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.
The owner of a Suisun Bay island violated the federal Clean
Water Act when he destroyed marshland by building a levee and
dumping dredged material while building duck-hunting ponds, a
federal judge ruled Wednesday. The ruling is the latest in a
years-long battle between regulators and John Sweeney, who owns
an island in Suisun Bay, a tidal channel and marsh area
northeast of San Francisco.
The organizers of the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native
California Speakers Series are hosting a new webinar series
aimed at taking action against environmental racism and for
water justice in California. Humboldt State University Native
American Studies and Save California Salmon are organizing the
“Mobilizing for Water Justice in California” Webinar Series on
In the Aug. 14 outage, multiple redundant power sources failed
at the plant in West Oakland, something that hasn’t happened
since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Major flooding at the
pump station led sewage to flow from an outlet into the estuary
more than nine hours later. The incident occurred amid hot
weather when people like to swim in the estuary running between
Oakland and Alameda,
As the North Bay continues to deal with thick smoke from
still-smoldering wildfires, some experts are already beginning
to wonder about this winter. They’re concerned about endangered
salmon in the Russian River watershed. Ground zero is the Warm
Springs Fish Hatchery just below Lake Sonoma, at the top of the
Dry Creek Valley.
Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th
annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared
priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. … There is a
long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to
restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake
Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of
collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit
With an ever-increasing human population, water shortages
already occurring in many areas are only expected to get worse.
Now, researchers reporting in Environmental Science &
Technology have estimated the freshwater supply and demand of
about 11,000 water basins across the globe, determining that
one-fourth of freshwater consumption exceeds regional
Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially
altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that
sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native
fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
As wildfires roar across Northern California, a team of Union
Pacific Engineering employees are on the front lines, battling
hot spots along tracks, bridges and tunnels. Their equipment of
choice? A water train consisting of two rail cars, each holding
12,500 gallons of water and a pumper. The crew has been out in
force recently on UP’s Canyon Subdivision near Quincy, Calif.
Drivers entering town these days pass a sign with an urgent
message: Do not drink or boil the tap water in your home. It
may not be safe. This town in the heart of the Santa Cruz
Mountains is the latest California community to grapple with
water problems because of a wildfire.
“Until the Last Drop,” a feature-length documentary filmed
along the banks of the Merced, Tuolumne, Stanislaus and San
Joaquin Rivers is scheduled for virtual release Labor Day
weekend 2020. In this probing film, Modesto Irrigation District
along with Final Cut Media examine the rivers that have
transformed the San Joaquin Valley, helped create cities and
nourish the world.
When salmon spawn, it marks the end of their lifecycle. But it
doesn’t mark the end of DWR’s salmon research. DWR studies the
carcasses to learn about salmon populations and assess their
numbers in the Feather River.
The two projects — which will cost $25 million and are funded
by the EPA’s Border Water Infrastructure Program — will control
sewage and wastewater, sediment and trash that flows from the
Tijuana River across the U.S.-Mexico border into San Diego, EPA
Administrator Andrew Wheeler said during a press conference
Wednesday at the U.S. Coast Guard station in San Diego.
CU Boulder will collaborate with five other universities and
two federal partners to better understand how water, trees,
soils and rocks interact and change each other in the fire- and
drought-prone landscapes of the American West. The team has
chosen five locations in Colorado and California to test a
variety of hypotheses about water in the critical zone. And not
only from a physical perspective, but also from ecological and
On Aug. 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a service
contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an
existing wetlands on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at
Alameda Point. The wetlands project is being implemented to
offset impacts to wetlands areas elsewhere on the VA property
where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will
EPA is announcing the creation of an Office of Mountains,
Deserts and Plains to focus on issues in the West, including
mine cleanup across the region… The new office, [EPA
Administrator Andrew Wheeler] said, will more effectively
address environmental challenges with those practices,
including acid mine drainage, erosion and hazardous substance
releases that resulted in surface and groundwater contamination
and degraded habitat…It’s unclear how the new office will
interact with EPA’s existing regional office system…
The new suit, filed Tuesday on behalf of three different tribal
groups and the Sierra Club, argues states and tribes have a
right to place conditions on federal projects that could
degrade waters within their borders or to reject them
altogether. “These changes that cut into the tribe’s ability to
protect its waters and fish harm us all,” Anthony Sampson,
chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada, said in a
The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity last week
said it’s targeting a federal plan to auction in December seven
parcels totaling about 4,330 acres in or near existing
oilfields in the county. The CBD called the auction plan a
“breathtakingly vicious” move by the Trump administration to
expand drilling and fracking at a time of wildfires driven by
climate change in an area with some of the country’s worst air
The worst outbreak of avian botulism in 40 years at the Klamath
Basin National Wildlife Refuge has killed more than 40,000
waterfowl and shorebirds, biologists say. The outbreak is a
product of sustained hot weather, warm water, receding wetlands
from lack of freshwater and crowding.
The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies
from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is
heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive
in Central Valley’s aquifers. While only one banking program
has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could
have huge implications for water storage and movement in the
The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental
reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects
during the COVID-19 pandemic… Projects targeted for quick
review include highway improvements in South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida and other states; the Lake Powell water pipeline in
Utah; wind farms in New Mexico and off the Massachusetts coast;
and mining projects in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska.
California’s beleaguered Department of Toxic Substances
Control could at last get an overhaul under a bill heading to
the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom. … If approved, the bill would
impose a per ton waste generation fee, increase facility fees,
add an ombudsman position, and take other actions. Assembly
member Cristina Garcia (D), who authored the bill, said it
would also raise $22 million to help stabilize the department’s
The California Natural Resources Agency has released a draft
project description for the Salton Sea Management Program Phase
I and announced a series of virtual public workshops for
community input. The project description identifies habitat
restoration and dust suppression projects to revitalize the
environment and protect public health.
Microplastics arrive on farms through processed sewage sludge
used for fertilizer, plastic mulches, and are even
intentionally added as slow-release fertilizers and protective
seed coatings. In just the last few years, an uptick in
research has uncovered alarming potential impacts of this
contamination on all aspects of agricultural systems from soil
quality to human health.
A Monday proposal from the U.S. Forest Service would severely
limit the agency’s ability to call off any oil drilling slated
for its lands by the Bureau of Land Management, which tees up
leasing in federal forests. … The proposed rule removes
specific references within Forest Service policy to review
environmental consequences of drilling and also eliminates the
requirement to provide public notice before new oil activity
Residents have until Wednesday to comment on a proposal for
restoring Franks Tract, a 3,000-acre flooded island in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, to marshlands. … The preferred
concept that’s emerged after several public meetings would
restore about 1,000 acres to tidal marsh habitat and deepen
other areas to provide fill for the marsh. Community concerns
regarding navigation and recreation would also be addressed…
As darkness fell and a thick Pacific fog crept in over the
Point Reyes peninsula on Sunday, a small band of animal
activists waited for a National Park Service official to leave
his check-post… At 6 p.m., as his shift came to a close and
he drove away, the small bucket-brigade crept in. They were
transporting roughly 200 gallons of water to the park’s tule
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has
identified the first two regions where Aquaculture Opportunity
Areas (AOAs) will be located in federal waters off Southern
California and in the Gulf of Mexico. The selection of these
regions is the first step towards establishing ten AOAs
nationwide by 2025.
Over the next 20 years, San Joaquin Valley farmers may need to
temporarily fallow or permanently retire over half a million
acres of cropland as California pushes towards sustainable
groundwater use. … Below, the paper’s lead authors, Benjamin
Bryant and Rodd Kelsey, discuss their research examining how
conservation planning can guide the land use change being
driven by SGMA to achieve multiple benefits…
Since 2015, [Armando] Quintero has worked as executive director
of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced. Before
that, he was director of development there from 2008 to 2014.
He also has served on the Marin Municipal Water District board
since 2009 and the California Water Commission, where as
chairman he oversaw awarding $2.7 billion in state bond funding
for new reservoirs and other water projects.
My puzzlement was goosed by a report that surfaced last week at
a board meeting of one of its member agencies suggesting that
the general managers of agencies representing the majority of
the Water Authority’s actual water-using member agencies don’t
seem to want it.
The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction
Act ..would significantly reduce waste from single-use plastics
and plastic packaging. Manufacturers would be required to make
their packaging and certain products increasingly reusable,
recyclable or compostable by 2032.
Laurie Huning, a hydrologist at California State University,
Long Beach, said snow droughts have been understudied relative
to other types of drought, which is why she and her colleague
Amir AghaKouchak sought to create a framework for monitoring
and describing the phenomenon around the world.
A group of residents in Laughlin, Nev., which sits along the
Colorado River, are organizing a campaign to oppose a pipeline
that would divert billions of gallons of river water to
southwest Utah, reflecting intensifying struggles over water in
the U.S. West.
In burning to the edge of Lake Sonoma, the Walbridge fire has
posed an unprecedented threat to the water supply for 600,000
North Bay residents and scorched Sonoma County streams critical
to the revival of imperiled fish. … Experts estimate half of
the spawning habitat on Russian River tributaries has been
burned, dealing a potential setback to expensive, longstanding
efforts to bolster coho salmon and steelhead trout populations.
We discuss innovative water solutions with Cynthia Koehler,
executive director of the Water Now Alliance, a nonprofit that
works with water providers to help them address climate change
and other challenges facing our water systems. Topics include
water conservation, green infrastructure, tiered water pricing,
big data and new technologies.
A major release of raw and partially treated sewage into the
Oakland Estuary earlier this month was triggered by a
rapid-fire series of electrical failures at the East Bay
Municipal Utility District’s main wastewater treatment plant,
the agency says in a report filed with state regulators.
Health experts say the Salton Sea poses a health risk to the
residents who live around it, especially in the age of
coronavirus. The lake’s continued evaporation is already making
Valley residents sick, and it could make virus patients even
sicker. Farms in Imperial County use less water from the
Colorado River than ever before. That means less irrigation
water drains into the Salton Sea. It’s rapidly shrinking.
Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If
California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the
western coast of the North American continent will be damaged.
Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water
relationship that has a personally significant impact to your
It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been plenty of bumps
along the way, but we’ve learned a lot in those five years, and
we are happy to share some of what we learned. We are pleased
to present our top 10 SGMA lessons learned:
Sonoma Water, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, made a request this week for the mobilization of a
Watershed Emergency Response Team, a state team than can assess
the damage and propose mitigation plans for a five-mile stretch
of the Lake Sonoma area that burned in the Walbridge Fire.
As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous
legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on
fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared
down their legislative packages to focus on a response to
COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on
environmental justice and natural resources stalled.
With Lake Mendocino losing about a foot of water every five
days, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared that 2020 is
the “third driest year on record for the basin.” Though 2019
“was one of the wettest years over the past 25 years, this year
is stacking up to be one of the driest,” the Army Corps
explained…However, the Army Corps said a new forecasting
model for storms developed over the last few years has
definitely helped maintain the lake’s water levels.
“The thirsty elk are currently beset by drought and wildfire
smoke and caged into the preserve by a fence which prevents
them from accessing alternative water sources,” the groups
said, asserting that most or all the ponds the elk should be
able to use have dried up.
Michael Wara, a climate and energy expert at Stanford
University who’s advised the state Legislature on wildfire
issues, said the state is still grappling with a legacy of
spending money on fighting fires instead of on forest health,
such as thinning overgrown brush and removing millions of
drought-killed trees, building fire breaks around communities
and intentionally setting fires when conditions safely allow
California rice growers wishing to participate in a
state-funded program to flood their fields for winter wildlife
habitat have until Sept. 14 to submit their requests to the
state. Growers who qualify this year will receive $15 per acre
to flood their rice fields.
Nine months after the Coastal Commission conducted its first
hearing on California American Water’s proposed desalination
project, commission staff has again recommended denial of the
project in favor of a Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal.
New research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows
that by the years 2045-2049 future temperatures will have more
of an effect on when cool-season crops, such as broccoli and
lettuce, can be grown than on where, while for warm-season
crops (cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots) the impact will be
greater for where they can be grown versus when.
The Clean Water Act previously allowed states to halt projects
that risk hurting their water quality, but that power was
scaled back by the EPA in June, a move Administrator Andrew
Wheeler said would “curb abuses of the Clean Water Act that
have held our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.”
The latest suit argues the Trump administration is
inappropriately denying states veto power over major projects
that pose risks to their waterways.
As California grapples with record-breaking heat, wildfire,
pandemic, and a $54 billion budget deficit, TPR spoke with
CalEPAgency Secretary Jared Blumenfeld to discuss how his
agency’s priorities have been impacted… Blumenfeld reiterates
Gov. Newsom’s commitment to ensuring safe and affordable rural
drinking water and opportunities to propel the state’s
post-COVID economic recovery with clean jobs.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to
extend the border wall and have it cut across the Tijuana River
where the river enters the U.S. in San Diego. … Usually, the
river has more debris and old tires in it than it has water.
But there is no barrier between the two countries here.
Stakeholders shared their concerns of potential consequences
over a stalled project to remove four hydroelectric dams along
the lower Klamath River during a recent online panel
discussion. Congressman Jared Huffman of California’s Second
Congressional District and chairman of the Water, Oceans and
Wildlife Subcommittee, hosted the discussion.
The written version of remarks delivered by Eric Kuhn at the
Aug. 25 Western Resource Advocates webinar on the Lake Powell
Pipeline, featuring Eric, WRA’s Bart Miller, and Alice Walker,
attorney for the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.
Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can
be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are
low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is
important for plants, animals and people.
This week, water suppliers and landowners along the Sacramento
River joined with federal and state agencies in a new science
collaborative designed to inform ongoing efforts to improve
conditions for salmon on the Sacramento River, while also
helping better manage water for cities and rural communities,
farms, refuges and wildlife management areas that depend upon
North Marin Water District has struggled for decades with
periodic and seasonal salinity intrusion resulting from the
wells’ proximity to Tomales Bay, but the problem is especially
dire this summer as freshwater becomes scarce.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has
reported that a recent collection of water samples from
cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms along the Stockton
waterfront contain microcystins up to 220 times higher than the
“danger” level. These extremely dangerous readings were found
at 5 out of 6 testing sites along the Stockton waterfront.
At ACWA’s virtual conference held in July of 2020, a panel
comprised of agencies described the experience of the American
River region in evaluating climate impacts on their watershed
in a new cutting-edge study and the comprehensive suite of
projects designed to address increasing threats from more
frequent and intense floods, fires, and droughts.
Warm temperatures are here and when conditions are right,
blue-green algae can rapidly bloom on the surface of
reservoirs, rivers, creeks, lagoons, lakes and ponds. San
Joaquin County Public Health and Environmental Health
officials, and the state Regional Water Quality Control Board,
are urging swimmers, boaters, and recreational water users to
avoid contact with blue-green algae, also known as
The Department of Water Resources came to the August Delta
Independent Science Board meeting to provide an overview of the
Delta tunnel project including timeline and review process, as
well as some thoughts on the board’s recent letter.
While the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex deals
with one of its biggest botulism outbreaks in recent history,
emergency water deliveries from the Klamath Project have
prevented the situation from worsening. The waterborne
bacterial illness, which causes paralysis and often leads to
death, has impacted more than 15 percent of the molting birds
currently on Tule Lake’s main sump.
Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in
2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces
the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies
from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to
0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse
The Department of Water Resources and partners are providing
resources to support water education while many California
families are dealing with the challenges of distance learning.
These free materials include workbooks, posters, and activity
guides for teachers, educators, and parents, as well as online
programs such as Water Wednesdays.
Above-average temperatures in spring resulted in a paltry 57%
runoff, nowhere near enough water to refill the reservoirs that
remain half-empty. Based on these conditions, the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation recently determined that 2021 will be a “tier
zero” year under the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought
Contingency Plan, with reduced water deliveries for Arizona,
Nevada, and Mexico.
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
California’s rivers and aquatic species are in trouble, but
restoration projects often get bogged down by lengthy
permitting processes. Sustainable Conservation has been at the
forefront of finding ways to speed up badly needed restoration
projects with improved permitting. We talked to Erika
Lovejoy—director of Sustainable Conservation’s Accelerating
A main water pipeline in the San Lorenzo Valley was destroyed
by a wildfire burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. The
San Lorenzo Valley Water District lost 4.5 million gallons of
water after this 5-mile long pipe melted from intense heat. The
district shut off its water supply throughout the Valley except
to Boulder Creek.
The San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday it is
partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC
San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve
water management before, during and after those seasonal
storms. [The other affiliates are: Irvine Ranch Water District,
Orange County Water District, Sonoma Water, Turlock Irrigation
District, and Yuba Water Agency.]
Most scientists in the field agree that sea levels should have
risen more than they did over most of the past century. In this
new effort, the researchers have taken another look at the
problem and suggest the reason for the discrepancies was water
being captured in reservoirs by dams.
Public health officials are urging boaters, swimmers and
recreational water users to be on the lookout for hazardous
blue-green algae blooms as warm temperatures persist. San
Joaquin County Environmental Health Department officials posted
advisory signs at local marinas warning people to stay out of
the water where toxic algae is present.
Brockovich’s new book … explores problems from
contaminated drinking water to water shortages due to climate
change. And as weighty as those issues may seem, she
also provides action steps for people concerned about
their own water and tells the empowering stories of many people
speaking up about water contamination in their communities.
There is some debate about what counts as water theft – or even
if it exists at all, as water is a natural resource that we all
have access to. But the team looked at three separate case
studies involving improper water use: growing marijuana in
California, strawberries in Spain, and cotton in Australia.
Men and women from Native American tribes in Northern
California stood in a circle, alongside university students and
locals from around the town of Mariposa. … For the next two
days, the group would be carefully lighting fires in the
surrounding hills. Also sprinkled through the crowd were
officials from the state government, which a century ago had
largely prohibited California’s tribes from continuing their
ancient practice of controlled burns.
After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration
released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back
project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running
beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as
much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger,
Kristen Averyt, PhD, is Nevada’s first State Climate Policy
Coordinator and offered a 42 minute presentation on climate
change and what it means for the environment and economics of
the Lake Tahoe Basin, region, and planet. On this edition of
the Wild Hare we take you on a tour of Dr. Averyt’s comments…
The U.S. Geological Survey has operated mesocosm experiments in
Upper Klamath Lake each summer since 2014, placing groups of
juvenile suckers in netted cages dotted throughout the lake.
… The goal is to figure out what’s killing the young suckers
before they’re able to reach sexual maturity and support their
Because the invasive 20-pound rodents pose a unique threat to
California’s wetlands, the state has expanded the Nutria
Eradication Program over the past year to a staff of 26 field
operatives 100% dedicated to exterminating the swamp rat.
Unlike just about everything else in the state, the war against
nutria has been almost entirely unaffected by the coronavirus
Under the plan, California agencies and the U.S. Forest Service
will use brush clearing, logging and prescribed fires to thin
out 1 million acres a year by 2025 — an area larger than
Yosemite National Park every 12 months, and roughly double the
current rate of thinning, which already is double rates from a
few years ago.
As the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage, or LEAPS,
hydroelectric project proceeds with licensing approval from the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, local roles have been
defined with a water delivery agreement following years of
litigation over project details.
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge’s main open body of water,
Sump 1A, had been exceptionally low for weeks. The hot sun
baked the shallow water during the day, and warmer nighttime
temperatures ensured it stayed hot. Dormant bacteria awakened
on the lake’s fringe wetlands, carrying with them a paralyzing
and potentially fatal toxin. Beneath the cover of smoke began
the refuge’s worst botulism outbreak in years.
The wildfires that exploded over the past few days in
California and Colorado show clear influences of global
warming, climate scientists say, and evidence of how a warming
and drying climate is increasing the size and severity of fires
from the California coast to the high Rocky Mountains.
The weekend’s record-bursting heat wave and freak summer
lightning storm have left an already parched Northern
California with a rash of rapidly spreading wildfires — more
than 300 blazes — something rarely seen before and possibly
unprecedented in scope, climate scientists say.
Every day Hyperion Water Treatment Plant discharges enough
treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2.5
times over. Now a court has instructed state water officials to
analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump
billions of gallons of wastewater into the sea.
The snow along the mountains of Nevada’s Great Basin trickle
down when the spring turns into summer. This produces a flurry
of wildlife and natural resources in our area ponds, rivers,
and lakes. … Along the majestic Truckee River, fishermen
would collect thousands of trout from the late 1800’s to the
1900’s. Eventually, this would cause the near extinction of our
state’s native species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Nevada and Utah share more than borders. We share the coveted
and much-fought-over Colorado River. But it seems as if only
one state — Nevada — is doing the difficult work to protect our
most valuable resource
A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities
in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according
to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance
Authority meeting on Thursday.
California still hasn’t met habitat restoration and dust
suppression goals for the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake
that has long been plagued by a shrinking coastline, rising
salinity numbers, insect infestations, and dying fish
populations. State Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot
acknowledged during a workshop Wednesday that “we’re coming
Land-based seafood firm Nordic Aquafarms has submitted its
first permit application for the construction of its new
land-based salmon farm in Humboldt, California, the company
said on Tuesday. … Discharge from the farm will be sent
through an existing pipe into open waters where effective
dilution is achieved, with no impairment of waters identified,
the company said.
The State Water Board and environmental conservationists have
filed lawsuits against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to protect the
Yuba and Bear river watersheds…
We know there are ways to actively manage our Western forests
to improve water quality, provide for jobs, reduce the cost of
firefighting and increase forest resiliency. Now we have new
tools to assess how proper management of watershed vegetation
can increase water yield.
Long-term fixes for the ever-shrinking Salton Sea remain
stalled as California Natural Resources Agency officials on
Wednesday revealed they have been unable to find an analyst to
study proposed solutions to a nearly two decades-old problem.
North Coast elected officials rang alarm bells Tuesday around
what the region’s congressional representative called a
“slow-walk” on the removal of four Klamath River dams that have
threatened fish populations and led to pollution.
The current heatwave broiling Californians like no event in
decades is also elevating the risk for another potential
disaster in the weeks ahead: wildfires. … As a result of
climate change, California sees more than twice as many fall
days with “fire weather” as it did a generation ago.
It should not take pleas to Warren Buffett, the billionaire
leader of the Berkshire Hathaway holding company, to save the
wobbling deal to take down four obsolete dams on the Klamath
River. But that is what the state of California and the
Klamath’s Yurok and Karuk tribes are left with…
The San Diego fairy shrimp, a miniscule, puddle-dwelling
crustacean that provides food for migrating birds, is nearing
extinction as humans continue to encroach on its wetlands
habitat. But a new approach to tracking the shrimp’s population
numbers may give conservationists a boost in protecting the
With up to $4,058,220 available, the program provides economic
incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their
properties in accordance with a management plan developed
through a consultation with biologists from California
Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat
Program for a two-year period.
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the
Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs Tuesday
afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on
the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from
the ailing Klamath River.
The well-written and informative article concerning Upper
Klamath Lake elevations and sucker populations omits a harsh
reality: For nearly 30 years, Klamath Project irrigators have
been presumed guilty and punished, even though there is no
evidence their use of water has anything to do with endangered
It may not be the biblical end of times, but the searing heat
and humidity, rain, thunder and lightning thrashing California
could be the beginning of the end of the region’s dry
Mediterranean climate and a prelude of more surprises to come,
scientists said Monday.
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
The dredging is taking place in a vast sewage treatment pond.
And the material being removed is biosolids, which is another
way of saying sewage sludge. About 3,500 tons of biosolids will
be piped from the pond this summer to be dewatered. It is
ultimately trucked a short distance and spread over a NapaSan
field where a farmer grows sorghum.
The hopes of seeing those dams removed, hopes that burned so
bright four years ago when hundreds gathered in Requa near the
river’s mouth to announce a new removal agreement, have dimmed
considerably since a July 16 ruling by the Federal Energy
Sea levels on the California coast could rise as much as seven
feet by 2100 and put tens of thousands of vulnerable San
Franciscans at risk of daily flooding, according to a new
report from the California State Legislative Analyst’s office.
A rare summer thunderstorm brought lightning that sparked
several small blazes in Northern California on Sunday and
stoked a huge wildfire that has forced hundreds of people from
their homes north of Los Angeles.
It’s going to get hot this weekend, and people will be looking
for somewhere to cool off. But don’t jump in Iron Gate or Copco
– the state is warning people not to come in contact with water
in either reservoir because of dangerous algal blooms.
CDFW’s drone program got its start in the early 2010s as GIS
Program Manager Steve Goldman and others saw the technology
becoming more affordable and useful. In 2014, Goldman put
together a dedicated team to research policy and best
practices. The program officially launched in 2016 when it
received Federal Aviation Administration authorization…
The key to controlling the numbers of Lake Tahoe’s invasive
Mysis shrimp, which have been linked to a decline in clarity,
might be as simple as rewarding the family dog with a treat. A
team from UC Davis Graduate School of Management have
identified the shrimp as an ingredient for high-end dog treats
and are currently in the early phases of developing an initial
North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman will lead a live-streamed forum
that will examine the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes,
fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders on
Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit to block the
U.S. Department of Interior from signing a water delivery
contract with an agribusiness in the Central Valley, an
agreement which would divert water out of the Trinity River
basin 400 miles away.
A correct analysis of the state’s water supply is always
important, but especially during drought years. A new bill
introduced by Rep. Josh Harder and Sen. Dianne Feinstein on
Friday hopes to improve the state’s water management by
establishing an airborne snowpack observation program.
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S.
government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and
radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana
Field Laboratory for official listing as a traditional cultural
A new report warns Kern County agriculture will face tough
challenges in the decades ahead as climate change makes
irrigation water scarcer and weather conditions more variable
and intense. The study concludes these hurdles “ultimately
challenge the ability to maximize production while ensuring
As the United States moves into the last weeks of
climatological summer, one- third of the country is
experiencing at least a moderate level of drought. Much of the
West is approaching severe drought, and New England has been
unusually dry and hot. An estimated 53 million people are
living in drought-affected areas.
County staff took a sample of the water on Monday and shared it
with the state, whose biologist determined that insufficient
oxygen in the water resulted in an overnight event that killed
masses of non-native fish, said Ken Paglia, a Fish and Wildlife
The short answer is, the replenishment fee is a per-acre-foot
extraction fee proposed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater
Authority to pay for mitigation of registered shallow wells
damaged by continuing overdraft, as well as to begin importing
water necessary to balance the groundwater basin. A public
hearing regarding the fee is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 at
When Brent Hughes started studying the seagrass beds of
California’s Elkhorn Slough, he was surprised by what he found.
In this highly polluted estuary, excessive nutrients from
agricultural runoff spur the growth of algae on seagrass
leaves, which kills the plants. Yet in 2010, Hughes noticed the
seagrass beds were thriving. It did not make sense.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters
of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of
vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented
distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which
went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require
coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
councilmembers heard briefings on the activities of the Delta
Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy, and an update
on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
After a massive loss of fish at three hatchery facilities in
the eastern Sierra and Southern California this summer, the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife has implemented an
updated stocking plan to continue putting trout into waters
that are popular with anglers.
After years marked by a historic statewide drought and
devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara
County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to
approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects,
from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs
of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.
Every day Hyperion Water Treatment Plant discharges enough
treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2.5
times over. Now a court has instructed state water officials to
analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump
billions of gallons of wastewater into the sea.
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout
was re-established by the Legislature in 1983 in response to
public concern about declining populations of salmon and
steelhead. … At the July meeting, committee members received
an update on the Klamath dams, Matilija Dam, and the Potter
Valley Project dam removal projects.
Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily
complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was
simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a
law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would
decide to repeal it?
If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new
reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the
project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the
Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw
vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats
for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and
risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand
Within as little as 50 years, many regions of the United States
could see their freshwater supply reduced by as much as a
third, warn scientists. … Shortages won’t affect only the
regions we’d expect to be dry: With as many as 96 out of 204
basins in trouble, water shortages would impact most of the
U.S., including the central and southern Great Plains, the
Southwest, central Rocky Mountain states, as well as parts of
Supporters of an initiative to reduce plastic waste today
submitted more than 870,000 voter signatures to qualify the
Plastics Free California initiative for the ballot –
significantly more than the 623,212 signatures required.
The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in
favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State Water
Resources Control Board to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and
“unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater
uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used
productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water
As vehicular travel of any kind is prohibited, the wilderness
in Imperial County is visited by only a few hikers and an
occasional Border Patrol officer. However, the construction of
the border wall has brought a flurry of activity that could
lead to profound and irreversible environmental changes to the
area. …this border wall construction could exacerbate
the problem of limited access to water.
By the 2070s, climate change will reduce snowpack and increase
extreme rainfall in the Sierra Nevada and California’s
reservoirs will likely be overwhelmed. That’s according to a
new study by UCLA climate scientists, who predict that run-off
during so-called atmospheric rivers will increase by nearly 50
percent, leading to widespread flooding across the state.
Six former Environmental Protection Agency
chiefs [who served under Republican and Democratic
presidents] are calling for an agency reset after President
Trump’s regulation-removing, industry-minded first term,
backing a detailed plan by former EPA staffers that ranges from
renouncing political influence in regulation to boosting
climate-friendly electric vehicles.
After timber harvest or fuel reduction thinning operations,
sediment delivery to nearby streams and waterways can increase,
potentially affecting water quality, drinking water supplies,
habitat, and recreational opportunities. To effectively reduce
these adverse effects of harvest, foresters first need to know
the precise causes of sediment increases.
A win for state water rights came earlier this month after the
Marion County Circuit Court ruled that the Bureau of
Reclamation cannot release water from Upper Klamath Lake for
flows down the Klamath River.
A group dedicated to protecting the Ballona Wetlands is among
the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in
public funds have been misused for what they claim is a
“deceptive” plan to bulldoze the ecological reserve under the
guise of being a restoration effort.
Regional San’s landmark recycled water program—previously known
as the South County Ag Program—has been rebranded. Now known as
Harvest Water, the program will be one of the largest water
recycling projects in California and will deliver up to
50,000-acre feet per year of tertiary-treated recycled water to
an estimated 16,000 acres of farm and habitat lands in southern
By the 2070s, global warming will increase extreme rainfall and
reduce snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, delivering a double
whammy that will likely overwhelm California’s reservoirs and
heighten the risk of flooding in much of the state, according
to a new study by UCLA climate scientists.
The loss in hydroelectric generation during the 2012-16 drought
cost PG&E and other California utilities about $5.5
billion, a new study says. As California’s climate becomes more
prone to severe droughts, the findings point to future costs
that utilities — and ultimately ratepayers — will likely be
forced to bear.
Recent conditions across California over the past 3-5 weeks
have been pretty typical by mid-summer standards. …
California’s boon, however, has been Arizona’s misfortune: a
near-total failure of the North American Monsoon…
People hoping to get a handle on future droughts in the
American West are in for a disappointment, as new University of
Southern California-led research shows El Niño cycles are an
unreliable predictor. Instead, they found that Earth’s dynamic
atmosphere is a wild card that plays a much bigger role than
sea surface temperatures, yet defies predictability, in the wet
and dry cycles that whipsaw the western states.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board concluded three days
of hearings on the project’s next permit by telling Poseidon it
must return with a more robust, more detailed mitigation plan
to offset the environmental damage the project will cause.
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
Hot and dry conditions pushed portions of Arizona, southern
Nevada and Southern California either into drought or further
into drought, data from the U.S. Drought monitor show. … The
North American Monsoon, which provides about half of the annual
rainfall in parts of the Southwest, has been a “nonsoon” this
year … The portion of California deemed abnormally
dry grew by almost 7%, mainly in eastern San Bernardino
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
Our newest video features our ongoing project to study the
non-native fishes of the San Joaquin River in California’s
Central Valley. Non-native fishes outnumber natives in the San
Joaquin, but we know surprisingly little about them…
Signal crayfish are displacing Shasta crayfish. Believed to
have already forced the sooty crayfish (Pacifastacus
nigrescens) to extinction, signal crayfish have outcompeted
their Shasta cousins to near extinction. However, a growing
trend of environmental monitoring, typically referred to as
eDNA, is helping scientists isolate the scarce species in an
effort to save it.
Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be
required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay
require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads
longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or
wetlands or with impervious materials.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable,
small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in
the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman,
ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought
against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.
The City of Bakersfield is poised to ink a deal with Buena
Vista Water Storage District that will provide at least some
water in the riverbed through the main part of the city between
April and June — even in drier years.
The suit, spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council
on behalf of eight other groups, is the third to contest the
July rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),
which for 50 years has required thorough environmental reviews
before major projects like pipelines and highways could be
In California, many of the wildfires occur in the Sierra Nevada
mountains, which are the source of 70% of California’s water
resources. Understanding the feedbacks and implications of
disturbances on the hydrological cycle can help watershed
managers plan for future scenarios with wildfires and climate
Forest-management actions such as mechanical thinning and
prescribed burns don’t just reduce the risk of severe wildfire
and promote forest health — these practices can also contribute
to significant increases in downstream water availability. New
research from UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute
provides the tools to help estimate and verify those changes.
In the 2020–2021 session, the Court likely will issue rulings
that could alter the landscape of interstate water disputes and
impact millions of people and thousands of businesses who rely
on interstate water resources. A preview of the four cases
slated for the 2020–2021 session and potential implications
Failure to account for the long-term trend of declining per
capita water demand has led to routine overestimation of future
water demand. This can lead to unnecessary and costly
investment in unneeded infrastructure and new sources of
supply, higher costs, and adverse environmental impacts.
Crops require water to grow. By importing water-intensive
crops, countries essentially bring in a natural resource in the
form of virtual water. Agricultural virtual water is the amount
of water needed to grow a particular crop in a given region.
Now research led by scientists at PNNL has projected that the
volume of virtual water traded globally could triple by the end
of the century.
A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water
was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered
to pay $5 million in fines for illegally storing and
transporting hazardous waste, federal prosecutors said. The
waste was produced by filtering arsenic out of Sierra Nevada
spring water at CG Roxane LLC’s facility in the Owens Valley.
Disparities across the environment, the economy, and COVID-19
are inextricably linked to race/ethnicity and disproportionally
affect communities of color. At the same time, people of color
are more likely than whites to be concerned about these
inequities. PPIC’s latest survey on environmental issues takes
a closer look at Californians’ views.
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
Some have found fishing the L.A. River to be a peaceful respite
from COVID-19, political and social turmoil and malaise of all
flavors. Even those who have been fishing the river for years
say it’s a new experience amid the new normal.
As Poseidon Water pursues the final government approvals needed
to build one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination
plants, the company still cannot definitively say who will buy
the 50 million gallons a day of drinking water it wants to
produce on the Orange County coast. That’s one of several
questions that continue to dog the $1-billion Huntington Beach
The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley,
examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s
conservation easements across the state to explore both the
environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s
The Santa Barbara City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to accept a
$10 million grant — with the understanding that it will run the
plant at full capacity for at least 36 out of the next 40
years. Some environmentalists objected to the council’s
decision, citing environmental concerns.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
Deep beneath the surface of the Salton Sea, a shallow lake in
California’s Imperial County, sits an immense reserve of
critical metals that, if unlocked, could power the state’s
green economy for years to come. These naturally occurring
metals are dissolved in geothermal brine, a byproduct of
geothermal energy production.
The act, which allocates $900 million a year to the Land and
Water Conservation Fund and provides up to $9.5 billion over
five years to begin clearing up a maintenance backlog at
national parks, was approved on a 310-to-107 vote in the House.
It was introduced last year by Representative John Lewis, the
Georgia Democrat and civil rights leader who passed away last
Toxic algal blooms have resulted in a “danger” advisory not to
go in the water at Prado Regional Park Lake and not to eat fish
from the lake. A similar advisory at part of Big Bear Lake has
been posted since last month.
The private sector has a critical role to play in addressing
many environmental, social, and economic challenges faced
today. To this end, a multi-organizational project is looking
to understand the opportunities for businesses to invest in
nature-based solutions to address societal challenges.
The California state water board is working on an update to a
permitting process with water discharge requirements that make
sure wineries are in compliance with water quality regulation
and allows them a pathway to compliance. The new order will
affect over 2,000 wineries that discharge winery waste to land
for the purpose of disposal or reuse for irrigation and soil
New research suggests these living crusts — an amalgamation of
mosses, lichens, cyanobacteria and other kinds of microscopic
organisms, including bacteria and fungi — have a significant
influence on the ability of drylands to hold water.
In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of
lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options.
Escoto’s town—Arvin, California—had just granted an oil
drilling and well-servicing company, Petro-Lud, a permit to
drill four new wells near a neighborhood densely packed with
young families and a park where children played soccer.
Regional water board member Kris Murray is on track later this
week to vote on a controversial desalination plant sponsored by
a company and interest groups she took money from during past
Among the projects, the bureau promises to update a 20-year-old
assessment of streamflows in the lower Klamath River for Coho
salmon and re-evaluate how water levels in Upper Klamath Lake
are affecting the survival of endangered sucker fish. Farmers
in the Klamath Project have long argued that flawed or outdated
science is chipping away at the amount of water they receive
each year to irrigate crops.
When Brenda Goeden first started working on mud, silt, and sand
in the San Francisco Bay two decades ago, dredgers and
contractors couldn’t get rid of all the sediment they excavated
fast enough. … But today sediment is a hot commodity, as
restorationists and developers scramble to elevate salt marshes
and building sites before rising tides claim them. Now, a new
plan is in the works to optimize allocation of this critical
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is among the most intensively
studied ecosystems in the world. Numerous long-term fisheries
monitoring programs have been conducted there since the late
1950s, but differences in the methods, scope, spatial coverage,
and timing of these surveys make it difficult to compare and
combine the data collected.
Lake Tahoe’s fluctuating clarity got worse last year during an
especially cold and wet winter as sedimentation, algae growth
and a tiny invasive shrimp continued to pose restoration
challenges for the famed clear water of the mountain lake
straddling the California-Nevada line.
A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed
by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek
restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The
ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage
Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek
restoration work is illegal.
Summer energy demands driven higher as the COVID-19 pandemic
keeps more people at home could lead to more water flowing from
Glen Canyon Dam into the Colorado River. That could mean
rapidly changing conditions for rafters, anglers, hikers or
others on the river in Glen Canyon or the Grand Canyon,
Saving our planet will require unprecedented focus and
investment from every sector of our society and all levels of
government — especially the federal government. Yet when it
comes to the San Francisco Bay — a national treasure and the
lifeblood of our region, producing over $370 billion in goods
and services annually and supporting more than 4 million jobs —
the federal government has been complicit in its deterioration.
Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had
no less precipitation and was no longer than previous
historical droughts, but came with record high temperatures and
low snowpack, which worsened many drought impacts.
The average annual flow of the Colorado River has decreased 19
percent compared to its 20th century average. Models predict
that by 2100, the river flow could fall as much as 55 percent.
The Colorado River, and the people it sustains, are in serious
For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our
struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide
tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to
traditional subsistence foods.
When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act
requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical
for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new
definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will
allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t
currently habitat but might be needed in the future,
particularly as the climate changes.
In the midst of a hot July after late rains this season, the
outlook for reforesting on the ridge will depend on the efforts
of private landowners, local forest scientists say. With this
help, residents of the ridge could see a new type of forest
replace what was lost in the Camp Fire.