheds. But the contentious path to the Water Quality and Tree Protection ordinance vote may not be the last word from supporters and opponents of tougher rules, from inside and outside the wine business.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Environment report: Lawsuits are a weapon in major water conflicts

In court, the California Environmental Quality Act is a familiar obstacle to projects large and small — housing developments, solar projects, even bike lanes. It’s also lately become a weapon in the state’s major water conflicts.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Contaminated water: California town may get help from neighbor

The 80 homes that make up Tooleville nestle against the mighty Friant-Kern Canal, thousands of gallons of fresh water flowing each day past the two-street town. But none of that water can help Tooleville’s decades-old problem of contaminated water, chronicled at the start of this decade in a three-part series by The Bee on the San Joaquin Valley water crisis. Nearby Exeter might, though, giving a rise of newfound hope.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California fights Trump administration on water supplies, fish

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is taking unprecedented steps to combat President Donald Trump’s efforts to ship more water to his agricultural allies in the San Joaquin Valley. Saying Trump’s water plans are scientifically indefensible and would violate the state’s Endangered Species Act, the state Department of Water Resources on Friday began drawing up new regulations governing how water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Rialto mayor asks for water conservation pledges to fight ‘hidden drought’

For the first time in more than 380 weeks, the state has not had a square foot in drought territory… But there’s a hidden drought affecting local groundwater basins, which have not recovered fully from the 2011-16 drought. So Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson is calling on residents and businesses to take a water conservation pledge, despite mountain peaks still topped with snow on the horizon.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

California has farmers growing weeds. Why? To capture carbon

For some, like almond grower Jose Robles of Modesto, climate change was an afterthought, if that. That’s something they talk about in Sacramento, he says, not where he lives and works. But in December, the ground under Robles’ almond trees was a carpet of green, full of mustard plant and clover. … His neighbors really don’t understand it.

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

DFW promises to restore Kirman Lake; don’t hold your breath

The problem with Kirman is that it does not have a place where the trout can spawn naturally. There is no stream running into or out of the lake where the trout could find moving water to spawn. That means the fishery was and is entirely dependent on plants of fingerlings or subcatchables from the Department of Fish and Wildlife hatcheries. And that is a big problem.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Cal Am desal plant project goes to Monterey County Planning Commission

Considered by many the key to long-running efforts to cut unauthorized pumping from the Carmel River, California American Water’s proposed desalination plant project is headed to the Monterey County Planning Commission next week. On Wednesday, the commission is set to conduct a public hearing on a combined development permit for the proposed 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desal plant.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: California lawsuit over the Salton Sea hurts Arizona, too

California’s inability to compromise and work together has put a big question mark on the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan. And that directly impacts Arizona’s ability to proactively plan for our new, drier water future.

Aquafornia news Consumer Reports

How to cut your water use in half

California’s seven-year dry spell may be over, but there will be another drought somewhere in the country this year—and every year. … There are lots of water-saving ideas floating around, but two of the best ways are to replace water-wasting appliances and fixtures and to modify your lifestyle and habits.

Aquafornia news Tracy Press

Opinion: Environmental act not right for California water agencies

In SB1, State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins provides a compelling case to protect California’s air, navigable water, drinking water and workers. … However, despite our recognition that some in our state feel recent administrative rulings and legislative changes to federal law may not be the right prescription for California, we believe this legislation is overbroad, duplicative and unworkable.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Secretive ‘harbor master’ steers Colorado River campaign

The Colorado River Sustainability Campaign has been an important behind-the-scenes player for environmentalists working on the waterway, which provides water to 40 million people. … When asked who funds his project, Sam Tucker listed five foundations. Those foundations’ grant databases showed that his campaign has received at least $8.6 million since 2016. … Almost half — $4 million — of the campaign’s money came from one source: the Walton Family Foundation. (Second of two parts.)

Aquafornia news Capitol Media Services

Arizona’s top water official not worried yet about lawsuit involving drought plan

Arizona’s top water official says a lawsuit filed Tuesday by California’s Imperial Irrigation District could pose a threat to the newly approved multistate drought contingency plan. But Tom Buschatzke, director of the Department of Water Resources, said he’s not worried the plan will fall apart — at least not yet.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

How much hip can the desert absorb?

Should the state of California honor a commitment made in 2003 to restore the Salton Sea, despite moving water away from the area to thirsty coastal cities? Or should this artificial, long-festering sea be left alone to dry up entirely? While politicians have dithered, Bombay Beach’s atmospheric decay has drawn filmmakers, novelists and other artists who marvel at the thriving community hidden inside seemingly derelict properties.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Dragging feet on toilet-to-tap in Montecito

The current five members of the Montecito Water Board ran as slate candidates in 2016 and 2108, and they won election largely on the promise of recycling treated wastewater for irrigation. A group of wealthy donors poured $200,000 into their campaigns. Yet the new board seems in no hurry to get the job done.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Congressman Jared Huffman in Ukiah for Potter Valley Project meeting

Congressman Jared Huffman says the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee, which he chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives, is finally getting to do things “we weren’t allowed to do” for the past six years when Republicans controlled the House. Things like protecting public lands, making climate change part of all environmental programs, trying to prevent offshore drilling and looking at the state of the nation’s wildlife and fisheries.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Cal Am Water customers in Thousand Oaks to get way lower rate hikes

Some 22,000 California American Water customers in Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Camarillo are getting far lower rate increases than the company proposed in 2016, saving several million dollars a year combined. Thousand Oaks officials said this week that instead of being hit with a 32.1% hike over three years that the company wanted to impose and which the city actively opposed, customers only got a fraction of that.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID sues to halt Colorado River drought plan, says officials ignored Salton Sea

The petition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and names the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde and Needles water districts as well. It asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until a thorough environmental analysis has been completed.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River’s biggest champion: Walmart heirs

An unlikely advocate seems to be around every bend of the Colorado River these days: the Walton Family Foundation. The $3.65 billion organization launched by Walmart founder Sam Walton has become ubiquitous in the seven-state basin that provides water to 40 million people, dishing out $100 million in grants in the last five years alone. … The foundation’s reach is dizzying and, outside the basin, has received scant attention. (First of two parts.)

Aquafornia news Grist.org

What drought? These states are gearing up to draw more water from the Colorado

There are at least six high-profile projects in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that combined could divert more than 300,000 acre-feet of water from the beleaguered Colorado River. That’s the equivalent of Nevada’s entire allocation from the river. These projects are in different stages of permitting and funding, but are moving ahead even as headlines about the river’s dwindling supply dominate the news.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Headwaters

I am standing where stream flow begins, in a nameless tributary of the Russian River to the east of Hopland, California. This particular spot and location has been a grazing livestock ranch, primarily sheep, going back more than 100 years. This is one of thousands of spots in the watershed where water comes to the surface, joins in a channel, and starts its path downstream.

Aquafornia news Thousand Oaks Acorn

Golf course will be site of groundwater treatment plant

In an effort to end Thousand Oaks’ near total reliance on imported water, public works staff is asking the City Council to commit $16.6 million over the next two years to build a groundwater treatment plant at the city’s publicly owned golf course. The Los Robles Greens Golf Course Groundwater Utilization Project—which will be offset with an estimated $6 million in State Water Project (Prop. 1) grants—is the single most expensive item on the city’s proposed $97-million 2019-21 capital improvement program budget…

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Opinion: Let’s cooperate on Coastside water, sewers

The dominant water issue facing our community and every community in California today is the insecurity of the water supply. The California Legislature is facing up to the serious need to take less water from the surface and groundwater for human use to preserve wildlife habitats and industries such as fishing. Both depend upon water filling the streams and waterways that ultimately find their way to the ocean.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

West-side water ticks up to 65% of allocation. will it hit 100%?

The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will supply South-of-Delta growers with 65% of their contracted water total. … Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), who is a grower and one of the top water policy experts in Congress, said that he expected the initial west-side allocation in February to be 50%, followed by a 75% revise.

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Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Trump administration’s cold water war with California turns hot

Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades. … But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling (relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end with the ascension of the Trump Administration.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump signs bill endorsing Colorado River drought plan

President Donald Trump signed a bill Tuesday authorizing a plan for Western states to take less water from the overburdened Colorado River. The president’s signing capped a years-long process of sometimes difficult negotiations among the seven states that rely on the river. … Next, representatives from Arizona and the other Colorado River basin states who had a hand in crafting the deal are expected to meet for a formal signing ceremony.

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Aquafornia news Deseret News

Wet year means above average flows for Lake Powell

A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts a release of up to 9 million acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to Lake Mead this year, which means a possible shortage declaration looming in 2020 might be averted. The snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is about 130 percent of average, with flows into Lake Powell predicted to be 128 percent of average during the runoff season.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot on challenges of new climate reality

Wade Crowfoot, California’s new Natural Resources Secretary, recently delivered a keynote address at Los Angeles Business Council’s annual Sustainability Summit. He focused on the economic, social and environmental challenges the state and localities are addressing in response to a new climate normal; on prioritizing new wildfire and water supply & stormwater policies; and, commended the city of Los Angeles for its ambitious climate actions.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farm leaders advocate on Capitol Hill

The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more than 20 members of the California congressional delegation, with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018. They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s newest member. For the first time in several years, they conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

Paradise, Calif., water is contaminated but residents are moving back anyway

The extent of the latest crisis unfolding in Paradise is yet unknown: The deadly fire may also have contaminated up to 173 miles of pipeline in the town’s water system with cancer-causing benzene and other volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Preliminary results have shown contamination in about a third of the lines tested, though only about 2 percent of the entire system has been sampled.

Aquafornia news Arizona PBS

Experts say Arizona tribes’ role in drought negotiations marks turning point for inclusion

Daryl Vigil, water administrator at Jicarilla Apache Nation, who worked on the study, said it’s relatively new for local and federal lawmakers to include tribes in national water policy conversations. “That conversation and that opportunity wasn’t available before,” Vigil said. “But now with the conclusion of this DCP and the inclusion of tribes in that dialogue, I think that sets the stage for that to happen.”

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Major conservation milestone: This water plan benefits 40 million Americans – and counting

Here’s something worth celebrating: In a rare bipartisan resolve to prevent a water crisis in the Southwest, Congress has authorized a plan to reduce consumption from the Colorado River – a major conservation milestone. It shows that when we work together as Americans, we can address some of the biggest challenges facing our nation today.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Effort to repair Friant-Kern Canal passes first hurdle

A bill moving through the state legislature looks to make repairs and enhancements to the Friant-Kern Canal. Senate Bill 559 was authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado, representing the 14th Senate District, and was co-authored by several other San Joaquin Valley lawmakers. The legislation recently advanced through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water with a vote of 7 to 0.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Community participation is key to future of water supply

What the state requires our community to do is challenging. Land development, population growth and climate change make planning for the future very complicated. The new state law requires us to face these challenges and work together as a community to create a plan.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

As two Ventura projects move forward, elected officials to study CEQA

Currently, the city has two significant environmental impact reports, which CEQA requires, making their way through the development process. One is for a plan to build a 7-mile pipeline to tap into Ventura’s long-held investment in state water. … The other project would capture effluent from Ventura’s wastewater treatment plant, treat it and turn it into drinking water.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Blog: Temperance Flat Dam Could Minimize the Devastation of SGMA

If farmers cannot prove that they are replenishing the amount of groundwater as they are taking out, they are not going to be allowed to use the groundwater pumps. … Temperance Flat would provide additional storage opportunities—up to an additional 1.2 million acre-feet—and will allow farmers to have carryover water from year to year. This will carry the farmers through the dry years, and it will give the allowance to stabilize the groundwater condition.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Los Angeles’ water supply in good shape for the year

The Eastern Sierra snowpack that feeds the Los Angeles Aqueduct was measured this month at 171% of normal and is expected to meet 70 percent of the city’s annual water needs. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Friday the aqueduct will flow at or near full capacity for much of the next 12 months, providing about 119 billion gallons (450.4 billion liters).

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Aquafornia news KPBS

‘Pure Water’ dominates infrastructure spending in San Diego’s 2020 budget

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, saying it includes the highest infrastructure investment in the city’s history. … The budget includes an infrastructure investment of $715.8 million, an increase of nearly 300% over the $179.4 million infrastructure allocation in the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget … More than half of that is earmarked for the city’s Pure Water program, which aims to recycle sewage into drinking water.

Aquafornia news KQED News

‘There’s so much here that’s still alive’: Young filmmakers document a dying Salton Sea

Massive fish-die offs. Dead birds. A toxic stench. Bryan Mendez and Olivia Rodriguez are dissatisfied that those sad facts are the only things most Californians ever hear about the Salton Sea, one of the largest inland seas in the world.  

Aquafornia news E&E News

Interior: Bernhardt faces hefty to-do list

Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary, he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the House.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The end of California’s drought could mean fewer cases of West Nile virus

Researchers say the end of California’s drought could offer a surprising benefit: reduced transmission of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Drought is the most important weather-related factor that affects the rate of West Nile infection, scientists say.

Aquafornia news Phoenix New Times

After historic drought deal, Arizona returns to older water issues

Congress passed an historic Colorado River drought deal on Monday, which is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature. That leaves Arizona back to wrestling with water issues that it mostly set aside during the two years it fixated on the negotiations for the Colorado River deal.

Aquafornia news KQED News

Money for victims, uncertainty for PG&E: ‘Everything’s on the table’ in Newsom’s new wildfire plan

California should consider a wide range of policies and law changes to tackle the state’s wildfire crisis — including controversial revisions to state liability laws and potentially breaking up PG&E — Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday. The ideas come in a 58-page report — the work of a “strike team” the governor created 60 days ago — that Newsom unveiled Friday.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Environmentalists, lawmakers find compromise on water pipeline bill

Environmental groups have dropped their opposition to a bill they had originally blasted as a way for the state to green-light a controversial plan to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas after the bill was amended last week. … But AB30 was altered significantly enough on Wednesday to allow those groups to feel comfortable enough to now say they are neutral on the bill.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Fishy reasoning behind the state’s Stanislaus River water grab

Farmers, by trade, are experts in sustainability and by extension common sense. Growers along with 1.5 million Northern San Joaquin Valley residents could end up on the receiving end of an economic Armageddon perpetuated by the state Department of Water Resources on behalf of the threatened Chinook salmon.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

This toad’s sex life hinges on finding the perfect pool

The Yosemite toad is considered endangered, and its numbers are falling. Scientists say the amphibian chytrid fungus is one reason, but climate change also may contribute to some pools drying up before tadpoles mature.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag Census: Farmland receding in California

Agriculture appears to be slowly receding in California. Though it still leads the nation in production, the Golden State lost more than 1 million acres of farmland and some 7,000 farms from 2012-2017, according to the USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

New invasive species found in Carlsbad, threatens to spread across Southwest

Besides choking out much-loved natives such as the golden poppy, which is the state flower, Ward’s weed is a wildfire hazard. Each year it dies off and turns into a brown mass of thin, dry brush, like a tiny tumbleweed, that can go up in flames with a spark.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Drought coverage in the continental U.S. drops to a 21st century record low

Drought’s expanse over the Lower 48 states of the U.S. dropped to a 21st century record low in early April, according to one analysis. … You almost have to squint to see areas that are in drought, including a few patchy areas of the South from South Carolina to Alabama to Texas, a swath of New Mexico, and the north Cascades of Washington state.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Central Valley is sinking as farmers drill for water. But it can be saved, study says

A team of Stanford University researchers believe they have identified the best way to replenish the shrinking aquifers beneath California’s Central Valley. … The study from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, published in the journal Water Resources Research, found that unless action is taken, the ground in that region will sink more than 13 feet over the next 20 years.

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Aquafornia news KCRA TV

How NASA technology is supercharging California’s snowpack data

2019 marks the sixth straight winter that scientists from NASA/JPL have been flying over portions of the Sierra range, using light-detection and ranging lasers called lidar to map and decode the snowpack. The Airborne Snow Observatory program, or ASO, is based on technology that NASA has been using for years to look at Mars and other planets.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Groundwater sustainability board backs off fees for rural well owners in Sonoma County

Facing a wave of opposition over proposed fees for using well water, the directors of a little-known public agency backed away from a decision Thursday and agreed to consider an alternative plan that would exempt rural residents and cost other groundwater users far less overall.

Aquafornia news Science Magazine

Drought is not just about water. It affects air pollution, too

The severe drought that struck California from 2011 to 2015 had an obvious impact on rivers, forests, and wildlife. Now, a new study shows it also had some surprising effects on the state’s notorious air pollution, adding new wrinkles to the state’s efforts to clear the skies.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Garbage in, garbage out: Sacramento’s Salton Sea restoration plan

At its core, the ill-advised attempt to “restore” the Salton Sea is nothing short of environmental malpractice. It will inevitably fail at a very high cost to both wildlife and taxpayers, succeeding only in perpetuating a hazardous condition.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Even though the rain felt endless this winter, it actually wasn’t that wet

While this season has stood out in many people’s minds as noteworthy and painstakingly rainy, “it’s just a normal year,” said Jan Null, a consulting meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services. The city measured similar rainfall totals as recently as 2016-17.

Aquafornia news KUNC

In Colorado River’s final hundred miles, small signs of life return

Zig-zagging around us, among the trees, is a sprawling network of irrigation ditches. It’s almost laid out like a farm. Instead of the food crops grown all around this site, Schlatter’s team grows trees and willows, prime habitat for birds, coyotes, frogs and other wildlife. The whole site only receives water a couple times a year.

Aquafornia news KCET

Shadow of Drought: Southern California’s looming water crisis

While California recovers from the worst drought in state history, a myriad of impacts resulting from climate change threaten Southern California’s imported water supply. As a shadow of drought hangs over the region, this documentary explores the dire consequences of inaction that lie ahead.

Aquafornia news Kaiser Health News

Heavy rains, end of drought could help keep West Nile Virus subdued — for now

The end of California’s drought, announced last month amid one of the rainiest winters in memory, could offer a surprising benefit: reduced transmission of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Longer term, however, more severe droughts associated with climate change could contribute to an increase in the number of infections in the state and nationally.

Aquafornia news Wyoming Tribune Eagle

New initiative aims to use clean wastewater in dry states

Statewide leaders in agriculture recently launched an initiative to clean oilfield wastewater for use in arid Western states, hoping to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and improve the lives of ranchers and farmers.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

EID’s Folsom Lake intake project draws local ire

Eldorado Irrigation District staff said the proposed improvements and replacements are needed because the existing equipment does not allow selective temperature withdrawal at multiple elevations for the benefit of downstream fisheries. In addition the existing pumps and boosters have reached the end of their useful life, having undergone multiple repairs over the years.

Aquafornia news KXTV

California may be drought free, but water conservation is here to stay

Let’s face it, the 2018-2019 water year has been awesome! … Even with this great news, the California Department of Water Resources says, “the days of taking water for granted is over.” Niki Woodard is the Deputy Assistant Director for California Department of Water Resources and she believes the small steps we take at home add up and can make a huge difference for our state.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Rapid urbanization increasing pressure on rural water supplies globally

An international team of researchers has carried out the first systematic global review of water reallocation from rural to urban regions—the practice of transferring water from rural areas to cities to meet demand from growing urban populations. … The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found North America and Asia are hotspots for rural-to-urban water reallocation,

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Commission: Using flood water for managed aquifer recharge

“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands, working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands for groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

In bid for cleaner water, California seeks arranged utility marriages

The State Water Board was given the power to force a larger, better run utility to absorb a smaller neighbor that consistently fails to deliver clean water. They would like South Kern to connect to Bakersfield’s system, which serves high-quality water to 144,000 people. … The three sides have been in negotiations for two and a half years, a struggle between one of the largest cities in California’s Central Valley, state officials, and two tiny water suppliers that is the first significant test of the four-year-old statute.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Central Valley assemblymember calls out Water Board for claim that contaminating drinking water in disadvantaged communities is not “significant”

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Water for irrigators: KWUA announces project delivery

Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office will deliver at least 322,000 acre feet of water — or a 92% allocation — rather than a full 350,000 from Upper Klamath Lake to the Klamath Project this summer and fall.

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Why more California rain could mean bigger problems for your wine, vineyard business

While flooding is clearly a problem, the extra vegetation that thrives can lead to another problem. A hotter-than-average summer – such as one fueled by climate change – can cause vegetation to dry out faster. With all this natural kindling in place, it doesn’t take much to start a fire.

Aquafornia news SouthTahoeNow.com

Laser measurement of Sierra snowpack from the air being considered in Sacramento

This bill calls for $150M in funding over the next ten years from the state’s General Fund to conduct laser surveys via ten airplane trips over the Trinity Alps and the Sierra Nevada each year. They would also fly over hydrologic areas that drain to, or supply water to, certain major reservoirs and lakes.

Aquafornia news EOS.org

The Renaissance of hydrology

Over the past 50 years, hydrology has experienced a revolution in theory, technical application, and interdisciplinary collaboration. … But as impressive as these technological advancements are, the hydrological revolution owes as much to a shift in culture.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

With an impending deadline, Cal Am pushes for desal plant permits amid changing waterscape

When you turn on a faucet on the Monterey Peninsula, you’re consuming water that’s been illegally pumped from Carmel River. Now, after more than two decades of this, scores of public officials, utility executives and citizen advocates are working – and sometimes fighting – to replace the region’s water supply before state-mandated sanctions kick in. California American Water is forging ahead with its plan: a desalination plant near Marina.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Nevada Legislature changes water bill over Las Vegas pipeline fears

Lawmakers on Wednesday moved an amended version of the bill following pressure from conservationists, American Indian tribes and rural communities who oppose siphoning water from remote Nevada valleys to the state’s largest city. Although the bill still requires approval from both the Assembly and Senate to become law, opponents say the watered-down version assuages their concerns about the pipeline.

Aquafornia news Sanger Herald

State-ordered project will raise water bills

While the city struggles with the final phase of a state ordered rezone for affordable housing, it’s tackling the first phase of a possibly more complicated state ordered project based on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … Part of the increased cost would be for the purchase of water from Consolidated Irrigation District and part would go toward servicing a debt incurred for building the infrastructure and other capital costs associated with getting the project ready to go. 

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Where can flooded fields help replenish groundwater?

In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure. … New research from Stanford University suggests a way to map precisely where and how to use groundwater recharge to refill the aquifers and stop the sinking.

Aquafornia news MyNewsLA.com

IID: Salton Sea is first casualty of drought contingency plan

Responding to congressional approval of a Southwestern drought pact, officials from the Imperial Irrigation District said Tuesday the Salton Sea is the untested plan’s “first casualty.” … IID had refused to sign the plan because it wanted a “firm commitment” of more than $400 million in state and federal funds to resolve environmental issues at the Salton Sea.

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Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Editorial: SB307 goes against California’s water needs

Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands. But it’s really about one thing: stopping the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. … The Cadiz project has been thoroughly vetted and meets an important need. It’s time legislators let it proceed.

Aquafornia news KRCC

Soil erosion in the West is getting worse and the air is getting dustier

Activities that remove vegetation and disturb the soil are the most harmful. “Things like energy exploration and development can do some of that as well as off-highway vehicles,” Duniway said. He said livestock overgrazing is another culprit, as well as droughts and wildfires. Climate models predict those conditions will only get worse.

Aquafornia news KSBY

Santa Barbara declares end to drought emergency

The city says the above-average rainfall this winter improved water supplies. Based on current water supply forecasts, the city believes it has enough supply to meet demands through 2021. On Tuesday, the City Council ended its Stage Three Drought Emergency, lifting drought water use regulations. The City Council first enacted the Stage Three Drought Emergency in 2015, requiring 25 percent water conservation initially.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scoll: Bay Area weather: Why this winter wasn’t as wet as we think

Now that spring is here and the sun is finally out, Bay Area residents are already reminiscing over what a rainy winter it was, one of the wettest in recent memory, with many more downpours than normal. Or was it? Not according to weather experts.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Five years later, effects of Colorado River pulse flow still linger

All this reliance on an overallocated river has left its final hundred miles as the ultimate collateral damage. Since the early 1960s, when Glen Canyon Dam impounded the river near Page, Arizona, it has rarely reached the Pacific Ocean. The thread is frayed beyond recognition, leaving no water for the river itself.

Aquafornia news La Jolla Light

The water shortage is over, so can La Jolla shower like it’s 1999? – La Jolla Light

That’s the last thing they should do, experts say, and it explains why munipical drought restrictions — three-day weekly lawn-watering, recycled water for ornamental fountains, water served in restaurants only upon request — have not and will not be lifted.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Exploring the Delta’s big questions

For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.

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