The California Legislature was the first in the country to
protect rare plants and animals through passage of the California
Endangered Species Act (CESA) in 1970, Congress followed suit in
1973 by passing the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The federal ESA aims to, “protect and recover imperiled species
and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”
The state ESA states that, “all native species of fishes,
amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and plants,
and their habitats, threatened with extinction and those
experiencing a significant decline which, if not halted, would
lead to a threatened or endangered designation, will be protected
Imperiled species are defined as follows: “Endangered” if it is
in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion
of its range and “threatened” if it is likely to become an
endangered species within the foreseeable future.”
The Environmental Defense Center (“EDC”) reached a final
settlement with the City of Lompoc over ongoing violations of
the federal Clean Water Act caused by the City’s operation of
its municipal wastewater treatment facility. Evidenced by the
City’s own reports, EDC discovered that the City has been
discharging water contaminated with toxic pollutants for over
twenty years into the San Miguelito Creek and the Santa Ynez
River. These discharges threaten public recreation
opportunities and impact downstream water quality and the
health of the Santa Ynez River ecosystem, which is important to
snowy plovers and other shorebirds, along with endangered
steelhead that travel through the River estuary to the ocean
and back upstream to spawning grounds as part of their
As most reading this know, we have lost 90% of the wild fish
that used to navigate our rivers and streams in California.
Here on the South Coast, steelhead populations have dwindled
into the single digits and extinction is a very real
threat. CalTrout has been studying the causes and remedies
for the shocking decline in wild fish for over 50 years and
updating our Save our Salmonids (SOS) report as a roadmap back
to wild abundance. Five initiatives came out of that report,
one of them – Reconnect Habitat – calls for us to
remove barriers to fish migration to and from the ocean and
their spawning habitat. In this case, the barrier is the
100-foot Rindge Dam.
Cool waters flow south as a group of geese (skeins) fly over
the clear, blue-tinted river waters following the warm weather.
The life cycle of the salmon occurs in six stages: egg, alevin,
fry, parr, smolt and adult. For the Sacramento River winter-run
Chinook salmon the waters are a way of life for them. The cool
river waters are critical to the salmon because cold water can
hold more oxygen than warmer water and the cold waters help the
salmon’s metabolism by slowing down the way they digest their
food. The endangered winter-run salmon spawning grounds were
once in the McCloud River, but after the construction of Shasta
and Keswick dams the salmon lost the only way to swim
downstream the Sacramento River.
The Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) turns 30
this year. We asked three experts—Jeanne Brantigan of The
Nature Conservancy, Samantha Arthur of the National Audubon
Society, and Catherine Hickey of Point Blue Conservation
Science—to explain what the CVPIA is and why it’s so important
for birds. Can you explain a little bit about dedicating water
for wildlife refuges under CVPIA? When did it start, and why
has it been so significant for California? Samantha
Arthur: Congress passed the act in 1992. It recognized the
importance of the Central Valley’s rivers for migratory birds,
fish, and other wildlife—and the need to make protection and
restoration of fish and wildlife a coequal purpose of the
Central Valley Project (CVP), along with other uses, including
agricultural, municipal, industrial, and more.
Six biologists shouldered backpack coolers filled with 200
federally endangered frogs on Thursday morning and started
trudging uphill across three miles of roadless wilderness on
the northwestern flanks of the San Gabriel Mountains. The
inch-long juvenile Southern California mountain yellow-legged
frogs were being carried on foot to a pair of remote spring-fed
streams running through some of the wildest places left in Los
Angeles County. … They can attest that in these
mountains, the wrinkled slopes, lush canyons and the creatures
that inhabit them are all in flux because the climate is
changing at an unnerving pace. The most noticeable change has
been the disappearance of mountain streams and the effect that
has had on yellow-legged frogs — their life’s work.
We have been engaging in restoration within the Klamath River
Basin since at least passage of the Klamath Act in 1980. Over
several decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been
expended on projects to restore salmon in the lower Basin and
suckers in the Upper Basin. Klamath River Basin restoration has
now been institutionalized as an ongoing program of the US
Bureau of Reclamation and the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation. And yet, in spite of so many “projects” and
so many dollars expended, neither Shortnose and Lost River
sucker fish in the Upper Basin, nor Coho and Chinook Salmon in
the Lower Basin, have recovered.
The National Park Service announced that they are removing some
invasive fish that are threatening another native fishing
species from the Colorado River below the Glen Canyon Dam. The
agency said they are removing smallmouth bass and green
sunfish, which are “threatening the recovery of humpback chub”
who are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
… The agency said the invasive fish will be killed by
use of “EPA-approved fish piscicide rotenone (CFT legumine).”
Congress could kill the Delta tunnel. Under legislation
introduced by Congressman Josh Harder and co-sponsored by
Congressman John Garamendi, the Army Corps of Engineering would
be banned from issuing a required permit the state needs to
build the $16 billion Delta Conveyance project known simply as
the Delta Tunnel. The Corps has a pivotal role in the project
given the water that would be diverted is stored behind Shasta
Dam. Shasta Dam is part of the federally built and operated
Central Valley Project whose water is sold to the
Metropolitan Water District in the Los Angeles Basin as
well as large corporate farms in the western part of Kern
County and several Bay Area cities.
Starting in late August of this year, the San Francisco
Baykeeper and state and regional authorities
began receiving increasingly frequent reports of
unprecedented numbers of dead fish in the path of a
massive “red tide” algae bloom on San Francisco Bay. The
fish included large sturgeon, sharks, bat rays, and
striped bass, as well as big quantities of smaller fish
such as gobies and anchovies, in the water and along the
shoreline of the bay. As a investigative reporter who has
focused on fish, water, environmental justice and
regulatory capture issues for 40 years, the images of the dead
fish and other marine organisms were particularly devastating,
since I’ve spent thousands of hours fishing on and reporting on
the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.
Wildlife officials with the National Park Service are
planning to use a specialized poison next week to kill off an
invasive fish species and make room for endangered natives in
the Colorado River. The move should help to remove invasive
smallmouth bass and green sunfish from the river below Glen
Canyon Dam, inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area,
according to NPS officials. The two fish have been threatening
smaller native species like the humpback chub, which is listed
as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Point Reyes National Seashore’s leadership could have done a
lot better in responding to water tests that show unacceptable
pollution levels. The park declined our request for comment,
citing ongoing litigation seeking to derail the park’s new
ranch and elk management plan. That plan, to its credit,
includes measures to reduce ranches’ possible role in pollution
levels – some of which far exceeded state health standards for
E. coli bacteria – and resumption of regular testing. The
recent report was conducted by an environmental engineering
firm hired by environmental organizations, among them the
Olema-based Turtle Island Restoration Network, part of which
includes the Salmon Protection and Awareness Network, or
California is at a transformational moment when it comes to
managing water. As aridification of the western United States
intensifies, we have an opportunity to advance a better
approach to flow management in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta and our rivers through a process of voluntary agreements
to update the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. The
agreements, signed by parties from Red Bluff to San Diego,
propose a new structure for managing water resources in the
Delta and beyond in a way that is collaborative, innovative and
foundational for adapting to climate realities while benefiting
communities, farms, fish and wildlife. -Written by Jennifer Pierre, the general manager
of the State Water Contractors, an association of 27
public water agencies; and David Guy, president of
the Northern California Water Association, which
represents Sacramento Valley water interests.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has
thrown out a lawsuit in which Klamath Basin irrigators won an
injunction against federally authorized releases of stored
water from Upper Klamath Lake. The court ruled the lawsuit
shouldn’t have been allowed to proceed because the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation, which is under court orders to protect tribal
water rights and comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA),
wasn’t named as a defendant and can’t be compelled to
participate in state court litigation. The complaint was filed
against the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) for
failing to protect the irrigators’ water rights.
“You’re looking at the most endangered fish in North America,”
Zane Olsen, the manager of the Ouray National Fish Hatchery
tells me as he points to a deep open-topped water tank. Inside
are dozens of juvenile bonytail, the rarest of four endangered
native Colorado River fish species and one Olsen and his
colleagues are trying to bring back from the brink of
extinction. … The native fish have not fared so well
over the past century since humans began trying to make the
western desert bloom by damming the Colorado and its
tributaries, a watershed that was once one of the most
biologically diverse in North America.
On September 8, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) issued its decision in
Klamath Irrigation District et al. v. United States et al.,
Case No. 20-36009, affirming the United States District Court
for the District of Oregon’s dismissal of two actions filed by
various Klamath Project (Project) irrigation parties
challenging United States Bureau of Reclamation’s (Reclamation)
operating procedures for the Project. In April 2019, Project
irrigation parties, including the Klamath Irrigation District
(KID) and a group that included the Klamath Water Users
Association (KWUA) and several Project districts and individual
farmers filed two complaints challenging Reclamation’s
2019-2024 operating plans or procedures for the Project in the
The Pacific Institute, a global nonpartisan water think tank
working to catalyze the transformation to water resilience,
today released a new report highlighting how California’s
current drought has threatened fish and their freshwater
ecosystems. The report, “Left Out in Drought: California Fish,”
finds warmer water temperatures, increasing algal blooms, and
lower stream flows associated with the 2020-present drought
have exacerbated the long-term decline of California’s fish
populations and threatened the continued survival of some
native fish species, many of which face extinction. Fish
population health is recognized as a major indicator of
freshwater ecosystem health more broadly.
The main diverters of Tuolumne River water could be closing in,
finally, on an agreement with the state on fish protections.
The boards of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts
voted separately Tuesday to direct their staffs to finalize the
deal. Details have not yet been disclosed on how much water
would be released from Don Pedro Reservoir to support salmon
and other fish in the lower river.
Marin County’s code enforcement program is receiving increased
scrutiny following the adoption of an ordinance that prohibits
new building along San Geronimo Creek and its tributaries. In
March, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance empowering
the county to fine residents up to $500 per day for code
violations. In May, the county announced it had reached a
tentative settlement over the ordinance with the Salmon
Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN.
Lower water levels at Lake Powell and rising temperatures in
the Colorado River are contributing to dangerously low
dissolved oxygen levels below Glen Canyon Dam, causing concern
for the health of the trout fishery located near Lees Ferry.
The Bureau of Reclamation works with the U.S. Geological Survey
to closely monitor water quality conditions and is working with
partners and stakeholders to better understand potential
effects. Fish native to the Colorado River, such as humpback
chub and razorback sucker, are generally located farther
downstream where low dissolved oxygen levels are remedied by
riffles and runs, which aerate the water.
At a time of unprecedented aridification across the American
West, the 1,450-mile-long Colorado River and its primary
storage reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Mead — have fallen to
historic lows. Fragile ecosystems that depend on the river for
water, food and habitat are in peril. In fact, at least 44 of
49 freshwater fish species native to the basin are now
endangered, threatened, or extinct. … Environmental water
transactions — when owners of water rights are paid to leave
water in the river — could provide a solution. However, states
have been slow to enact laws that enable these transactions.
Millions of dollars in federal funding is beginning to flow
into the drought-stricken Klamath Basin that will be used for a
variety of projects to improve water quality, irrigation
efficiency and stabilize populations of endangered fish. The
U.S. Department of the Interior previously earmarked $162
million over five years for the basin. It comes from the $1.2
trillion infrastructure bill passed in 2021. Officials
announced the rollout of $26 million Tuesday, Aug. 23, calling
it an “historic” investment for the region that has endured
decades of conflict over water management for farms, ranches
and several species of endangered fish.
Stormwater runoff containing a toxic compound from automobile
tires that washes into streams is lethal to protected coho
salmon, Pacific steelhead, and Chinook salmon, according to new
research published today. In contrast, sockeye salmon seem
largely unaffected by the same compounds. The newly identified
risk to steelhead and Chinook salmon could help inform
mitigation efforts for construction and overhaul of highways on
the West Coast to ensure that future runoff is less lethal to
salmon and steelhead. Some western states have already begun
designing highways with inexpensive filtration measures shown
to protect salmon.
This past month was a major setback for California’s diverse
freshwater ecosystems. Drought preparedness bill AB 2451,
representing real hope for water scarcity, likely failed, and
Governor Newsom introduced a Water Supply Strategy that is an
important step but inadequate for the protection of freshwater
ecosystems – especially in the face of the ongoing climate
crisis. Here at CalTrout, we balance the needs of fish, water,
and people. We recognize that the California we know and love
is a functionally altered landscape.
Marshall Wallace wants a concrete crossing over Pickle Canyon
Creek removed, given this feature on his family’s Mount Veeder
land blocks rare steelhead trout from reaching spawning
habitats upstream. The vehicle crossing was there when his
family bought the property in 1988. His father later built a
vehicle bridge over the creek, and the old crossing is no
longer needed or used. Wallace described the crossing as
“a big lump of concrete” in the creek and said, “I’d like to
see it gone.” …A push has begun to remove or remediate fish
barriers in Napa County. The Napa County Resource Conservation
District and Water Audit California have come up with a list of
51 barriers that, if removed, would open up more than 250 miles
of spawning habitat.
Gov. Gavin Newsom sounded an alarm last week as he announced a
strategy to capture and store more water while investing in
infrastructure to avert catastrophic impacts of an anticipated
loss of another 10% in California water supplies by 2040.
Newsom’s water plan seeks to create storage space for up to 4
million acre-feet of water, in hopes of capturing more water in
wet years. … Just a day before Newsom’s water
message, the State Water Resources Control Board was hearing
concerns about environmental documents for a proposed
regulation to direct more river flows away from irrigators and
down the lower San Joaquin River tributaries to benefit
Golf courses are highly managed landscapes, requiring constant
human intervention to maintain them in the form desired by
their users. But what would it take to convert a golf course
into a more natural state, one that is resilient to climate
change, benefits protected aquatic species, and meets the needs
of the human community of which it is a part? A former golf
course in Northern California’s Marin County is undergoing just
such a conversion, and the process is expected to result in the
restoration of critical habitat for imperiled fish species
while also providing a key link between multiple existing
preservation areas. Intensive hydrologic work will underpin
Just 290 spring Chinook migrated up the Klamath River this
year. While significantly below the longterm average, it was
the highest number since 2016, and a sign the population is
somewhat bouncing back after only 95 migrated upriver in 2021.
Shortly after those numbers were finalized, torrential rains in
the McKinney Fire area washed a slurry of ash, mud and debris
into the river. … But, representatives of the Karuk Tribe say
it appears the species dodged a bullet. When debris flowed into
the Klamath River, adult Chinook had already completed their
migration to tributaries nearby.
Nearly 300 wild spring Chinook salmon made the 85-mile trip to
cool mountain waters for spawning this year, up from a mere 90
last year. While still far below, according to the Karuk Tribe
and Salmon River Restoration Council, the numbers were at least
moving in a positive direction. But soon after the count was
complete, disaster struck in the form of flash floods that sent
torrents of “silt, wood and other debris” into the South Fork
of the Salmon River in early August, “dropping the dissolved
oxygen in the water to dangerous levels, and threatening all
species of fish in the river,” a news release from the tribe
and council states.
A coalition of five conservation and fishing groups has filed a
lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
in federal court over alleged Endangered Species Act (ESA)
violations in operating the Potter Valley Project. The
hydropower project diverting flows from the Eel River to the
Russian River is set to be decommissioned, and FERC recently
approved Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)’s proposed 30-month
timeline for creating its final decommissioning plan. On
Aug. 15, Friends of the Eel River, California Trout, Trout
Unlimited, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s
Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources sued
FERC in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the
court to modify the Annual License FERC recently issued for the
Potter Valley Project, in order to comply with the ESA.
The word got out and the environmental lobby was quick to
pounce: After years of silence on the issue, Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s administration was reviving a controversial plan to
burrow a tunnel beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the
fragile hub of California’s water-delivery system.
Environmentalists said the tunnel would wreck the Delta, not
fix it. Ailing fish populations would be driven further to
extinction. The reworking of the Delta’s plumbing would leave
Delta farmers with water too salty for raising grapes, tomatoes
and other crops, they said.
In the vast labyrinth of the West
Coast’s largest freshwater tidal estuary, one native fish species
has never been so rare. Once uncountably numerous, the Delta
smelt was placed on state and federal endangered species lists in
1993, stopped appearing in most annual sampling surveys in 2016,
and is now, for all practical purposes, extinct in the wild. At
least, it was.
Biologists have designed a variety
of unique experiments in the past decade to demonstrate the
benefits that floodplains provide for small fish. Tracking
studies have used acoustic tags to show that chinook salmon
smolts with access to inundated fields are more likely than their
river-bound cohorts to reach the Pacific Ocean. This is because
the richness of floodplains offers a vital buffet of nourishment
on which young salmon can capitalize, supercharging their growth
and leading to bigger, stronger smolts.
This tour guided participants on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
Voluntary agreements in California
have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve
environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows
and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be
diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state
One of California Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade
Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within
weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that
Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.
That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach”
on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded
floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.
Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona
governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful,
provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most
high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including
groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of
California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former
California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to
work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and
the Delta tunnels plan.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
Water means life for all the Grand Canyon’s inhabitants, including the many varieties of insects that are a foundation of the ecosystem’s food web. But hydropower operations upstream on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam, in Northern Arizona near the Utah border, disrupt the natural pace of insect reproduction as the river rises and falls, sometimes dramatically. Eggs deposited at the river’s edge are often left high and dry and their loss directly affects available food for endangered fish such as the humpback chub.
An hour’s drive north of Sacramento sits a picture-perfect valley hugging the eastern foothills of Northern California’s Coast Range, with golden hills framing grasslands mostly used for cattle grazing.
Back in the late 1800s, pioneer John Sites built his ranch there and a small township, now gone, bore his name. Today, the community of a handful of families and ranchers still maintains a proud heritage.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.
And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.
Saying that the way California manages water for the environment “isn’t working for anyone,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shook things up late last year by proposing a redesigned regulatory system featuring what they described as water ecosystem plans and water budgets with allocations set aside for the environment.
As vital as the Colorado River is to the United States and
Mexico, so is the ongoing process by which the two countries
develop unique agreements to better manage the river and balance
future competing needs.
The prospect is challenging. The river is over allocated as urban
areas and farmers seek to stretch every drop of their respective
supplies. Since a historic treaty between the two countries was
signed in 1944, the United States and Mexico have periodically
added a series of arrangements to the treaty called minutes that
aim to strengthen the binational ties while addressing important
water supply, water quality and environmental concerns.
Less than 50 miles northeast of Chico, California, begins the
93-mile Butte Creek – a tributary of the Sacramento River. It is named
after Butte County, which was in turn named for the nearby
volcanic plateaus, or “buttes,” and travels through a massive
canyon on its way southwest to the Sacramento Valley.
As a watershed, it drains about 800 square miles, both for
agricultural and residential use. The upper watershed is
dominated by forests, while the lower watershed is primarily
This 28-page report describes the watersheds of the Sierra Nevada
region and details their importance to California’s overall water
picture. It describes the region’s issues and challenges,
including healthy forests, catastrophic fire, recreational
impacts, climate change, development and land use.
The report also discusses the importance of protecting and
restoring watersheds in order to retain water quality and enhance
quantity. Examples and case studies are included.
20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A
Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at
community forums and speaking engagements to help the public
understand the complex issues related to complex water management
disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances
For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and
California border has faced complex water management disputes. As
relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary
narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range
from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp,
farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists
– all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water.
After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon
settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise
of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features
a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San
Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows
and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam
to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the
history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays
the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas
and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The
map text explains the many issues facing this vast,
15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration;
agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are
descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin
Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement,
and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development
of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays
the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas
and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including
the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text
explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson
rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery
restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many
of these issues.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how
non-native invasive animals can alter the natural ecosystem,
leading to the demise of native animals. “Unwelcome Visitors”
features photos and information on four such species – including
the zerbra mussel – and explains the environmental and economic
threats posed by these species.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to
Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of
California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the
authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a
faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of
California water rights.
The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4
million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000
square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page
Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the
river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the
items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of
significant Colorado River events.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
The federal government passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973,
following earlier legislation. The first, the Endangered
Species Preservation Act of 1966, authorized land acquisition to
conserve select species. The Endangered Species Conservation Act
of 1969 then expanded on the 1966 act, and authorized “the
compilation of a list of animals “threatened with worldwide
extinction” and prohibits their importation without a permit.”
This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the
Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at
improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying
California’s long-term water supply reliability.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues
associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the
water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of
whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they
might be provided.
This printed issue of Western Water examines science –
the answers it can provide to help guide management decisions in
the Delta and the inherent uncertainty it holds that can make
moving forward such a tenuous task.
This printed copy of Western Water examines the native salmon and
trout dilemma – the extent of the crisis, its potential impact on
water deliveries and the lengths to which combined efforts can
help restore threatened and endangered species.
This printed copy of Western Water examines the Delta through the
many ongoing activities focusing on it, most notably the Delta
Vision process. Many hours of testimony, research, legal
proceedings, public hearings and discussion have occurred and
will continue as the state seeks the ultimate solution to the
problems tied to the Delta.
In California and the West, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a
critical issue. Development and agricultural interests say the
law should not be used to unjustly block new projects, while
conservationists view the law as a major bulwark against the
destruction of vital habitat. In the water world, municipal and
agricultural interests say there is room to streamline the ESA’s
application to prevent undue interruption of water delivery.
Two events that transformed the West, population growth and the
dominance of agriculture, are inextricable parts of the battles
fought over its most vital resource, water. Throughout the 19th
century, as settlers sought to tame the rugged landscape,
momentum built behind the notion of a comprehensive, federally
financed waterworks plan that would provide the agrarian society
envisioned by Thomas Jefferson. The Reclamation Act of 1902,
which could arguably be described as a progression of the credo,
Manifest Destiny, transformed the West into an economic
powerhouse while putting an exclamation mark to the tide of