An ecosystem includes all of the living organisms (plants,
animals and microbes) in a given area, interacting with each
other, and also with their non-living environments (air, water
Ecosystems are dynamic and are impacted by disturbances such as a
drought, an extraordinarily freezing winter, and pests.
Longer-term disturbances include climate change effects.
Ecosystems provide a variety of goods and services upon which
people depend. Ecosystem management emphasizes managing natural
resources at the level of the ecosystem itself and not just
managing individual species.
The California Legislature was the first in the country to
protect rare plants and animals through passage of the California
Endangered Species Act in 1970. Congress followed suit in 1973 by
passing the federal Endangered Species Act.
Three years ago, Dimitri Deheyn noticed intensely blue stringy
shapes as he examined jellyfish samples through a microscope in
his marine biology lab at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
The Los Angeles River is special to Ed Reyes, who considers it
an integral part of his childhood. Reyes, 60, the executive
director of River LA and a former Los Angeles City councilman,
grew up about a half-mile from the river. He remembers playing
chicken with the rail cars and using his Stingray bike to dodge
the cars coming and going.
The Wildlife Conservation Board has approved approximately
$24.3 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams
throughout California. … The approved projects will lead to a
direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or
quality of water in streams for anadromous fish or special
status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species, or to
provide resilience to climate change.
The rules take the form of a state Fish and Wildlife Department
permit that will govern State Water Project deliveries from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… But the permit does not
explicitly control the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central
Valley Project, which exports Delta water to San Joaquin Valley
farms. That means the two big government pumping operations
will likely adhere to different standards — possibly allowing
the federal project to boost deliveries at the expense of the
As the climate changes, forests have figured out a way to adapt
to drought, a new study shows. … The results indicate that
tree communities, particularly in more arid regions, have
become more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of
less hardy trees.
The second-largest river in California has sustained Native
American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided
upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and
served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its
banks. With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has
come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly
precious water resources of the U.S. West…
State regulators are giving mixed responses to the EPA’s
relaxed enforcement on a range of environmental obligations by
facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The
Environmental Protection Agency said this week it wouldn’t seek
penalties for violations covered by the emergency policy. …
The California Environmental Protection Agency said its
enforcement authority “remains intact” in spite of the EPA
Gathering signatures for two proposed Napa County ballot
measures – one on rural, commercial cannabis cultivation, the
other on watershed protections – is a daunting task amid
COVID-19 shutdown orders. Californians are to shelter-at-home
except when engaged in “essential” tasks such as buying food.
Yet each measure needs more than 7,000 signatures from
registered voters by May 8 to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot.
To maintain the benefits that Californians derive from their
freshwater ecosystems—and arrest the decline of native
biodiversity—the authors of a new report by the Public Policy
Institute of California (PPIC) say a new approach is needed,
one that is based on the principles and practices of
The COVID-19 virus outbreak is affecting us all, whether we
live in a big city or rural Siskiyou County. The economy is
grinding to a halt and governments are planning a massive
response to keep money flowing to small businesses and
employees – the lifeblood of the entire economy. It is through
this lens that I encourage Klamath Basin residents to
view Klamath River Renewal Corp.’s dam removal and river
restoration project as an economic bright spot.
Of the $37 million, approximately $24 million was awarded to 19
projects statewide through the Proposition 1 Watershed
Restoration Grant Program. Approximately $7 million was awarded
to seven projects through the Proposition 1 Delta Water Quality
and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program to projects that
directly benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Approximately $6 million was awarded to 14 projects through the
Proposition 68 Rivers and Streams Grant Program.
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of
new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over
Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath
Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper
Klamath and Lost River subbasins.
Just three years after the 2011–2017 drought, one of the
severest in recorded history for the state, the driest February
in 150 years has spurred discussion of whether we’re in another
drought — or if the last one even ended. That’s bad news for
Los Angeles’ only newt, California newt, Taricha torosa, and
other newts in the Taricha genus, particularly in the southern
half of the state south of Big Sur.
This year marks a significant milestone for the Interagency
Ecological Program (IEP) – now nine state and federal agencies
that first joined forces 50 years ago for cooperative
ecological monitoring and coordination in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay Estuary. As the IEP Lead
Scientist, I have been reflecting on who we are, how we’ve
evolved, and what we need to do to ensure we’re still working
collaboratively for another 50 years.
Kolster’s latest book, L.A. River (GFT Publishing, 2019),
contains a series of images of the fifty-one-mile body of water
at various stages, from its headwaters in Canoga Park through
California’s biggest city to Long Beach, where it meets the
Pacific Ocean. For this project, Kolster used a
nineteenth-century photographic technique called the wet plate
collodion process, to striking effect.
Most of the 6,000 gallons of crude oil that was spilled into
the Cuyama River in Santa Maria has been contained. … A
tanker truck carrying more than 6,000 gallons of crude oil
overturned and crashed into the Cuyama River east of Santa
Maria on Saturday, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire
CAL FIRE last week awarded $43.5 million to local organizations
to reduce the risk of wildfires to homes and communities across
California. Fifty-five local fire prevention projects are
receiving funding for hazardous fuel reductions, wildfire
preparedness planning and fire prevention education.
In an effort to reduce the amount of pollution entering surface
waters, the state of California requires industries with an
identified potential of discharging pollutants in storm water
runoff to obtain and implement an industrial storm water
permit. A new state law, effective Jan. 1, requires applicable
businesses to provide proof of coverage under the industrial
storm water permit in order to obtain or renew their business
license with a city or county.
The nature of Butte County’s concerns over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
scaled back Delta tunnel project was made clear last Tuesday,
when Supervisor Debra Lucero questioned a staffer from the
state Department of Water Resources.
In a sampling of fish from a creek that flows into San Diego
Bay, nearly a quarter contain microplastics, according to a new
study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study, which
examined plastics in coastal sediments and three species of
fish, showed that the frequency and types of plastic ingested
varied with fish species and, in some cases, size or age of
The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new
PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances
Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years
even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.
The return of rainbow trout to Calaveras Creek marks a
milestone in an ongoing, multi-agency restora-tion of Alameda
Creek, which drains more than 600 square miles of the East Bay.
Much of the watershed is heavily developed and modified,
especially the northern reaches in and around Pleasanton and
California’s bone-dry February didn’t leave a lot of forage for
Todd Swickard’s cattle—though mid-March rains should provide
some help. … Swickard noted conditions on the hills were what
one would expect in mid-April or later, with land gradually
fading to brown and poppies everywhere.
This spring the Forest Service, aided by U.S. Marine Corps
members, will blast apart 13 more dams in the Trabuco ranger
district in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest.
It’s the last phase of a groundbreaking project that began more
than five years ago to remove a total of 81 dams from four
streams in the mountains of Orange County.
Summer streamflow in industrial tree plantations harvested on
40- to 50-year rotations was 50% lower than in century-old
forests, data from the long-term Alsea Watershed Study in the
Oregon Coast Range showed.
There is now plenty of evidence that as the atmosphere warms,
the planet is experiencing more wildfires. … Understandably,
much of the media surrounding these incidents focuses on the
immediate damage to forests, homes, people and wildlife, but
one potentially dangerous long-term impact has received less
attention – the effect of fires on water.
The park has hosted sport shooters since the mid-1960s, but the
business did little to stop lead, which is toxic to humans and
wildlife, from entering the ephemeral waterway until 2013. …
For much of its history, the site fell through the cracks
among various regulatory bodies tasked with
guarding the environment and public health. In their
absence, a small-scale mining economy has sprung up in the
legally protected river.
Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in
overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are
seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to
comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
Already a well-regarded landscape and portrait photographer,
Bay set out to bring more attention to the issue. The avid
surfer admits that he initially wasn’t sure how best to convey
what he saw as an environmental emergency. Then, one day, he
says he was visiting the Tijuana River mouth and stumbled upon
If corporations can have the rights of people under the law,
why not rivers? The question made sense to Will Falk, and he
answered it yes. Falk is a lawyer, and he got to represent the
Colorado River in a lawsuit. So he spent time along the river,
in something of a conversation with it. Falk tells the story in
his book How Dams Fall.
As discussed below, in the case of west coast salmon, the
scientific evidence is clear that the replacement assumption
has proven faulty as the total abundance of salmon declined at
the same time the propagation and release of hatchery salmon
We’re getting better when it comes to the L.A. River. Ten years
ago, most of us didn’t even know that L.A. even had a river.
… It’s hit a few bumps along the way (including the 1936
Flood Control Act that channelized it with concrete walls) —
but now, you not only can get to the re-wilded parts of the Los
Angeles River, but you can get onto them, too (for a part of
“’Listen to the land’ is my mantra,” said Susan Sorrells, a 4th
generation resident and owner of Shoshone, California. …
Integrating nature with community became a part of Sorrells’
and her husband Robby Haines’ vision for stewarding the land.
As a gateway to Death Valley National Park, ecotourism became
their economic engine.
Burgeoning populations of anchovy and a healthy crop of
California sea lion pups reflected improved productivity off
parts of the West Coast in 2019. However, lingering offshore
heat worked against recovery of salmon stocks and reduced
fishing success, a new analysis reports.
Arizona does not currently have a comprehensive program to
protect its surface water quality. The state is now faced with
the task of creating one following a change to federal law. The
Trump administration unveiled its final rule in January
redefining which waterways are regulated under the Clean Water
Act, known as “Waters of the U.S.” Under this rule change, the
vast majority of Arizona’s creeks and streams will not be
A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern
Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural
groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one
Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to
look in a different direction.”
A settlement was reached Wednesday in a federal lawsuit filed
by an environmental group accusing Pacific Coast Energy Co. of
illegally discharging polluted water from an Orcutt oil
facility into northern Santa Barbara County waterways and
threatening endangered species.
Beaches were closed on Tuesday from the Mexico border to
Coronado as rain flushed sewage-contaminated runoff from
Tijuana into the San Diego region. “Things have gotten worse
than ever,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
State and federal leaders came together to tour the Salton Sea
and understand the impending health issues the public continues
to face. NBC Palm Springs joined officials to get a glimpse of
what is being done to help restore an area that was once a
relaxing summer destination.
The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case
weighing how state regulators should consider “public trust”
values — the environment or recreation — when the
sustainability of lakes or rivers could be harmed by how the
state has allocated water rights.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy Governing Board approved
$13,555,224 in grants to 27 different projects focused on
forest health, land conservation, and community resilience
throughout the vital 25-million-acre region.
A proposal to pump water out of Nevada’s fragile Walker Lake to
generate hydropower to sell in California won preliminary
approval from federal regulators. On Friday, the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary permit and granting
priority to file for the proposed Walker Lake Pumped Storage
If our state wants to remain economically competitive, it must
re-engineer the troubled estuary that serves as the hub of
California’s elaborate water-delivery system — the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The best and most viable
way to do this is via the single Delta tunnel project proposed
by Gov. Gavin Newsom…
One day after President Trump tweeted his support, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to take
steps today to bring to the floor legislation that would
permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and
address the national parks maintenance backlog, senators said.
… Trump’s tweet was an election-year about-face from his
latest budget proposal, which recommended virtually eliminating
the popular, bipartisan program.
An environmental watchdog group has filed lawsuits against the
cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale alleging that the cities’
aging sewer systems are leaking bacteria from human feces into
stormwater drainage systems, contaminating local creeks and
ultimately the Bay.
The preserve [inside the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility
near Chico]—which is overseen by California Open Lands, a local
nonprofit land trust—also has been a focus of the State Water
Resources Control Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is
investigating the landfill for allegedly discharging last
winter about 24 million gallons of waste-contaminated
stormwater into the preserve and a neighboring watershed.
The Sacramento splittail is a lovely, silvery-white fish that
lives primarily in Suisun Marsh, the north Delta and other
parts of the San Francisco Estuary (SFE; Moyle et al. 2004).
The name comes from its unusual tail, in which the upper lobe
is larger than the lower lobe. It is a distinctive endemic
species that for decades has fascinated those of us who work in
If you live in Southern California or Silicon Valley, you might
be surprised to learn that your local water district (a member
agency of the State Water Contractors) is siding with the Trump
Administration, and defending Trump’s plan to increase water
diversions, despite the widespread acknowledgement that this
plan is likely to drive salmon and Delta smelt extinct.
The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case
weighing how state regulators should consider “public trust”
values — the environment or recreation — when the
sustainability of lakes or rivers could be harmed by how the
state has allocated water rights.
As Delta smelt continue to decline throughout the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, novel approaches are being
implemented to open up additional habitat for these imperiled
fish. … The Department of Water Resources, in collaboration
with other stakeholders, has been conducting a pilot research
study to investigate how operational changes at the Suisun
Marsh Salinity Control Gates affect Delta smelt habitat
The state is projecting lower numbers of adult full-run Chinook
salmon in the Klamath River this year, a discouraging sign for
the Yurok Tribe, whose fisheries have been devastated by
reduced fish counts in recent years.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew
Wheeler appeared before lawmakers Thursday to defend a budget
that would bring the agency to its lowest funding level in
years. As with previous Trump administration budgets, lawmakers
are expected to ignore the proposed 26 percent cut to the
agency, one of the steepest in the budget.
When combined with strong governance and best available
science, ecosystem-based management – a holistic approach that
considers the full array of interactions within a system –
holds tremendous potential for both restoring the Delta and
improving the reliability of statewide water deliveries.
A rally before the start of the Department of Water
Resources’(DWR) public scoping meeting for the Delta Conveyance
Project (DCP) set the tone for the event — residents of East
County were in no mood to consider another tunnel project in
California’s complaint challenges the biological opinions
issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National
Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s EIS and record of
decision completed pursuant to the National Environmental
The California Natural Resources Agency this week released its
Salton Sea Management Program annual report, which trumpeted
the first completed dust suppression project and set ambitious
goals for upcoming mitigation efforts. The report lays out an
aggressive target of 3,800 acres on which the agency hopes to
complete efforts to tamp down dust by the end of 2020 to catch
up with its long-term benchmarks.
Plumas supervisors reminded the state that the best way to
protect natural resources is by not depleting them, especially
when other natural resources are available, such as the Pacific
Ocean. Supervisors encourage the state’s Natural Resources
Agency to support developing technology to promote practical
ways to use ocean water.
The federal government wrapped up cleanups at six Superfund
sites around the country in the 2019 budget year, the fewest
since three in 1986, EPA online records showed. The Superfund
program was born out of the 1970′s disaster at Love Canal in
New York, where industrial contaminants poisoned groundwater,
spurred complaints of health problems and prompted presidential
Following a promising 2018 fall Chinook salmon season on the
Klamath that saw the run size trending upwards, the 2019
returns fell significantly short of expectations. Looking at
the numbers presented in the PFMC “Review of 2019 Ocean Salmon
Fisheries” document, it’s likely we’ll have some severe
restrictions both in the ocean and in the Klamath and Trinity
rivers in 2020.
Winters are warming faster than other seasons across much of
the United States. While that may sound like a welcome change
for those bundled in scarves and hats, it’s causing a cascade
of unpredictable impacts in communities across the country.
Groundwater sustainability plans that have been submitted to
the state are now online at the DWR SGMA Portal. Plans are open
to public comment for 75 days after they were posted online.
Below is a table of the submitted plans, the counties they
cover and details about the public comment period for that
Dozens of dead fish are floating to the surface along a Fresno
County waterway and people living nearby are worried about
their water. Fancher Creek flows from Pine Flat all the way
into Fresno, mostly to let farmers get irrigation water. But
fish also use the water, except right now, for about 200 yards,
all of them are dead.
The Eel River Recovery Project is hosting its first ever art
display at the Plaza Grill in Arcata this month and next.
“Visions of the Eel River” features photographs of the Eel
River and its many branches. Covering 3,600 square miles, much
of the Eel River watershed is inaccessible and unknown to many
During President Trump’s visit to California this week, the
commander in chief who campaigned on a pledge of shipping more
water to Central Valley farms plans to stop in Bakersfield to
boast about a promise kept. … But what confounds some who are
worried that Trump’s water plan could undermine the environment
is how little the state has done to stop Washington.
Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought
water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the
state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture
interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley
Local reservoirs and municipal water supplies might become so
polluted from the fires that the current water supply
infrastructure will be challenged or could no longer treat the
water. … But most of the fire-prone areas in North America
lack large-scale vulnerability assessments of their municipal
Recently, the Department of Water Resources launched a new
safety initiative called Headwaters to Floodplains, which
applies an integrated regional watershed management approach to
the realm of flood management. … At the January meeting of
the California Water Commission, Mike Mierzwa from DWR’s Office
of Floodplain Management briefed the Commission members on the
A Bay Area environmental group has sued the cities of Sunnyvale
and Mountain View, saying they are in violation of the federal
Clean Water Act for discharging raw sewage and polluted storm
water into creeks, sending bacteria pollution to levels more
than 50 times legal limits.
In the coming weeks and months, the Newsom administration,
water users and conservation groups will continue to refine a
framework for potential voluntary agreements intended to
benefit salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
A report recently published by the Lawrence Livermore National
Lab, Getting to Neutral, suggests that power plants across the
state could profitably convert wood from forests and orchards
into liquid or hydrogen fuels, all while capturing their
Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled
to vote on a resolution granting Committee Chair Raul Grijalva
(D–Ariz.) wide-ranging subpoena power over the Interior
Department. One inquiry in the hopper: a closer look at the
process that yielded the Trump Administration’s
freshly-released biological opinions governing the
federally-operated Central Valley Project.
Before the fur trade wiped out the majority of California’s sea
otters, thousands inhabited the west coast’s largest
estuary—San Francisco Bay. … It is well known that otters
perform an important role in coastal kelp forests by keeping
herbivorous sea urchins in check. According to a new study,
they have an equally important job in estuaries. The finding
suggests that reintroducing sea otters to estuaries could
benefit those ecosystems.
A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater
has garnered much attention in the last few years. The reported
levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the
chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil,
according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor
of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.
Wildfires can have many detrimental impacts on water supplies.
The effects can last for multiple decades and include drinking
water pollution, reservoir sedimentation, flash floods and
reduced recreational benefits from rivers. These impacts
represent a growing hazard as populations expand, and
communities encroach onto forest landscapes.
Like last year, the White House wants to cut all non-defense
discretionary spending by 5%. Non-nuclear spending at the
Department of Energy would be cut 29%, EPA would be reduced by
27%, the Army Corps of Engineers would drop 22% and the
Interior Department would fall by 13%.
More than dust-filled air could be plaguing residents around
the quickly evaporating Salton Sea in Imperial Valley.
University of California, Riverside research shows toxic
aerosols could also be filling the air. The problem has to do
with agricultural fertilizer in the Salton Sea wetland area.
The EPA announced Monday it has reached a settlement with
Airtech International… For about four years, the EPA said,
Airtech violated the federal Clean Water Act by allowing
industrial stormwater runoff to flow into the Bolsa Chica
channel without a stormwater discharge permit from the
California State Water Resources Control Board.
“In many ways, summer steelhead are the most extreme athletes
of the steelhead, allowing them to get up to habitats higher in
the watersheds like the Middle Fork Eel River in the Yolla
Bolly Wilderness, their southernmost stronghold where they have
unimpeded access,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
biologist Damon Goodman. “Having clear routes of passage to be
able to make it up and express their life history is critical
to their survival.”
The Central Valley Regional Water Board has issued a 25-year
permit for toxic discharges of agricultural wastewater into the
San Joaquin River and Bay-Delta… Fishermen and environmental
groups have appealed the water board’s decision to the state of
California, leaving the future of this permit uncertain.
A warming climate has been linked to human activity around the
world, and has affected the Colorado River System as well. The
impacts are substantial, from reduced water flows, threats to
indigenous species and the influx of new invasive species along
the river system.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently
purchased nearly 800 acres of verdant, rolling hills and
expansive bay area views east of Milpitas, a property known as
Wool Ranch, adding cohesion to its collection of protected
lands that surround the watershed feeding the Calaveras
Luisa Valiela is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the
watershed division of US EPA Region 9. Xavier Fernandez is the
Chief of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board’s Planning
and TMDL division. At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference,
Ms. Valiela and Mr. Fernandez gave a joint presentation
covering the goals and objectives of the Wetlands Regional
Monitoring Program, the development process, and the Program
Plan that will be released in early 2020.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s top official in
California was abruptly removed from office Wednesday. No
reason has yet been given for Mike Stoker’s dismissal. …
Stoker’s tenure was mired in controversy. In 2018, a few months
after he was appointed regional administrator, a “hotline”
complaint was filed with the EPA’s inspector general regarding
his infrequent visits to the region’s main office, in San
In fall of 2018, Desert Research Institute scientists Monica
Arienzo, Zoe Harrold, and Meghan Collins were formulating a
project to search for microplastic pollution in the surface
waters of Lake Tahoe and in stormwater runoff into the lake.
But the team was not satisfied in seeking to identify the
presence of microplastic alone—they also wanted to make
connections with community members at Tahoe.
California is stuck in a dry spell amid what is historically
the wettest time of the year. But while the Sierra snowpack is
dwindling and rainfall totals are below normal, weather
watchers are not concerned about a drought. “One dry year
doesn’t make a drought,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesperson for
the California Department of Water Resources.
Deep, throaty cadenced calls —
sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands,
farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each
year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the
Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Ventura City Council announced Monday that it may request a
six-month extension from the court for the thousands who were
sent legal notices or served with a court summons in the case.
… The litigation dates back to 2014 when Santa Barbara
Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Ventura
was taking too much water from the Ventura River,
hurting habitat for steelhead trout and other wildlife.
The governor’s newest proposal signals Newsom may be softening
his fight against Trump, but opening another battle. Newsom may
have traded a court fight with Trump for a legal battle with
the very environmentalists the Democratic administration has
seen as allies.
Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving
thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially
threatening the health of people living nearby and handing
taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental
The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its
long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands
would affect the environment, according to a document shared
with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use
planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the
planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental
California’s governor revealed a plan on Tuesday that would
keep more water in the fragile San Joaquin River Delta while
restoring 60,000 acres of habitat for endangered species and
generating more than $5 billion in new funding for
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers finalized a long-awaited new rule redefining the term
“Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act
(CWA). The Agencies state that their so-called Navigable Waters
Protection Rule will improve and streamline the regulatory
definition of WOTUS.
In November 2018, more than two-thirds of voters passed Measure
W, a comprehensive plan to address how we capture water and how
to reduce our reliance on imported water. Now called the Safe
Clean Water Program, this annual 2.5 cent per impervious square
foot tax for all non-exempt property owners will fund over $250
million dollars annually to build and maintain projects that
capture rainfall and storm water…
When a Healdsburg winery leaked thousands of gallons of
Cabernet into the Russian River last week, the jokes flowed,
too. … But the spill coincided with a more sobering blow to
clean water, coming to light the day the Trump administration
announced it was ripping up expanded protections for streams,
wetlands and groundwater adopted by the Obama administration.
A San Francisco Bay Program Office would be established at the
Environmental Protection Agency to make grants for estuary
conservation and other water-related initiatives under a
modified version of H.R. 1132. The bill would authorize $25
million annually for the office for fiscal 2021 through 2025.
Placer County, along with the U.S. Forest Service will continue
restoration efforts at the French Meadows reservoir, 30 miles
south of Soda Springs, with plans to treat over 3,800 acres of
forest this year. … This year they expect to remove 9 million
board feet of timber, three times the amount removed last year,
and 15,000 green tons of biomass that will be chipped, hauled
and used for energy production.
The situation in Australia illustrates a growing global
concern: Forests, grasslands and other areas that supply
drinking water to hundreds of millions of people are
increasingly vulnerable to fire due in large part to hotter,
drier weather that has extended fire seasons, and more people
moving into those areas, where they can accidentally set fires.
One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is
“how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists
from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature
Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership
from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question
To inform our conservation work on the Eel, CalTrout has teamed
up with partners on this new project – The Adult Salmonid Sonar
Monitoring Program – to tally the annual spawning run of
Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead on the South Fork
Eel River with a Sound Metrics Dual Frequency Identification
People crowded into an Ojai junior high school auditorium
recently after thousands received legal notices or a court
summons from the city of Ventura. The city notified 14,000-plus
property owners in the Ventura River watershed of a potential
adjudication of water rights. That move came years after the
city faced legal action over its own water use.
Current research shows 11 of the remaining 21 anadromous
salmonids in California are at critical risk of extinction in
the next 50 years under present trends. Estuaries are
especially important to the survival of juvenile salmonids
given their important role, helping to increase the number of
adult salmonids that survive to adulthood and return to spawn.
The 2016-2026 UCLA Student Housing Master Plan is ambitious, to
say the least: four years of guaranteed housing for all
undergraduate freshmen and two years of guaranteed housing for
transfer students. … But the grandiose scale of this housing
expansion is not being met with equal expansion of UCLA’s
stormwater management facilities.
The multi-year, multi-agency effort to transform the lower
landscape of the Carmel River into a natural floodplain took a
massive step forward Jan. 28 when the Monterey County Board of
Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the project’s final
environmental impact report.
On Sunday, about 300 people filed into the Fleischmann
Auditorium at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in
attendance of a public conversation regarding the aftermath of
the Thomas Fire in December 2017 and January 2018, and the
Montecito mudflows which ensued following a deluge of rain
which extinguished the fires on Jan. 8, 2018.
Since 2016, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District has
been leading a project to improve flood escape for wildlife,
implement agriculture-compatible restoration, and engage the
public. This effort will create five miles of cover for
wildlife escaping flood events, enhance year-round habitat for
migratory birds, pollinators and other wildlife…
The Newport Beach Harbor Commission got an update on the
proposed water wheel project at their Jan. 8 meeting… The
water wheel would be a floating stationary solar and
hydro-powered trash interceptor in San Diego Creek…
The public will get an opportunity to hear from the city of
Ventura on Thursday about why it has sent out thousands of
notices and summonses to those who use, pump or own property in
the Ventura River watershed. The process started years ago
after Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the
city was taking too much water from the watershed, officials
A new law in California took effect Jan. 1 and requires
industrial business owners applying to a city or county for a
new or renewed business license to demonstrate enrollment in a
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater
permit, if it’s required. … Failure to comply will result in
delay or denial of a business license, effectively prohibiting
the business from starting its operations.
Executive Director and Founder of the Kern River Conservancy
Gary Ananian spoke to the Kern Valley Sun about the
organization’s project in process. For the last couple of
years, the organization has been working on a documentary
highlighting the importance of introducing native trout back
into the ecology of the Kern River and bringing about awareness
of issues facing the river.
Wildfires are feasting on overgrown, overcrowded and
undermanaged forests, warmer temperatures have created longer
fire seasons and officials are trying to prevent another
environmental catastrophe. That was all just part of the
discussion Monday during Operation Sierra Storm, a national
weather conference sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Visitors
Tests are still finding such deadly pesticides as DDT, despite
the ban of its use in farming during the 1970s. There are also
untold amounts of ammunition from military testing as well as
uranium left over from the Atomic Energy Commission for
WWII-era testing. Proponents don’t claim sea water import is a
perfect answer; just the most feasible means of containing
these toxins as they are heavier than water.
Farmers and ranchers expressed support for a new federal rule
to protect navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, saying
the rule should offer certainty, transparency and a
common-sense approach about how the rule would apply on the
Large woody debris, sediment and other material washed into the
wetland from the fire-scarred foothills above Carpinteria
during a powerful storm on Jan. 9, 2018. Materials poured from
Santa Monica and Franklin creeks into the marsh. The Thomas
Fire burned more than 28,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara
counties, and the inferno was followed three weeks later by the
flash flooding and debris flows.
The concept of unimpaired flows has endured (much longer than
reasonable in my opinion). While it was argued that unimpaired
flows would allow resource assessments to be founded on the
“natural” hydrology of the stream network, this had fundamental
Since the 19th century, close to 90 percent of the marshland
that historically ringed San Francisco Bay has been lost to
development. The effects include diminished wildlife habitat,
increased flood risk, degraded water quality, and far fewer
opportunities for nature-based recreation. In 2016, more than
two-thirds of voters across nine counties supported ballot
Measure AA, a $12 per year parcel tax over 20 years to provide
$500 million in restoration funding to reverse some of those
One of the things that we humans have struggled with for
centuries, and some countries continue to do so, is how to
dispose of sewage and wastewater. People whose sewage is
treated in Arcata have a big advantage that has been copied
many thousands of times across the world. The Arcata wastewater
treatment center and the marsh are the result of science and
engineering that is currently under review.
Ken W. Davis, an aquatic biologist and wildlife photographer,
prefers the more isolated ambiance of nature’s waterways – and
the quiet of his lab – and has been studying aquatic
invertebrates for 30 years. Much of his work now is dedicated
to the health of Putah Creek, and its tributaries, and has an
ultimate goal of seeing an ecosystem that includes elements
that existed prior to the construction of the Monticello Dam in
Cleaning up the tens of thousands of oil and gas wells
scattered across California — which includes plugging them,
removing surface infrastructure and cleaning the soil — could
eventually cost more than $9 billion if they fall to the state
to handle, a new report commissioned by state oil regulators
Rivers are vital. Like life-giving arteries, they deliver water
for drinking and irrigation and fertile soil for vineyards and
farms. They support watersheds teeming with life. But humans
are hard on rivers. We crowd their banks, dump waste in them
and take out water, fish and other resources. … When that
happens, who speaks for the river?
In California’s never-ending water and fish wars, the striped
bass doesn’t get nearly the publicity as its celebrity
counterparts, the endangered Chinook salmon and Delta smelt.
Yet the striped bass is at the heart of a protracted fight over
California’s water supply, 140 years after the hard-fighting
fish, beloved by anglers, was introduced here from the East
Democrats and environmental groups on Thursday admonished the
Trump administration for issuing a rule they say sets
protections for waterways back decades; however, it’s shaping
up to be a huge win in GOP-leaning rural America as the Trump
campaign eagerly courts farm country ahead of the 2020
The moratorium has led state officials to place on hold 58
permit applications for high-pressure cyclic steam wells,
according to Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the Department of
Conservation, which oversees the division now known as the
California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM. A
Southern California lawmaker who has launched an inquiry into
the steam injection wells says CalGEM’s new rules don’t go far
The Environmental Protection Agency has made it easier for
cities to keep dumping raw sewage into rivers by letting them
delay or otherwise change federally imposed fixes to their
sewer systems, according to interviews with local officials,
water utilities and their lobbyists.
Nearly a year after construction was halted a second time at a
large resort project at the north end of Healdsburg when
water-quality regulators allegedly found millions of gallons of
sediment-filled stormwater running off into Russian River
tributaries, the agency announced it is pursuing a $4.9 million
fine against the developer.
In wildland forest locations, they found that drought-ridden
and drier locales like Idaho and Colorado have longer stretches
of post-burn protection (about 20 years) because the woody
debris in those forests require extreme drought to carry fires
and the land lacks grassy fuels. Coastal California, however,
receives more moisture and grassy fuel grows quickly,
increasing the risk for reburn, seeing that negative feedback
disappear after about 10 years.
After Imperial County declared a state of emergency at the
Salton Sea, hoping to pressure California Gov. Gavin Newsom to
take action, state officials responded with a letter this month
promising the state would allocate $220 million toward Salton
Sea projects in the upcoming year’s budget. That sounded like
good news. But what the letter didn’t say was that those funds
hinge on the passage of a $4.75 billion bond measure…
The city of Santa Maria is set to begin a native-plant
restoration project on about 150 acres of city-owned land in
the Santa Maria Riverbed, a spokesman announced Wednesday. The
work is slated to begin this week, east of the Highway 101
These networks of habitat and water that run under and across
our desert are essential to stop the loss of bird species
diversity. These linkages, flowing through our communities,
under our highways, bubbling up in the livestock allotments of
our public lands or pulsing within renewable energy development
zones, are not easily replaced. The loss and degradation of
these connected lands and waters are contributing to the
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is a highly invasive aquatic
plant that has the capacity, by forming dense mats that
restrict dissolved oxygen levels, to disrupt many of the
water-based activities that are synonymous with Lake County.
Siskiyou County supervisors last week supported Sheriff Jon
Lopey’s assessment that illegal marijuana grows are detrimental
to the health and well being of local residents and approved
the extension of a local state of emergency through 2020.
Since July, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State
Water Contractors have engaged in fruitless negotiations over
how to pay for a single-tunnel Delta Conveyance Facility. On
December 23, right before the holidays, DWR made their 6th
proposal to the State WaterContractors with a major shift in
Santa Barbara County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have
issued notices of violation to Southern California Edison for
its dumping of debris and rocks into Mission Creek near the
Inspiration Point hiking trail. … Mission Creek is Santa
Barbara’s largest creek, flowing from the hills of Mission
Canyon through the heart of downtown and to the Westside. It is
home to steelhead trout among other wildlife.
At a panel discussion hosted by California Natural Resources
Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the panelists discussed how by
spreading out and slowing down water across the landscape can
provide multiple benefits year-round by allowing farmers to
cultivate the land during the spring and summer, and provide
habitat for fish and wildlife in the fall and winter months.
The main focus of the program are the barriers to fish passage
for salmon from Friant Dam to the ocean and back again. There
are three key barriers: the East Side Bypass Control Structure
which is in the flood bypass; Sack Dam, which is the intake for
Arroyo Canal for Henry Miller irrigation system; and Mendota
Dam which controls Mendota Pool. The program also needs to
ensure enough habitat for the fish when they return to complete
their life cycle,
Utah first proposed building a 140-mile pipeline from Lake
Powell on the Utah-Arizona border more than a decade ago. The
plan, however, was waylaid by environmental and other reviews
during the Obama administration. … Reclamation signaled to
the state that it wants to move swiftly on the plan, in
recognition of how it was stalled at FERC…
The territory encompassed by the 5th State Senate District has
been a battleground for California’s complex water politics. So
it’s not surprising the two Democrats and three Republicans
running to succeed Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who is
terming out this year, might tap dance around questions
regarding Tuolumne and Stanislaus river flows and water quality
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Dozens of families in Stanislaus County are fighting against a
proposed dam just west of Patterson. The 800-acre reservoir
would mean a portion of Del Puerto Canyon would be underwater.
… Volunteers and organizers with the Patterson Progressive
Alliance have been working to save Del Puerto Canyon.
The committee voted to recommend a less stringent definition of
wetlands for the Town Center area. The committee also
recommended a policy that would allow the wetlands located on a
vacant lot behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center to be
reconfigured or even relocated. The recommendations have the
potential to open up the property to more development…
Response to Wednesday’s action by the California Department of
Water Resources to initiate an environmental impact report for
a tunnel project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta was
not popular with the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
Under a new bill in the Arizona state Legislature, some water
tied to land that borders the Colorado River could not be
transferred into central Arizona. It comes after recent
proposals to do just that.
A month-long, emergency construction project has moved the
Merced River away from Hills Ferry Road. Merced County
Supervisor Lloyd Pareira said the road was in danger of being
washed out due to erosion which was creeping ever closer to the
shoulder at a bend where the Merced River flows into the San
President Trump yesterday touted his repeal of key Clean Water
Act regulations as more than three dozen current and former
government officials called for an investigation into the
scientific basis of his forthcoming replacement rule.
California increased its efforts Friday to keep the federal
government from allowing oil and gas drilling on more than 1
million acres of public land, suing to block the Trump
administration from issuing new permits in the central part of
Construction projects aimed at providing flood protection to
thousands of Mountain View properties is over budget and more
than a year behind schedule. The Santa Clara Valley Water
District’s board of directors signed off on another round of
funding in November for $4.7 million, aimed at offsetting cost
overruns that ate through most of the project’s contingency
The number of Coho salmon in Northern California’s Shasta and
Scott rivers in 2019 was too low to sustain a viable
population. That’s according to a just-released report from the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The most recent
count identified only 334 Coho on the Scott, and 61 on the
The deaths of the trees, some of which lived through the rise
and fall of hundreds of empires, caliphates and kingdoms – not
to mention the inauguration of every US president – have
shocked researchers in their speed and novelty.
The Sonoma Index-Tribune recently published a couple of
articles about beavers and otters in Sonoma Creek… It’s a
good sign, not just because it’s nice to know that Sonoma
Valley’s main waterway is actually clean enough to support
wildlife, but also because beavers can actually improve life
for other critters, including my favorite, rainbow trout.
Now Trump’s team is set to impose new environmentally damaging
Bay-Delta water diversion and pumping rules. … These new
rules would wipe out salmon and other wildlife by allowing
wholesale siphoning of water from Northern California rivers to
a few agriculture operators in the western San Joaquin
The conservation district is a special governmental entity that
has been recharging the local groundwater aquifers for 100
years. The Wash Plan will implement water conservation, supply
infrastructure, transportation and aggregate production while
protecting threatened species.
In the early days, these pot farms were small and scattered.
But in recent years the industry has intensified. A wave of
newcomers planted larger farms, using greenhouses and
artificial lights to extend the growing season and yield up to
three marijuana crops in a single year. The cannabis boom has
polluted waters with fertilizers, fuels and pesticides,
triggered erosion that buries the rocky habitats where salmon
and trout spawn and grow, and drained streams of water in the
Praising progress on a long-awaited Pajaro River flood
prevention project, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors
reviewed a proposed regional flood prevention agency that would
oversee construction and operation of the $393.7 million
initiative. By a unanimous vote, the county board directed
staff to finalize a joint powers agreement at the center of the
proposed Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency.
Inside the dome on top of the Penitencia Water Treatment plant
in San Jose is the first permanent x-band weather radar system
in the Bay Area. “The radar system that you see up there is
collecting crucial data as we speak,” said Norma Camacho, CEO
of Valley Water.“ Camacho joined the San Francisco P.U.C.,
Sonoma Water and other partners in unveiling the new system,
which will improve weather forecasting across the region.
The Central Valley fall-run population is a fraction of its
historic size and continues to face challenges as a result of
factors that range from loss of habitat and changing ocean
conditions to pressures from predation and harvest in
freshwater and the ocean. Even under good environmental
conditions, fall-run Chinook face a slew of challenges over the
course of their lives.
With virtually no public notice, state officials quietly gave
away a significant portion of Southern California’s water
supply to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with
the Trump administration in December 2018. One year later, it
remains unclear why the California Department of Water
Resources signed the agreement…
At the December meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
Caitlin Sweeney, Director of the San Francisco Estuary
Partnership, briefed the Council on the 2019 update to the
State of the Estuary report. She began with some background on
SDSU, with the help of its landscape architect Schmidt Design
Group, hopes to engineer ties to the oft-overlooked San Diego
River, which runs behind the Mission Valley property currently
home to SDCCU Stadium. Although park-goers won’t be able to
access the river — a landscaped buffer will be used to keep
people away from the natural habitat — they should get a
river-like feel from the park.
California’s governor has restarted a project to build a giant,
underground tunnel that would pump billions of gallons of water
from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern part of
the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration on Wednesday
issued a Notice of Preparation for the project, which is the
first step in the state’s lengthy environmental review process.
The issue, which came in front of the county supervisors
Tuesday, has been “put on pause,” she said, until more
information is available. Specifically, the supervisors are
waiting to make a decision on the moratorium until they know
how many homes have been built in the area in the past two to
three years, and how many more are slated to be built.
UC Merced researchers outline solutions to the severe wildfire
problems in California’s mountain forests and closely linked
water resource challenges in a documentary premiering on KVIE,
the Sacramento affiliate of PBS, later this month. The new film
“Beyond the Brink: California’s Watershed” highlights the
critical need to reverse a century of fire suppression in
Sierra Nevada forests…
The city has a five-year plan for its initial removals of
sedimentation, and city officials forecast spending a total of
about $1.65 million. According to a 2016 city report, removing
the sediment would deepen the lake and create community
benefits that include enhancing wildlife habitat, critical for
threatened steelhead trout and local and migratory birds, as
well as recreational opportunities…
West Marin ranchers and a local conservation group are teaming
up to plan habitat restoration projects along Walker Creek to
restore the once bountiful, but now diminished, runs of coho
salmon and steelhead trout. The California Department of Fish
and Wildlife awarded the Point Reyes Station-based Marin
Resource Conservation District a nearly $350,000 grant this
This commentary is based on speakers notes from an ACWA Talk
given by Anecita Agustinez at the ACWA Fall Conference 2019.
This talk was prepared for the first TED-talk inspired workshop
and was presented in San Diego, California to a large audience
from many backgrounds.
The fires raging in Australia present a sadly recognizable
scenario, a new normal that, after two years of devastating
wildfires in California, we in the United States have become
all too familiar with. Policies intended to return forests to a
more “natural” state with less proactive human management have
created disastrous conditions…
Officials in Shasta County are preparing to apply for federal
emergency management funds to repair a dam from which they can
no longer release water, that officials say is in danger of
flooding during a major storm event.
As they walked to the river’s edge holding baby salmon in cups,
second graders warned the tiny fish of predators before gently
setting them free into the water. Two classes from Oakdale
Heights Elementary School took part in a salmon study that came
to a close Friday at Riverbend Park in Oroville.
When was the last time that you heard a water district in
California complaining that in the future, they will have too
much water supply? Remarkably, that’s the future that the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD)
outlined at their October 2019 Board of Directors’ retreat.
Because zone changes have the potential to impact many well
users, Valley Water conducted extensive stakeholder engagement
on the preliminary study recommendations. … The board of
directors agreed and directed our team to prepare the survey
description to modify the two existing zones, and create two
new zones in South County. The board will consider these
changes in a public hearing later this year.
A move by the Trump administration to roll back landmark
environmental policy intended to ensure vigorous scrutiny of
federal infrastructure projects has struck alarm in the hearts
of California conservationists, particularly those striving to
safeguard North Coast waters from offshore energy exploration
The factors causing the decline of many fish and fisheries in
the upper San Francisco Estuary have made their management
controversial, usually because of the correlation of declines
with increased water exports from the Delta and upstream of the
Delta… To address this problem better, the California Fish
and Game Commission is developing new policies for managing
Delta fish and fisheries, with a special focus on striped bass.
Severe droughts have happened simultaneously in the regions
that supply water to Southern California almost six times per
century on average since 1500, according to new research. The
study is the first to document the duration and frequency of
simultaneous droughts in Southern California’s main water
sources—the Sacramento River basin, the Upper Colorado River
Basin, and local Southern California basins.
How pervasive is that plastic exposure, and is it bad for your
health? Scientists don’t yet know, but they have some working
theories. Here’s what we know so far about these tiny,
prevalent plastic particles.
House lawmakers passed a bill Friday for U.S. regulators to
designate chemicals found in cooking spray, cosmetics and other
grease-resistant products as health hazards. Known as
polyfluoroalkyl and perfluorooctanoic substances (PFAS and
PFOS), the chemicals have been found in groundwater sites
across the nation.
Biologists, heavy equipment operators, government agencies, and
non-profits all working together. Hopefully, they’re major
steps toward restoring the endangered chinook salmon winter run
in the Sacramento River.
Slogging through thick mud may not be everybody’s idea of a
rewarding morning, but for a handful of dedicated volunteers,
it meant helping Mother Nature thrive. The Solano Land Trust’s
“Citizen Science Volunteer” program was at Rush Ranch Friday to
plant native plants around an area that has undergone major
tidal marsh restoration project…
Yes, aggregate mining on the San Joaquin has been going on for
more than a century. But with production tapering off and newer
operations opening on the nearby Kings River, it was generally
assumed the poor San Joaquin would finally be given a break…
Unfortunately, a proposal by Cemex threatens to dash those
hopes while ensuring another century of heavy industry on
California’s second-longest river…
The courtroom battle over 9,000-acre Staten Island is the
latest conflict in the Delta over farming, wetlands and aging
levees that, besides preventing flooding, preserve a way of
life on the man-made islands. The suit, filed in 2018 by a
group called Wetlands Preservation Foundation, accuses the
California Department of Water Resources and the Nature
Conservancy of failing to adequately protect wildlife or employ
sustainable agricultural practices on the property…The stakes
are high because the channels, islands and marshes that make up
the Delta are a catch basin for most of California’s drinking
Right now, the April-July runoff is supposed to be 82% of
average. That compares to 145 % of average in 2019, the
second-best runoff season in the past 20 years, says the
federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. Despite last
year’s excellent river flows, most experts also say the
Colorado still faces long-term supply issues…