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 and soil).
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.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed all departments to stop using a popular weed killer until more is known about its potential health and environmental effects. Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended the moratorium on glyphosate — a main ingredient in the herbicide brand Roundup.
SDSU researchers examine the effects of shrinking water supplies in the Imperial-Mexicali Valley: The problems there are as old as the urbanization of Southern California: insufficient water to meet community demands and ecosystem needs. The solutions, which could figure into future policy-making, are both increasingly high-tech and surprisingly personal.
The problem is that removing the four dams will not restore natural river flows. Those flows are, for the most part, controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which will continue to divert Klamath River water to the Rogue Basin and for federal irrigation in the Upper Klamath and Lost River Basins.
He announced Wednesday his plans to charge water customers an extra amount ranging from 95 cents to $10 a month — money that, combined with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer sellers, he projects would raise $140 million a year that could be put toward testing wells, aiding public water systems and treating contaminated water. The amount paid would depend on the size of one’s water meter.
Small mountain streams and the vibrant ecosystems they support were hit hard by the historic California drought of 2012 to 2015. Researchers monitoring aquatic life in Sierra Nevada streams observed significant declines in the numbers of aquatic insects and other bottom-dwelling invertebrates during the drought.
In the month since Governor Newsom announced that he does not support a dual-tunnel Delta water supply conveyance, activity in the more than 20 state and federal lawsuits challenging California WaterFix and other administrative approval processes related to the “twin tunnels” has slowed or been briefly stayed. The stays reflect the uncertainty surrounding the project in light of the Governor’s comments…
Four months after the deadliest wildfire in California history, Gov. Gavin Newsom is declaring a statewide emergency to speed up fire prevention efforts. Citing “extreme peril” to life and property, Newsom’s Friday morning executive order will fast-track the state’s tree clearing and other forest management work.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler says that unsafe drinking water — not climate change — poses the greatest and most immediate global threat to the environment. In his first network interview since his confirmation last month, Wheeler told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett that while the administration is addressing climate change, thousands are dying everyday from unclean drinking water.
Good news for state water contractors: The State Water Project allocation just doubled from last year’s estimate for the 2019 water year. The California Department of Water Resources announced that the allocation has increased from 35 to 70 percent for most state water contractors. The department transports state water to 29 contractors, including the Kern County Water Agency.
The stations monitor meteorological conditions over the water and estimate evaporation using four primary methods: eddy covariance, energy balance, aerodynamic bulk mass transfer, and the combination of energy balance and aerodynamic. Data from the stations are transmitted back to the research team via a web portal for real-time monitoring.
Another group of top state officials visited the Salton Sea this week to promise that this time, things will be different and progress will be made to restore the fast-drying water body. … Newly appointed water board chairman E. Joaquin Esquivel, who grew up in nearby La Quinta and fished in the lake as a boy, said he shares residents’ and longtime experts’ frustrations, and feels personally accountable to family members who still live in the area, as well as the communities around the lake.
Move over global warming or cooling, California has a new environmental disaster called groundwater. And where there’s an emergency, we have ambulance-chasing regulators and lawmakers with bureaucratic fixes. Why are we having groundwater problems? It’s plain and simple: Groundwater is replacing surface water.
Three times now, Escondido has proposed building a large recycled water treatment plant on lots along Washington Avenue, first near its eastern terminus, the second time in the middle of the city, and now near the western end of the street. … The water plant is needed to divert used water from being dumped into the ocean and to bring less expensive, higher-quality recycled water to avocado farmers in the eastern and northern parts of the city.
The Desert Research Institute, Averyt said, is engaged in research looking at long-term and short-term climate change, where the impact of human-caused warming is clear. Researchers with DRI have looked at ice cores from Greenland to map out long-term climate trends. At the same time, other researchers are looking at more immediate trends through the Western Regional Climate Center, which provides contemporary climate data for the 11 contiguous western states.
Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to charge California water customers up to $10 per month to help clean up contaminated water in low-income and rural areas, but he will face resistance from some legislative Democrats hesitant to impose new taxes. … Newsom wants to combine it with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer sellers to raise about $140 million per year.
Over 147 million trees in California forests have died over the last eight years. Most of these forests are near the southern Sierra Nevada, which shows an increasing threat to iconic California landmarks like the Sequoia and Yosemite national forests.
The Trump administration has fast-tracked a process to deliver more water to farms. But an investigation by KQED reveals those changes are raising alarm among federal employees. In this interview, we speak with KQED science reporter Lauren Sommer about why, and what’s at stake.
Napa Valley’s annual groundwater checkup concluded that water levels in a majority of monitoring wells were stable in spring 2018, despite a drop in overall groundwater storage following a subpar rainy season.
We’re having one of the best rainfall seasons in years, with drought conditions easing for much of the state. But one of the nation’s leading oceanographers says there’s much more involved before the impacts of the drought are completely gone, and that it could take years to replenish groundwater supplies.
Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires and state regulations on river flow, two state officials advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and other natural-resources issues. At the California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.
Residents and officials who packed a yacht club on the north shore of the Salton Sea on Tuesday vented their anger about what they perceive as unnecessary delays and obfuscations about the environmental and public health disaster unfolding here. The California Water Resources Control Board held the workshop at the North Shore Yacht and Beach Club to both inform the public and garner opinions of residents living in proximity to the sea, which is rapidly vanishing into the desert.
Here in California, the San Joaquin Valley is a hot spot for unsafe drinking water. The region has more than half of all public water systems that are out of water-quality compliance in California, but just 10% of the state’s population. … We talked to Veronica Garibay—co-founder and co-director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability—about ways to ensure community involvement in water management decision-making.
Representatives of seven states finished a landmark agreement to shore up the dwindling Colorado River and signed a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling for legislation to enact the deal. The set of agreements would prop up water-starved reservoirs that supply cities and farms across the Southwest and would lay the groundwork for larger negotiations to address the river’s chronic overallocation…
A pilot program that used ultraviolet light to combat aquatic invasive plants has shown promising results. Results from the program, which was deployed in Lakeside Marina in the summer of 2017, show the use of ultraviolet-C light successfully killed submerged aquatic plants, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
The often shown symbol of the California drought, Santa Barbara County, with nearly dry water reservoirs and dead lawns for an estimated eight years, is now declaring itself out of the emergency crisis. The decision was made Tuesday morning by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
Past droughts have stress-tested California’s water management institutions, and some of the vulnerabilities they revealed still linger today. Given that climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of future droughts, recognizing and addressing institutional vulnerabilities is critical.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency published a memo encouraging states, tribes, and local governments to look to markets for help in solving stream quality issues. … Water quality trading can lower costs and, thereby, unleash new opportunities to improve water quality.
Every year, millions of waterbirds migrating from Alaska to Patagonia take a break from that epic journey to rest, eat and breed in a stretch of wetlands spanning six Western states called the Great Basin. A warming climate has made that migration more challenging by altering how mountain snowmelt flows into the network of lakes and rivers stretching from the Sierra Nevada to the Rockies, according to a new study.
When a wild river floods, water and sediment spills over its banks onto adjacent land, it builds up a natural floodplain. Floodplains allow a river’s high flows to spread out and slow down, forming temporary reservoirs that pool over the rainy season. That means more water percolating down into underlying aquifers … and less floodwaters barreling toward cities.
A move by the Environmental Protection Agency could revive the contentious plan to develop 1,400 acres of Redwood City shoreline owned by Cargill Salt, which operates an industrial plant there. The EPA removed one barrier to development earlier this month by ruling that the area is not subject to restrictions in the federal Clean Water Act. That puts the EPA at loggerheads with environmentalists, who want to convert the land back to tidal wetlands.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. … Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the results regardless of outcome.
Environmental groups and local residents are sounding alarms that proposed drilling projects would triple onshore oil production in Santa Barbara County — to which the oil industry says, “What’s wrong with that?”
On Tuesday, March 19, the California Water Resources Control Board will hold a session on the North Shore to hear from state officials about their progress addressing the many issues related to the Salton Sea. This is a good opportunity for these officials to break through the remaining obstacles to progress at the Salton Sea and find a productive way forward.
While high drama plays out in nations across the planet, California has also been having a bit of drama — torrential rains turning communities into isolated islands up north, mudslides and flooding down south. So, it seems to make sense that state officials have officially declared the latest drought to be over, finished, soaked.
Otters, birds, and turtles might be the last animals you would expect to find living next door to the Interstate 680 toll-plaza. But, tucked between the freeway, an oil refinery and a wastewater facility hides an oasis on the mend. … The 21-acre constructed wetland is in the middle of an industrial zone and is part of the Mt. View Sanitary District Wastewater Treatment Plant. “It’s the very first wetland on the west coast to use treated wastewater to create wetlands,” explained district biologist Kelly Davidson.
Manteca is preparing to spend $14.3 million to make sure ground water from five wells meet higher standards implemented by the state of California when it comes to acceptable levels of 1,2,3-Trichloroprane — a Shell Oil and Dow Chemical product used in certain soil fumigants area farmers used between 1950 and 1980 — that is found in drinking water.
A state environmental group is calling for the removal of an old dam on the Eel River, contending it threatens the future of protected salmon and steelhead while acknowledging it is a key part of the North Bay’s water supply. Scott Dam, a 138-foot concrete dam erected in 1922, is one of five aging dams California Trout asserts are “ripe for removal” to benefit their natural surroundings and communities.
The view from my window here in central California is of a front lawn almost as dried out as the fairways at Carnoustie, Scotland. Like many of my neighbours I’m concerned about climate change and with it the exorbitant price of water. After my monthly bill tripled, I decided it was time for a new strategy. I shut down the sprinkler system and tested a new aesthetic. To my delight, I discovered that brown is beautiful.
The city of Oceanside is receiving more than $2.6 million in federal funding to increase its local water supply and to reduce brine discharge into the ocean. The city will receive $2.623 million in funding from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART’s Desalination Construction Projects under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), subject to federal appropriations.
For the moment, Mother Nature is smiling on the Colorado River. Enough snow has piled up in the mountains that feed the river to stave off a dreaded shortage declaration for one more year, according to federal projections released Friday afternoon.
Full and rising reservoirs from this winter’s storms have the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors poised to terminate the drought-caused emergency declaration, although South Coast purveyors are worried a water shortage will persist for an extended time, according to a county staff report.
Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year. They are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports.
Mercury mines were once a critical player in San Luis Obispo County’s economy. They helped keep America’s economy running — playing a part in everything from the California Gold Rush to World War II. One SLO County mine even helped establish Cambria as a city, back in the 19th century. Now that mine, as well as many others, are hiding in plain sight.
One way or another, $53 million of Utahns’ money soon may get sunk into a deep-water export terminal on the West Coast in an effort to shore up the state’s fading coal industry. On Monday, a Senate panel advanced a bill that would transfer a special fund to the Utah Office of Energy Development… That fund was set up to legitimize a $53 million CIB loan that four coal-producing counties hoped to invest in a controversial export terminal under development in Oakland, Calif.
Waterfalls are graceful monuments to nature’s power. In each gentle curve and thrilling plunge, these watery edifices record the dynamic forces thought to be key players in their formation. But now, a study published in Nature suggests a new mechanism for creating a waterfall that throws a wet blanket on some of geologists’ long-held assumptions.
Poseidon is a bad deal for ratepayers. The study by the experts at MWDOC ranked Poseidon dead last among local water projects based on cost. Even after demanding a $400 million subsidy financed by Southern California water users, Poseidon’s water is still overpriced, costing twice per gallon as much as some of the conservation, recycling and rainwater projects already in development around our region.
As an uncontrollable wildfire turned the California town of Paradise to ash, air pollution researcher Keith Bein knew he had to act fast: Little is known about toxic chemicals released when a whole town burns and the wind would soon blow away evidence. He drove the roughly 100 miles to Paradise … only to be refused entrance under rules that allow first responders and journalists – but not public health researchers – to cross police lines.
A sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional development after the Trump administration this month exempted the site from the Clean Water Act.
Heavy snowfall this winter is expected to delay the seasonal opening of many Yosemite tourist attractions, including Yosemite Valley campgrounds, Half Dome’s climbing cables and Tioga Road into the high country, park officials announced Wednesday.
Thanks to a wet winter across the state, the entirety of California is free of drought for the first time since 2011, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s Thursday update. Don’t confuse that with former Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 2017 announcement that the statewide drought had officially ended.
The chances for passage this year of legislation to jump-start serious water planning in New Mexico, including by pumping millions of dollars into the effort, evaporated last week when a Senate committee tabled a key bill.
North County political leaders responsible for the health of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin are launching discussions about which multi-million-dollar water projects could help solve the aquifer’s woes—and how basin pumpers will pay for them.
A week after the Marina Planning Commission unanimously rejected a key desalination project permit, California American Water has filed an appeal of the decision to the Marina City Council. On Wednesday, Cal Am filed the appeal to the council, arguing the planning commission erred in its denial of a coastal development permit for parts of the proposed desal project.
Pretty soon, the next phase of life for the Sacramento River waterfront could become evident — with help from the public needed to make it happen. … The Waterfront Idea Makers contest that the City of Sacramento commissioned to breathe new life into its riverfront enters a critical stretch this month. On March 13, the city will host an open house at the Hall, Luhrs & Co. building in Old Sacramento to showcase the design teams’ work and submissions from the public and kids.
As the Trump administration moves toward a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation is pushing legislation that would exempt its work from environmental reviews. That includes potential impacts on what has emerged as a major sticking point in the drought negotiations: Southern California’s Salton Sea, a public health and ecological disaster.
Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. … We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.
Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers. What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our Central Valley Tour April 3-5.
A system that transfers and diverts water from the Eel River basin has been in Pacific Gas and Electric’s control for over 35 years, but the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January — coupled with its interest in either selling or abandoning the project — has Humboldt County officials intent on closely following what happens next.
It won’t arrive in time for this wet winter, but hopes are rising that Central Valley politicians will soon deliver on one of their top political goals in recent years: investment in California water storage. Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward a series of reservoir projects, as well as repairs to a canal serving Kern County farmers.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water.
A project offering to triple Santa Barbara County’s oil production continues stirring debate. Environmentalists believe a proposal to add dozens of oil wells in Cat Canyon could trigger the next oil spill and contaminate the Santa Maria Groundwater Basin, while supporters insist it would boost the local economy by adding jobs and tax revenue.
The water within the Paradise Irrigation District is clean. The trouble is, the infrastructure within the district may not be, according to Paradise Irrigation District’s Kevin Phillips. “The water is clean but some of the pipes are contaminated, that’s why (contamination) is so random,” he said. “One service line can be contaminated, but the one next door isn’t. If the water were contaminated, then it would be everywhere.”
Imperial Valley officials are reportedly close to finishing an important habitat restoration project at the Salton Sea. The remake of Red Hill Bay was supposed to be a model for a management plan around the shrinking lake, but the effort is two years overdue and still months away from completion. The Salton Sea needs a management plan because water is evaporating faster than it’s being replaced…
Still unconvinced Klamath River dam removal wouldn’t result in excessive silt at Crescent City Harbor, Del Norte County supervisors are asking the nonprofit organization behind the effort to set aside mitigation dollars. With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal to draft a letter to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation with its request.
A bill from Sen. Bill Dodd that would increase legislative oversight of the controversial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta WaterFix project and allow for more public scrutiny has cleared its first committee hurdle. The action comes less than a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wants to scale back the project proposed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to a single tunnel.
Bonds to continue the next phase of an improvement program are critical to the Tahoe Basin. That was the message delivered to the Nevada Assembly Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, said the $8 million in this biennium’s bonding package will cover Nevada’s share of the Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program for two years.
The Imperial Irrigation District is being written out of a massive, multi-state Colorado River drought plan at the eleventh hour. IID could sue to try to stop the revised plan from proceeding, and its board president called the latest development a violation of California environmental law. But Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said attorneys for his agency, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and others in a working group are finalizing new documents to remove IID from the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.
A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by a wide variety of stakeholders. Senate Bill 69, authored by Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants, the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.
On March 6, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) issued a public Environmental Assessment on the Operations Plan for the Klamath Irrigation Project. … It will definitely decide how many Chinook salmon people have for harvest for Tribal members and commercial fishermen. It could also return us to the days where 84-92 percent of the juvenile salmon died in the Klamath River and reignite the Klamath River water wars…
Climate change through the rest of the 21st century could be much more threatening to coastal California than previously anticipated, based on newly published research led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The new numbers are dramatic: Dynamic flooding in California could total more than $150 billion in property damage … When factoring in population trends, extreme scenarios could increase the total number of affected Californians to more than 3 million.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.
Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the commission’s 129-year history.
It’s not often that communities in California and Louisiana face similar water challenges. California is better known for having too little water and Louisiana too much – both challenges exacerbated by climate change. But record-setting wet winter weather led both states last week to release significant amounts of water from reservoirs and rivers to prevent flooding, underscoring the need for new approaches to build climate-resilient communities across the country.
Marine biologist Jacqueline Sones was strolling along a beach near Bodega Bay in Northern California one foggy summer morning when she spotted an unfamiliar jellyfish bobbing in the surf. Her curiosity turned to shock, however, when she opened a field guide and identified the creature with a white bowl-shaped bell, vivid stripes and long tentacles. “I’d discovered something unprecedented,” Sones recalled Monday. “It was a purple-striped jellyfish.”
Environmental groups Monday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that struck down part of a high-profile removal plan for four dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, saying it set a precedent that would exempt dozens of dams nationwide from meeting water quality standards.
A proposal to add 187 new steam-injected oil wells and a new natural gas pipeline in West Cat Canyon will be considered by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission when it meets Wednesday in Santa Maria. Project opponents have said they intend to stage a demonstration outside and speak against the project that would have significant impacts on biological, surface water and groundwater resources and would increase noise, according to the environmental impact report.
Death Valley, the hottest and driest place in North America, isn’t exactly known for record rainfall or pop-up lakes stretching as far as the eye can see. But after a massive storm lashed the desert with rain and brought chilly temperatures through Southern California, that’s exactly what happened, according to photographer Elliott McGucken. He was trying to get to Badwater Basin, where he thought there could be flooding, when he saw the giant lake.
In the midst of the wet winter storms bringing rain and snow to California this year, you might not expect drought preparations to be among the state’s current priorities. And yet, they need to be. In this post, I’ll explore why to set the stage for a blog series that explores what the state can do to prepare for the more frequent and intense droughts we expect in California’s future. The series draws on work my colleagues and I did for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.
The sandy playa that used to be underwater is now being baked by the sun and blown around by the winds that frequently scour the desert floor here. The dust is tiny and can easily get airborne. That is a public health crisis for a region already suffering from some of California’s highest asthma rates.
California’s Central Valley is already the bread basket for the nation. But now a new Oakdale company — in partnership with the University of California, Davis — wants to help make it the hemp capital of the country. The California Hemp Corporation was formed by Oakdale residents Jeff McPhee and Kent Kushar last year… “We want to grow hemp up and down the San Joaquin Valley, just like every other one of our crops,” McPhee said. “This crop will change California.”
California has faced an unprecedented series of mega-wildland fires over the past decade – some of the most destructive and deadly in American history. On Wednesday, a joint hearing of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will review residential development in some of the Golden State’s most fire prone regions and how state and local governments can keep residents safe in communities that are within the Wildland Urban Interface.
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and a disappearing snowpack were part of a scary story told to SCV Water Agency officials recently as they learned the effects of climate change over the next 100 years. … The latest climate assessment was intended to advance “actionable science” that would serve the growing needs of state and local-level decision-makers from a variety of sectors.
A central tension for Paradise in the coming months is the health of the water system. … The fire, however, unleashed benzene and other volatile chemicals into the water system. The chemicals are not in the water coming from the treatment plant. They’re in the pipes beneath the town. The Paradise Irrigation District is the utility that serves Paradise. It’s trying to isolate the contamination in the system, but turning water on to returning residents makes that process even harder.
It’s a growing problem many say cannot be solved by firefighters alone. Enter the Cal Poly W.U.I. F.I.R.E Institute. It stands for the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Information Research and Education Institute. Turner is working with Cal Poly staff like forest management professor Chris Dicus to create a collaborative space for research, training, and outreach.
On February 14, 2019, the California Office of the State Fire Marshall (“OSFM”) published long awaited draft regulations to reduce the volume of pipeline oil spills in coastal areas. The proposed regulations, which implement AB 864 (2015), will impose substantial and costly burdens on companies that own and operate pipelines within California near environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas
Between 2016 and 2018, Alexandra Weber, a freediver and student at Cabrillo College, and her friends removed nearly 30,000 golf balls from the Stillwater Cove region. She estimates 1 to 5 million golf balls have been lost to the environment since 1919, when Pebble Beach Golf Links began operation. … Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, the Pebble Beach Co. has made a five-year commitment to undertake a series of organized golf ball cleanups.
Every spring, a group called the Pacific Fishery Management Council gets together and looks at the salmon forecasts from the Puget Sound all the way down to the Sacramento River in California….The Sacramento River runs are expected to rebound a bit, but the Klamath and Columbia River forecasts are lower than last year.
The federal government issued the final permit Friday allowing the Rosemont Mine to be built despite written EPA warnings that the mine will pollute surface water and shrink, if not dry up, two nationally important streams. … The EPA’s regional office also warned that the mine’s cutoff of stormwater flows into neighboring streams and its groundwater pumping will significantly degrade federally regulated water bodies.
The Trump administration released its 2020 budget request on Monday, proposing major cuts to federal government spending. While the cuts are unlikely to become reality — Congress has rejected many of Trump’s previous requests — the budget is an important signal of the administration’s priorities and suggests a major funding fight in October.
It started with the desert lilies in December. Since then a wave of wildflower blooms has been crescendoing across Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert in a burst of color so vivid it can be seen from mountain tops thousands of feet above.
When then-candidate Donald Trump swung through California in 2016, he promised Central Valley farmers he would send more water their way. Allocating water is always a fraught issue in a state plagued by drought, and where water is pumped hundreds of miles to make possible the country’s biggest agricultural economy. Now, President Trump is following through on his promise by speeding up a key decision about the state’s water supply. Critics say that acceleration threatens the integrity of the science behind the decision, and cuts the public out of the process.
The San Joaquin Valley is in a time of great change. Decades of groundwater overuse have caused drinking water and irrigation wells to go dry, increased the amount of energy required to pump water, harmed ecosystems, and reduced the reserves available to cope with future droughts. Groundwater overdraft has also caused land to sink, damaging major regional infrastructure, including canals that deliver water across the state.
California is battling federal authorities over how to clean up a contaminated former nuclear research site near Simi Valley that was also caught up in the flames of November’s Woolsey Fire. The fire complicated cleanup efforts after burning large portions of the site, scorching nearly 100,000 acres of land, and destroying 1,643 buildings. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory operated as a nuclear research and rocket test facility on 2,850 acres from 1948 to 2006.
San Luis Obispo County supervisors are exploring what it’d take to bolster the county’s authority in issuing groundwater well permits. Following a report about groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of the North County on Feb. 26, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to have its staff look at how it could increase the level of review and discretion the county has over approving or denying well applications.
Much of the United States could be gripped by significant water shortages in just five decades’ time, according to predictions made in a new study. … In the researchers’ projections, water supply is likely to be under threat in watersheds in the central and southern Great Plains, the Southwest and central Rocky Mountain States, California, and areas in the South (especially Florida) and the Midwest.
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few recommended changes, but no sea change in direction. Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect drinking water and combat climate change.
There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about the yin-yang interaction between fire and water. Of particular interest is better understanding how the heat intensity of wildfires changes the the water content of burned soil. The science behind such work is known as hydrology, which studies the properties, distribution and circulation of water on or below the earth’s surface.
California is now the lone holdout on an emergency drought plan for the Colorado River, and the other river states are turning up the heat to get the deal done. Representatives from Nevada and five other Western states sent a letter to California on Saturday urging water officials there to set aside their concerns and “and immediately and unconditionally approve” the so-called Drought Contingency Plan.
A long battle over development of the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City may soon return after the EPA declared the site exempt from the federal Clean Water Act — causing concern by environmentalists and the city’s mayor. The Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision earlier this month, effectively removing one of several barriers to development of the 1,400-acre Bayside property.
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled for this time of year in Orange County, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st pinniped since the year began. … While the exact reason for the increase in the number of strandings this year is unknown, Higuchi said it could be tied to warmer ocean waters caused by an El Nino weather pattern or excess stormwater runoff from all of this winter’s rains.
Environmentalists and rural water users expressed broad support last week for a bill that would create small water reserves in aquifers across Nevada. Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, Nev., aims to prevent regulators from issuing more rights to water than there is water available, an issue already playing out in more than 100 groundwater basins.
What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada? That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline.
Conditions are right for spectacular blooms throughout the California desert this year, experts say. The benefits of rain are endless, especially in Southern California, where drought-like conditions often persist for months on end. Thanks to this year’s significant rainfall, the annual wildflower blooms are set to be quite spectacular, according to Jorge Moreno, information officer for California State Parks.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together Thursday to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water across the Golden State.
In November, a wall of flames fueled by dry forests and wooden structures tore through this Sierra foothill town like the dogs of Hell. … Beneath the blast furnace heat that incinerated buildings and vehicles above ground, an intricate network of drinking water pipes below the surface became so contaminated with toxic chemicals that many are unusable. The extent of the damage and exactly how the poisons accumulated in the pipes of Paradise and in the smaller, neighboring districts served by Del Oro Water Company is not known.
California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be. The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife. Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly. These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … Among some of the corporations that have expanded into the region in recent years is an unlikely investor — the Harvard Management Company. HMC, the University’s investment arm, oversees Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment.
The question comes up with every dire media report or bleak new forecast about the Colorado River: How much longer can Nevada’s largest community continue to rely on a single source of water to power its prosperity? It’s an important question, maybe the most important. No Southwestern state gets less water from the river than Nevada. No major city depends on that water more than Las Vegas. But the Colorado is in trouble. (Part 1 of 8 in a series.)
We love our Russian River for its eternal beauty, its nurturing forces, its quenching properties, its recreation and play and its renewing spirits. We love our river — except when we don’t. And right now we are distraught over the destruction its breached muddy torrents visited upon us yet again.
Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Rules enacted a decade ago that were intended to protect California’s iconic salmon and Delta smelt populations aren’t working and federal agencies are now in the process of modernizing them, this time using much better science.
Yes, it’s caused traffic jams, power outages and even some floods. But there’s a big ray of good news behind all the rain that California has been receiving this year. Soaked by relentless storms, California as of this week has less land area in drought status than at any time in the last seven years.
As droughts intensify and the snowpacks diminish, California will need creative solutions to provide enhanced water supplies for urban use and agriculture. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories are working on addressing these problems, focusing on groundwater recharge, low-cost desalination, and energy efficient purification.
Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues.
Water is now flowing freely along a 480-foot stretch of San Francisquito Creek after Stanford University removed the aged Lagunita Diversion Dam. … Removing the 8-foot-high structure now allows water to flow freely downstream to support endangered-fish-species habitat in the creek. San Francisquito is home to a population of the Central California Coast Distinct Population Segment of steelhead.
Cleaning up and protecting U.S. drinking water from a class of toxic chemicals used in many household items could cost in the tens of billions of dollars nationally, witnesses testified Wednesday before a House panel urging the federal government to move more quickly on the cleanup. … The compounds, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been used for decades. Water sampling shows the contaminant … has seeped into many public water systems in the United States and globally, including around military bases and industries.
While handing out at the Guerneville Safeway store $50 grocery gift cards to residents affected by last week’s flood, Jeniffer Wertz was forced to turn away several people Sunday after running out of cards. “It was heartbreaking,” said Wertz, a volunteer for the nonprofit Russian River Alliance. For people whose homes, cars or businesses were damaged by the worst flooding along the Russian River in two decades, local nonprofit leaders say, the need for financial help is immediate.
The Trump Administration has ordered federal biologists to speed up critical decisions about whether to send more water from Northern California to farmers in the Central Valley, a move that critics say threatens the integrity of the science and cuts the public out of the process. The decisions will control irrigation for millions of acres of farmland in the country’s biggest agricultural economy, drinking water for two-thirds of Californians from Silicon Valley to San Diego, and the fate of endangered salmon and other fish.
For California’s salmon fishermen, the downstream effects of political decisions in Washington are too obvious to ignore. It’s not merely a question of profit for us. We are the stewards of the public fisheries resources who rely on their long-term health for our existence. The viability of our future can be challenged by who is in power in Washington, no matter who they are.
California’s largest lake has long attracted visitors. Many go there year-round to see thousands of birds congregating around the lake and its nearby habitats, but the lake is changing and that’s changing bird populations.
With another deadline missed Monday, the head of the Bureau of Reclamation is now looking for the governors in the states in the Colorado River basin to tell her what they think she should do to keep water levels from dropping even lower. But there’s just two weeks for them to do that.
The real-world implications of Gov. Newsom’s rejection of the twin tunnels project became more apparent last week as the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requested and were granted a 60-day stay of hearings with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
Gov. Gavin Newsom should immediately allow the thinning of vegetation on almost 94,000 acres of state land in a bid to keep more than 200 communities safe, California fire officials said Tuesday as they released a list of the state’s 35 most critical fuel-reduction projects.
In some California basins, sustainable groundwater management can mean the difference between whether a species goes extinct or a community’s drinking water becomes contaminated. The stakes are high. Felice Pace, an activist who works for the North Coast Stream Flow Coalition, talks to Clean Water Action about salmon, surface flows, and the importance of community involvement in the Smith and Scott River Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
The big fear in the world of water management is that this big gulp of wet weather will lead some Californians to think that the drought is dead. … In a few weeks, the state’s Department of Water Resources will be sending out its new water-saving messages, and Niki Woodard, who is No. 2 in the department’s public affairs office, sizes up how her department can navigate around that waterlogged state of mind.
Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250 million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility that began in last week’s storm. The three-day deluge pushed more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant. It was the highest inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city.
Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.
The extra water from Shasta Lake would raise the lake by an estimated 20 feet, inundating the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That piece of legislation was designed to protect the trout that heavily populate those waters. And it’s not just state law that speaks out. One of the provisions of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is to protect fisheries up and down the state’s major rivers. Raising Shasta Dam now would only be possible by overturning those two laws.
Office of Emergency Management Director Robert Lewin recommended that the county Board of Supervisors terminate its proclamation of a local emergency due to drought conditions, which has been renewed every 60 days since January 2014. South Coast water agencies don’t like the messaging of ending the drought emergency, and said they have ongoing drought impacts, including water shortages, and will need customers to keep conserving water.
Scientists found that wet winter weather, historically a predictor of more modest California fire seasons, is no longer linked to less damaging fires. The link between more rain and less fire fell apart thanks to modern fire management and accelerating climate change, the study said. “It’s going to be a problem for people, for firefighters, for society,” said study co-author Alan Taylor, a Pennsylvania State University geography professor.
The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating in.
Think California should build a lot more dams to catch these deluges? Forget it. … There’s one dam being planned north of Sacramento in Colusa County that makes sense: Sites. There are also some dam expansion projects that could work. But California is already dammed to the brim. Every river worth damming has been. And some that weren’t worth it were dammed anyway.
Climate change plus population growth are setting the stage for water shortages in parts of the U.S. long before the end of the century, according to a new study in the AGU journal Earth’s Future. Even efforts to use water more efficiently in municipal and industrial sectors won’t be enough to stave off shortages, say the authors of the new study. The results suggest reductions in agricultural water use will probably play the biggest role in limiting future water shortages.
Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.
It’s a treasure that is all too easy for Palo Alto to take for granted — an abundant supply of pristine water that flows from the Sierra Nevada snowpacks and passes through the Hetch Hetchy system before splashing out of local showers and faucets. Palo Alto is one of 25 cities that belong to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), which manages the member cities’ supply agreement with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. … Even so, the cities don’t always know which projects they’re helping to fund.
But the river remains an unpredictable force, one that could give rise to even more destructive floods in an era of increasingly extreme weather, experts say. … County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins has her sights on the opportunities to tame floodwaters in the river’s middle reaches, starting near Windsor and upstream, where it broadens and meanders more freely in a floodplain less constricted by roads and other development.
There is water here in the Mojave Desert. A lot of it. Whether to tap it on a commercial scale or leave it alone is a decades-old question the Trump administration has revived and the California legislature is visiting anew. … Soon after the 2016 election, the Trump transition team included Cadiz as No. 15 on its priority list of “emergency and national security” projects. Less than a year later, the administration exempted the project from a federal review that the Obama administration required because of the federal land involved in the pipeline construction.
A four-year restoration project on James Creek in Mendocino County has led to “the return of spawning coho salmon to the upper reaches of a tributary of Big River,” the Mendocino Land Trust announced. The project was a collaboration between the Land Trust, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Jackson Demonstration State Forest, and “initial post-restoration informal surveying has already shown increased coho salmon spawning activity.”
Yuba Water Agency is presenting a collaborative framework to the State Water Resources Control Board today, a detailed plan to improve fish and wildlife habitat conditions in the San Francisco/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary watershed (Bay-Delta), including fisheries enhancement measures on the lower Yuba River.
Plans to give Nevada’s top water official more flexibility to wade into water rights disputes got a rough reception in the state Legislature. Farmers, conservationists and American Indians from Nevada and Utah turned out in opposition to the proposals in two bills. No one spoke in support of measures critics say would direct more water toward urban and suburban development at the expense of farming, ranching and the environment in rural valleys.
The aging, leaking Combie Canal, a concrete flume located along a steep hillside above the Bear River, received the OK for a nearly $20 million replacement Wednesday. The canal is a “critical piece of infrastructure” that serves two water treatment plants, Nevada Irrigation District staff say, with more than half of the district’s flows for deliveries made through the nearly 50-year-old system.
Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Andrew R. Wheeler to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, giving oversight of the nation’s air and water to a former coal lobbyist and seasoned Washington insider. … The vote, 52-47, went mostly along party lines and underscored partisan divisions over the Trump administration’s continued commitment to repealing environmental regulations under Mr. Wheeler.
Complaints are mounting against Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over allegations he used his position to help the interests of his former lobbying client, California’s powerful Westlands Water District. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint accusing Bernhardt of ethics violations by partaking in decisions directly related to his past lobbying work, resulting in rules that would free up more river water to Fresno-based Westlands and weakening protections for certain endangered fish populations.
For years, firefighters and airfield crews trained to ward off flames by spraying thousands of gallons of foam fire suppressants, which eventually seeped into groundwater and could threaten to contaminate the Columbia River and a well field that supplies drinking water to the city of Portland. Recent testing uncovered high levels of an unregulated class of harmful chemicals at two different sites in Northeast Portland…
It has occurred to me that the rush to remove the dams on the Klamath River is lacking in a whole host of ways, and I commend city Councilman Jason Greenough for being at least open to the notion that the dam removal might not be in the best interests of the community.
A judge sentenced a self-described “dirt broker” convicted last week of illegal dumping in federally protected San Francisco Bay wetlands to thirty months in prison, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said Monday. On Thursday, a jury convicted Carmel resident James Lucero on three counts of unpermitted filling of wetlands and tributaries, violating the Federal Clean Water Act.
Follow along on our water tour of the Lower Colorado River – and keep up with any of our tours and events – through our social media channels. We’ll post updates on our Twitter account @WaterEdFdn about people, issues and places as we travel along the Lower Colorado River from Hoover Dam to the Coachella Valley Feb. 27 through March 1.
The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply—is in a time of great change. The valley produces more than half of the state’s agricultural output. Irrigated farming is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user. Stress on the valley’s water system is growing. Local water supplies are limited, particularly in the southern half of the region.
Mono County hasn’t won the war, but it did win the first battle in its lawsuit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s decision to withdraw water allotments to its Long Valley area grazing leases. Last Friday, the Alameda County civil court indicated LADWP’s request to dismiss the suit was overruled.
The Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million for the Salton Sea, a massive, briny lake in the desert southeast of Los Angeles created when the Colorado River breached a dike in 1905 and flooded a dry lake bed. The district says if the federal government doesn’t commit to giving California the money, it won’t sign off on a multistate plan to preserve the river’s two largest reservoirs amid a prolonged drought.
The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system, according to Bontadelli. However, proposed modifications to the Bypass to enhance habitat for out-migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the it will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users.
A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments has won congressional approval. … The bill would permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could not agree on language to extend it.
Most of the active volcanoes lie in Northern California. The report warns a future eruption would have far-reaching adverse impacts on natural resources and infrastructure vital to the state’s water, power, natural gas, ground and air transportation and telecommunication systems.
Gena Jacob figures she may come out ahead, in at least one respect, in the wake of the Tubbs fire that leveled her Larkfield home. … Through a program created by Sonoma Water and offered to 143 homeowners in Larkfield Estates, they plan to connect to a new sewer line — freeing them from the constraints of their aging septic system — with a financing package that takes some of the sting out of the cost.
On their to-do list is determining how to spread costs from wildfires in “an equitable manner” and considering whether the state should create a special find to cover wildfire costs. They face a tricky task with an array of competing interests, chief among them how to balance wildfire costs between utilities, their shareholders and their customers.
An international team of biologists is setting out into some of the roughest waters in the North Pacific Ocean in the middle of winter to try to solve the fundamental mystery of Pacific salmon: What determines whether they live or die? Perhaps the most critical, but least known, part of the salmon life cycle is the few years the fish spend on the high seas, gaining energy to return to their home rivers and spawn.
Hundreds of thousands of threatened red coho and hook-jawed Chinook salmon used to swim here, nearly 200 miles from where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. … But by the 2000s, their numbers had dwindled to just a few dozen adults each year. Since size largely determines whether juvenile fish survive, conservation organizations have been interested in this particular property, which includes the entire 2.2-mile length of the Big Springs Creek and 7.5-miles of the Shasta River, for decades.
The most eco-friendly wastewater treatment plant in the Northern San Joaquin Valley will be Manteca’s by the time 2020 rolls around. Not only is the treated water returned to the San Joaquin River meeting the latest standards established by the state for water quality, but within six months or so methane gas — a major byproduct of the treatment process that typically has to be burned — will no longer contribute to valley air quality issues.
A comprehensive bill addressing ocean concerns will call for improving the quality of ocean water and wetlands, better salmon habitats, and rules that would protect whales from being hit by ships. … Other potential legislation ranges from a move to end the practice of pumping treated sewage into the ocean to a law that would eliminate most paper shopping receipts to a smoking ban on all California state beaches.
This is a classic endangered species, a small, ordinary-looking fish with a peculiar common name, for a fish, which is followed by a very long, if somewhat poetic, scientific name (try saying it out loud a few times). It is perhaps appropriate that this unusual California fish is associated with the official state rock, serpentine.
All eyes have been on the Colorado River recently with headlines across the west announcing the progress – or lack thereof – of the efforts of the seven basin states to reach agreement on the Drought Contingency Plan. So is the Colorado River in crisis? At the 2019 California Irrigation Institute conference, Dr. Brad Udall’s keynote presentation focused on answering that question.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is researching how cannabis cultivators who divert water from Mattole River streams might be impacting the river’s fish and insect populations… By fall 2019, the researchers will publish findings on the full environmental effects of cannabis grows. While the research is intended to “support efforts to establish” sustainable cultivation levels, the study’s main focus is analysis, said department representative Janice Mackey.
Hoping to prevent another California utility from being driven into bankruptcy by wildfires, state officials may create a new kind of insurance fund to help cover costs from the increasingly devastating disasters. … How it would work and who would fund it remain unclear, but the bill envisions electric utilities paying into the fund, while a leading consumer group has suggested shifting the financial burden to the property insurance market.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s references to water in his first State of the State address were brief and a bit patchy, but they were enough to make fiercely competing factions each believe the new governor had their backs. But water policy in California is never that easy.
Since 2006, California has been releasing periodic reports on how the state should adapt to the potential impacts of climate change. The most recent report is unique in that it also looks at key climate risks from a regional perspective. Our news director Alice Daniel recently spoke with Joshua Viers, a watershed scientist at UC Merced and one of the authors of the San Joaquin Valley assessment.
If you stand on a fragile levee of the Sacramento River these days and watch the chocolate brown water rushing toward the delta only a few feet under your boots, one can’t help but wonder why the state and federal governments aren’t capturing more of this precious resource. Why is all but a tiny fraction heading out to sea?
Three property owners in Shasta County face thousands of dollars in fines due to violations involving cannabis grows. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the fines over water quality violations at two properties one in Ono, the other near Cottonwood Creek.
This is among the hottest of Napa County’s hot potatoes. That’s because it strikes such nerves as possible, further constraints on new vineyard development in local hills and a perceived need in some quarters to do more to protect water quality in local reservoirs.
After concluding Greka Energy improperly stored hazardous waste at its facility near Santa Maria, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday ordered the company to conduct sampling to determine whether its operations resulted in contaminated local soil and groundwater.
Since the rainy season began in earnest in January, County Flood Control has been operating almost constantly to keep its debris basins clear and ready for the next onslaught. Much of the accumulating debris is due to 2017’s Thomas Fire, which burned more than 280,000 acres in the back- and front-country behind Montecito, Carpinteria, and the western part of Ventura County.
Lake Tahoe is the place to be this winter. It holds the best snowpack in the western United States and the crowds are flocking to the world-class slopes. Traffic has been insane, infuriating and downright miserable at times — all while the snow continues to fly.
During the past two decades, the federal government’s spending on sewer projects along the U.S.-Mexico border has declined dramatically. The decrease in funding has left a long list of needed sewer fixes unbuilt, while raw sewage and industrial pollution have continued to pour into the New River, the Tijuana River and other rivers that flow across the border. Now, Congress has started to put more money toward combating water pollution on the border.
Every day, millions of gallons of water loaded with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals flow from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding streams and ponds without being treated, The Associated Press has found. That torrent is poisoning aquatic life and tainting drinking water sources in Colorado, Montana, California, Oklahoma and at least five other states.
Arizona’s efforts to finish a Colorado River drought plan are moving forward after leaders of the Gila River Indian Community announced that they will proceed with their piece of the deal. … The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because the community is entitled to about a fourth of the water that passes through the Central Arizona Project Canal, and it has offered to kick in some water to make the drought agreement work.
The Board of Commissioners for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District passed a motion to declare a countywide state of emergency in light of shoaling, or increased sedimentation, on Humboldt Bay near the channel entrance — conditions that could persist for months, officials said. … The shoaling stems from recent winter storms and has brought activity on the bay to a halt…
A long-delayed Healdsburg luxury resort has run into another major hurdle after regulators ordered the developer Thursday to halt construction upon finding numerous and ongoing alleged violations of laws meant to safeguard waterways.
This year, the water agency plans to inform farmers and the community about not only the amount of water the Tuolumne River Watershed has received so far this year, but also will provide information regarding the final license application for Don Pedro, which first began eight years ago, and the ongoing legal battle surrounding the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to implement 40 percent unimpaired flows along the San Joaquin River and its tributaries for the betterment of fish.
Overall, the total number of birds in the study area increased during the drought period and the models project similarly high numbers in response to warmer future climate conditions. … However, many of the species that benefit from increased temperature were also sensitive to high water deficit and tree mortality. Thus, their positive response to increasing temperatures could be offset by drought or habitat change.
Rep. Grace Napolitano, a Democrat with a district office in El Monte, sent a letter Wednesday, Feb. 20, urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make safety repairs at Whittier Narrows Dam its highest budgetary priority in light of an assessment that the barrier could fail in the event of a very large, very rare storm.
Noting the Klamath River’s history as the West Coast’s third-largest salmon-producing river, the City Council’s letter states that they believe a “free-flowing Klamath will revitalize” both the commercial and recreational fisheries, creating jobs and bringing revenue to the community.
One week after an atmospheric river storm pounded Northern California, causing flooding, mudslides and traffic headaches, another one appears to be forming in the Pacific and is set to arrive early next week. Computer models show the storm hitting Monday or Tuesday, with the North Bay and parts of California farther north taking the brunt, although that could change, experts say.
State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale last week introduced SB 307, which seeks to ensure “that any future water transfers from groundwater basins underlying desert lands do not adversely affect the California desert’s natural or cultural resources,” according to a bill fact sheet.
Although ending groundwater overdraft will bring long-term benefits, it entails near-term costs. We find that only about a quarter of the Valley’s groundwater deficit can be filled with new supplies at prices farmers can afford. The rest must come from managing demand. We estimate that ending the overdraft will require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production.
The furrows in a 60-acre patch of dirt on Rodney and Tiffany Shedd’s Arizona farm still hold cotton scraps from last year’s crop. This year, that patch will stay barren for the first time in recent memory, thanks to the decline in Colorado River water for farms across Pinal County, one of America’s cotton-growing centers.
In another sign Southern California is having its wettest winter in years, Mystic Lake has risen again in the rural, agricultural valley between Moreno Valley and San Jacinto. The ephemeral body of water was largely absent the past decade
February storms have almost eliminated drought conditions from California. The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday that just over 67 percent of the state is totally free of any level of dryness. Just under 30 percent is classified as abnormally dry, and less than 4 percent remains in either moderate or severe drought.
At the March 29th Santa Ana River Watershed Conference in Orange County, the PPIC’s Ellen Hanak will put the top managers of the watershed’s five major water districts on the hot seat to uncover the region’s latest innovations and find out what the next generation of integrated water management planning looks like.
Earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency released its enforcement data for fiscal year 2018, and in many key areas data continued to show a downward trend in the civil and criminal punitive measures meted out to large polluters. And on Tuesday the House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced it will hold a hearing next week to investigate the Trump EPA’s “troubling enforcement record.”
At a Town Hall Tuesday night, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) told the large crowd filling nearly every available seat in the Ukiah Valley Conference Center about a possible future for the Potter Valley Project that would remove the controversial dam, but preserve the water supply the Ukiah Valley has depended on for more than a century.
In Paradise, California, thousands of residents are trying to cope with disruption and displacement resulting from November’s devastating Camp Fire. Children attend school in a repurposed hardware store, where counselors try to help them manage their trauma. Meanwhile, amidst millions of tons of toxic debris, finding safe and stable housing is a challenge. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports.