Topic: Energy and Water


Energy and Water

Water and energy are interconnected. A frequent term to describe this relationship is the “water-energy nexus.”

Energy for Water: Energy is needed to store water, get it where it is needed and also treat it to be used:

*  Extracting water from rivers and streams or pumping it from aquifers, and then conveying it over hills and into storage facilities is a highly energy intensive process. The State Water Project (SWP) pumps water 700 miles, including up nearly 2,000 feet over the Tehachapi Mountains. The SWP is the largest single user of energy in California. It consumes an average of 5 billion kWh per year. That’s about 2 to 3 percent of all electricity consumed in California
*  Water treatment facilities use energy to pump and process water for use in homes, businesses and industry
*  Consumers use energy to treat water with softeners or filters, to circulate and pressurize water and to heat and cool water
*  Wastewater plants use energy to pump wastewater to treatment plants, and also to aerate and filter it at the plant.

Different end uses require more electricity for delivery than others. Water for residential, commercial and industrial end-use needs the most energy (11 percent), followed by agricultural end-use (3 percent), residential, commercial and industrial supply and treatment (3 percent), agricultural water supply and treatment (1 percent) and wastewater treatment (1 percent), according to the California Energy Commission.

Water for Energy: Water is used to generate electricity

*  Water is needed either to process raw materials used in a facility or maintaining a plant,or to just generate electricity itself.

Overall, the electricity industry is second only to agriculture as the largest user of water in the United States. Electricity production from fossil fuels and nuclear energy requires 190,000 million gallons of water per day, accounting for 39 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the nation. Coal, the most abundant fossil fuel, currently accounts for 52 percent of U.S. electricity generation, and each kWh generated from coal requires withdrawal of 25 gallons of water.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Nevada County rejects controversial gold mining project

After years of controversy, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously struck down a Grass Valley gold mining project. … Rise Gold first submitted an application to resume gold mining operations at the Idaho Maryland Mine, which is in Grass Valley, in 2019. The site had been inactive since its closure in the 1950s, but Rise Gold said it had untapped potential.  But the company was quickly met with mass opposition. Christy Hubbard, a Grass Valley resident and volunteer for a couple local groups opposing the project … said she was particularly concerned with the potential for mining operations to contaminate or otherwise negatively impact local groundwater supply. As a member of the Wells Coalition, a local group of well owners, and an owner of a well herself, she worried mining could reduce water flows or contaminate them. 

Aquafornia news Fast Company

This California county could be the key to U.S. lithium mining. But there’s a catch

In the quest to bolster domestic lithium production, a county in Southern California is emerging as a crucial player. The Salton Sea, a salty lake located in Imperial County three hours east of Los Angeles, contains some of the world’s largest lithium deposits. According to a Department of Energy report published last November, there are approximately 18 million tons of lithium here—enough to meet the demand for 375 million EV batteries, significantly more than all EVs currently on American roads. But there’s a catch. Extracting lithium from the Salton Sea involves a special extraction method that hasn’t been proven yet, leaving uncertainty about its commercial viability.

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Aquafornia news WBUR - Boston

Arizona tribe first to span canals with solar panels

For the first time in the United States, a tribe in Arizona is building a solar farm over an irrigation canal to produce clean energy and save water at a time of unrelenting drought. The Gila River Indian Community has broken ground on a project to put solar panels over nearly 3,000 feet of the Casa Blanca canal south of Phoenix. It’s one phase of a pilot project designed to eventually help the tribe reach its goal of using 100% renewable power. The idea is modeled after a similar project in India, says David DeJong, director of the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project. … The Turlock Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley is expected to start a project of its own soon. DeJong says money from the Inflation Reduction Act funded the solar farm, and it will eventually produce enough electricity to power several thousand homes.

Aquafornia news SkyHi News

Forest Service pulls Uinta Basin Railway’s special use permit, halting approval of project trying to ship waxy crude oil along Colorado River

The U.S. Forest Service withdrew its record of decision and amendment that would have allowed the Utah Seven County Infrastructure Coalition to build and operate a railway on 12 miles of National Forest System lands on Jan. 17. The activity required a project-specific Forest Plan amendment to reflect the railway’s visual impact on the landscape in order to move forward. The Uinta Basin Railway project has faced significant backlash from Colorado communities and organizations, including Grand County’s chapter of Trout Unlimited. The withdrawal of the permit is a victory for opponents of the railway who say the approval process “did not properly account for the project’s full risks.”

Aquafornia news NPR

New report unveils what plastic makers knew about recycling

The plastics industry has worked for decades to convince people and policymakers that recycling would keep waste out of landfills and the environment. Consumers sort their trash so plastic packaging can be repurposed, and local governments use taxpayer money to gather and process the material. Yet from the early days of recycling, plastic makers, including oil and gas companies, knew that it wasn’t a viable solution to deal with increasing amounts of waste, according to documents uncovered by the Center for Climate Integrity. … But the industry appears to have championed recycling mainly for its public relations value, rather than as a tool for avoiding environmental damage, the documents suggest.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Uinta Basin oil shale proposal ends, but Utah is still interested in developing

Another company has given up on trying to develop oil shale in the Uinta Basin, faced with legal battles, environmental concerns and money going down the drain. Estonia’s national energy company announced that it was wrapping up its fruitless oil shale venture in Utah at the end of last month. Estonia Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev said that the company’s project in Utah was “neither profitable nor promising” in a news release. … Oil shale is a hard sedimentary rock that can be heated to release synthetic crude oil. It’s a thirsty and expensive process that threatens air quality, water quality and endangered species, and exacerbates global warming, according to nonprofit Grand Canyon Trust staff attorney Michael Toll.

Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

California releases formal proposal to end fracking in the state

California oil and gas regulators have formally released their plan to phase out fracking three years after essentially halting new permits for the practice. The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) wrote that they would not approve (PDF) applications for permits for well stimulation treatments like fracking to “prevent damage to life, health, property, and natural resources (PDF)” in addition to protecting public health and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. … Hydraulic fracturing injects liquids, mostly water, underground at high pressure to extract oil or gas. Oil companies say fracking has been done safely for years under state regulation and that a ban should come from the Legislature, not a state agency.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Train carrying over 100 tons of coal derails, spills into Northern California’s Feather River

A Union Pacific train carrying 118 tons of coal derailed Sunday due to a track defect and dumped its contents into and around Plumas County’s Feather River, according to railroad officials and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fifteen rail cars chugging west on tracks parallel to the Middle Fork Feather River in Blairsden derailed, spilling the coal into the river. At least 14 rail cars tipped over or sustained damage, Fish and Wildlife officials said. At least one rail car fell into the water. … The cost estimate to clean up the river is more than $150,000, according to the CalOES spill report. There could be potential “smothering effects” on organisms in the river, but its short-term impacts are not expected to affect the water, the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response said in a Facebook post.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Atmospheric rivers boost California’s hydropower supplies

A pair of atmospheric rivers that drenched California in recent weeks will bolster the state’s hydropower systems by filling reservoirs and building up snowpack levels after a prolong drought cut supply, the state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) data showed. As of Saturday, the state’s reservoir storage was at 118% of its historical average, according to the DWR. In Northern California, Lake Oroville, its largest reservoir, was at 78% capacity. Statewide, snowpack, which melts and fills up water reservoirs during the spring, climbed to 76% of historical average … Reservoir and snowpack and levels are good indicators of future hydroelectricity supplies, however, other water uses such as agriculture, wildlife and industrial operations are usually prioritized over electricity generation.

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Aquafornia news Wall Street Journal

The Great Salt Lake is full of lithium. A startup wants to harvest it.

America’s biggest saltwater lake may hold a key to the country’s energy future. This summer, a California startup plans to start construction on a project to suck up water from the Great Salt Lake to extract one of its many valuable minerals: lithium, a critical ingredient in the rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles. The water will then be reinjected back into the lake, which Lilac Solutions says addresses concerns about the damaging effects of mineral extraction.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: Carbon capture in Montezuma Wetlands is a dangerous plan

Last May, a Bay Area company curiously named Montezuma Wetlands submitted an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to build a “CarbonHub” in Solano County’s Montezuma Wetlands. According to the proposal, the project would involve drilling a well for carbon injection and establishing an extensive expansion of submerged pipelines across San Francisco Bay. Almost immediately the project rightfully came under fire from our organization and many others due to the reality that such a venture would threaten public health, degrade the local environment and stall legitimate climate action. Indeed, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) — the process of trapping and storing climate pollution before it enters the atmosphere — has never worked in the real world and, in an ironic twist, has mostly been embraced by major polluters who see it as a way to claim they are cleaning up their act without changing anything.
-Written by Chirag Bhakta, California director of Food & Water Watch​.

Aquafornia news Stanford Magazine

The weather man: Daniel Swain studies extreme floods. And droughts. And wildfires. Then he explains them to the rest of us.

The moment Daniel Swain wakes up, he gets whipped about by hurricane-force winds. “A Category 5, literally overnight, hits Acapulco,” says the 34-year-old climate scientist and self-described weather geek, who gets battered daily by the onslaught of catastrophic weather headlines: wildfires, megafloods, haboobs (an intense dust storm), atmospheric rivers, bomb cyclones. Everyone’s asking: Did climate change cause these disasters? And, more and more, they want Swain to answer. … His ability to explain science to the masses—think the Carl Sagan of weather—has made him one of the media’s go-to climate experts. He’s a staff research scientist at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability who spends more than 1,100 hours each year on public-facing climate and weather communication, explaining whether (often, yes) and how climate change is raising the number and exacer­bating the viciousness of weather disasters.

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Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

As use of A.I. soars, so does the energy and water it requires

Two months after its release in November 2022, OpenAI’s ChatGPT had 100 million active users, and suddenly tech corporations were racing to offer the public more “generative A.I.” Pundits compared the new technology’s impact to the Internet, or electrification, or the Industrial Revolution — or the discovery of fire. Time will sort hype from reality, but one consequence of the explosion of artificial intelligence is clear: this technology’s environmental footprint is large and growing. A.I. use is directly responsible for carbon emissions from non-renewable electricity and for the consumption of millions of gallons of fresh water, and it indirectly boosts impacts from building and maintaining the power-hungry equipment on which A.I. runs. As tech companies seek to embed high-intensity A.I. into everything from resume-writing to kidney transplant medicine and from choosing dog food to climate modeling, they cite many ways A.I. could help reduce humanity’s environmental footprint. 

Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

Extracting lithium in Imperial Valley: What are the costs to environment, health, culture?

Trillions of dollars worth of lithium could be bubbling up from the ground in the Imperial Valley, which is one of the hottest and poorest areas of California. Lithium ion batteries power everything from cell phones to electric cars, and they store power generated from solar and wind farms when it’s not sunny or windy. Tapping the so-called “white gold” officially began a little over a week ago. Charles Zukoski, a professor of chemical engineering and materials science at USC and host of the podcast series Electric Futures, tells KCRW that the advantage of a lithium ion battery, as opposed to a sodium ion battery, is that it has higher energy density. It’s the best technology currently available for electric cars, he emphasizes. 

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Alamitos Bay water quality project plans to soon undergo environmental review

A yearslong plan to replace an existing water circulation system at Alamitos Bay — which has been in the works since 2007 — has officially moved one step closer to becoming a reality. City officials, in a virtual community meeting this week, said the preliminary plans for the Alamitos Bay Water Quality Enhancement Project have formally moved into the environmental review process — a critical juncture of the process required before it can move forward. The water quality in Alamitos Bay — a highly trafficked recreational area — has long been a concern for residents, city and state officials. About a decade ago, the California State Water Resources Control Board ordered electricity providers to phase out using water to cool their generating plants to help protect water quality and fish. AES Alamitos, now Alamitos Energy Center, the 1,040-megawatt combined-cycle electric generating station, had used water from Alamitos Bay to cool its generators for more than 60 years until the state’s mandate.

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

USGS partners with Havasupai Tribe to identify potential contaminant exposure pathways from Grand Canyon uranium mining

A new USGS report, co-produced with the Havasupai Tribe, identifies exposure pathways posed by uranium mining in the Grand Canyon watershed that arise from traditional uses and cultural values placed on resources. Previous models did not take into account Tribal perspectives or traditional uses. … Newly identified exposure pathways for the Havasupai include inhalation, ingestion and absorption from traditional food and medicines as well as ceremonial practices. Incorporating these exposure pathways into future research and risk analyses will lead to results that are more inclusive of Tribal resources and culture. Presenting the expanded risk framework in English and Havasupai aids Tribal members in understanding how the findings relate to their community and helps to preserve the language and historical cultural practices for future generations.

Aquafornia news Desert Review

Lithium Valley Campus breaks ground at Hell’s Kitchen

Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) marked an historic moment on January 26, breaking ground on the world’s inaugural integrated lithium and renewable power production facility. This development is a crucial part of the multi-billion-dollar clean energy Lithium Valley Campus, located at Hell’s Kitchen, on the outskirts of the Salton Sea near Calipatria, California. … The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by local and state elected representatives and John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. The event celebrated the groundbreaking production facility, designed to propel the nation toward energy independence.

Aquafornia news Berkeley Lab News Center

New study: Rising sea levels could lead to more methane emitted from wetlands

As sea levels rise due to global warming, ecosystems are being altered. One small silver lining, scientists believed, was that the tidal wetlands found in estuaries might produce less methane – a potent greenhouse gas – as the increasing influx of seawater makes these habitats less hospitable to methane-producing microbes. However, research from biologists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley indicates that these assumptions aren’t always true. After examining the microbial, chemical, and geological features of 11 wetland zones, the team found that a wetland region exposed to a slight amount of seawater was emitting surprisingly high levels of methane – far more than any of the freshwater sites. Their results, now published in mSystems, indicate that the factors governing how much greenhouse gas is stored or emitted in natural landscapes are more complex and difficult to predict than we thought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: The lithium revolution has arrived at California’s Salton Sea

I’m finally convinced: California’s Imperial Valley will be a major player in the clean energy transition. After a dozen years of engineering, permitting and financing, the Australian firm Controlled Thermal Resources is ready to start building a lithium extraction and geothermal power plant at the southern end of the Salton Sea, more than 150 miles southeast of Los Angeles. A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for Friday near the shore of the shrinking desert lake. -Written by Sammy Roth, LA Times climate and energy columnist.

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Aquafornia news The CoolDown

Blog: Community partners with US Army Corps of Engineers on groundbreaking new project: ‘Incredibly innovative work’

In the face of extreme drought conditions, a tribal community is embarking on an uplifting new collaboration to conserve water while also generating clean power. Together with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona will soon break ground on installing solar panels over irrigation canals — the first project of its kind in the nation, as Recharge News reported. The solar canal pilot aims to cover 1,000 feet of canal to start. If successful, this first phase will pave the way to cover more miles of the Community’s vast irrigation system, one of the largest in Arizona, per the news outlet. The first phase of this project has an estimated cost of $6.7 million and is slated for completion in 2025.

Aquafornia news Nature Communications

New study: Greenhouse gas emissions from US irrigation pumping and implications for climate-smart irrigation policy

Irrigation reduces crop vulnerability to drought and heat stress and thus is a promising climate change adaptation strategy. However, irrigation also produces greenhouse gas emissions through pump energy use. To assess potential conflicts between adaptive irrigation expansion and agricultural emissions mitigation efforts, we calculated county-level emissions from irrigation energy use in the US using fuel expenditures, prices, and emissions factors. Irrigation pump energy use produced 12.6 million metric tonnes CO2e in the US in 2018 (90% CI: 10.4, 15.0), predominantly attributable to groundwater pumping. Groundwater reliance, irrigated area extent, water demand, fuel choice, and electrical grid emissions intensity drove spatial heterogeneity in emissions. … Previous studies have estimated on-farm irrigation pump energy use at 158 PJ nationally and 136 PJ for electricity use in the Western USA, in close agreement with our estimates. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Are dams good or bad?

… Letting rivers flow free has long been a core principle of the environmental movement. But as I reported after a trip to Idaho last year, some environmentalists are reevaluating their stance on dams, given that hydroelectric turbines don’t contribute to climate change. The more dams stay up, the fewer solar and wind farms we’ll need to build to replace fossil fuels. Don’t get me wrong: There are still plenty of folks dedicated to tearing down dams and restoring free-flowing rivers. But the discussion is more complicated than it once was. The activists working to breach Glen Canyon Dam must contend with electric utilities who say the power it produces is crucial for providing reliable, affordable, climate-friendly energy.
-Written by Sammy Roth, LA Times climate columnist.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

San Diego could be first to float solar on drinking water

A south San Diego water district is thinking about powering itself with energy from the sun. Leaders at Sweetwater Authority, which serves National City, western Chula Vista and Bonita, hired a contractor to study how floating solar panels on its namesake reservoir could reduce its budget. If successful, Sweetwater could be the first drinking water reservoir in the United States to host renewable energy of this kind.   

Aquafornia news Grist

Can carbon capture solve desalination’s waste problem?

As the world grapples with rising water use and climate-fueled drought, countries from the United States to Israel to Australia are building huge desalination plants to bolster their water supplies. These plants can create water for thousands of households by extracting the salt from ocean water, but they have also drawn harsh criticism from many environmental groups: Desalinating water requires a huge amount of energy, and it also produces a toxic brine that many plants discharge right back into the ocean, damaging marine life. Recent desalination plant proposals have drawn furious opposition in Los Angeles, California, and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

California’s oil country faces an ‘existential’ threat. Kern County is betting on the carbon removal industry to save it.

Omar Hayat sees the future in a patch of dirt near Bakersfield, California, where oil was discovered more than a century ago. That discovery paved the way for Kern County’s lucrative petroleum industry. Now, Hayat hopes to use the same dirt patch to launch a new business—one that may help California reach its ambitious climate goals. “We want to be accepted as a solution,” said Hayat, who is executive vice president of operations at California Resources Corporation, one of the state’s leading oil producers. Hayat is leading the company’s push to store climate-warming carbon more than a mile underground, in the cracks and crevices of ancient rock formations. The firm is one of several companies developing plans to capture carbon from oil and gas plants and the air, and store it deep beneath California’s oil country at the foot of the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority

News release: Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority begins first year of cloud seeding pilot program to increase local water supply

The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) conducted the first cloud seeding events of the Santa Ana River Watershed Weather Modification Pilot Program during recent storms in late December and early January. The Pilot Program, launched in November 2023, is intended to evaluate the effectiveness of enhancing local water supplies through cloud seeding in the region. If shown to be effective, cloud seeding can enhance the watershed resilience of the Santa Ana River Watershed by increasing snow and rainfall from storms by 5-15 percent in targeted areas. The Santa Ana River Watershed, spanning portions of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties, plays a vital role in supporting diverse ecosystems, providing water resources, and offering recreational opportunities to millions of residents.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2024
Field Trip - March 13-15

SOLD OUT – Click here to join the waitlist!

Tour participants gathered for a group photo in front of Hoover DamExplore the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South
7830 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89123
Tour Nick Gray

Eastern Sierra Tour 2023
Field Trip - September 12-15

This special Foundation water tour journeyed along the Eastern Sierra from the Truckee River to Mono Lake, through the Owens Valley and into the Mojave Desert to explore a major source of water for Southern California, this year’s snowpack and challenges for towns, farms and the environment.

Grand Sierra Resort
2500 E 2nd St
Reno, NV 89595
Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2023
Field Trip - March 8-10

This tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

How Private Capital is Speeding up Sierra Nevada Forest Restoration in a Way that Benefits Water
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: A bond fund that fronts the money is expediting a headwaters restoration project to improve forest health, water quality and supply

District Ranger Lon Henderson with Tahoe National Forest points toward an overgrown section of forest within the Blue Forest project area. The majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation. Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris, it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.

Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous, stream-choking mudflows. 

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Western Water Magazine

Tapping the Ocean: What is the Role of Desalination?
Winter 2016

This issue looks at the role of ocean desalination in meeting California’s water needs today and in the future.


Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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.


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.


Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

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 Service.

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters Colorado River Bundle

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.


Layperson’s Guide to the Klamath River Basin
Published 2023

The Water Education Foundation’s second edition of the Layperson’s Guide to The Klamath River Basin is hot off the press and available for purchase.

Updated and redesigned, the easy-to-read overview covers the history of the region’s tribal, agricultural and environmental relationships with one of the West’s largest rivers — and a vast watershed that hosts one of the nation’s oldest and largest reclamation projects.

Publication Colorado River Basin Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

Cover page for the Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River .

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.

Publication California Water Map

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 

Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam

Image shows Glen Canyon Dam with Lake Powell in the background.The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1964 created Lake Powell. Both are located in north-central Arizona near the Utah border. Lake Powell acts as a holding tank for outflow from the Colorado River Upper Basin States: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The water stored in Lake Powell is used for recreation, power generation and delivering water to the Lower Basin states of California, Arizona, and Nevada. 

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

California Water Plan

Every five years the California Department of Water Resources updates its strategic plan for managing the state’s water resources, as required by state law.

The California Water Plan, or Bulletin 160, projects the status and trends of the state’s water supplies and demands under a range of future scenarios.

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Making the Connection: The Water/Energy Nexus
September/October 2010

The connection between water and energy is more relevant than ever. After existing in separate realms for years, the maxim that it takes water to produce energy and energy to produce water has prompted a re-thinking of management strategies, including an emphasis on renewable energy use by water agencies.

Western Water Magazine

Making the Connection: The Water/Energy Nexus
September/October 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy requirements associated with water use and the means by which state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge and improve the management of both resources.

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines desalination – an issue that is marked by great optimism and controversy – and the expected role it might play as an alternative water supply strategy.

Western Water Magazine

A Significant Challenge: Adapting Water Management to Climate Change
January/February 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines climate change – what’s known about it, the remaining uncertainty and what steps water agencies are talking to prepare for its impact. Much of the information comes from the October 2007 California Climate Change and Water Adaptation Summit sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and DWR and the November 2007 California Water Policy Conference sponsored by Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform.

Western Water Magazine

Turning Water into Power: Hydropower Projects Under Review
September/October 2005

Hydropower generation is prevalent in the West, where rapidly flowing river systems have been tapped for generations to produce electricity. Hydropower is a clean, steady and reliable energy source, but the damming of rivers has exacted a toll on the environment, affecting, among other things, the migration of fish to vestigial spawning grounds. Many of those projects are due to be relicensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Western Water Magazine

Dealing with the Shock: Shedding Light on the Link Between Water and Power in California
September/October 2001

The California power crisis has made international headlines. But what is the link between water and power in California? How is the state’s dry spell affecting its hydropower generation? How has the electric crisis affected water users in the state? These questions and others are addressed in this issue of Western Water.