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.
After years of defending its proposed water grab from our
region’s rivers, the state Water Board chose to ignore all
science and impose orders to take the water anyway. Likewise,
until recently when Gov. Newsom wisely said “no” to the twin
tunnels, the state insisted on devastating the Delta by
stubbornly refusing to consider alternatives. And five years
after passage of the historic 2014 water bond, no new water
storage facilities have even started construction.
The Bureau of Reclamation Friday issued updated Central Valley
Project South-of-Delta allocations for the 2019 contract year.
“I am pleased to announce that South-of-Delta agricultural
water service contractors’ allocations have been increased to
75% of their contract total because of May’s snow and rain
totals,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant.
The agreement on how to address dwindling reservoir levels
along the Colorado River comes after years of negotiation
between two nations, seven states, ten tribes, and the
countless internal interests involved. TPR presents the
following interview with Metropolitan Water District General
Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger discussing how a complex consensus
among the parties was finally reached…
The City of Lathrop has taken another step towards achieving
the long-awaited goal of being able to discharge tertiary
treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River. With the
approval of the Lathrop City Council, the city is now in a
contract with Ascent Environmental to initiate the
environmental documentation necessary to acquire the permit to
discharge of water from the city’s water treatment plant into
the river – a move that could pay sweeping dividends to the
city in the future.
Through the BCK Program’s SWPPP internship, which stands for
Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program, students are working
with industry professionals to study the problem of runoff
pollution leaving their school sites and prevent some of the
negative impacts it can have on the surrounding environment.
Two portions of channelized waterways within urbanized Southern
California will receive more than $4 million from the 2019-20
state budget adopted Thursday to restore natural features by
removing decades-old concrete barriers.
The agencies want ideas for actions needed now to help
California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, year-round wildfires, species declines, aging
infrastructure, contaminated water supplies and changing
demands for water. The input will help determine priorities and
identify complementary actions to ensure safe and dependable
water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the
state’s communities, economy and environment.
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.
The Golden State is cursed with some of the finest weather and
richest soil on earth. Its luminous skies and airy loam have
been crucial to California’s transformation into our most
populous and agriculturally most bountiful state. But
capricious nature has withheld one essential resource needed to
sustain this dizzying growth—water. In his sprawling,
provocative book “The Dreamt Land,” journalist Mark Arax
examines California’s long-building water crisis with the keen,
loving, troubled eye of a native son.
With a deadline to take action just weeks away, lawmakers and
the governor haven’t settled controversial issues regarding the
so-called wildfire fund: How much money does the state need and
what portion of that will come out of the pockets of
electricity customers? Lawmakers are looking to Gov. Gavin
Newsom to take the lead and provide answers to one of
California’s most high-stakes problems.
Blythe is on the California side of the Colorado River where
Interstate 10 crosses, with a freeway fast food/motel strip and
the sort of beleaguered economy you see in desert ag towns of
the Lower Colorado. Average per capita annual income here is
$16,329, just 55 percent of the state average, according to the
U.S. Census Bureau. I have a few different stories about why my
life is so entwined with the Colorado River. This is one of
Pollution in the oceans of the world is a major problem. It’s
also a problem close to shore. But a relatively small invention
called the Seabin is making a big difference in cleaning San
Diego’s coastal waters.
Native California flora such as oaks, mugwort and monkeyflower
are vital in watershed habitats to filter pollutants and
prevent erosion. But theses species have often succumbed to
quickly spreading disease. When the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission had to plant these natives in the Alameda
Creek Watershed, it took extreme measures to prevent infection,
but they were ineffective. So now, the commission is growing
its own native plants. If successful, the project could provide
a new model for restoring disease-ravaged ecosystems.
The question of whether the Colorado River system is a reliable
source of water for the future was the topic of a presentation
held at the Washington County Water Conservancy District on
Thursday. … Utah is entitled to 23%, or about 1.4 million
acre feet under the compact. Utah currently uses 1 million acre
feet, Millis said. This leaves the state with 400,000 acre feet
to left to develop.
Here’s a safe prediction: Generations to come will be thankful
for everything done today to protect the Russian River. Here’s
another: Restoring and preserving the river’s health will
become more challenging and expensive each time action is
The possible residential and commercial development of the
Northern Waterfront area received a boost Tuesday night as the
Vallejo City Council approved spending $200,000 to have 1.51
acres of wetlands filled in with soil. … An initial 8.8 acres
was filled by 1994 before the permit expired. Through a second
permit, city hall has until November 2020 to fill the remaining
Driving along Interstate 5 south of Sacramento, you wouldn’t
notice anything unique about the land stretched out beyond your
car window. But hidden between Interstate 5 and Walnut Grove,
lies one of the most important environmental restoration sites
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
An algal bloom in Black Butte Lake could be harmful and even
deadly if visitors or their pets swallow the water, the
California Water Board said Thursday. Regardless of the heat,
boaters, dog owners and other recreational users of the lake
are asked to be aware of the dangers in the water since harmful
algal blooms (HABs) were found in a recent water test.
The San Diego Water Board is asking 10 local agencies,
including the city and county of San Diego, to curtail the flow
of human fecal matter into the San Diego River. The problem has
gotten worse over the last few years to the point it’s being
compared with similar issues along the U.S.-Mexico border,
according to the state agency that monitors the region’s water
In 2021, four large dams on the Klamath River are due to be
demolished, in part to revive the river and Klamath Basin
salmon. But unless salmon hatchery operations are discontinued
soon afterward on the river, the effort will founder. Allowing
hatchery salmon to mix with struggling native salmon after
removing the dams is like rescuing a dying man only to slowly
If the decommissioning goes through as planned (the latest
timetable aims for a drawdown sometime in 2021) it will be the
largest dam removal project in U.S. history, with major
implications for environmental restoration, the salmon fishery,
agriculture and local tribes. But a recent Federal Appeals
Court decision is having repercussions that extend far beyond
the Klamath River Basin.
The Flood Insurance for Farmers Act of 2019, which [Congressman
John] Garamendi introduced with Congressman Doug LaMalfa in
January, would provide farmers access to discounted rates under
the National Flood Insurance Program. It would also lift the de
facto federal prohibition on construction and repair of
agricultural structures in high flood-risk areas designated by
the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Governor Newsom has stated that he supports a single
tunnel—building on the planning and analysis for modernized
conveyance in the Delta done to date with an increased focus on
how to make the project work for the Delta communities. …
Under this direction, the Department of Water Resources (DWR)
will launch a new environmental review and planning process
toward the end of this year.
Fishing isn’t supposed to be as easy as dipping a hook into
water and pulling out a fish. I’m told it’s an exercise in
patience, and that you’ll often come home empty-handed. But
those insights do not describe my experience on a recent
camping trip near the Oregon border. There, in a reservoir on
the Klamath River, yellow perch—a species not native to
California — thrives in water made artificially still by Iron
Senate Republicans lambasted the previous administration’s
water regulations as a federal power grab Wednesday in a
hearing on the new policy rolled out by President Donald Trump.
The Environmental Protection Agency revised the rule known as
Waters of the United States in December, following Trump’s 2017
executive order aimed at minimizing regulations and promoting
Jason Mead at Wyoming’s Water Development Office says more dams
could help ranchers survive the coming droughts, but some
scientists say, building more dams might actually worsen
climate change. University of Wyoming soil scientist Jay Norton
says, dams that manage for flood control, for example, could
have a damaging effect.
A new proposed rule from the U.S. Forest Service designed to
make environmental reviews more efficient would shortcut
important oversight of industry plans, environmentalists say.
The rule comes after months of complaints by President Trump
that the agency is mismanaging forests and not doing enough to
prevent fires in California and other states.
Championed by state and local water planners and decried by
conservation groups, the Lake Powell Pipeline project continues
to be a focal point for discussion among Southern Utah
residents. As to the current status of the pipeline project, a
public comment period connected to a permitting process
overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – more
commonly known as FERC – recently concluded.
Earlier this week, environmental activists and people who lack
access to clean water rallied on the capitol steps to urge
state lawmakers to act. Among them were longtime labor activist
Dolores Huerta and Susana De Anda, executive director and
co-founder of Community Water Center. She joins Insight to
discuss the issue of unhealthy water and its impact on
communities. UC Davis associate professor and faculty lead of
the Center for Regional Change, Jonathan London, discusses his
research on the regions and people who lack access to clean
The newly-adopted regulations create a new statewide wetland
definition that expands to features not previously covered
under federal law and creates a new permitting program for
activities that result in the discharge of dredge or fill
materials to any Waters of the State. … At the recent
Nossaman Land Use Seminar, attorney and partner Mary Lynn
Coffee gave an overview of the new regulations.
Through the Airborne Snow Observatory program, NASA and
California’s Department of Water Resources use instruments
mounted on airplanes to create high resolution estimates of
snow water content for priority watersheds in the Western U.S.
The collected data helps determine the timing of the spring
melt, which has downstream effects on hydroelectric power
generation and planning for how much water can be held in
Today subverted water is reappearing in inconvenient ways
because we have constrained the space it once had to ebb and
flow, and climate change is amplifying storms and droughts. To
cope, cities are increasingly funneling runoff into green
infrastructure such as permeable pavement and bioswales. But a
scientific research center, the San Francisco Estuary Institute
(SFEI), is proposing a more ambitious approach…
Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, announced Wednesday the 2019-20 state
budget will include $9.25 million for research to better
understand and forecast so-called atmospheric rivers, leading
to improved flood control and water retention in a state
grappling with the effects of climate change and chronic
An on-again, off-again effort by state regulators to better
protect the Russian River and its tributaries against failing
septic systems, livestock waste and other potential sources of
bacterial contamination is in its final stages, with hopes that
an action plan for the entire watershed will be approved this
August and go into effect next year.
At an Arvada fire station, Gov. Polis signed into law House
Bill 1279, which bans certain kinds of foam used in
firefighting training. Such foam contains so-called “forever
chemicals” that have contaminated drinking water in El Paso
County and elsewhere.
The effort, particularly in California, amounted to a wholesale
re-engineering of the existing hydrology to suit the needs of
ranchers and farmers. It was “California’s irrigated miracle,”
as Mark Arax calls it in his new book, “the greatest human
alteration of a physical environment in history.” “The Dreamt
Land” is Arax’s exhaustive, deeply reported account of this
The Klamath River has seen its native fish populations plunge
and its water quality decline, in part because of four
hydropower dams built in its middle reach a century ago. In the
coming years, these dams will be removed, creating the largest
dam removal and river restoration project in the country. We
talked to Lester Snow, board president of the Klamath River
Renewal Corporation, about this effort.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, though, a faint
fixed pattern becomes discernible among the randomness, a quiet
but strengthening note against a background symphony. Some
regions—California, the Mediterranean, Australia—dry out. It is
a small, almost imperceptible-to-humans drying, but it is a
pattern that no natural cycle can reproduce.
Nestlé, the world’s largest bottled water company, continues to
take millions of gallons of free water from the San Bernardino
National Forest two hours east of Los Angeles, 17 months after
California regulators told them they had no right to much of
what they’d taken in the past. And federal officials are
helping them do it, despite concluding Nestlé is drying up
springs and streams and damaging a watershed.
A welcome surge of melting snow is pouring out of the Rocky
Mountains and into the drought-stricken rivers of the
southwestern U.S., fending off a water shortage but threatening
to push rivers over their banks.
An attempt to restore the population of endangered Southern
California steelhead trout living in the Santa Ynez River is
being opposed by some jurisdictions that rely on the river and
Cachuma Lake for their water supply.
A second plant, similar to Carlsbad, is being built in
Huntington Beach, Calif., with the same 50-million-gallon-a-day
capability. Currently there are 11 desalination plants in
California, and 10 more are proposed. … For decades, we have
been told it would one day turn oceans of salt water into fresh
and quench the world’s thirst. But progress has been slow. That
is now changing, as desalination is coming into play in many
places around the world.
California’s largest farming region faces two linked
challenges: balancing groundwater supply and demand in
overdrafted basins, and addressing water quality in the
region’s aquifers. We talked to Ashley Boren, executive
director of Sustainable Conservation, about tackling these
issues in the San Joaquin Valley.
The Yurok Tribe recently became the first indigenous community
in the United States to be awarded the Equator Prize by the
United Nations Development Programme, which honors “innovative
nature-based solutions for tackling climate change, environment
and poverty challenges.”
Water officials struck with the task of hammering out a plan to
manage Santa Clarita Valley groundwater are looking for seven
people to serve as the agency’s advisory group. … “We need
their input to move ahead,” Tara Bravo, spokeswoman for SV
Strategies, told the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater
Sustainability Agency board.
Domestic well users in some areas were greatly impacted by
additional agricultural groundwater pumping during California’s
2012-2016 drought… Implementation of the 2014 Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) should improve long-term
groundwater availability during drought for all system users by
requiring groundwater management to avoid significant and
unreasonable impacts of decreased groundwater levels.
Less than a year after the Camp Fire became the deadliest blaze
in state history, California is once against facing a spate of
wildfires that threaten its residents and land. There have been
nearly 240 wildfires in California over the past week, causing
one evacuation and two power shut-offs while fire fighters and
utility companies attempt to prevent another catastrophe.
A leaking dam that prompted evacuations in the Sierra foothills
during an intense rainstorm last year has been repaired and is
again storing drinking water for 2.7 million Bay Area
residents, San Francisco water officials said Monday.
While some people consider them a nuisance, beaver are called
“keystone species” or “grassroots conservationists” and are
considered vital to riparian habitats. … In areas where there
are beaver lodges vegetation and watersheds stabilize, and
downstream flooding and silt runoff is reduced.
Shorelines in South Bay San Diego will never be fully immune
from the sewage and chemical pollution that flows north from
Mexico over the border through canyons and the Tijuana River.
However, beach closures triggered by contaminated stormwater
and Tijuana’s leaky sewer system can be dramatically reduced…
That was the message last week from President Trump’s U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, which released the most
comprehensive blueprint to date…
A Marin Audubon project that seeks to restore lost wetlands and
bolster sea-level rise defenses for San Rafael’s Canal
neighborhood cleared a major funding hurdle on Friday after
being awarded a nearly $1 million grant. The San Francisco Bay
Restoration Authority voted unanimously to fulfill Marin
Audubon’s request for $985,300 to conduct an environmental
review and design its planned restoration and expansion of the
20-acre Tiscornia Marsh.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday filed a
comment letter opposing a U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
plan to open up more CA CCD Kettleman hillsthan one million
acres of public lands in Central California to oil and gas
drilling, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Members of EPA’s Science Advisory Board grappled with whether
and how to weigh in on the Trump administration’s rollback of
clean water standards given the administration’s insistence
that the proposal is a question of policy, not science. “They
have the right to change the policy, but the science isn’t
right,” member Robert Merritt said.
The DA’s lawsuit alleges that Monterey Mushrooms’ growing
facility on Hale Avenue violated multiple Fish and Game and
Business and Professions laws from 2012 to 2017. Specifically,
the DA’s office states the facility allowed its farm production
waste and other wastewater to flow into Fisher Creek and its
tributaries, which border the north Morgan Hill facility.
Central Valley residents know their land is sinking. They’ve
seen cracks in their walls, holes in their roads, and soil
that’s started to slowly disappear below the foundation of
their homes. Though the agricultural hub is still reeling from
one of the worst droughts in California history, its encounter
with subsidence — the gradual caving in of land — is far from
Anderson Valley Unified School District on Tuesday held its
public opening ceremony to celebrate new gardens and rainwater
catchment systems designed to improve the district’s stormwater
pollution prevention infrastructure.
You don’t have to travel very far to get pure artesian water
sourced from below a dormant volcano in New Zealand. “We tap an
artesian aquifer, and we bottle at source in this amazing
beautiful area of New Zealand,” said Justin Mahy of Santa
The Russian River watershed was once a stronghold for Central
California’s coho salmon population, but Obedzinski says things
like extreme habitat loss and drought years have led to the
downturn. According to California Sea Grant, the state’s coho
has dwindled down to an estimated 15% of its population in the
This year, we are blessed with an abundant supply of snow
storage in the Sierra. But the inability to bank this bounty,
beyond our existing reservoirs, is a serious missed
opportunity. This wonderful wet winter will ironically elevate
political complacency around one of the state’s most vital
necessities – a reliable and sustainable water supply.
The season of toxic algae blooms is here. A helicopter crew
spread copper sulfate over Lake Skinner near Temecula on
Thursday, June 6, to combat a cyanobacteria bloom — also known
as blue-green algae — that had been producing some cyanotoxins
and unpleasant tastes and odors.
Following through on its threats, on May 21 the group Save the
El Dorado Canal filed suit against the El Dorado Irrigation
District over plans to pipe the El Dorado Canal (also called
the Upper Main Ditch) in Pollock Pines. … The canal is seen
as a historical, environmental and recreational asset in the
community as well as a conveyance that protects and enhances
It can be difficult to precisely define a drought in a state
known for being hot and dry. … Arizona and the Southwest’s
standards for drought are far different from standards in other
parts of the country that may be wetter or have the capacity to
store large volumes of groundwater.
Dr. Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water
Resources, says while we would like to believe we are returning
to the days when California rain and snowfall averages were
normal more years than not, there is little or no indication
that is the case. … “We’ll never be in a place where we can
coast or just relax on water issues.”
Local officials plan to huddle over the next few weeks to pick
a strategy to control the region’s cross-border pollution
problem. … Since April, more than 110 million gallons of
sewage-tainted water has flowed into the Tijuana Estuary in the
United States and out to the ocean.
The state has created a visual guide with photos to help users
recognize harnful algal blooms (HABs)… Direct exposure to a
HAB, if it is toxin-producing, can result in eye irritation,
skin rash, mouth ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, or cold and
flu-like symptoms. Pets can be especially susceptible, because
they tend to drink while in the water and lick their fur
The water district would reroute an average 2.32 million
gallons a day of the about 8 million gallons a day of treated
wastewater otherwise discharged into the Monterey Bay Marine
Sanctuary. … Pure Water Soquel’s final product would then be
pumped back into underground aquifers, depleted due to decades
of overpumping, to replenish the Mid-County region’s major
The Safe Drinking Water Act requires protection of current and
potential drinking water sources, but when analysis shows a
groundwater basin is naturally oily and briny, it can be
exempted from the act’s requirements, according to the
Department of Conservation. The exemption means water that
comes up during oil production can be returned to the basin,
but the burden of proof for the groundwater condition is placed
on the oil companies.
Local leaders and representatives of several federal agencies
met Wednesday to look for a solution to the ongoing sewage
spills contaminating the Tijuana River Valley and the shoreline
from Imperial Beach to Coronado.
After decades of insisting otherwise and before the U.S.
Supreme Court has had a chance to rule on the issue, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took steps to limit its
interpretation of the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) jurisdiction over
The election results for Measure AA, which is asking for $300
million to fund recreation and wildlife preservation, were
still too close to call Wednesday as Santa Clara and San Mateo
county officials continue to count votes. … Measure AA would
… pay for improving hiking and biking opportunities,
preserving forests, coastline and wildlife habitat, reducing
fire risk and protecting water quality in creeks, according to
sponsors of the measure.
At the spring conference of the Association of California Water
Agencies, a panel discussion brought together groundwater
managers in four critically overdrafted basins to discuss their
near-term goals and regional challenges in complying with the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
As the sun sets on California’s solar farms, a backup energy
source deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains springs to life. The
huge system of reservoirs and turbines can store energy during
the day and then crank out electricity for 900,000 homes, using
just water and gravity. As the state tries to make wind and
solar work around the clock, officials want to build more like
it. It won’t be easy: such projects take years to develop, are
expensive and face stiff opposition.
California water users have been consistently frustrated over
the seemingly endless water curtailments imposed on them. …
Unfortunately, the messages from the regulators, political
leaders, and media are not always consistent and the public is
often left uncertain and confused. We wanted to show just how
much water can be “lost” by California’s current water system
State regulations, known as the Model Water Efficient Landscape
Ordinance (MWELO), include standards for landscape design and
irrigation efficiency that were last updated in 2015. While
hundreds of local jurisdictions have implemented the 2015
update (including Placerville, the county seat of El Dorado
County), the county government itself has not, although brisk
building activity has resulted in many new landscape
installations receiving county permits.
The Central District of California in the second phase of
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley
Water District et. al. issued a decision with massive
implications for water rights in the West. … In the second
phase of the case, the District Court determined that the Water
District has not harmed the Tribe with its groundwater pumping,
and therefore the Tribe cannot require the Water Districts stop
They say water is for fighting over, but one bill sitting on
Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk proves that’s not always true. In
fact, Senate Bill 140 would make fighting over some water
impossible. … To protect against future over-pumping,
the bill would require the state to set aside 10 percent of
available water in those basins.
California native Mayor Richard Bailey didn’t grow up in
Coronado. However, when elected to Coronado City Council in
2012 he became acutely aware of the decades long beach closures
in Coronado and Imperial Beach due to toxic waste flowing from
Tijuana into the Pacific Ocean.
I recently sat down with California water expert and Delta
Independent Science Board (ISB) member Jay Lund to talk about
some of the challenges and opportunities for scientists and
decision-makers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. I am
pleased to share highlights from our conversation in this
month’s Delta Stewardship Council Chair’s blog.
In the 1960s a portion of the wetlands community of Devereux
Slough was filled in to make way for the Ocean Meadows Golf
Course. Now, with the help of grant funding from the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and multiple state and local partners,
permanently protected wetlands are being created within the
100-acre North Campus Open Space.
A California water district is disputing claims made in a
lawsuit filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra that it is
violating state laws over a dam project. Westland Water
District, which covers Fresno and Kings counties, was
responding to the lawsuit filed over the Shasta Dam, the
potential heightening of which the attorney general strongly
Since our great awakening in the 1960s, the Bay Area has become
a proud leader in protecting our local environment, from the
redwoods and ridgelines to San Francisco Bay. … But some
wealthy developers don’t care, despite decades of being told,
“no, we won’t build on the Bay anymore.” With Donald Trump’s
help, Cargill Salt and luxury home developer DMB Associates
keep putting their profit above the health of our Bay.
After hunting them was banned in 1961, the otters began
returning to parts of the state. Their recovery in the Bay Area
is relatively recent, however, and as of last year the state
range map for river otters still depicted the region as an
unoccupied expanse. This spring, the California Department of
Fish and Wildlife released an updated map showing where river
otters live in the Bay Area.
San Francisco Bay enthusiasts are pleased that the waters of
San Francisco Bay are becoming cleaner and clearer, but
researchers are worried that this might invite a new problem –
blooms of toxic phytoplankton. Although these microscopic,
toxin-producing algae are already found in the Bay, with
clearer waters permitting more light to reach these
photosynthetic algae, it’s feared that the Bay could turn into
a toxic soup of both freshwater and marine harmful algae…
The now defunct Nestlé Food Corporation plant that operated
southwest of the Main Street and Highway 99 interchange on
Industrial Avenue in Ripon produced decaffeinated coffee until
it closed in 1994. The decaffeination process involved a closed
loop system where solvents were distilled and recycled.
Beginning in 1957, trichloroethylene (TCE) — a chemical now
known to cause cancer — was used to extract caffeine. … The
City of Ripon recently shut down a municipal drinking water
well after elevated levels of TCE-related chemicals were
The U.S. Drought Monitor recently reported that, for the first
time in its nearly 20-year history, none of the contiguous
states was showing symptoms of severe or exceptional drought.
That report includes Arizona, as this year’s abnormally wet May
helped push the state out of a 10-year drought period.
When the first white settlers arrived in California’s remote
eastern Owens Valley, the name given to its indigenous tribes
was Paiute, or “land of flowing water” in the local language.
But for more than a century, the water in the valley has flowed
in just one direction: toward Los Angeles, nearly 300 miles
(480 km) away.
This is the second installment of answers to some common
questions regarding water problems in California. Part I
examined some common questions on water supplies (questions
1-5). Part II looks more at common questions on water uses and
Marin County water district officials expressed encouragement
after an early agreement was reached that seeks to end
longstanding conflicts of a major regional water supply 100
miles to the north. The agreement centers around the
relicensing of the Potter Valley Project hydropower plant in
Mendocino County, which holds a supply of water that affects
fish, farmers and communities stretching from Marin to Humboldt
Major proposed infrastructure outside of the U.S., like the
Trans Mountain expansion pipeline in Canada, could lead to a
sudden influx of non floating oils being sent to California’s
refining centers near San Francisco and Los Angeles. This is a
huge issue, as non floating oils represent type of oils that
are either heavier than water or, following rapid breakdown
after a spill (known as “weathering”), begin to submerge into
the water column and sink.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering
tripling the maximum allowed contamination of perchlorate, a
potentially cancerous chemical, in water, but local water
officials say Santa Clarita would not be impacted, officials
said Monday. … Perchlorate is commonly used in solid rocket
propellants, munitions, fireworks, airbag initiators for
vehicles, matches and signal flares, according to the EPA.
Last month, Ventura County supervisors took an encouraging step
by unanimously declaring a moratorium on certain new oil and
gas drilling following the discovery of flammable oil-related
gases in three irrigation wells near drill sites. Now, it’s
time for them to extend this moratorium indefinitely, and
eventually ban all fossil fuel expansion in our county.
In a recent interview, Mark Arax explained how water shapes
culture in different parts of California, why the state might
be crashing into its environmental limits, and why drought
often makes farmers grow rather than shrink.
In contrast to the “grey” infrastructure of blacktop pavement and
hardened shorelines, green infrastructure incorporates features
like permeable pavement, landscapes called bioswales that remove
debris and pollution out of surface runoff, and living shorelines
instead of concrete channels and piles of rocky rip-rap at
water’s edge. Unfortunately, current redevelopment proposals for
Mission Bay are a worrying example of rushed planning processes
that fail to evaluate the strategic use of green
By the State Water Resources Control Board’s estimates, more
than a million Californians don’t have safe drinking water
flowing through the pipes into their homes. … As Gov. Gavin
Newsom prepares to send his revised $213 billion budget to the
legislature for approval, a trailer bill proposes that the
legislature appropriate $150 million a year to a Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund.
May 24, 2019, marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of
John Wesley Powell’s ambitious expedition through the
canyonlands of Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, including the Grand
Canyon. … In a new USGS story map, readers can follow
Powell’s epic journey from a remote sensing perspective.
The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network’s largest
conservation project to date is moving upstream. This month the
group secured over half a million dollars to complete the
second phase of its effort to improve habitat for endangered
salmon in Lagunitas Creek between the ghost towns of Jewell and
A plan to underground about 2.5 miles of the Escondido Canal
through and near the San Pasqual Indian reservation has moved
forward with an agreement reached recently for Escondido to pay
the tribe for an easement through its land. The 14-mile-long
Escondido Canal transports water from Lake Henshaw to Lake
Wohlford where it is stored for use by Escondido and Vista
Irrigation District consumers.
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.
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.
The Obama administration violated the law when it issued its
embattled definition of “waters of the United States,” a
federal court ruled yesterday. In a long-awaited decision, the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sided
with three states and a coalition of agriculture and industry
groups that have been trying to take down the joint EPA and
Army Corps of Engineers rule since 2015.
The city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority
are assessing pumped-water energy storage as a way to integrate
more renewable power, stabilize the power grid, reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and foster economic growth. Their
proposed San Vicente Energy Storage Facility would take water
from the existing San Vicente Reservoir and use electricity to
pump it to a smaller, higher elevation reservoir.
Last week three local entities — California Trout, Mendocino
County Inland Water and Power Commission (IWPC) and Sonoma
Water — announced they will be signing a project planning
agreement with the hopes of looking at pathways to relicense
the Potter Valley Project. The Potter Valley Project is a
hydropower project that sits in the middle of the Eel River and
Russian River watershed basins and is integral in providing
water to both Mendocino County and northern Sonoma County.
A Pleasanton company has an unusual idea to cool data storage
machines that they say uses a fraction of the energy and cuts
greenhouse gasses. But local environmentalists are against the
plan because of the possible impact it could have on San
Each year, humans produce, prescribe, and ingest more
antibiotics than they did the year before. … But the drugs’
influence persists in the environment long after they’ve done
their duty in human bodies. In a new study that surveyed 91
rivers around the world, researchers found antibiotics in the
waters of nearly two-thirds of all the sites they sampled…
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.
This segment contains two interviews: In the first, KVPR
reporter Kerry Klein sheds light on what this document says and
does, and shares how San Joaquin Valley residents have
responded. In the second, Stanford geophysicist Mark Zoback
explains some fracking basics, including what is and isn’t
known about the technique’s impact on the environment.
Mono and Inyo counties were handed a reprieve by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission last Friday. The Commission’s
Division of Hydropower Licensing found Premium Energy’s
application for a closed loop system from reservoirs in the
Owens Gorge to the White Mountains “patently deficient.” That’s
the good news. The FERC did not find the project patently
deficient because of environmental or common sense reasons…
Slurries of mud increasingly threaten the water we drink. This
rush of sediment, known as “debris flow,” is a type of erosion
where mud and boulders in steep catchments suddenly tumble down
the stream channel, often traveling at speeds of several meters
per second. … Last year, California saw mudslides that
destroyed more than 100 homes and killed 21 people.
The plan calls for pumping 8 billion gallons of water in the
first few years, and more than 30 billion gallons over 50
years, from the aquifer adjacent to, and connected with, the
one beneath neighboring Joshua Tree National Park. … A better
use for the land, which ceased to be mined more than 30 years
ago, would be to return it to the fold and make it part of
Joshua Tree National Park.
Delta smelt are poor swimmers. When they have to swim against
voluminous outflows, they struggle. They also lack endurance
for distance and swimming against currents. This was the result
of the taxpayer-funded swim performance test conducted more
than 20 years ago. Why is this important?
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.
Once again, a big thirsty metropolis is looking at buying
Central Valley farmland with an eye toward boosting its water
supplies. And once again, neighboring farmers are nervous about
it. … And any proposal involving the movement of groundwater
from a rural area creates controversy, especially as farmers
begin to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management
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
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today was
awarded $8.5 million in funding over three years by the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy to expand its nutria
A presentation by the U.S. Geological Survey to California
water boards has surfaced that reveals contamination in the
groundwater around the Orcutt oilfield, the Environmental
Defense Center in Santa Barbara claims. The advocacy group
released the information on Tuesday, stating that “federal
scientists found evidence of oil-field fluids in groundwater
underlying the nearby Orcutt oil field.”
Community activist Dolores Huerta joined local leaders in East
Bakersfield to urge elected leaders Tuesday to vote in favor of
legislation they say will ensure safe drinking water for
communities in the valley. Specifically, Huerta urged the
legislature to support what’s being termed the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund. It would be financed by the tax
payers, estimated to be a one dollar per month tax increase on
every water bill in California.
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.
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
Wastewater agencies produce highly treated water that is
increasingly being reused as a water supply. While it’s still
only a small portion of overall water use, the use of recycled
water has nearly tripled since the 1980s―and is continuing to
rise as water agencies seek to meet the demands of a growing
population and improve the resilience of their water supplies.
The Santa Clara stretches 84 miles and through two counties
from the San Gabriel Mountains to the ocean just south of
Ventura Harbor. Over the past 20 years, millions of dollars
have been invested to protect and restore the river, work that
some say has reached a tipping point.
A beach closure that has been in place for months for the
southern part of the Imperial Beach was extended Sunday to
include the city’s entire shoreline. The San Diego County
Department of Environment Health issued the order to close the
coastline to swimmers as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff
in the Tijuana River.
It is hard to fathom how the fifth-largest economy in the world
can settle for letting public water systems serve up
contaminated water. How will our economy continue to grow and
how will we attract new businesses and new workers if the state
can’t provide a basic human need?
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?
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.
A public meeting erupted into an impassioned rally in San Luis
Obispo Wednesday night as activists and local residents took
turns bashing a federal plan to resume leasing public land in
Central California to new oil and gas drilling, including
While there are all kinds of water safety issues to be aware
of, the State Water Resources Control Board wants the public to
know about one that may not be so obvious — freshwater harmful
algal blooms, or HABs. As California confronts the realities of
climate change, HABs have become increasingly common in rivers,
lakes and reservoirs, and they can be especially dangerous to
children and pets.
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.
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.
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
For years, nonprofits, politicians, state agencies and the U.S.
Forest Service have pointed to the East Fork of the upper San
Gabriel River as one of the more polluted fresh water rivers in
the state. This week, Heal the Bay … rated the upper East
Fork and the portion adjacent to the Cattle Canyon picnic area
— exactly where thousands would recreate on summer weekends —
100 percent Green, the highest rating in its 2018 River Report
U.S. Geological Survey researcher Greg Wetherbee collected rain
samples from eight sites along Colorado’s Front Range. … In
90 percent of the samples Wetherbee found a rainbow wheel of
plastics, mostly fibers and mostly colored blue. … The
plastics were tiny, needing magnification of 20 to 40 times to
be visible and they were not dense enough to be weighed. More
fibers were found in urban sites, but plastics were also
spotted in samples from a site at elevation 10,300 feet in
Rocky Mountain National Park.
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.
Good news, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend: The clarity
of the famed, cobalt-blue waters of Lake Tahoe improved
dramatically last year, with visibility increasing 10 feet from
the year before, a study released Thursday by scientists at UC
Davis found. The jump is the largest annual improvement in 50
years, since measurements at the iconic Sierra Nevada lake
began in 1968.
Slow moving plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting
underneath homes, businesses and schools throughout Arizona.
… While some cities like Phoenix do not use groundwater for
drinking water, much of the state does.
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.
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.
The majority of the dozens of commenters at the meeting spoke
out against the analysis and the prospect of increased fracking
in the region, expressing concerns about air pollution,
drinking water quality, and climate change. … Tempers at the
meeting also flared for what many attendees viewed as a lack of
accountability from the BLM. The agency did not record the
meeting, instead inviting attendees to submit written comments
online, electronically, and only in English.
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
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.
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
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.
These Chinook salmon didn’t swim down from the San Lorenzo
River, they were trucked from the Central Valley. From there,
they were tagged and released into Monterey Bay, thanks to The
Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.
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.
Barbara Vlamis is smiling. Often, the executive director of the
Chico-based advocacy group AquAlliance wears a steely
expression, as her work involves David-versus-Goliath battles
against powerful interests—namely, government agencies and
water brokers. Now, she’s satisfied, even a bit celebratory.
The idea is simple, the task gargantuan: Remove 1.7 million
cubic yards of sediment to return the circa 1920 dam to full
functionality, protecting Pasadena, South Pasadena, Highland
Park and other northeast Los Angeles communities downstream —
including the Rose Bowl, Brookside Park and the Arroyo Seco
Parkway — from the potential flooding of a 100-year storm.
The slower timeline for Huntington Beach resulted in it facing
new, stricter regulations and additional delays. The
controversial plant still needs two major permits, opponents
remain steadfast and a recent water-supply study raised
questions about the cost and need for the project.
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.
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.
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.
Coastal communities should not rule out a sea-level rise in
excess of 6.5 feet, according to the study published this week
in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …
Should this worst-case scenario come to pass, good portions of
cities like New York City and Miami on the East Coast and Los
Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast would be underwater
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to
investigate becoming a stakeholder in the Potter Valley
project, a massive water development in the Eel and Russian
river basins. … The idea is to protect the Russian River’s
water supply for Potter Valley residents while mitigating the
effects of the Scott Dam on Eel River fish populations.
In 2016, California became the first state to pass legislation
regulating dairy methane, requiring the farms to cut their
manure emissions 40% by 2030. … Enter Neil Black. Black’s
company builds multimillion-dollar projects at the state’s
largest dairies to capture the gas.
As part of efforts by Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California (MWD) to assess its 2014-2016 turf replacement
program during the California drought, we evaluated how yards
changed after converting a lawn through a MWD rebate in LA
County. We also evaluated trends in participation across
The organization best known for backing a public takeover of
Cal Am’s local [Monterey Peninsula] water system filed an
appeal of the Planning Commission’s narrow approval of a permit
for the 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desal plant north of Marina
and associated infrastructure. The appeal argues the desal
project proposal fails to properly address several key details,
including groundwater rights, and calls for the county to
require a supplemental environmental review before considering
Members of Friends of the River and the Sierra Club are
planning a presentation on a controversial episode in Mother
Lode history, when activists unsuccessfully tried to prevent
flooding of a raftable section of the Stanislaus River by
rising water levels in New Melones Reservoir in the 1970s and
1980s. … The event is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday this week
at Tuolumne County Library, 480 Greenley Road in Sonora.
Billions of gallons of treated wastewater is dumped into our
California coast each day, and with it, billions of resident
dollars are quite literally going to waste. Why aren’t we
utilizing available solutions to stop this sewage discharge and
capitalize on our people’s investment in clean drinking water?
Kern’s oil industry took a pass Tuesday on a public hearing
focused on the environmental impacts of fracking, handing the
day to dozens of anti-oil activists who convened in downtown
Bakersfield to rail against the technique and the threat of
climate change. … The event was one of three hearings the BLM
is hosting as part of its plan to reopen federal land in
California to oil production.
An abandoned iron mine on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National
Park could be repurposed as a massive hydroelectric power plant
under a bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature.
… The bill could jump-start a $2.5-billion hydropower project
that critics say would harm Joshua Tree National Park, draining
desert groundwater aquifers and sapping above-ground springs
that nourish wildlife in and around the park.
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.
The combination of droughts and floods has given rise to a
process known as saltwater intrusion — what San Jose Mayor Sam
Liccardo refers to as his city’s greatest climate threat. …
In coastal regions like San Jose, overpumping allows seawater
to seep into the city’s aquifers, exposing local residents to
excess sodium in their drinking water. The problem is
compounded by sea level rise, which pushes seawater inland
toward the city’s filtration system.
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
The Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield office is set to hold
a meeting Tuesday over a White House proposal that would expand
oil drilling and fracking on more than a million acres of
public land across the state. … The proposal includes 40 new
wells over the next 10 years on roughly 400,000 acres of public
land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate — land
where the surface is owned privately, but the mineral rights
beneath the ground are managed by the federal government.
For years fisheries experts have watched the number of
winter-run Chinook salmon dwindle as they suffered through
drought and adverse conditions in the Sacramento River. But
this year a small crop of the endangered salmon have made their
way back from the ocean to return Battle Creek in southern
Shasta County, something that hasn’t happened in some 25 years.
And officials hope the fish are the beginning of a new run of
salmon in the creek.
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.
The West Marin ghost town of Jewell is set to be reclaimed by
nature this year with a $593,000 boost from the state. The
Olema-based Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN,
plans to use a grant to restore the historic floodplains on
Lagunitas Creek that once provided vital refuge for the now
dwindling populations of endangered coho salmon and other
Two days of above-average spring rainfall in the North Bay have
forced Sonoma County officials to begin deflating the seasonal
dam across the Russian River, an about-face that comes less
than a week after the rubber dam was fully inflated to serve
the region’s drinking water system.
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
Water is a currency in California, and the low-income
farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better
than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made
possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their
faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer
Cautiously, cautiously – that’s Napa County’s approach to
creating a watershed computer model that could someday
influence rural land use decisions in an effort to keep
contaminants out of city of Napa reservoirs. Given the stakes,
supervisors want stakeholders such as the wine industry and
environmentalists involved in various decisions.
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.
According to a new study by Audubon California, the illegal
mooring of private boats has caused significant harm to the
eelgrass bed in that bay, with 25 to 41 percent of the seafloor
habitat suffering damage. … The number of boats moored in
Richardson Bay, known as “anchor-outs,” has increased from
about 90 boats in the early 2000s to as many as 240 in 2016.
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.
Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters
around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain
in the state’s housing crisis. … New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to
fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction,
has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing,
similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums. But the
act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back.
The funding allows CalTrout to develop a broad team of agency
partners to restore a 950-acre tidal marsh estuary surrounding
Cannibal Island, adjacent to the mouth of the Eel River. …
The goal of restoration is to transform the monotypic landscape
of diked and drained land back to a mosaic of natural habitats
and pasture with reconnected tidal slough channels and access
for aquatic-dependent species.
This year 126 fish have been counted going over Los Padres Dam
on the Carmel River. The number may not sound high but it is up
from single digits in years past. Last year the count was 25
fish and during the peak of the drought, there were zero fish
years. “After five years of drought it’s really welcome news,”
said Brian Leneve with the Carmel River Steelhead Association.
A data storage company wants to siphon water from the bay to
cool its equipment, a process it says is greener and more
sustainable than using traditional air cooling. But the idea is
not winning over some environmentalists, because the water will
warm slightly by the time it’s returned to the bay and they say
that could potentially damage marine wildlife.
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.
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.
Mark Arax’s new book, “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust
Across California,” explores how the quest to find and move
water has always been essential to the California Dream. … He
sat down with California Report Magazine Host Sasha Khokha.
There is a unique partnership happening in Arizona between
farmers, those involved in the malting process, and brewers
that is saving thousands of gallons of water from being taken
from the Verde River.
We’re likely seeing the effects of a batch of runaway arctic
air slinking far enough south to energize and reinvigorate the
subtropical jet stream. If true, we can thank the “relentless
grind” of warmth in the Arctic this month for our unusually
rainy May here in the Bay Area.
Bruce Blodgett is executive director of the farm bureau in San
Joaquin County, California’s cherry bowl. The mid-May downpour
and his windshield wipers told him everything he needed to
know: His county’s record ready-to-pick yield of sweet cherries
– one of San Joaquin’s most lucrative crops even amid the
county’s winemaking renaissance – was in serious danger.
Napa County’s latest watershed symposium came at a time when
tensions are high over how to protect trees and reservoirs in
the area’s mountains. Close to 200 people from various
backgrounds came to Copia on Thursday for an A-to-Z look at
what’s happening in the watersheds. Scientists, elected
officials, wine industry members and citizen activists all
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.
The agency charged with monitoring water quality standards
throughout the Greater Los Angeles region found that local
cities have committed more than 2,000 water quality violations
within a five-year period, but the violators suffered little if
On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive
Order to promote increased oil and gas development… Then, in
April 2019, in response to the President’s order, the US Bureau
of Land Management (BLM) proposed opening up more than 1
million acres of public land in California’s Central Valley and
southern Central Coast to oil and gas production.
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.
Poseidon Water, owner of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad
Desalination Plant, has received an updated permit from the San
Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB) governing
the desalination plant’s discharges into the Pacific Ocean.
Additionally, the permit includes structural and operational
changes to provide greater protection for marine life and water
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