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 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.

Related articles:

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 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.

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.

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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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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:

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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.”

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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 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 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 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 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 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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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River deal: As states sign, long-term challenges remain

The Colorado River just got a boost that’s likely to prevent its depleted reservoirs from bottoming out, at least for the next several years. Representatives of seven Western states and the federal government signed a landmark deal on Monday laying out potential cuts in water deliveries through 2026 to reduce the risks of the river’s reservoirs hitting critically low levels.

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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 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 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 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 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 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. 

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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 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.

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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 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 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 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 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.

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.

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 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 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 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…

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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 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 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 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 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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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 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 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.

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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.

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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 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 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.

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