Topic: Energy and Water

Overview

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 The Sacramento Bee

PG&E, SLO County water board reach Diablo Canyon settlement

PG&E will pay the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board $5.9 million in a landmark settlement that recognizes the long-term impacts of dumping water used to cool Diablo Canyon Power Plant back into the Pacific Ocean — but also the realities of a plant that is expected to close in the next decade.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: Water Replenishment District Board of Directors appoints new GM

The Water Replenishment District (WRD) Board of Directors appointed Stephan Tucker as the new General Manager of the district. With his expertise in managing large-scale water infrastructure projects, Mr. Tucker will help lead the District’s efforts to build a drought-resilient water supply in the region. … Mr. Tucker is a successful Program Management Director and mechanical engineer with more than 35 years of experience managing significant programs at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power for most of his career.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: CA must abandon hydro power and embrace offshore wind energy

High temperatures are returning again this week — with the hottest months still ahead — and that means the demand on electricity will keep spiking. The answer to our problems is not in rivers or lakes but in the ocean. Last month, the Biden administration announced plans to build roughly 380 wind turbines in federal waters off the California coast. Eventually, the turbines will generate 4,600 megawatts — enough to power 1.6 million homes.

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Aquafornia news Valley Roadrunner

Planning group’s Schmidt says SDG&E violating state water board waiver

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) appears to be violating a water discharge waver by the California Water Quality Control Board issued earlier this month by the board, according to Larry Schmidt of the VC Planning Group, whom The Roadrunner contacted Saturday. Schmidt is the lead for the planning group on this issue after being appointed Monday night to head the group’s subcommittee investigating the utility’s work on Cole Grade Road that is near Cool Valley Road.

Aquafornia news Food and Water Watch

Blog: Drilling California dry – An analysis of oil and gas water usage during the Newsom Administration

As California suffers from a major drought and enters a climate change fueled wildfire season, oil and gas operators continue to use hundreds of millions of gallons of freshwater for drilling operations annually. It’s a vicious symbiotic cycle: fracking and drilling contribute to climate change and suck up finite water resources, then drought and wildfires worsen from climate change.

Aquafornia news Coachella Valley Independent

One of the world’s largest lithium deposits is located at the Salton Sea—and the potential economic ramifications have drawn comparisons to Silicon Valley

The story of Lithium Valley begins in earnest on Sept. 29, 2020. That’s the day when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1657, sponsored by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, creating a “Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in California.” That commission is now called the Lithium Valley Commission. What is this all about? Oh, just the fact that up to 40% of the world’s potential future lithium supply is located under and near the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

California is walking a ‘tight rope’ as hydropower supply fades

The catastrophic drought that’s gripping the U.S. West is claiming a new victim: the hydropower dams that much of the region depends on for electricity supplies. Low water levels in key reservoirs mean that hydropower supplies are declining. One of the hardest hit areas is California, where output has tumbled to the lowest in more than five years.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Oilfield disposal site in western Kern set to close

A large oilfield wastewater disposal pond near Buttonwillow will likely close this summer, and its operator and last remaining customer will together pay $645,000 in penalties and fees, under a recent court settlement that further restricts a decades-old practice that has become a focus of regional water quality regulators. The accord concludes a 2019 lawsuit that accused facility owner Valley Water Management Co. and Colorado-based oil producer Sentinel Peak Resources of dumping fluid containing harmful chemicals above a reservoir that provides local drinking and irrigation water.

Aquafornia news The Union

Opinion: Facts matter — Don’t be a victim of mining fiction

The Union has printed several opinion pieces by Idaho-Maryland Mine Project opponents. The majority of these columns present “information” that’s either biased or misleading and based neither on science nor logic. Here are the facts. … Recent columns erroneously suggest that groundwater impacts cannot be accurately predicted. Numerous expert hydrogeologists and a century of mining at the Idaho-Maryland say otherwise. … The actual conclusion is that no wells would be drained…
-Written by Ben Mossman, president of Rise Grass Valley and CEO of Rise Gold Corp., U.S. corporations.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Can California avoid another toxic waste disaster?

For decades, large red-hot furnaces cooked the lead from smashed batteries at the Exide plant, just seven miles from Downtown Los Angeles, spouting plumes of toxic air that settled on and contaminated thousands of homes. … In the years since, the facility has been cited repeatedly for serious compliance problems. According to a former DTSC senior scientist’s review of public records, at least four are responsible for soil and groundwater contamination that the department has or should have known about for years or even decades. 

Aquafornia news UC Riverside

News release: A new water treatment technology could also help Mars explorers

Ateam led by UC Riverside engineers has developed a catalyst to remove a dangerous chemical from water on Earth that could also make Martian soil safer for agriculture and help produce oxygen for human Mars explorers. Perchlorate, a negative ion consisting of one chlorine atom bonded to four oxygen atoms, occurs naturally in some soils on Earth, and is especially abundant in Martian soil. As a powerful oxidizer, perchlorate is also manufactured and used in solid rocket fuel, fireworks, munitions, airbag initiators for vehicles, matches and signal flares. It is a byproduct in some disinfectants and herbicides. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Controversial sewer hike heads to Monterey One Water board amid objections

A proposal that would more than double the cost of sewer service in the region over the next five years and has drawn the rage of the area’s hospitality and business interests heads to a board for final approval on June 7. The board of directors for Monterey One Water, the regional wastewater management service, will vote on the proposed schedule of rate increases. If approved, ratepayers will see a 47-percent jump in their sewage bills after July 1. By 2025, rates would be 122-percent higher than they are today. … [T]he increase is needed to maintain and update the utility’s $750 million infrastructure assets, some of which are more than 30 years old.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: Biden Administration releases FY 2022 budget proposal

The Biden Administration last week released its FY 2022 budget proposal. The $6 trillion dollar budget includes funding for several water resources priorities, including PFAS research and remediation, drought resilience, watershed protection, and infrastructure improvements. The Biden budget proposes an increase of 16.5% for discretionary, non-defense spending. Notably, the budget includes $27.9 billion for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), $17.4 billion for the Department of Interior (DOI), $6.8 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego launches $10M assessment of aging city dams

San Diego is launching a $10 million effort to complete risk assessments of all nine of the city’s aging dams — only three of which are considered in satisfactory condition. City officials say the assessments are expected to reveal problems that will require an estimated $1 billion in repairs and upgrades in coming decades — and possibly some replacement dams in extreme cases. San Diego’s dams are among the oldest in the state and the nation.

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Aquafornia news Roseville Today

$3.6 Million in PCWA grants for water purveyors

At the May 20 meeting of the Placer County Water Agency (“PCWA”) Board of Directors, the Board awarded 12 grants, totaling over $3.6 million, to seven public water purveyors in Placer County. The $3.6 million figure is the most ever granted by PCWA in a single year. This is also the first instance in which the grants were wholly funded with net revenues from PCWA’s Middle Fork American River Project (“Middle Fork Project”). 

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Installing solar panels over California’s canals could save 65 billion gallons of water a year

Demand for solar power is growing. And recent research suggests that people should consider installing solar panels not only on fields and rooftops, but above waterways as well. Brandi McKuin of the University of California, Santa Cruz, says canopies of solar panels can be installed over canals. The approach would generate clean energy, and by shading the water, reduce evaporation. Her research estimates that covering California’s 4,000 miles of open canals with solar panels could save about 65 billion gallons of water a year.

Aquafornia news The Union

In the water: Rise Gold Corp. CEO speaks to water quality concerns

[P]rivate and public stakeholders must hold Rise Gold Corp. accountable when it promises to deliver drinkable water — a promise it’s made — and in particular, investigate what primary and secondary drinking water standards mean. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, national primary drinking water regulations are legally enforceable standards applied to public water systems. In contrast, secondary drinking water standards are “non-enforceable guidelines regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic or aesthetic effects.” Cosmetic effects are detailed as affecting skin or teeth color, and aesthetic effects refer to water’s taste, odor, or color.

Aquafornia news CalTech

News release: New material could harvest water all day long

Tiny structures inspired by the shape of cactus spines allow a newly created material to gather drinkable water from the air both day and night, combining two water-harvesting technologies into one. The material, a micro-architected hydrogel membrane (more on that later), can produce water through both solar steam-water generation and fog collection—two independent processes that typically require two separate devices. A paper about the material was published in Nature Communications on May 14.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Bluetech workforce, desal could solve California water crises

Facing extended drought, diminishing snowpack, and depleted aquifers, California water managers face a harsh reality: our 20th century water systems – essentially linear designs in which fresh water is extracted, centrally treated, distributed to users, returned as wastewater, and finally treated and discarded – are breaking down. Although this approach has served us well for decades, we can no longer sustain ourselves with a paradigm that uses water once and throws it away.
-Written by Peter Fiske, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and executive director of the Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Water Innovation.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

After years of protests, Crystal Geyser abandons bottling facility plans in Siskiyou County

Crystal Geyser bought the nearly 145,000 square foot bottling plant in 2013. Since then, it’s been the target of protests by local activists and members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Opponents say if it ever started operating, it would draw down too much water, and cause air and noise pollution. … They are in the midst of suing the beverage company in an effort to get a new environmental impact report. 

Aquafornia news CEQA Chronicles

Blog: Poseidon’s desalination plant’s supplemental EIR holds water according to the Court of Appeal

In California Coastkeeper v. State Lands Commission, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld the State Lands Commission’s decision to prepare a supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, overturning an earlier trial court ruling that invalidated the EIR. Limited changes to a desalination project were proposed in order to comply with desalination-related amendments to the State’s Ocean Plan.  

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil wells

California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 unveiled his May budget revision that allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, many located near low-income residential areas where the majority of residents are Latino and Black. In January 2020, a report by the California Council on Science & Technology revealed that California taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $500 million to plug thousands of “orphan” wells drilled and abandoned by oil and gas companies. .. Plugging all 107,000 oil and wells in California when they become idle would cost more than $9 billion, the report also found.

Aquafornia news The Nation

Exhuming California’s St. Francis Dam disaster

Just before midnight on March 12, 1928, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s St. Francis Dam collapsed, inundating the canyon below with some 12 billion gallons of water. The floodwaters, which in the darkness registered first as a mounting roar to those who were awake, tossed 10,000-ton fragments of the dam thousands of feet downstream and scoured the canyon walls to bare rock. More than 400 people in the flood’s 53-mile path to the sea were drowned or battered to death as the torrent sheared through orchards, pulverized buildings, and crumpled bridges. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

States ask Biden to trash Trump-era Clean Water Act change

With shrinking reservoir levels and a summer of water shortages impending, drought-ridden California on Wednesday pressed the Biden administration for more control over future infrastructure projects planned in the Golden State. California and a collection of states urged the federal government to drop a Trump-era rule that reduced states’ authority to deny permitting and licensing for things like new water infrastructure, oil pipelines, wastewater plants or development projects in wetland areas. The states claim the rule gives them little say over projects that could ultimately harm water quality and the environment.  

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

How stakeholders in the Sierra Nevada are confronting the lasting legacy of the gold rush

Although Indigenous people had, since prehistoric times, modified the [Sierra Nevada] landscape and caused widespread ecological change, the arrival of Europeans and Americans for the gold rush brought a much more invasive level of alterations with the construction of dams, permanent manipulation of rivers, clear-cutting of old-growth trees and an ill-advised practice of fire suppression that makes these forests ripe for wildfires, especially when compounded by climate change, which means more heat waves, decreased snowpack and drier conditions among other impacts. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Mining industry, builders sought changes in Arizona water bill

Newly released emails reveal that lawyers and lobbyists for mining companies, developers and the agriculture industry had a hand behind the scenes in shaping Arizona’s newly adopted law on clean-water rules for rivers and streams. The emails show the involvement of these influential groups went beyond their public endorsements of the legislation. Their lawyers and lobbyists were given access to offer input while the final legislation was being drafted, and the emails show they suggested specific language, offered “wordsmithing” tweaks and requested significant changes that state officials incorporated into the bill. 

Aquafornia news Law360

Calif. Appeals Court won’t halt desalination plant project

The California State Lands Commission properly reviewed a stalled desalination planned to be built on the coast south of Los Angeles, a state appeals court says. In a decision filed Saturday, the appeals court affirmed a lower court’s rejection of a challenge to the plant by the environmental group California Coastkeeper Alliance and others. It determined that a 2017 re-review of the planned desalination plant in Huntington Beach adequately complied with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. 

Aquafornia news NBC News

‘If you build it, they will come’: California desert cashes in on early cannabis investment

Along a hot, dusty stretch of freeway in California’s Coachella Valley, a green rush is booming that not even the coronavirus pandemic can slow. Desert Hot Springs, once a sleepy retirement community overshadowed by its more glamorous neighbor, Palm Springs, to the south, is transforming into a cannabis-growing capital as businesses lured by tax incentives and a 420-friendly local government pour into the small city. … With constant sun and almost no rain, growing cannabis in the desert requires a mammoth water and power supply to keep indoor operations going when outside temperatures soar.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Hear experts address impact of two-decade drought on Lower Colorado River Tour

Hear directly from a range of experts offering a variety of perspectives on our May 20 virtual Lower Colorado River Tour as they put into context the 20-plus year drought on what is the most contested and meticulously managed river in the United States. Among the experts featured are farmers, tribal representatives, and managers from wildlife agencies, water districts, the Bureau of Reclamation and others who will discuss drought impacts, habitat projects, farming and restoration efforts at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: Hydropower can help solve climate change, groups tell Biden

Conservationists in California and across the West are deeply skeptical of hydropower, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a long history of government agencies damming spectacular canyons, choking off rivers, obliterating fish populations and cutting off access to Indigenous peoples. … But despite the environmental damage they’ve done, many dams also generate electricity that is free of planet-warming carbon emissions. Tearing down dams can revitalize ecosystems, but it can also contribute to a climate crisis that is making rivers around the world drier in some cases, more prone to flooding in others, and in many cases hotter and more polluted. 
-Written by Sammy Roth, a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

Aquafornia news U.C. Santa Cruz

New research: Long-term monitoring shows successful restoration of mining-polluted streams

Many miles of streams and rivers in the United States and elsewhere are polluted by toxic metals in acidic runoff draining from abandoned mining sites, and major investments have been made to clean up acid mine drainage at some sites. A new study based on long-term monitoring data from four sites in the western United States shows that cleanup efforts can allow affected streams to recover to near natural conditions within 10 to 15 years after the start of abatement work. The four mining-impacted watersheds—located in mountain mining regions of California, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana—were all designated as Superfund sites …

Aquafornia news E&E News

Endangered species: Feds deny protection for salamanders threatened by dam

The Fish and Wildlife Service said today it will deny federal protections to three salamander species that environmentalists fear could be put in danger by a proposed California dam project. Pressed by a lawsuit to make a decision, the federal agency concluded the Shasta salamander, Samwel Shasta salamander and Wintu Shasta salamander don’t need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act even if plans proceed to expand the Shasta Dam by raising it.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

California district court finds species conservation is not one of Twitchell Dam’s “other purposes”

A federal judge’s decision rebuffed environmental groups’ effort to increase water flow from California’s Twitchell Dam, stating that wildlife conservation was not among the dam’s authorized purposes and that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) had no authority to modify the water releases for conservation purposes. U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr. sided with defendants in San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper v. Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District, rejecting plaintiffs’ claim that by failing to release enough water to benefit protected steelhead trout, the Bureau and local water district were in violation of the ESA.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Beavers are firefighters who work for free

The beaver does more to shape its environment than nearly any other animal on Earth. They can cause incredible amounts of destruction to infrastructure; downing power lines, and blocking and rerouting waterways. But their dam-building also can improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and create the conditions for complex wetland habitats to form —providing refuge for wildlife and storing carbon in the process. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why California is planning to ban fracking

A little more than a week ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that not only would California effectively ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by 2024, but the state also would work to phase out oil extraction entirely by 2045. … It was — like the governor’s promise last year that the state would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — a sweeping pronouncement meant to show urgency in addressing climate change while the state he leads struggles with many of its most dire effects. But meeting those goals requires complex regulatory maneuvering.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Installing solar panels over California’s canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs

Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region’s climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations. … About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the state. Covering these canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation of precious water – one of California’s most critical resources – and help meet the state’s renewable energy goals, while also saving money.

Aquafornia news NPR

NPR: Electric vehicles need lithium; California could be a source

As demand for electric vehicles heats up, there’s concern about a shortage of the key minerals needed to make them. The Biden administration has called for boosting domestic production of such minerals, including lithium for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. And that has many hoping for big business in a desolate spot of California’s Imperial Valley. A few miles from the shores of California’s Salton Sea, a construction crew is at work on the future site of Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power. It’s a geothermal facility, meaning it uses Earth’s natural heat to create electricity.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Is Newsom making any difference on fracking?

British journalist James Bartholomew is widely credited with creating the phrase “virtue signaling” to describe positioning oneself on the popular side of an issue without actually doing anything about it. Politicians are particularly prone to uttering words or making token efforts on difficult issues to stave off criticism about their failure to act meaningfully. Gov. Gavin Newsom is California’s champion virtue-signaler as he faces a recall election later this year. … There’s no better example than Newsom’s ever-shifting attitude toward hydraulic fracturing to increase petroleum production.
-Written by Dan Walters

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Poseidon wins key seawater desalination permit

Poseidon Water won a key approval Thursday in its long quest to build a seawater desalination plant on the Orange County coastline. But the permit from the Santa Ana Regional Quality Control Board does not ensure that the $1-billion ocean desalter will rise on the grounds of an old power plant in Huntington Beach. Poseidon still needs a construction permit from the California Coastal Commission and, most critically, a binding deal with a public agency to buy 50 million gallons a day of purified seawater.

Related article:

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Trout Clout – Protect Hot Creek, stop KORE mining

The US Forest Service is taking public comments on a proposed exploratory mining operation near the headwaters of Hot Creek in the Eastern Sierra that could lead to harmful open pit mining near this fishery. We need your help to stop it. This project is problematic and disastrous in many ways: KORE Mining wants to drill around Hot Creek for gold with no plan or guarantee that gold exists in that area. Dredging, excavation, and hydraulic mining will cause dramatic stream degradation. The proposal for the exploratory operation provides no information on how much water is needed, the depth of drilling, or the negative impact on the wildlife and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

State Water Board: Update on the oil and gas monitoring program

Hydraulic fracturing has occurred in California and nationwide for decades; however, recent advancements in horizontal drilling technologies and “well stimulation” techniques have been instrumental in triggering an oil and gas boom, making the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and gas reserves. California produces more oil than all but three other states (Texas, North Dakota and Alaska), and Kern County is responsible for more than 70 percent of the state’s oil production. Environmentalists and other members of the public became concerned that the hydraulic fracturing process may contaminate groundwater aquifers …

Aquafornia news The Hill

California pushes to ban fracking and oil extraction

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled a new initiative to ban new and future permits for hydraulic fracking beginning in 2024. The ban is part of California’s effort to move away from oil extraction to source fuel, focusing on developing renewable sources such as wind and solar. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the sourcing of oil from deep subterranean rocks, using a high-pressured water mixture drilled into the earth that releases natural gas and oil. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Environmental groups appeal federal court decision on Gross Reservoir Dam

While a decades-long battle over one major dam and river diversion in northern Colorado appeared to end last week, environmental groups signaled another fight will go on longer as they filed an appeal meant to undermine Denver Water’s Gross Dam expansion. The environmental coalition Monday asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a dismissal of their case by a federal district court and order a trial on the merits of their claims about the dangers of adding 131 feet to the height of Gross Reservoir Dam. They argue federal review agencies neglected species-protection laws and other guidelines when handing Denver Water a permit for Gross.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Poseidon water plant permit discussion continued to next week

Both proponents and opponents of the controversial Poseidon Water desalination plant in Huntington Beach made their voices heard Friday in an all-day virtual meeting that continued well into the night. In the end, however, a decision by the Santa Ana Regional Water Board on whether to permit Poseidon’s $1.4-billion project will have to wait until at least [this] week. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, with a third meeting on May 13, as necessary.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Newsom orders halt to new fracking in California starting in 2024 – and wants to end all drilling by 2045

Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the state Friday to stop issuing permits for the oil extraction method known as fracking by January 2024 and to draw up plans to end all fossil-fuel drilling in California by 2045 — the most sweeping declaration of its kind in the nation. … Eliminating all extraction would have far-reaching consequences in California, the nation’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil… [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Will desalination come to Huntington Beach? A water board hearing happens today

Questions have been raised over California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political maneuvers to push a controversial seawater desalination plant proposed for the Huntington Beach coastline. Critics say their concerns about the actual need for the project and its potential environmental effects remain. The company pushing it, Poseidon Water, remains steadfast in its intent to build a plant that would suck in 100 million gallons of seawater daily and make half of it drinkable….[The Regional Water Quality Control] board’s next hearing is scheduled for [Friday] April 23. If the board approves the permits, the project then goes for a final say from the state Coastal Commission. 

Aquafornia news Fullerton Observer

Opinion: Why California’s first-in-world plan to monitor microplastics in drinking water matters

Given a growing body of evidence that many chemicals in plastics pose human health risks, Californians should welcome recently-passed legislation putting the state on path to be the first to track microplastics in tap water. Because plastics are highly resistant to biodegradation, instead fragmenting into ever smaller bits, eventually reaching micron and nanometer dimensions (there are 25.4 million nanometers in one inch)—they travel unseen in wind and waterways so that even the most remote regions of the globe, like the Arctic seabed and summit of Mount Everest, are contaminated with microplastics. 
-Written by Sarah Mosko. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: How solar panels over water could help fight climate change

Install photovoltaic panels atop canals, and avoid the land-use battles over habitat protection and rural community character that are a growing roadblock for the solar industry. Save water in a drought-prone state that can use every last drop. …But when I’d heard these ideas floated in the past, I’d also heard skepticism from the people who run California’s water systems…. Then a surprising thing happened….
-Written by Sammy Roth, a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Water board committee recommends advancing Pure Water Monterey expansion

A committee for the Monterey One Water Board has recommended final certification of an environmental report crucial to the expansion of Pure Water Monterey, signaling increased momentum for the recycled water project. The five-member Recycled Water Committee of the Monterey One Water Board of Directors voted 4-0-1 on April 15 to recommend the board of directors certify the completed supplemental environmental impact report, or SEIR, needed for the expansion.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Battle lines set over proposal to drill for natural gas in Suisun Marsh

A new proposal to drill for natural gas in the East Bay has environmentalists up in arms, and not just because it’s a polluting fossil fuel. It’s the location that has people really upset. That’s because it’s in the Suisun Marsh, the largest marshland on the West Coast, a highly protected natural habitat for migratory birds, fish and wildlife. … A dozen environmental and community groups have submitted a letter opposing a plan by Brentwood-based Sunset Explorations to build an acre pad on private property in the marsh and drill an exploratory gas well there.

Aquafornia news Freethink

Solar canals in California could save 63 billion gallons of water a year

Solar canals: What if, instead of letting the sun dry up canals in drought-prone California, we covered them with solar panels?  It may sound weird — but solar panels and canals seem to make a brilliant combination. Instead of allowing the sun to evaporate the water in canals, solar panels can shade the precious liquid, while also capturing the sun’s energy.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California gold fever still reigns. New prospectors seek to reopen giant mine

For the past four years, a Canadian mining company has been in Nevada County, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, collecting samples of what it suspects is one of the world’s highest-grade underground gold deposits, potentially worth billions. … The legacy of gold, while widely celebrated, is not something that many in this area, now home to more retirees and Bay Area transplants than men in hard hats and overalls, want to revisit. … [T]he scars it left on the landscape remain visible, and unwanted. Creeks still get mucked up with iron and sulfuric acid from old mines. Soils contain arsenic left over from drilling. …

Aquafornia news The Signal

News release: SCV Water receives state PSPS grant

SCV Water, the Santa Clarita Valley’s water agency, received a nearly $250,000 California Special Districts Association Public Safety Power Shutoff program allocation from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The allocation will be used to help fund the installation of a permanent generator at the Earl Schmidt Filtration Plant on Lake Hughes Road near Castaic. The addition of this second generator brings the facility up to 100% operational capacity in the event of a power outage.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: If California is America’s climate leader, we’re all in trouble

As the latest evidence of extended drought and extreme wildfire danger confirms, California’s climate is changing quickly. Its policy on burning planet-warming fuels — not so much.  A state Senate bill to ban hydraulic fracturing and otherwise restrict oil and gas extraction died in its first committee Tuesday, with Gov. Gavin Newsom and three Democratic lawmakers withholding support. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plan to ban California fracking falls short in Legislature

A far-reaching proposal to outlaw hydraulic fracturing and ban oil and gas wells from operating near homes, schools and healthcare facilities failed in the California Legislature on Tuesday, a major setback for progressive leaders who hail the state as the nation’s bellwether on environmental protection. Gov. Gavin Newsom in September called on state lawmakers to ban fracking and voiced his support for safety buffer zones around wells …

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Patch

Ballona wetlands activists plan Earth Day protest

Ballona Wetlands activists and Westside residents are planning an Earth Day protest, calling on local leaders to shut down the Playa del Rey oil field and pushing back against what they call a disguised restoration project meant to restore the gas company’s infrastructure below the ecological reserve.

Aquafornia news Poseidon Water

News release: California Court of Appeal upholds state lands commission approval of Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant

Poseidon Water announced that the Third District California Court of Appeal issued a decision denying the petition by seawater desalination opponents to overturn the Sacramento County Superior Court’s 2019 ruling upholding the California State Lands Commission’s 2017 approval of an amended lease for the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project (“Project”). The Court of Appeal decision reaffirms that the State Lands Commission correctly analyzed the Project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and that the Project protects the state’s Public Trust resources.

Aquafornia news KQED

California could phase out fracking, other oil drilling under bill headed for first test in legislature

Legislation that would gradually phase out fracking and other extraction methods that account for most of California’s petroleum production faces its first big test in Sacramento on Tuesday. The nine-member Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee is set to vote on a proposal, Senate Bill 467, that would bar new permits for hydraulic fracturing, cyclic steaming, steam flooding and water flooding. The legislation would begin taking effect in 2023 and also prohibit renewing existing permits for fracking and the other targeted methods, which a committee bill analysis says accounts for an estimated 80% to 95% of the state’s oil production.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Suisun Marsh drilling plan re-evaluated after backlash

The Suisun Marsh — known as the largest swath of contiguous wetlands on the West Coast and a haven for thousands of migrating waterfowl — has become the Bay Area’s latest battleground between fossil fuel producers and environmentalists hellbent on fighting climate change. A Brentwood company, Sunset Exploration Inc., announced in January it wants to explore for natural gas by drilling a section of the 116,000-acre marshland about 9 miles southwest of Suisun City in an area known as Hunter’s Point, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Aquafornia news Grist

7 million Californians live near oil and gas wells. This bill could change that

Despite its green reputation, California has a big fossil fuel problem on its hands: neighborhood oil and gas drilling. In California, there’s nothing preventing frackers or drillers from setting up shop right next to your home, school, or hospital — and indeed, this is the reality for 7.4 million Californians currently living within 1 mile of oil and gas drilling operations, who are disproportionately non-white and low-income. Now, a new state bill called S.B. 467, slated for a hearing in the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, may reshape the lives of frontline communities by eliminating fracking and instituting mandatory buffer zones between oil and gas extraction and places where Californians live, work, and study. 

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Blog: California is greenlighting oil wells linked to groundwater pollution

Throughout 2020 and early 2021, California issued more than 300 permits to oil and gas companies for new underground injection wells — an intensive form of oil production and wastewater disposal. But the actual number of new injection wells is likely higher, owing to the state’s opaque approval process that has drawn scrutiny from auditors and environmentalists. Some of these undercounted wells may be polluting groundwater used for public drinking and agricultural purposes, according to regulatory filings reviewed by Capital & Main. The impact of injection wells on groundwater in California is understudied, regulators say. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Taiwan’s drought pits chip makers against farmers

Chuang Cheng-deng’s modest rice farm is a stone’s throw from the nerve center of Taiwan’s computer chip industry, whose products power a huge share of the world’s iPhones and other gadgets. This year, Mr. Chuang is paying the price for his high-tech neighbors’ economic importance. Gripped by drought and scrambling to save water for homes and factories, Taiwan has shut off irrigation across tens of thousands of acres of farmland. … Officials are calling the drought Taiwan’s worst in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous challenges involved in hosting the island’s semiconductor industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life. Chip makers use lots of water to clean their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that form the basis of the chips. 

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Opinion: Governor Newsom needs to protect the human right to water not water privatizers

Governor Gavin Newsom frequently says California is a leader in sustainability and the transition away from fossil fuels. The governor has also issued an executive order to fight climate change in response to the deadly wildfires that ravaged our state last year. Despite these public statements and official efforts, it’s puzzling that his administration has been promoting the climate-wrecking Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach as an infrastructure to source additional water for California. There are plenty of things we can do to ensure that Southern Californians have enough water to thrive…. 
-Written by Alejandro Sobrera, the Orange County Hub Coordinator for the Sunrise Movement, a youth led effort to bring about a just transition to a greener world.  

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Newsom California fracking ban vision exceeds original scope

When Gov. Gavin Newsom voiced his support last year for a ban on hydraulic fracturing by oil and gas companies, an effort long fought by the industry and trade unions alike, he gave Democrats a green light to send him legislation to achieve that goal as they saw fit. But the crackdown on oil and gas production under consideration by the California Legislature is much wider in scope than the plan requested by the governor, who may get more than he bargained for as he shoulders the pressures of carrying out the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response while battling a looming recall election. The ambitious proposal would outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and a series of other oil extraction methods reviled by environmental activists. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Justice

News release: California Department of Justice expresses concern over proposal to allow exploratory drilling in the Suisun Marsh

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) filed comments with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) regarding Sunset Exploration’s proposal to drill for natural gas in the Suisun Marsh. Located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this 88,000-acre wetland is home to a number of endangered and threatened species, including California Ridgway’s rail, black rail, and Chinook salmon – and is just a few short miles from environmental justice communities in Solano County…. DOJ urges the Army Corps to fully consider the proposal’s significant environmental impacts, including harm to these communities and protected species, as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions, before deciding whether to grant the requested permit.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

UC Merced study imagines solar panels atop irrigation canals

Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California.  The idea has already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as one of several options for boosting the solar part of its electricity supply.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Biden infrastructure plan – Water components

President Biden announced the first components of his proposed $2 trillion national infrastructure plan to rebuild failing, aging, and outdated water, energy, transportation, and communications systems. While the current information provides only the broadest outlines of his proposals, and the details will have to be worked out in specific legislation to be debated in Congress, it is clearly the most ambitious plan to have been put forward in many years.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge likely to advance PG&E suit over century-old pollution

Rejecting arguments that a utility can’t be sued over century-old pollution, a federal judge signaled Wednesday that he will likely advance a lawsuit seeking to hold Pacific Gas and Electric liable for contamination that occurred more than 100 years ago. … [Plaintiff and San Francisco resident Dan] Clarke claimed groundwater contamination stemming from the site of PG&E’s former gas plant “is intermittently discharged into the bay.” He said seasonal, tidal and other factors result in groundwater passing the former plant site and intermixing with contaminants before leaking into the San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden lays groundwork for environmental regulations

In the coming weeks, officials are expected to release a new plan for reaching the goals set out under the Paris Climate Agreement and recommend changes to several national monuments. More broadly, the administration is considering steps that could include taking a harder line on climate regulations. … The Biden administration has also listed dozens of Trump-era environmental rules across several agencies that it plans to review, including rules governing air quality standards, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Proposed natural gas well at edge of Bay Area riles up opposition, at odds with state’s climate goals

A Brentwood company’s proposal to drill a natural gas well in Suisun Marsh has become the latest flash point in California’s quest to fight climate change and transition away from fossil fuels. Sunset Exploration wants to search for a commercially viable amount of gas at the site of an abandoned well in the wetlands south of Suisun City. If the company finds enough fuel, the Solano County project could be operational for 20 years, connecting to a pipeline that would help heat homes and light stoves around the region. It’s the kind of proposal that, in a prior era, might have encountered little organized resistance. 

Aquafornia news Science News

Simple structures can help streams survive wildfires and drought

Many of the wetlands in the western United States have disappeared since the 1700s. California has lost an astonishing 90 percent of its wetlands, which includes streamsides, wet meadows and ponds. In Nevada, Idaho and Colorado, more than 50 percent of wetlands have vanished. Precious wet habitats now make up just 2 percent of the arid West — and those remaining wet places are struggling. Nearly half of U.S. streams are in poor condition, unable to fully sustain wildlife and people, says Jeremy Maestas, a sagebrush ecosystem specialist with the NRCS who organized that workshop on Wilde’s ranch in 2016. As communities in the American West face increasing water shortages, more frequent and larger wildfires and unpredictable floods, restoring ailing waterways is becoming a necessity.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: New DWR powerplant turbine helps California achieve clean energy future

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) took another step in its ambitious efforts to reduce climate change impacts by replacing an old electricity-generating turbine with a new, energy efficient model at the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Powerplant in Butte County that will help the Department achieve its goal of using 100 percent zero-emission resources by 2045.

Aquafornia news E&E News

‘Big structural change’: What greens want on infrastructure

Environmental groups are calling for massive spending on an infrastructure package they view as a generational opportunity to address climate change, ramping up pressure on Democrats to deliver on campaign trail promises on clean energy and environmental justice. As Democrats call for bipartisanship and Republicans demand a narrower and cheaper bill, greens will be warning the new congressional majority against giving in to GOP demands. That tension came to a head yesterday when reports emerged in The New York Times and The Washington Post that White House aides were working on an ambitious $3 trillion infrastructure legislative effort encompassing climate, taxes and income inequality.

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Energy

News release: DOE awards $27.5 million to 16 teams working to decarbonize U.S. water infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced awards totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure projects. Modern technology has the potential to reduce energy use in aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment, which demands up to 2% of domestic electricity use each year. These projects, operating in 13 states, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and water-treatment costs while improving water quality and equity of distribution nationwide. … They are based out of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Environmental groups challenge Trump’s decision to lease federal land for fracking

A new lawsuit brought by environmental groups against the Bureau of Land Management seeks to rescind leases for seven parcels of federal land auctioned to energy companies in the waning days of the Trump administration. They are the first federal land oil and gas leases of their kind to be sold in nearly a decade and would open vast tracts to oil exploration and fracking. The land in question sits in California’s Central Valley, an agricultural region that already experiences some of the worst air and water quality in the country.

Aquafornia news Anthropocene Magazine

Irrigation canals covered in solar panels are a powerful combination

Shading California’s irrigation canals with solar panels could reduce pollution from diesel irrigation pumps while saving a quarter of a billion cubic meters of water annually in an increasingly drought-prone state, a new study suggests. Pilot studies in India and small simulations have shown that so-called “solar canals” have lots of potential benefits: Shading the water with solar panels reduces water loss from evaporation and keeps aquatic weeds down. 

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: On World Water Day, reflecting on the value of water  

Water is one of the most valuable resources on the planet — we need it to survive, to stay clean and healthy, to grow food, to run businesses, to support ecosystems, and so much more. And yet clean, accessible, abundant water is often taken for granted, in part because its cost rarely reflects its true value. But anyone who has spent even a day, or a few hours, without access to water knows its vital importance. Still today over 2.2 billion people globally lack access to safe drinking water.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

City of Camarillo selects Inframark to operate its new desalter plant

Inframark LLC, has entered into a five-year partnership with the City of Camarillo, Calif., for the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the City’s new $66.3 million North Pleasant Valley Desalter. On January 13, the City Council unanimously approved Inframark’s proposal over three other international competitors. Inframark will also assist in the startup and commissioning of the brackish water reverse osmosis facility, which is currently under construction and is expected to be up and running this fall.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

‘Hasty’ California oil and gas lease sale draws suit against BLM

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided to sell oil and gas leases on public land in California for the first time in nearly a decade without taking a hard look at the environmental and public health impacts, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in a federal court in the state. The agency’s “hasty” environmental review ignored comments from experts and failed to consider evidence showing fracking could pollute already scarce groundwater resources, environmental groups say in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California filing. The decision violated the National Environmental Policy Act …

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Aquafornia news Ecowatch

Blog: Installing solar panels over canals could save gallons of water

Installing solar panels over California’s network of water canals could save the state an estimated 63 billion gallons of water and produce 13 gigawatts of renewable power every year, according to a feasibility study published in Nature Sustainability. California moves more water than any other system in the world, with 75% of the state’s available water in its northern third and the southern two-thirds accounting for 80% of the state’s demand. Covering the canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation by shading the canals from the sun (along with the co-benefit of reducing canal-choking plant growth) and the cooling effects of the water could boost solar panel efficiency.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun and ProPublica

California oil regulator CalGEM struggles with enforcement, fines

Tucked out of sight, oil wells run thousands of feet deep, tapping thick crude from one of California’s many urban oil fields. And in the fall of 2019, investigators with the state’s oil agency flagged trouble. Nasco Petroleum was injecting huge amounts of water into well bores above the legal pressure limits, aiming to push more crude out of the aging downtown field. … The wells, investigators wrote in a report to a manager, posed “immediate” risks to drinking water aquifers.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Fish in hot water – Moments that write history #7

As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and cultural significance by local communities, and for their recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And perhaps an even better question: what can be done about it? 

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Putting solar panels on California canals could solve two crises

A new analysis finds that covering water canals in California with solar panels could save a lot of water and money while generating renewable energy. Doing so would generate between 20% and 50% higher return on investment than would be achieved by building those panels on the ground. The paper, published Thursday in Nature Sustainability, performs what its authors call a techno-economic analysis, calculating the impacts and weighing the costs and benefits of potentially covering the thousands of miles of California’s open irrigation system.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

The Biden administration’s critical role in Indian Country

Tribal leaders see President Joe Biden’s administration as an opportunity to increase tribal consultation regarding issues like water management, oil and gas leasing, and land conservation. Here, we look at four major projects … that the new administration is tasked with advancing…. Negotiations among federal, tribal and state governments on water flows and allocations in the Colorado River Basin began last year and are set to conclude by 2026…. After years of political, social and regulatory barriers, the undamming of the Klamath River is within sight…. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: The race is on to strike lithium at California’s Salton Sea

[The Salton Sea is] drying up, spewing harmful dust into the Imperial Valley’s already badly polluted air. There are countless stories to be told around the Salton Sea. To me, one of the most fascinating is about lithium. … I wrote about the increasingly bright prospects for Salton Sea lithium extraction in October 2019. Today, I’ve got several updates on the companies trying to make the Imperial Valley the first major source of North American lithium production — including the entrance of some powerful new players.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A corporation wants to mine for gold near Death Valley. Native tribes are fighting it

Spurred by the rising price of gold, K2 Gold Corp., of Vancouver, Canada, is drilling and trenching in hopes of selling its findings or partnering with a bigger company that would, perhaps, transform the public lands into an open pit cyanide heap leach mine, just a few miles from Death Valley. … Opponents … worry about air pollution … and the water required for mining gold. Pumping out millions of gallons from desert aquifers, or underground lakes, they fear, could exhaust regional springs in valuable wildlife habitat, and attract wildlife to ponds of cyanide-laced water.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

PG&E settles lawsuit over century-old gas plant pollution

Pacific Gas and Electric will pay to remove soil possibly tainted by century-old gas plants and investigate groundwater contamination in a San Francisco shoreline area under the terms of a deal announced Monday. The agreement represents the third and final settlement reached in a lawsuit filed in 2014 over pollution from manufactured gas plants operated by PG&E in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Under the deal entered Monday, PG&E will fund a study on how to remove or mitigate contamination from an underground storage tank on the former site of its North Beach gas plant, which stopped operating after it was damaged in the Great Earthquake of 1906.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Deb Haaland becomes first Native American Cabinet Secretary

Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico made history on Monday when the Senate confirmed her as President Biden’s secretary of the Interior, making her the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency. … Beyond the Interior Department’s responsibility for the well-being of the nation’s 1.9 million Native people, it oversees about 500 million acres of public land, federal waters off the United States coastline, a huge system of dams and reservoirs across the Western United States and the protection of thousands of endangered species.

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Aquafornia news KQED

Environmental groups urge feds to reject gas drilling project in North Bay wetland

Local political leaders and a dozen Bay Area environmental groups are urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject a permit proposal for an exploratory natural gas drilling project in Suisun Marsh. The 88,000-acre wetland in Solano County — the largest contiguous brackish marsh on the west coast of North America — lies near the North Bay cities of Fairfield and Benicia, at the mouth of the vast Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta where the salty waters of San Francisco Bay mix with river water to create an estuary ecosystem that is home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals, including river otter, tule elk and the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

Judge denies attempt to block approval of Los Cerritos wetlands land swap for oil wells

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled that the California Coastal Commission did not abuse its power when it approved a land-swap deal in 2018 that will allow for the rehabilitation of 150 acres of wetlands, but also the development of up to 120 new oil wells. In a 22-page tentative ruling, Judge Mary Strobel denied a request to stop the project in the Los Cerritos wetlands in the southeastern part of the city. Strobel’s ruling said that the commission did not misinterpret the Coastal Act in approving the deal, and the public benefits of the project were correctly weighed before voting to approve the deal.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Judge rules against LADWP in irrigation fight

A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly unreliable.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Opinion: Regulatory failures could spell disaster for county’s farms, groundwater

It was a chilly morning in 2010 when Oxnard farmworkers, tending to their broccoli crops, discovered an oily sheen floating on their irrigation water. In a nearby oilfield, a tank of diluent — a carcinogenic mix of benzene, toluene, and diesel — had sprung a leak. … A decade later, we still face the same dangers. Right in the heart of our prime farmland, which infuses Ventura County with over two billion dollars annually. We’re risking that vital economy for the dregs: Tar Sands becomes bunker fuel and asphalt — not gasoline. And annually, Tar Sands extraction in Oxnard could use up approximately 12 Olympic-size swimming pools worth of drinkable water — just to make steam.
-Written by Liz Beall, executive director of Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas. 

Aquafornia news The Union

Editorial: Do you live on top of the Idaho-Maryland Mine?

Many people in Grass Valley, Calif., live and work over the Idaho-Maryland Mine without realizing it. A lot of information about the location of the two surface sites and the project features has been circulated, but not much has been shared about the sheer size of the project underground and how that may affect us. … Wells are of even greater concern. Due to dewatering of the mine, there will be lowering of the ground water levels in the area. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Congress has opportunity to protect Grand Canyon region

The Grand Canyon Protection Act was recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Raύl Grijalva and passed in the House and has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The bills will permanently protect about 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon from the harmful and lasting damage of new uranium mining. … This legislation is critical to stopping the threats that mining poses to water quality and quantity, unique habitats and wildlife pathways, and to sacred places. 
-Written by Sandy Bahr, director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, and Amber Wilson Reimondo, Energy Program director with Grand Canyon Trust.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: Groups sue over California county’s plan to drill oil wells

Environmental and community groups have sued a California county after the prime oil-drilling region approved a plan to fast-track thousands of new wells in a state that’s positioned itself as a leader in combating climate change. The Kern County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved a revised ordinance that could lead to approval of more than 40,000 new oil and gas wells over roughly 15 years. … The oil and gas industry faces challenges from California lawmakers and environmental groups for creating air and water pollution and contributing to climate change.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Energy companies have left Colorado with billions of dollars in oil and gas cleanup

When an oil or gas well reaches the end of its lifespan, it must be plugged. If it isn’t, the well might leak toxic chemicals into groundwater and spew methane, carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere for years on end. … There are nearly 60,000 unplugged wells in Colorado in need of this treatment — each costing $140,000 on average, according to the Carbon Tracker, a climate think tank, in a new report that analyzes oil and gas permitting data. Plugging this many wells will cost a lot —more than $8 billion, the report found.

Aquafornia news The Log

Huntington Beach desalination plant hearings expected to resume in April

Hearings have been scheduled to resume in April for Poseidon Water’s controversial proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant. Last April the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region was expected to vote on renewing a permit for the proposed $1 billion project but the workshop was canceled due to COVID-19. A hearing scheduled for September was also delayed so Poseidon could have more time to address water board concerns.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Editorial: Newsom right to boost Huntington Beach desalination facility

Opponents of a proposed desalination facility along the Huntington Beach coastline are aghast that Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken steps to help end a years-long regulatory logjam. Although an environmentalist, the governor clearly recognizes the importance of developing new water sources to meet California’s needs. Privately funded facilities plants that turn saltwater into drinking water aren’t the only solution to California’s water shortages, but they are one solution. For instance, a similar plant in Carlsbad has the capacity to meet 9 percent of San Diego County’s water needs. That’s an enormous contribution, especially with another drought looming.

Aquafornia news Del Norte Triplicate

Low-level thinning can help restore redwood forests without affecting stream temperatures

Selectively cutting trees in riparian zones to aid forest restoration can be done without adversely affecting streams’ water temperature as long as the thinning isn’t too intensive, new research by Oregon State University shows. … Northern California is well known for its groves of large, iconic redwood trees. However, intensive logging removed most of the old-growth forests from this region and less than 10% of those forests remain. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Plan to allow thousands of California oil wells approved

A plan to fast-track drilling of thousands of new oil and gas wells over the next 15 years in California’s prime oil patch was approved Monday by Kern County officials over objections by environmental groups….The ordinance came up for discussion as the industry faces challenges from lawmakers as well as ever-present opposition from environmental groups for creating air and water pollution and significant contributions to climate change.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Column: Desalination plan stinks all the way to Gov. Newsom’s office

[D]esalination may have a role to play in addressing California’s long-running water shortage issues. After all, we’ve got a 1,100-mile coastline in a drought-stricken state, and it’s only natural to think: Hey, let’s just stick a straw in the ocean, and our rabid thirst will be quenched once and for all. But desalination comes with many costs, including big hits to the environment and ratepayer pocketbooks. And as Susan Jordan, executive director of the California Coastal Protection Network, puts it, we need to temper our lust for what seems an easy fix.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Plan to allow thousands of California oil wells faces vote

After a state appeals court blocked Kern County’s effort to speed up new oil and gas drilling, officials overseeing the state’s prime oil patch have revised an ordinance that could permit tens of thousands of new wells over the next 15 years. The Kern County Board of Supervisors is poised to vote Monday on the plan that would streamline the permitting process by creating a blanket environmental impact report for drilling as many as 2,700 wells a year. … The county hasn’t been able to issue permits in a year and the industry is facing challenges from lawmakers as well as environmental groups for creating air and water pollution and for significant contributions to climate change.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Opinion: San Diego’s successful desal plant should be a model for California water policy

Often the value of a plan or project can best be judged by its opposition. In the case of the proposed Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach, the forces lined up against it are clear indicators that it’s a worthwhile enterprise. The Sierra Club calls the plant “rather pathetic,” “the most expensive and environmentally damaging way to secure Orange County’s future water supply.”
-Written by Kerry Jackson, a fellow in the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute. 

Aquafornia news Navajo Times

Diné leaders: Haaland good for Navajo

One of the first two Native American women to be elected to Congress, Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) is well on her way to being confirmed as the first Native American to serve as secretary of the Interior. Last week, Haaland went before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for her confirmation hearing in which she answered questions for two days. Today the committee will host a business meeting to consider the nomination of Haaland and members can vote in person or by proxy.

Aquafornia news PV Magazine International

Floating PV plant at California water treatment facility

White Pine Renewables has completed a floating solar array in northern California that the company claims is the largest such project in the United States. The 4.8 MW Healdsburg Floating Solar Project was installed on ponds at a wastewater treatment plant in Healdsburg, California. It will deliver energy to the city under under a 25-year power purchase agreement. The company chose the project site and floating PV approach to help reduce evaporation and algae growth at the ponds. The electricity will cover around 8% of the city’s total energy demand and move it toward its goal of 60% renewable energy usage before 2030.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: Want to save energy and fight climate change? Use less water

[A]s often as I write about the importance of building clean power infrastructure to fight climate change, the cheapest, easiest way to reduce emissions is to use less energy in the first place. And in Los Angeles, at least, one of the cheapest, easiest ways to use less energy is to use less water.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

The biggest coal power plant in the American West closed. What happens with the Colorado River water it used?

The coal-fired power plant that sat on Navajo Nation land in the northeastern corner of Arizona did not just generate electricity. It also drew water from the Colorado River, an essential input for cooling the plant’s machinery. What happens to that water now that the plant is being decommissioned? Who gets to decide how it is used? In a drying region in which every drop of water is accounted for and parceled out, the stakes are high and the legal claims are unresolved.

Aquafornia news Lake Powell Chronicle

Blog: Is Lake Powell doomed?

On Feb. 22, 2021, Lake Powell was 127.24 feet below ‘Full Pool’ or, by content, about 38% full. Based on water level elevations, these measurements do not account for years of sediment (clay, silt, and sand) accumulation—the millions of metric tons on the bottom. Geologist James L. Powell said, “The Colorado delivers enough sediment to Lake Powell to fill 1,400 ship cargo containers each day.” In other words, Lake Powell is shrinking toward the middle from top and bottom. The lake is down over 30 feet from one year ago, and estimates suggest it could drop another 50 feet by 2026. The Bureau of Reclamation estimated the lifespan of Glen Canyon Dam at 500–700 years. Other estimates aren’t as optimistic, including some as low as 50 years. 

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Water Authority to split $44.4m among local agencies after win in legal battle with MWD

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors Thursday announced a plan to distribute a rebate of $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies across the region. They did so after receiving a check for that amount from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest after a long legal battle. The money resulted from the water authority’s decade-long litigation in Superior Court seeking to compel MWD to set legal rates and repay overcharges. 

Aquafornia news Business Wire

Sterling awarded $135 million dam project in California

Sterling Construction Company, Inc. today announced that its subsidiary, Road and Highway Builders, LLC, has been awarded a $135 million heavy civil contract by the City of Los Angeles for the construction of the North Haiwee Dam No. 2 in Inyo County, CA. …The project will also involve the rerouting of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which supplies clean drinking water to the city of Los Angeles, to allow for the appropriate tie-ins for the dam construction. 

Aquafornia news Office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

News release: Feinstein to chair Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on being named chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over funding levels for the Department of Energy, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal agencies related to our nation’s energy and water infrastructure programs.

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Groups call Lake Powell hydropower project unsustainable

Federal regulators have issued a preliminary permit for a pumped-hydropower project using water from Lake Powell, but conservation groups say climate change could make the plan unsustainable. The project would pump water from the lake, drain it downhill to a generator, and send the power to massive batteries for storage. The 2,200-megawatt project would supply cities in Arizona, California and Nevada, over lines previously used by the retired Navajo Generating Station. Gary Wockner, executive director for Save the Colorado, which opposes the plan, said falling water levels will make the Colorado River Basin an unreliable source of water.

Aquafornia news BBC News

Extinction: Freshwater fish in ‘catastrophic’ decline

Conservation groups said 80 species were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone. Millions of people rely on freshwater fish for food and as a source of income through angling and the pet trade. But numbers have plummeted due to pressures including pollution, unsustainable fishing, and the damming and draining of rivers and wetlands. The report said populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in the last 50 years. Over the same time period, populations of larger species, known as “megafish”, have crashed by 94%.

Aquafornia news East County Today

City of Antioch breaks ground on water project in Delta

On Friday,  the City of Antioch, along with local and State dignitaries, broke ground on their new and historic Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million, the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

Aquafornia news Wired

Opinion: The energy sector must prepare for more extreme weather

Texas has always seen its share of extreme weather events, but over the past two decades they have intensified. A few years ago, after the fifth “ 500-year flood” in five years, I remarked to a friend, “We’re going to have to stop calling them that.” … Of course, this uptick in extreme weather is not limited to Texas. Numerous places across the country—and indeed the globe—have experienced multiple “historic” weather events in recent years. Last year, droughts in California led to six of the largest wildfires in the state’s history. In 2017 and 2018, British Columbia had two consecutive record-setting forest fire seasons.
-Written by Robert Rapier, a chemical engineer with over 25 years of experience in the energy industry.  

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom pushes private seawater desalting plant over local and environmental opposition

When Gov. Gavin Newsom was photographed dining at an opulent Napa Valley restaurant during a surge in coronavirus cases, many Californians saw it as hypocrisy. For opponents of a planned $1-billion desalination plant along the Orange County coast, however, the optics were menacing. The unmasked Newsom was celebrating the birthday of a lobbyist for Poseidon Water, which is close to obtaining final government approval for one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: CalTrout v. Goliath — a monumental victory at Mono Lake

There are six Mono Lake tributaries to be exact – Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, Walker, Wilson, and Mill creeks. And the fact is Mono Lake never had any surplus water; its fullness has always depended on the amount of water running into it. So as soon as some of that water was cut off, which began in 1941, the Lake started to plummet and the entire ecosystem dependent on those “half a dozen little mountain brooks” soon followed. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: What California needs to do to avoid a Texas-style electricity crisis

California and Texas, the country’s two most populous states, have each faced major energy crises within the past six months that share a primary cause: extreme weather….The Lone Star State’s plight is many orders of magnitude worse than the rolling blackouts Californians endured over two blistering days in August. Yet both situations have exposed the extent to which the United States’ vital energy infrastructure is threatened by erratic and extreme weather conditions that are becoming increasingly common as climate change advances.

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Another low return for Klamath kings in 2020

Following a disappointing 2019 adult fall run on the Klamath, 2020 proved to be only slightly better. Unfortunately, the numbers weren’t enough to get us out of the “overfished” category, and it’s likely we’ll have some severe restrictions both in the ocean and in the Klamath and Trinity rivers in 2021. … According to CDFW, the number of returning fall run kings in 2020 was 45,407, about half the long-term average. In 2019 only 37,270 adult kings returned. The return of fall Chinook jacks was 9,037 fish, which is also below the long-term average of 17,740.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Herring fishermen sue Chevron over California oil leak

A pipeline rupture that gushed hundreds of gallons of oil into the San Francisco Bay spurred a class action filed Tuesday that accuses a Chevron refinery of prioritizing profits over safety and threatening the survival of herring in the area for years to come. … On Feb. 9, a Chevron refinery in the East Bay city of Richmond, California, discovered a pipeline leak that oozed about 700 gallons of a substance described interchangeably by Chevron as “a mixture of recovered oil and gasoline”, “petroleum and water mixture” and “hydrocarbons.”

Aquafornia news Eos

Adaptation can compound climate change impacts on energy and water

In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, [Julia] Szinai and her colleagues present a framework that outlines the links between and vulnerabilities of [California's] energy and water systems. The findings can be used to evaluate how both climate change and our adaptation decisions might affect the interconnected systems. It’s a first and an “exhaustive” quantification of the linkages between energy and water…

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘A clear danger’: oil spill in California city revives calls to cut ties with Chevron

Emergency crews in Richmond, California, are rushing to clean up an estimated 600 gallons of oil that spilled from a Chevron refinery into the San Francisco Bay. Details on the spill are still scant, but the emergency has reinvigorated calls from residents and environmentalists for the city to change its relationship with the refinery.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

How your water heater works can be a secret weapon in the climate change fight

Nearly every home has a water heater, but people tend not to think about it until the shock of a cold shower signals its failure. To regulators, though, the ubiquitous household appliance is increasingly top of mind for the role it could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and weaning the power grid from fossil fuels High-tech electric water heaters can double as thermal batteries, storing excess production from wind and solar generators. In California, officials aim to install them in place of millions of gas water heaters throughout the state. That would reduce the need to fire up polluting fossil fuel power plants to supply electricity for water heating after the sun sets. 

Aquafornia news The Center Square

California water users petition to end proposed Klamath River dam demolition

A Northern California water users’ association has filed a motion against a $450 million plan to tear down four dams on the Klamath River they claim irrevocably hurts local homeowners. The motion was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Wednesday by the Murphy and Buchal Law firm on behalf of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association. It claims the interstate agreement reached by Oregon and California last year to remove the dams has incurred “irreparable damage” to lakefront home values in the COPCO Lake area as water levels are feared to decline.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Chevron oil spill: Neighbors ‘really scared’ after 600-gallon spill near Richmond refinery

The Chevron refinery in Richmond is investigating an oil spill Tuesday afternoon, according to city and county officials. The spill happened in what’s called the “Long Wharf” off Point Richmond, where a sheen can be seen on the top of the water at Bear Point.

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Aquafornia news 23 ABC News

City officials to discuss revisions to oil zoning for local gas, oil permitting

Oil and gas remain an important topic in Kern county and come Thursday, county officials are expected to discuss revisions to a zoning ordinance focused on oil and gas local permitting. This is an ordinance that’s years in the making and its faced challenges along the way. The initial review was approved by the board of supervisors back in 2015, but last year after a court ruling it was challenged, so now the county’s planning commission is revisiting this topic once more. … However, advocates against the proposed ordinance say they are concerned with environmental impacts of the air, water, and noise concerns that may follow if the ordinance is approved.

Aquafornia news The New Republic

The Colorado River crisis is a national crisis

The Colorado River supports over 40 million people spread across seven southwestern states, 29 tribal nations, and Mexico. It’s responsible for the irrigation of roughly 5.5 million acres of land marked for agricultural use. Local and regional headlines show the river is in crisis. The nation mostly isn’t listening.

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Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

Water warning: The looming threat of the world’s aging dams

Tens of thousands of large dams across the globe are reaching the end of their expected lifespans, leading to a dramatic rise in failures and collapses, a new UN study finds. These deteriorating structures pose a serious threat to hundreds of millions of people living downstream…. In 2017, a spillway collapsed at the 50-year-old Oroville Dam in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the evacuation of around 180,000 people. The 770-foot dam is the highest in the U.S. and, after repairs to the spillway, remains critical to the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Updated analysis could alter Klamath water supplies

A detailed analysis released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation could change its approach in operating the Klamath Project in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

Aquafornia news NPR

Biden wants to move fast on climate change. Is it fast enough?

In a flurry of first-week executive orders, President Biden sent a definitive message that his administration would move faster on climate change than any before. Now, the question is whether it will be fast enough. Scientists warn that the coming decade will be critical for slowing heat-trapping emissions, potentially keeping average annual global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the mid-19th century. Right now, the world is on track for an increase of 3 degrees Celsius, a level that ensures more destructive wildfires and hurricanes, devastation for coral reefs and rising seas flooding the coastlines.

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Aquafornia news Wild Rivers Outpost

Klamath River Renewal Corporation hires contractor to spearhead post-dam removal habitat restoration

The organization tasked with removing four dams on the Klamath River has contracted with Resource Environmental Solutions to spearhead habitat restoration work. The Bellaire, Texas firm will be the lead restoration contractor for the project led by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. In hiring RES, KRRC meets federal and state permitting requirements, according to a Friday news release from Business Wire.

Aquafornia news ABC7 KRCR

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: DWR secures additional $300M for Oroville Dam spillway repairs

The California Department of Water Resources has secured $308 million in funding to pay for reconstruction and repair work that has been done on the Oroville Dam’s spillways. The funds, released by FEMA, are in addition to the $260 million that the agency provided for repairs on the lower portion of the dam’s main spillway. Repair work on the damaged emergency and main spillways has been ongoing for nearly four years following February 2017’s spillway crisis. The $308 million announced Monday was at first rejected but later approved by FEMA following an appeal from the DWR last year.

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Aquafornia news OutThere Colorado

Creating Colorado’s largest body of water meant destroying a thriving mountain town

The largest body of water in Colorado, Blue Mesa Reservoir is nothing to scoff at. Found in the southern portion of the state, Blue Mesa Reservoir is 20-miles-long, home to 96 miles of shoreline, and constrained by a 390-foot-tall dam. However, before this man-made reservoir and popular outdoor recreation spot existed, the area was home to a thriving mountain town that has since been wiped off the map. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Will California’s new climate leaders rise to the challenge?

Newly appointed leaders at the California Air Resources Board began this year with a monumental task ahead of them. California’s progress on climate change is slipping – and it will take bold leadership and a visionary approach to put the state back on track. … For the first time in six years, California’s greenhouse gas emissions ticked upward in 2018…
-Written by F. Noel Perry, businessman and founder of Next 10, and Hoyu Chong, practice lead for sustainable growth and development at Beacon Economics.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2020

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce health, safety and environmental impacts. … Colorado approved new, nation-leading well integrity rules designed to prevent oil and gas wells from leaking methane to the atmosphere, befouling groundwater resources and causing explosions that can harm workers and communities. 

Aquafornia news PV Magazine USA

Drought conditions could impact power generation in the West

Ongoing drought in parts of the West could trigger water conservation measures across seven states this year. It would mark the first time that cutbacks outlined in drought contingency plans drafted two years ago have been put in place. Everything from hydroelectric power generation to agricultural production to the bubbling fountains at Las Vegas casinos could be impacted. Impacts on hydro generation could have ripple effects across the Southwest, including solar and energy storage.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Biden faces tough climate balancing act on public lands

The Trump administration left President Biden a dilemma in the California desert: a plan to remove protections from millions of acres of public lands and open vast areas to solar and wind farms. Biden’s team could easily block the proposed changes, which were slammed by conservationists as a last-gasp effort by the outgoing administration to support private industry at the expense of wildlife habitat and treasured landscapes….There are also places to put solar and wind installations besides intact habitat, including Central Valley farmland with dwindling water supplies … 

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Aquafornia news KUNC

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Upper Colorado River drought plan triggered for first time

Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan. The 24-month study released in January by the Bureau of Reclamation, which projects two years of operations at the river’s biggest reservoirs, showed Lake Powell possibly dipping below an elevation of 3,525 feet above sea level in 2022. That elevation was designated as a critical threshold in the agreement to preserve the ability to produce hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam. 

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Aquafornia news KCLU

New solar farm helping Conjeo Valley water district go green, saving millions in the process

A Conejo Valley water district is going green in a way which will reduce pollution and save millions of dollars.  A new five-megawatt solar farm is cutting power consumption by the Los Virgenes Municipal Water District.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Activists want Biden to protect Grand Canyon, restore national monuments

Wind rustles the barbed fence surrounding Canyon Mine as Amber Reimondo patrols its perimeter. For the last four years under the Trump administration, Reimondo, the energy director for the Grand Canyon Trust, has worked to make the temporary Obama-era uranium mining ban around the Grand Canyon permanent. So far, her efforts have not paid off.  But with an impending change in presidents, Reimondo hopes change is in the wind. 

Aquafornia news UCLA

News Release: Could the ocean hold the key to reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Most experts agree that halting climate change — and the global warming, extreme heat events and stronger storms that come with it — will require the removal of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. But with humans pumping out an estimated 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, current strategies for capturing it seem likely to fall short. Now, a UCLA research team has proposed a pathway that could help extract billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. Instead of directly capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide, the technology would extract it from seawater, enabling the seawater to absorb more. Why? Because, per unit volume, seawater holds nearly 150 times more carbon dioxide than air.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: The permanent heat wave — 2020 rivals 2016 for Earth’s hottest year on record

The year 2020 was either tied for the hottest on record or second hottest — an unwelcome distinction whichever you choose to go with. Two reports released Thursday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while measuring heat a bit differently, both show the planet was more than 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer last year than the 20th century average, highlighting an unrelenting shift toward a hotter and less-hospitable future. The heat hit California head on. 

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

A second chance for Eel River salmon and steelhead? 

For many years Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has operated the “Potter Valley Project,” a hydroelectric facility on the main stem of the Eel River consisting of Scott and Cape Horn dams and a tunnel diverting water into the Russian River watershed, where it is used to generate a small amount of electricity and for irrigation by farmers in Potter Valley and farther south in Sonoma County.  The construction of Scott Dam in 1922 completely blocked passage of critically imperiled anadromous fish including salmon, steelhead and lamprey…

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Sunlight powers portable, inexpensive systems to produce drinking water

The U.S. Department of Energy will soon announce semifinalists for its Solar Desalination Prize. The goal: a system that produces 1,000 liters of usable water for $1.50… Such systems could surmount a big downside of reverse osmosis: it typically desalinates only half of the input saltwater, and the solution left behind eventually builds up enough salt to clog the membrane…

Aquafornia news PV Magazine USA

Water use in the West can hurt…or help…the energy sector, report says

A team of researchers have developed a framework to evaluate complex connections between water and energy, and options for adaptations in response to an evolving climate. Their study, “Evaluating cross-sectoral impacts of climate change and adaptations on the energy-water nexus: A framework and California case study,” was published in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Researchers offer framework for evaluating climate change impacts on state’s water, energy systems

As the planet continues to warm, the twin challenges of diminishing water supply and growing energy demand will intensify. But water and energy are inextricably linked. For instance, nearly a fifth of California’s energy goes toward water-related activities, while more than a tenth of the state’s electricity comes from hydropower. As society tries to adapt to one challenge, it needs to ensure it doesn’t worsen the other. 

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Aquafornia news Data Center Frontier

Tackling data center water usage amid historic droughts, wildfires

The seven-year-long California drought that ended in early 2019 and the wildfires that ensued are just two recent events that have cast a spotlight on the far-reaching consequences of worsening water shortages…. Data centers are under particular scrutiny. In the U.S. alone they are expected to consume an estimated 174 billion gallons of water in 2020. A 15-megawatt data center can use up to 360,000 gallons of water a day.

Aquafornia news Sonora Union Democrat

TUD efforts to acquire PG&E water rights and infrastructure ’still on track’

Tuolumne Utilities District efforts to acquire water rights and infrastructure from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. were slowed by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but TUD’s general manager said that negotiations with the utility giant are “still on track,” and he is optimistic an agreement could be reached this year.

Aquafornia news Quartz

Geothermal is the electricity combating climate change

Jason Czapla is walking across a former lake bed in the middle of southern California. The ground simmers at our feet as little mud volcanoes disgorge piles of hot, sulfurous muck. The Salton Sea glitters in the distance, beckoning as the morning temperature approaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Aquafornia news Healdsburg Tribune

City floating solar array project nearing completion

A city floating three-megawatt solar array project that will produce roughly 6.5 million kilo-watt hours — enough energy to supply 8% of Healdsburg’s annual energy needs — is nearing completion and will likely be up and running and energized by the end of this year….The final design will float roughly 11,600 solar panels on the city’s recycled water ponds at the wastewater treatment plant… 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: East Bay Municipal Utility District wins 2020 Best in Blue Award

The Association of California Water Agencies presented its Huell Howser Best in Blue Award to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) for its highly successful Public Safety Power Shutoffs Outreach Campaign. EBMUD conducted an unprecedented public outreach campaign to educate its customers about the impacts of pre-emptive power shutoffs on its water and wastewater systems.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Audit of CalGEM says California oil regulators issued improper permits

California oil regulators ignored their own regulations and issued improper permits for hundreds of new wells last year, according to an audit … finalized this week. … The audit was requested after stories in The Desert Sun revealed that CalGEM employees used so-called “dummy” folders to approve new injection wells for several oil companies that do risky steam injection.

Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: CSPA opposes Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts’ petition for waiver of Clean Water Act

Joining a growing list, Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts filed a Petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking that the commission find that the State of California has waived certification under the Clean Water Act. … The Districts are seeking a new FERC license for two hydropower projects on the Tuolumne River, the Don Pedro Project and the La Grange Project.

Aquafornia news Action News Now

Lake Oroville needs and safety assessment released

The Department of Water Resources recently published a summary report of a comprehensive needs assessment of safety at Oroville Dam. It comes after the reconstruction of the spillways that were damaged and failed in 2017.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Podcast: Craig Tucker on Klamath dam agreement

Karuk Tribe natural resources spokesperson Craig Tucker joined John Howard to talk about the historic agreement, its impact on the region’s Salmon fisheries, and the potential for replication in other places where dams are contested.

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Aquafornia news Sonoma West Times & News

Windsor floating solar panel project up and running

The solar installation consists of 4,959 high-output solar panels mounted atop a floating solar racking system. The system will generate power for the Windsor Wastewater Reclamation Facility, Public Works Corporation Yard and the Geysers pump station, delivering approximately 90% of the water reclamation facilities’ power requirements while saving about 30% of the electricity cost based on the facilities’ existing grid service…

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Tesla to help power Santa Barbara’s Cater Water Treatment Plant

At a time when every other car on the South Coast seems to be a Tesla, it’s fitting that the City of Santa Barbara will soon be relying on a small mountain of Tesla storage batteries to help move water in and out of its Cater Water Treatment Plant…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

PG&E hires new CEO to confront wildfire risk

PG&E Corp. named a new CEO on Wednesday, hiring a Michigan utility executive to run California’s largest utility as it confronts the state’s mounting wildfire risks following a stint in bankruptcy. Patricia K. “Patti” Poppe, who has been CEO of Michigan-based CME Energy Corp., will take over Jan. 4.

Aquafornia news Greenbiz.com

In the 1980s, solar water heaters took off in Israel, but stalled in the U.S. It’s a simple fix

For Gershon Grossman and Ed Murray, 1978 was a big year. Grossman, then a solar energy pioneer at Technion, Israel’s premier technological institute, was launching the first International Conference on the Application of Solar Energy. Murray, an idealist attending college, joined an upstart solar heating company in Sacramento, California’s capital… Four decades later, however, they live in two different worlds.

Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Yuba Water files lawsuit against State Water Resources Control Board

The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s requirements to obtain what is called a water quality certification.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Overlooked Army Corps rulemaking would shrink federal stream protections

The Army Corps of Engineers … is considering another rule change that would also shrink federal protection of small streams, ecologists and lawyers say. The Corps said in its proposal it is acting in response to the president’s order to review regulations that burden energy development. Some of the proposed changes will have essentially the same consequence as the Trump administration’s contraction of the Clean Water Act…

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Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Plan in works to keep Long Beach’s Alamitos Bay circulating for water quality

A decade ago, the State Water Resources Control Board decreed that electricity providers had to stop using water to cool their generating plants. … But fulfilling that edict could cause water quality in Alamitos Bay to go very bad very quickly.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

FERC declaratory order finding waiver of California Section 401 authority challenged in Ninth Circuit

The California State Water Resources Control Board and a group of environmental organizations each have filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of FERC orders finding that the Water Board waived its authority under section 401 of the Clean Water Act to issue a water quality certification in the ongoing relicensing of Merced Irrigation District’s Merced River and Merced Falls Projects.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Enviros and industry fight feds in Supreme Court FOIA case

Should the public have access to documents that show why the federal government changed its stance on the impact an EPA rule would have on vulnerable species? That’s the question the Supreme Court will set out to answer Monday in the case Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, which deals with a Freedom of Information Act request for documents underpinning a 2014 rule for cooling water intake structures at power plants.

Aquafornia news Spectrum 1 News

Environmental groups torn over fight for Ballona Wetlands

Many who oppose the restoration project say it includes a plan to install new infrastructure adjacent to the wetlands. “The last thing we need when we are in a crisis of climate change is to build new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said representatives for The Sierra Club Ballona Wetlands Restoration Committee. And who is investing in fossil fuel use? SoCalGas owns a natural gas facility adjacent to the wetlands.

Aquafornia news Ensia.com

Why aren’t solar water heaters more popular in the U.S.?

In the U.S., the number of households that have a solar water heater is less than 1%. In California, many people don’t even know the technology exists. … Heating water accounts for 25% of residential energy use worldwide, mostly achieved by burning fossil fuels. Solar water heaters do the job without combustion.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: 5 reasons to rethink the future of dams

The future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat, decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams produce have a role in our energy transition?

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Go with the flow — SMUD’s latest powerhouse nearly operational

Located right below Slab Creek Dam and Reservoir and priced at $16.5 million … the project has two main functions. One includes a recreational flow release on a nine-mile stretch below the reservoir that will improve boating, rafting and kayaking opportunities… The other release feeds water into the powerhouse to drive the turbine.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Oilfield wastewater slowly gains value in agriculture

For decades it’s been done on a relatively small scale near Bakersfield, and recent studies confirm it doesn’t threaten crop safety. So why aren’t more local oil producers giving farmers the briny water that comes up from the ground along with oil? In a word, money.

Aquafornia news KQED News

Not just fracking: Cut all oil drilling in California, says key lawmaker

California lawmakers need to create a package of legislation that limits multiple kinds of oil drilling, not just hydraulic fracturing, if they want to respond effectively to the world’s climate crisis, says state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, who chairs the Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Klamath residents, Yurok tribal members to participate in ‘day of action’ targeting Pacificorp over dam removal

Virtual rallies will be held Friday at the utility’s headquarters in Portland and in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Neb., according to a Save California Salmon news release. A rally will also be held in Seattle, home of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the top shareholder in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Berkshire Hathaway Energy is PacifiCorp’s parent company.

Aquafornia news Solar Power World

Southern California water district to optimize four solar installations by adding battery storage

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is preparing to build four new battery energy storage systems that will boost the district’s energy resilience and cut operational costs by optimizing solar power and reducing peak load at its facilities.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Rep. Garamendi comes out against Scott Dam removal

Congressman John Garamendi, who represents the northern half of Lake County, on Friday submitted a formal comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing removal of Scott Dam on the Eel River at Lake Pillsbury and demanding that Lake County have an equal seat at the table for determining the future of Potter Valley Project and the lake.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

New agreement on U.S. hydropower and river conservation

A dialogue organized by Stanford that brought together environmental organizations, hydropower companies, investors, government agencies and universities has resulted in an important new agreement to help address climate change… Dan Reicher, a former U.S. assistant secretary of energy and board member of the conservation group American Rivers, spoke with us about brokering this new agreement…

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Environmentalists and dam operators, at war for years, start making peace

The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement Tuesday to work together to get more clean energy from hydropower while reducing the environmental harm from dams, in a sign that the threat of climate change is spurring both sides to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but contentious source of renewable power. The United States generated about 7 percent of its electricity last year from hydropower, mainly from large dams built decades ago, such as the Hoover Dam, which uses flowing water from the Colorado River to power turbines. 

Aquafornia news CNBC

Water has become a big issue for Big Tech. But Microsoft has a plan

Last month, Microsoft announced it would replenish more water than it consumes by 2030, focusing on 40 “highly stressed” basins where it operates. … Microsoft has provided a grant to the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, to work on software to better predict levels and accessibility in the drought-threatened Central Valley region of California.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Colorado River water supply is predictable owing to long-term ocean memory

A team of scientists at Utah State University has developed a new tool to forecast drought and water flow in the Colorado River several years in advance. Although the river’s headwaters are in landlocked Wyoming and Colorado, water levels are linked to sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the water’s long-term ocean memory.

Aquafornia news Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Desalination’s role in a circular water economy

While use of large seawater desalination plants will continue to be limited to coastal communities, small-scale, localized systems for distributed desalination will be essential to cost-effectively tapping and reusing many of these nontraditional water sources across the country.

Aquafornia news Green Car Congress

Report says lithium from California’s Salton Sea can anchor US battery supply chain

Developing lithium from the Salton Sea in California can help anchor a multi-billion dollar domestic electric vehicle battery supply chain and inject thousands of jobs and billions of dollars into California’s economically disadvantaged Imperial Valley, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.

Aquafornia news Utility Dive

California’s Salton Sea offers chance for US battery supply chain, despite financial, policy challenges

Developing a lithium industry in California’s Salton Sea, an area that experts think could supply more than a third of lithium demand in the world today, could help set up a multi-billion dollar domestic supply chain for electric vehicle batteries, according to a new report from New Energy Nexus.

Aquafornia news E&E News

DOE study: Solar-hydro projects could power 40% of world

Linking floating solar panels with hydropower could produce the equivalent of 40% of the world’s electricity, according to a new study by researchers at the Department of Energy. … The study provides the first global look by federal researchers at the technical potential of the hybrid concept.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom greenlights commission on Salton Sea lithium extraction

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday added his signature to a new law that orders the formation of a commission to study the feasibility of lithium extraction around the Salton Sea. Local politicians hope the commission will lead to the creation of a green economy around the state’s largest lake, which is a geothermal hotspot. It was one of several bills focused on California’s environment that Newsom dealt with this week.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Creek Fire: Water deliveries from dams might be affected due to evacuations

Among the people forced to flee the Creek Fire were workers who keep the vast network of hydroelectric dams running. Eric Quinley, general manager of the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District, worried some of his table grape growers might not get enough water in the future to finish up the growing season.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Dominos from the massive Creek Fire teetering over Central Valley farmers

When the Creek Fire erupted on Sept. 5 and chewed through the forest toward Southern California Edison’s Big Creek power system, little did anyone know how that might affect grape growers in Delano nearly a month later.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Newsom aims to phase out new hydraulic fracking permits in California by 2024

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vowed to work with the state legislature to phase out new permits for hydraulic fracking by 2024, but left untouched a more widely used oil extraction technique in the state that has been linked to hundreds of oil spills.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California oil: Companies profit from illegal spills; the state lets them

Along with being a global leader on addressing climate change, California is the seventh-largest producer of oil in the nation. And across some of its largest oil fields, companies have for decades turned spills into profits, garnering millions of dollars from surface expressions that can foul sensitive habitats and endanger workers, an investigation by The Desert Sun and ProPublica has found….Under state laws, it’s illegal to discharge any hazardous substance into a creek or streambed, dry or not.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Opinion: Explaining California American Water’s decision to withdraw desalination application

After years spent developing this project and making adjustments to respond to stakeholder concerns, it became obvious that we needed to take more time to address objections raised by the community of Marina — namely that our project would be built in their backyard without them receiving any benefit from it.

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Aquafornia news EOS.org

Study: Dams alter nutrient flows to coasts

The right balance of nutrients is crucial for a healthy coastal ecosystem. If rivers deposit too much nitrogen and phosphorus in coastal areas, algae that flourish on those nutrients can cause dead zones; if too little silicon flows downstream, organisms that depend on it will die off.

Aquafornia news Stormwater Online

Solar and Stormwater

The main stormwater issue associated with solar arrays is the concentrated discharge of stormwater runoff at the solar panel drip line, which can act like un-guttered roofs that channelize and accelerate stormwater flow. Instead of traveling as sheet flow across a fallow field, capped landfill, or macadamized parking area, stormwater now lands on the surface in channelized sheets that must be carefully managed to prevent soil scouring, erosion, and contamination…

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

In a dry state, farmers use oil wastewater to irrigate their fields, but is it safe?

For decades, farmers in California’s Kern County have turned to wastewater from oil production to help irrigate their crops during extended dry spells. … But the use of the recycled water, a byproduct of oil and natural gas extraction that is mixed with surface water for irrigation, has stirred controversy.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Opinion: Moving toward water supply security

The Monterey Peninsula is about to find out if a long-term water supply will become a reality on Thursday as California’s Coastal Commission is scheduled to hear the application for a permit to build the desalination source water wells. The Farm Bureau believes the permit is necessary to secure a reliable water supply for Peninsula residents and businesses.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

White House environmental review rule survives legal test

The White House’s rewrite of National Environmental Policy Act rules is set take effect as planned this month, after a federal judge on Friday declined to freeze the measure. The decision is a victory for the Trump administration’s efforts to speed up approvals for pipelines, oil and gas wells, highways, and other projects.

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