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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 E&E News

Panel to question FERC picks on climate, infrastructure

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will this week consider a pair of nominations — one Republican, one Democratic — to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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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Aquafornia news San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

News release: SFPUC extends popular emergency customer assistance program through end of year

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is extending its Emergency Residential Community Assistance Program, designed to help customers struggling to pay water, sewer and Hetch Hetchy power bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, which launched in May, was originally set to expire Sept. 4, but will now be expanded through the end of the year

Aquafornia news East Bay Municipal Utility District

News release: EBMUD completes $49 million in community infrastructure projects

 Between February and July 2020, the East Bay Municipal Utility District completed work on more than 20 community infrastructure projects totaling $49 million. The projects include rehabilitated neighborhood water storage tanks, miles of new water distribution pipelines designed to withstand earthquakes, and a new photovoltaic system to generate energy from the sun.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Nation’s largest solar farm approved for Tulare County

The project proposes to cover 3,600 acres near the town of Ducor with enough solar panels to … provide 100% of the power needed for 180,000 homes… The Tulare County Farm Bureau did submit a letter reminding the board of the law’s intent to preserve farm land and not to create solar farms, but ultimately agreed the project would give landowners with sparse access to irrigation water options to make their lands profitable.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Desal plant on Monterey Peninsula is not the best option

Expansion of the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project is the best option for the Monterey region to meet its future water supply needs. Unfortunately, California American Water Co., a private water supplier, is discrediting the project in hopes of getting approval for their much more costly, oversized and environmentally harmful groundwater desalination project…

Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

Coming home to the Klamath

Four aging dams on the Klamath River are coming down. Their completion between 1921 and 1964 brought hydroelectric power to Northern California. It also blocked hundreds of kilometers of fish habitat, causing Chinook salmon to effectively disappear from the upper river basin. But the removal of dams is no guarantee the fish will return, so a team of wildlife researchers hopes it can coax the fish to repopulate the river by exploiting a new discovery about salmon genetics.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Wheeler, Calif. Gov. Newsom clash over coal plant rule change

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and California Gov. Gavin Newsom clashed Thursday over the Trump administration easing restrictions on wastewater discharges from coal-fired power plants.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Cause of ‘unprecedented’ power failure that led to sewage dump into SF Bay still unknown

In the Aug. 14 outage, multiple redundant power sources failed at the plant in West Oakland, something that hasn’t happened since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Major flooding at the pump station led sewage to flow from an outlet into the estuary more than nine hours later. The incident occurred amid hot weather when people like to swim in the estuary running between Oakland and Alameda,

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Environmentalists pledge to fight first local auction of federal oil leases since 2012

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity last week said it’s targeting a federal plan to auction in December seven parcels totaling about 4,330 acres in or near existing oilfields in the county. The CBD called the auction plan a “breathtakingly vicious” move by the Trump administration to expand drilling and fracking at a time of wildfires driven by climate change in an area with some of the country’s worst air quality.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drilling, mines, other projects hastened by Trump order

The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic… Projects targeted for quick review include highway improvements in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and other states; the Lake Powell water pipeline in Utah; wind farms in New Mexico and off the Massachusetts coast; and mining projects in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Proposal fast tracks oil development in national forests, green groups say

A Monday proposal from the U.S. Forest Service would severely limit the agency’s ability to call off any oil drilling slated for its lands by the Bureau of Land Management, which tees up leasing in federal forests. … The proposed rule removes specific references within Forest Service policy to review environmental consequences of drilling and also eliminates the requirement to provide public notice before new oil activity takes place.

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Aquafornia news International Water Power Magazine

US agencies sign collaborative hydropower agreement

The Bureau of Reclamation, US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technology Office and Army Corps of Engineers signed the memorandum at Hoover Dam on Monday, which was National Hydropower Day. The MOU provides for a collaborative working relationship that prioritizes similar goals and aligns ongoing and future renewable energy development efforts among the three agencies.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Green groups fight EPA rollback limiting states from blocking projects

The Clean Water Act previously allowed states to halt projects that risk hurting their water quality, but that power was scaled back by the EPA in June, a move Administrator Andrew Wheeler said would “curb abuses of the Clean Water Act that have held our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.” The latest suit argues the Trump administration is inappropriately denying states veto power over major projects that pose risks to their waterways.

Aquafornia news E&E News

BLM plans first California auction in 7 years

The Bureau of Land Management will revive its oil and gas leasing program in California later this year, following a seven-year moratorium sparked by a fracking fight.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Lake Elsinore hydroelectric project would threaten sacred land, Pechanga tribe says

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians once warned that a proposed mine would obliterate a sacred site equal to the Biblical Garden of Eden. Now, the southwest Riverside County tribe is sounding a similar alarm about the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project, or LEAPS, a hydroelectric project proposed for the Lake Elsinore area.

Aquafornia news CalEPA

News Release: Study finds wastewater treatment plants could profit by processing food waste while reducing greenhouse gasses

A new report issued today by the California Environmental Protection Agency shows that at least half of California’s landfill-bound food waste could be processed at the state’s wastewater treatment plants and serve as an innovative power source.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

20th century dam building found to have offset sea level rise

Most scientists in the field agree that sea levels should have risen more than they did over most of the past century. In this new effort, the researchers have taken another look at the problem and suggest the reason for the discrepancies was water being captured in reservoirs by dams.

Aquafornia news Valley News

Opinion: Water delivery agreement between Elsinore Valley and LEAPS project ended years of litigation and defined roles

As the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage, or LEAPS, hydroelectric project proceeds with licensing approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, local roles have been defined with a water delivery agreement following years of litigation over project details.

Aquafornia news Popular Science

California shut off power grids, but not because of clean energy

It will take time to conduct a thorough autopsy of the blackouts. Some observers have said the shutoffs were actually unnecessary, that the state had enough power to make it through the heat wave. Gov. Newsom has called for an investigation into the matter.

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Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

WRDA 2020 may have to wait until lame duck

A new Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, has made headway in Congress, most recently with House passage of a bill authorizing about $9 billion for Army Corps of Engineers flood and storm protection, environmental restoration and other projects. But with time running short before Congress breaks for the Nov. 3 elections, industry sources say water infrastructure legislation may be put off until an expected lame duck session.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Poor planning left California short of electricity in a heat wave

The California Public Utilities Commission assumed that hydroelectric plants would provide as much as 8,000 megawatts when demand peaked this summer. But that number appears to have failed to take into account low water levels at many dams… And those plants delivered only 5,514 megawatts last Friday, according to the California Independent System Operator.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Huffman presses utility on Klamath dam removal

Rep. Jared Huffman repeatedly sought this week to pin down the utility PacifiCorp on whether it would recommit to the country’s largest dam removal project — and when.

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Aquafornia news The Grass Valley Union

News release: State Water Board and conservationists sue Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The State Water Board and environmental conservationists have filed lawsuits against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to protect the Yuba and Bear river watersheds…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom declares statewide emergency as fires burn across California

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency in order to help California respond to the fires burning across the state amid an extreme heat wave that brought more warnings about power outages on Tuesday. More than 30 wildfires are burning across California, including nearly a dozen that started in the last two days…

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Company at a crossroads: Huffman’s Klamath forum wraps with sharp questioning of power company executive

North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs Tuesday afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from the ailing Klamath River.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Glen Canyon Dam tapped for emergency water releases to meet California power demands

For the first time in nearly two decades, the federal government tapped Glen Canyon Dam for extra power generating capacity this weekend, triggering emergency water releases as heat waves persisted across the West.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

PG&E cancels upcoming whitewater flows in Feather River, citing coronavirus

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced it will no longer be conducting higher water flows for whitewater recreation on the Feather River during the weekend of Aug. 22-23, saying in a press release the cancellation came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Huffman to lead forum examining impact of Klamath dams

North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman will lead a live-streamed forum that will examine the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes, fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders on Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.

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Aquafornia news Vallejo Times-Herald

Rolling blackouts leave Vallejoans without power, water on Friday night

Extremely high temperatures on Friday resulted in power outages for thousands in Vallejo and hundreds of thousands across the Bay Area on Friday night. … Reports of water service disruption for some water customers associated with the power outages in Vallejo began around 6 p.m. on Friday night, according to the city of Vallejo.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

NASA wants to make contaminated Santa Susana site a landmark

In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S. government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana Field Laboratory for official listing as a traditional cultural property.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Conservatives get DOE win after ‘underwear’ campaign

The Department of Energy published a proposed rule this week that would create a product class to allow for speedier washing machines and dryers. Environmental and consumer groups charged that the move would lead to washers and dryers that waste water and energy and increase utility bills and carbon emissions.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: CPUC ‘yes’ vote could cut water bill surcharges for millions

If passed, the new program would promote water conservation and make water bills more affordable and transparent for millions of residents, benefitting both low-income customers and those who use less water.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘This land is all we have left’: Tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Time for California to build cheaper, faster, cleaner

The California Energy Commission is about to launch a process to update the state’s building energy code, known as Title 24. It will set the rules for energy efficiency levels and whether heating and hot water are powered by fossil or clean energy in new construction beginning in 2023…

Aquafornia news Waste Today

California wastewater treatment site earns LEED Platinum certification

The Lakewood, California-based Water Replenishment District announced that its Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling and Environmental Learning has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest rating offered to environmentally sustainable buildings. Only 5.7 percent of LEED projects in the U.S. have achieved this designation.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Opinion: Desalination is not the panacea

In response to Eberhard Brunner’s recent “Water in the West” op-ed, I’d like to share some facts about the true costs of desalinated water.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Monday Top of the Scroll: Poseidon’s desalination plan for Huntington Beach delayed again

The Regional Water Quality Control Board concluded three days of hearings on the project’s next permit by telling Poseidon it must return with a more robust, more detailed mitigation plan to offset the environmental damage the project will cause.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Pipeline plan could mean fewer stream protections, critics say

Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or wetlands or with impervious materials.

Aquafornia news Lawrence Berkeley Lab

News release: Geothermal brines could propel California’s green economy

Deep beneath the surface of the Salton Sea, a shallow lake in California’s Imperial County, sits an immense reserve of critical metals that, if unlocked, could power the state’s green economy for years to come. These naturally occurring metals are dissolved in geothermal brine, a byproduct of geothermal energy production.

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

Tired of wells that threaten residents’ health, small California town takes on the oil industry

In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options. Escoto’s town—Arvin, California—had just granted an oil drilling and well-servicing company, Petro-Lud, a permit to drill four new wells near a neighborhood densely packed with young families and a park where children played soccer.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Monday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River levels may rise with COVID-19 electricity demands

Summer energy demands driven higher as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps more people at home could lead to more water flowing from Glen Canyon Dam into the Colorado River. That could mean rapidly changing conditions for rafters, anglers, hikers or others on the river in Glen Canyon or the Grand Canyon, officials said.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Poseidon desalination proposal for Huntington Beach may face new requirements

After hearings this week for one of two remaining major permits needed for the project, several members of the Regional Water Quality Control Board indicated they were dissatisfied with the proposed mitigation for the larvae and other small marine life that would die as a result of the plant’s ocean intake pipes.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

FERC faces environmental justice reckoning

A 1997 guidance document from the White House Council on Environmental Quality lays out best practices for FERC and other agencies to address environmental justice as part of reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency isn’t legally required to act on its findings.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Wide-ranging water infrastructure bill easily passes House

Legislation authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to boost the nation’s water infrastructure, protect waterways from emerging contaminants, and bolster coastal shorelines sailed through the House Wednesday. On a voice vote, the House used a procedure reserved for mostly non-controversial legislation to pass the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020…

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Panel approves energy, land and water bills

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved several bills yesterday to address tribal energy, land and water resources.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Controversial Poseidon desalination plant in Huntington Beach set for hearings this week

Poseidon Water’s seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach, first proposed in 1998, could be getting closer to beginning construction after more than two decades. The Santa Ana Regional Water Board will hold online hearings this week and decide whether to issue Poseidon a permit.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Trump makes two FERC nominations, potentially rebalancing commission

President Trump made two nominations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Monday, bowing to pressure from Democratic lawmakers who have pushed to maintain the bipartisan split in the commission.

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Aquafornia news Roseville Today

Placer County, PCWA split $12 million revenue distribution

In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been made…

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Blog: Creating a new fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir

For the past five years, Monty Currier, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, has been working to rebuild the fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir after the PG&E impoundment went dry in 2015 from the combined effects of maintenance work and the drought. The unfortunate fish kill presented Currier with something of a dream opportunity.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

Blog: Will “two lined swimming pools connected by a pipe” help us get rid of natural gas?

Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is a pretty simple technology. … The effect is not to create energy. In fact, these facilities are net consumers of energy. But by making renewable energy available when it is most needed, PSH helps renewables better match demand, reducing the need for gas on the grid.

Aquafornia news E&E News

FERC throws wrench into major dam-removal project

The country’s largest dam removal project was thrown into question last week when federal regulators refused to let the current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to carry out the demolition.

Aquafornia news KQED News

Water quality agency fines Phillips 66 refinery, again, for polluting Bay

State water regulators have issued a $285,000 penalty against the Phillips 66 refinery for releasing millions of gallons of industrial wastewater into San Pablo Bay early last year. The penalty is the 11th issued in the last 17 years against the Houston-based oil company. Its refinery sits on the bay shore in Rodeo, just south of the Carquinez Strait and Vallejo.

Aquafornia news The Maritime Executive

Lind Marine completes construction of waterborne data center

Lind Marine, a Shipyard on the Mare Island Naval Complex in Vallejo, California, recently completed construction of a multi-year design-build waterborne data center project for Nautilus Data Technologies and has towed the vessel to Port of Stockton for permanent mooring.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Federal decision leaves future of Klamath dam removal unclear

After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the license, too.

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Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

We now know how many billions of gallons of water Colorado will save by closing coal-fired power plants

The closing of 30 coal-fired generating units across the West – including 10 in Colorado – could free-up more than 76 billion gallons of river and groundwater a year in the increasingly parched region, although utilities appear cautious about giving up their water rights.

Aquafornia news LAist.com

Environmentalists fear oil company bankruptcy could strand SoCal’s idle wells

The owner of more than 2,000 idle oil wells in Southern California declared bankruptcy this week, raising fears among environmentalists that those wells might never be properly sealed. … As those old wells sit idle and unsealed, they present a potential pollution hazard to drinking water underground and people living nearby.

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Aquafornia news Energy and Policy Institute

Blog: Utilities that operate coal plants in the Western U.S. face growing water supply risks

Electric utilities that operate coal plants face growing water supply risks in the western United States, where water is scarce and increasingly threatened by hotter and drier conditions driven by climate change. That’s the focus of a new Energy and Policy Institute report, which explores the water supply risks facing coal plants in the American West…

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Thursday Top of the Scroll: House panel approves major water infrastructure measure

A multibillion-dollar measure that would help build, repair, and maintain a wide variety of water infrastructure projects sailed through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Wednesday. Approved unanimously by voice vote, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (H.R. 7575) would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers every two years to carry out specific projects and feasibility studies.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Trump’s environmental permitting update to spark legal frenzy

States and environmental coalitions are set to wage multiple challenges to President Donald Trump’s overhaul of federal requirements for environmental permitting, setting up long-term regulatory uncertainty and the potential for a checkerboard of rules across the country. Trump unveiled the plan Wednesday, replacing Nixon-era rules for how federal agencies conduct reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Nixon signed this key environmental law. Trump plans to change it to speed up pipelines, highway projects and more

The president’s plan to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act … would make it easier to build highways, pipelines, chemical plants and other projects that pose environmental risks. … But the proposed changes also threaten to rob the public, in particular marginalized communities most affected by such projects, of their ability to impact decisions that could affect their health, according to many activists.

Aquafornia news BBC News

The most powerful renewable energy

Last year, the world’s hydropower capacity reached a record 1,308 gigawatts… As with other energy sources, however, hydropower is not without an environmental cost. 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Humpback chub ‘alien abductions’ help frame the future of the Colorado River

Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time, several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has become central to an ecosystem science program with implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Protecting the Clean Water Act

Decades of environmental protection is threatened to be undone by the recent Trump Administration Executive Order to roll back regulations from the Clean Water Act to speed up energy projects. The proceeding EPA rule-making procedures make it easier for owners of hydroelectric dam projects to bypass state oversight and environmental accountability. Without legislative protection, our waterways are under threat.

Aquafornia news National Science Foundation

Blog: New software tool to model the economic and environmental impacts of California drought

In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, a National Science Foundation-funded team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the effects of a drought in California. The drought happened from 2012-2016 and was one of the worst in the state’s history. The scientists found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major utilities in the state.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: California moves toward smart and efficient water heating

California has just adopted an energy code specification for grid-friendly and super-efficient water heaters that will help decarbonize buildings and the electric grid while saving Californians money on their utility bills.

Aquafornia news CW39.com

$20 million funding opportunity to strengthen America’s water infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is providing $20 million for innovations that “strengthen America’s water infrastructure and enable advanced water resource recovery systems that have the potential to be net energy positive.” Over the next 10 years, 40 states expect water shortages in some areas, according to the DOE.

Aquafornia news Capital & Main

Gavin Newsom hands out fracking permits to connected driller

On June 1, in the midst of the turmoil created by the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration quietly issued 12 fracking permits to Aera Energy, a joint venture owned by ExxonMobil and Shell. … The fracking permits are the latest example of California’s oil industry benefiting from regulatory or deregulatory action during the COVID-19 pandemic…

Aquafornia news Phys.org

How a historic drought led to higher power costs and emissions

A team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the downstream effects of a drought in California that took place in 2012-2016, and was considered one of the worst in the state’s history. They found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major investor-owned utilities in the state… They also found that increased harmful emissions of greenhouse gases could be linked to hydropower losses during drought in the future, even as more sources of renewable energy are added to the grid.

Aquafornia news North Carolina State News

News release: How a historic drought led to higher power costs and emissions

A team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the downstream effects of a drought in California that took place in 2012-2016, and was considered one of the worst in the state’s history. They found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major investor-owned utilities in the state… They also found that increased harmful emissions of greenhouse gases could be linked to hydropower losses during drought in the future…

Aquafornia news Renewables Now

GreenFire Energy completes closed-loop geothermal energy pilot

GreenFire Energy Inc. on Wednesday said it has completed the world’s first field-scale demonstration of closed-loop geothermal energy generation in California. The pilot project utilised an inactive well at the Coso geothermal field in Coso, Inyo County. The GreenLoop technology showed promise for use in geothermal projects in hot, deep geothermal resources where conventional systems cannot be used.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Yurok Tribe, Rep. Huffman respond to increased Klamath River flows

Beginning June 11, the Bureau released flows to help sustain juvenile salmon, but it plans to provide only 16,000 of the 40,000-acre feet promised in the plan developed with the Yurok Tribe, fishing groups and irrigators in March. And nearly a month passed without augmented flows when young salmon were being infected and dying from disease-causing parasites and 1.5 million hatchery fish were released and ready to pass through the infection zone.

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Aquafornia news Village Life

El Dorado Irrigation District planning for facility move, power shutoffs

El Dorado Irrigation District staff is making preparations to minimize impacts to its system in the event of more PG&E public safety power shutoffs this year. EID has 168 electrical service connections with PG&E. In 2019 the largest power shutoff event affected 125 of those connections. The outages compromised EID’s ability to pump water and wastewater, provide fire protection, generate hydroelectric power and operate the Sly Park Recreation Area.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

EPA water rule won’t speed up new oil, gas pipeline projects

A new EPA water rule to curtail state vetoes won’t necessarily ease the path for new oil and gas interstate pipeline projects, energy analysts and lawyers say. They say this is partly due to the sharp decline in oil and gas linked to the coronavirus pandemic. But the hurdles also come from a federal court’s suspension of the Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit 12, or NWP 12, that would allow developers to dredge and fill wetlands and stream crossings in order to lay pipelines.

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Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Opinion: Reimagine California’s big-water dreams

A note from another former colleague the other day prodded me into some rethinking — as with everything in this economic crisis, partly in light of the need for California to think small. By which I mean, think local.

Aquafornia news Water Power Magazine

Opinion: The next generation of pumped storage

The first slide of Daybreak Power’s first-ever presentation to potential investors quotes Paul Allen, the legendary co-founder of Microsoft, asking what he calls the most exciting question imaginable: “What should exist? … What do we need that we don’t have?”. The answer I reached in the years leading up to co-founding Daybreak in 2018 is this: A bunch of big-honkin’ pumped storage hydropower projects

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Our community will have a voice in proposed hydro-electric storage project near Joshua Tree

The proposed Eagle Mountain project went through nearly 10 years of regulatory review, mostly under the Obama administration, with deep investigations of potential impacts and subsequent requirements for some of the most stringent mitigations ever placed on a project. … The one hitch for us? We, the very communities who will be impacted by this project have no real voice.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Living near oil and gas wells linked to low birthweight in babies

Researchers analysed the records of nearly 3 million births in California to women living within 6.2 miles (10km) of at least one oil or gas well between 2006 and 2015. … Active and inactive oil and gas sites create myriad environmental hazards including air and water pollutants, noise and excessive lighting, which have all been linked with poor health outcomes.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: EPA limits states and tribes’ ability to protest pipelines and other energy projects

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule Monday curtailing the rights of states, tribes and the public to object to federal permits for energy projects and other activities that could pollute waterways across the country. The move … upends how the United States applied a section of the Clean Water Act for nearly a half century.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

States, Democrats want federal help to clean up old oil wells

Fossil fuel companies going bankrupt in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are expected to leave behind thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, and some congressional Democrats are calling for a federal program to ensure they’re cleaned up. There are 56,000 known abandoned oil and gas wells in the U.S., leaking methane and other air and water pollutants, said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) …

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: How California’s oil industry may help preserve agriculture in San Joaquin Valley

A study conducted by researchers at Duke University and RTI International found that reusing oil field produced water that has been mixed with surface water to irrigate crops in Kern County’s Cawelo Water District does not pose any major health risks.

Aquafornia news Greenbiz.com

Here’s how California’s water laws were made

This is an excerpt from “Ruling the Waters: California’s Kern River, the Environment, and the Making of Western Water Law” by Douglas R. Littlefield, published in May 2020.

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Trump administration seeks uranium mining near Lake Casitas and approves oil drilling in Carrizo Plain National Monument

The report could revive past attempts to mine uranium in the Los Padres National Forest in San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, including a tract of land near Lake Casitas in the Ojai Valley, a source of drinking water for Carpinteria Valley Water District. Many of the report’s recommendations will require additional action before taking effect, such as changes to agency rules or regulations, or passage of legislation.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: DWR unveils new benchmark toward reducing carbon emissions

The metric identifies the amount of carbon dioxide per acre-foot of water transported by the State Water Project. Water districts receiving water from the SWP can use this metric to understand the emissions of their water supply chains, and customers can better understand the ‘carbon intensity’ of the water they purchase.

Aquafornia news The Log

Poseidon Water’s desalination plan: Are there cracks in the armor?

Marine life mitigation, the need for desalinated water in Orange County and the overall merits of Poseidon Water’s plan to build a $1 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach were some of the main talking points of a 10-hour virtual workshop, held on May 15. Highlighting the marathon of a workshop: pointed questions about the merits of Poseidon’s proposal…

Aquafornia news Data Center Dynamics

Floating data center firm Nautilus secures $100m loan from Orion Energy Partners

The $100m debt facility will cover the costs of finishing projects including the Stockton data center which is expected online in late 2020. The barge-borne data center will use the company’s signature cooling system, cold water, and a system of heat exchangers that use the water surrounding the building as a reservoir.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Company plans dams in canyon next to Little Colorado River

When a Phoenix company floated a proposal last year to build two hydroelectric dams on the Little Colorado River, it faced an outpouring of opposition. … Taking note of the criticisms, the two businessmen who run the company have pivoted to a different approach. They propose to move the project off the Little Colorado River to an adjacent canyon to the east, where they would build four dams. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

States are reopening from coronavirus shutdowns. What happens to frozen utility payments?

When states began issuing stay-at-home orders and millions of Americans lost their jobs due to COVID-19, governors in dozens of states temporarily barred utility companies from shutting off gas, water, electricity and even internet. … But as states move to reopen, those moratoriums will end, and advocates are already warning that many households won’t have enough money to resume paying their utility bills, much less repay their deferred bill.

Aquafornia news NBC San Diego

Imperial Irrigation District begins second wave of sheltering employees at work

Imperial Irrigation District, California’s third largest public power provider and the largest irrigation district in the nation, will be extending its voluntary on-site shelter-in-place program at designated critical facilities for a core group of employees. To keep employees safe and to ensure that the district’s water and energy systems remain operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, 32 district employees have been living and working at their job sites since April 25.

Aquafornia news NBC San Diego

Imperial Irrigation District begins second wave of sheltering employees at work

Imperial Irrigation District, California’s third largest public power provider and the largest irrigation district in the nation, will be extending its voluntary on-site shelter-in-place program at designated critical facilities for a core group of employees. To keep employees safe and to ensure that the district’s water and energy systems remain operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, 32 district employees have been living and working at their job sites since April 25.

Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

In California, a push grows to turn dead trees into biomass energy

As forests in California and the Western U.S. are hit by rising numbers of fires and disease outbreaks related to climate change, some experts argue that using dead and diseased trees to produce biomass energy will help to restore forests and reduce CO2 emissions.

Aquafornia news UC Berkeley

New research shows hydrological limits in carbon capture and storage

New research shows that carbon capture and storage (CCS) could stress water resources in about 43% of the world’s power plants where water scarcity is already a problem. Further, the technology deployed in these water-scarce regions matters, and emerging CCS technologies could greatly mitigate the demand CCS places on water consumption.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Crops grown with oilfield water OK’d by water quality board

The recycled oilfield water, blended with regular irrigation water, was tested for more than 140 chemical compounds. And 13 different crops — some grown with the oilfield water, some not —showed no uptake of potentially hazardous chemicals from oil production methods.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Law Symposium: Removing dams on the Klamath River

At the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, a panel discussed the project. Seated on the panel was Richard Roos-Collins, a principal with the Water and Power Law Group and General Counsel for the Klamath River Renewal Corporation; Paul Weiland, lawyer for Siskiyou County; and Mike Belchik, Senior Fisheries Biologist with the Yurok Tribe.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California’s Owens Valley tapped for geothermal energy leasing

Geothermal leasing on previously protected federal lands in California’s Owens Valley will move ahead, despite protests from local water districts and environmental groups.

Aquafornia news Plumas News

PG&E to begin work on Lower Bucks Lake

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it will be upgrading the Lower Bucks Lake Dam this year by attaching a waterproof membrane to the upstream surface of the dam to prevent seepage and extend the dam’s service life.

Aquafornia news The HIll

Opinion: Free-flowing rivers help ecosystems, wildlife, people and the economy

Now, just as the first Earth Day in 1970 gave U.S. policymakers a chance to chart a fresh course for conservation, this year’s 50th anniversary offers lawmakers an opportunity to act on a growing body of evidence that free-flowing, well-protected rivers serve the greater public good.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Major blow to Keystone XL pipeline as judge revokes key permit

A federal judge in Montana ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to suspend all filling and dredging activities until it conducts formal consultations compliant with the Endangered Species Act. The ruling revokes the water-crossing permit needed to complete construction of the pipeline, and is expected to cause major delays to the divisive project.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Onofre sewage spill linked to blocked line, worn out pump switch

Southern California Edison, the operators of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, is still investigating what caused the release of 7,000 gallons of sewage into the ocean last month but it appears the culprits were a blockage in the facility’s sewage treatment plant and a worn out pump switch.

Aquafornia news KQED News

After 9-month pause, California issuing fracking permits again

State oil and gas regulators have granted permits for hydraulic fracturing, the controversial drilling technique known as fracking, for the first time since last summer. The California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, last week issued permits to Aera Energy, a joint venture of Shell and ExxonMobil, for “well stimulation” work in two Kern County oil fields.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Fracking in California gets green light after 9-month pause; Aera Energy receives permits

California regulators on Friday issued fracking permits for the first time in nine months, saying federal scientists had given clearance for 24 permits to Aera Energy for oil well stimulation in Kern County. … Last July, Gov. Gavin Newsom fired the state’s oil and gas supervisor a day after The Desert Sun reported that the number of fracking permits issued during his first six months in office had doubled compared to the same period under his predecessor…

Aquafornia news Person of Infrastructure

Blog: Dam guardian

Today, as the chief of dam safety services within the Division of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR), David Sarkisian guides a team of 25 engineers that monitors, surveils, inspects and guides the on-going maintenance of the 26 dams and reservoirs within the California State Water Project (SWP), many of which are more than 50 years old.

Aquafornia news Yuba Water Agency

News release: PG&E sells Narrows hydroelectric facility to Yuba Water Agency

The Narrows Project was marginally economic for PG&E and is far from PG&E’s regional hydropower headquarters. Yuba Water, however, is a natural buyer as the agency also owns the nearby Narrows No. 2 Powerhouse just upstream. For decades, the two entities closely coordinated the operations of these facilities, including the flows.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: Freshwater species are disappearing fast — this year is critical for saving them

We’ve all seen photos of clear-cut forests with swathes of razed trees or deep scars in the ground from an open-pit mine. The damage to the species that live in these habitats isn’t hard to imagine. But the damage we’ve done to freshwater ecosystems isn’t so visible. In rivers or lakes, trouble often lurks out of view beneath the surface of the water …

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

San Onofre treatment plant problem leads to release of 7,000 gallons of partially treated sewage into ocean

In an alert to state regulators, Southern California Edison, which operates the power station, said an unexpected surge of wastewater led to an “upset” at the treatment plant that morning, triggering an alarm but allowing the sewage to flow through a 6,000-foot pipe out into the ocean before workers could turn off the pumps.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: Largest US dam removal stirs debate over coveted West water

The second-largest river in California has sustained Native American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its banks. With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly precious water resources of the U.S. West…

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

7,000 gallons of sewage from San Onofre nuclear plant spills a mile into the ocean

A sudden influx of water at the sewage treatment facility at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station early Wednesday morning led to about 7,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater being released about a mile into the Pacific. Officials at Southern California Edison, the plant’s operator, said the sewage amounted to a “non-radiological release”…

Aquafornia news The Tribune

Santa Maria oil spill in Cuyama River mostly contained

Most of the 6,000 gallons of crude oil that was spilled into the Cuyama River in Santa Maria has been contained. … A tanker truck carrying more than 6,000 gallons of crude oil overturned and crashed into the Cuyama River east of Santa Maria on Saturday, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

Aquafornia news Popular Science

America thrived by choking its rivers with dams. Now it’s time to undo the damage

The falling cost of renewable energy and continued decline of manufacturing renders many of these structures unnecessary. Others require expensive maintenance. Seven in 10 are more than 50 years old and many are falling into disrepair, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lithium startup backed by Bill Gates targets Salton Sea

On Monday, Lilac Solutions and the Australian company Controlled Thermal Resources announced they’re partnering to develop a lithium-extraction facility at the Salton Sea. The Australian firm is trying to build the area’s first new geothermal power plant in a decade, a project that would be far more lucrative if the super-heated underground fluid could produce lithium in addition to electricity.

Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

Tuolumne Utility District announces negotiations with PG&E to acquire water system, pre-1914 water rights

Tuolumne Utilities District announced on Tuesday that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to acquire the Phoenix Hydroelectric Project, which would include pre-1914 water rights on the South Fork of the Stanislaus River…

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Kaweah River Power Authority selling hydro plant to Canadian operator

Tulare County-based Kaweah River Power Authority has requested Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to transfer the license for their 20MW hydroelectric plant at Kaweah Lake’s Terminus Dam to Canadian-based Ontario Power Generation.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

CalGEM public hearing held in Santa Maria allows locals to opine on proposed expansion of Cat Canyon oil production

People flanked by handmade signs spill out of a charter bus that just arrived from UC Santa Barbara. They join a growing rally outside the Veterans Memorial Center in Santa Maria, chanting, “Health, not oil,” and, “No new oil, keep it in the soil!” A microphone passed around gave different folks and organizations a chance to lead the rally cries.

Aquafornia news Lompoc Record

Orcutt Hill oil company ordered to reduce polluted runoff, pay $115K to watershed fund

A settlement was reached Wednesday in a federal lawsuit filed by an environmental group accusing Pacific Coast Energy Co. of illegally discharging polluted water from an Orcutt oil facility into northern Santa Barbara County waterways and threatening endangered species.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Newsom administration envisions a new role for California Water Commission

At the February meeting of the California Water Commission, Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot addressed the Commission, tasking them with assessing and prioritizing the infrastructure needs around the state and helping to determine the state role in rehabilitating that infrastructure.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Controversial Walker Lake hydropower proposal wins preliminary permit

A proposal to pump water out of Nevada’s fragile Walker Lake to generate hydropower to sell in California won preliminary approval from federal regulators. On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary permit and granting priority to file for the proposed Walker Lake Pumped Storage Project.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A new twist on hydropower could be a key climate solution

The pit was a bustling iron mine once, churning out ore that was shipped by rail to a nearby Kaiser Steel plant. When steel manufacturing declined, Los Angeles County tried to turn the abandoned mine into a massive landfill. Conservationists hope the area will someday become part of Joshua Tree National Park, which surrounds it on three sides. Steve Lowe has a radically different vision.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

$446 million Klamath dam removal budget submitted to FERC

In a Feb. 28 filing, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, formed to shepherd the removal of four hydroelectric dams from the Klamath River in Northeern California and Southern Oregon, submitted key budget information to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. … This filing is another concrete step toward implementing the amended Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA), removing the dams and restoring a free-flowing Klamath River, KRRC officials said.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

LWCF, parks bills head to Senate floor after Trump tweet

One day after President Trump tweeted his support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to take steps today to bring to the floor legislation that would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address the national parks maintenance backlog, senators said. … Trump’s tweet was an election-year about-face from his latest budget proposal, which recommended virtually eliminating the popular, bipartisan program.

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Aquafornia news KSBY

Santa Maria community meets on the future of oil drilling

People on both sides of the oil argument met Wednesday night in Santa Maria, sharing their opinions about the future of oil drilling on the Central Coast. The meeting was one of 10 that the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) is hosting.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

U.S. considers recycling more wastewater, including from oil and gas fields

Some environmental groups eye the effort suspiciously, fearing the Trump administration will use the project to allow businesses to offload hazardous wastewater in ways that threaten drinking water sources and otherwise risk public health. Businesses including oil and gas developers have urged the Trump administration to allow them more ways to get rid of their increasing volumes of wastewater.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Court tosses environmental approval for 72,000 Kern County oil wells

A California appellate court on Tuesday threw out a Kern County law that allowed major oil producers to rely on a single, blanket environmental approval for 72,000 new oil wells, instead of facing scrutiny of each new project’s potential impact on air quality, drinking water, wildlife and other concerns.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

One idea, two cool things: desalinated water and renewable energy

The contraption, reminiscent of Rube Goldberg, would produce two of Southern California’s most precious and essential resources: water and electricity. … The idea, developed by Silicon Valley-based Neal Aronson and his Oceanus Power & Water venture, caught the attention of the Santa Margarita Water District. The agency quickly saw the project’s viability to fill a void.

Aquafornia news KUNC

As Western coal plants close, what happens to their water?

Coal-fired power plants are closing, or being given firm deadlines for closure, across the country. In the Western states that make up the overallocated and drought-plagued Colorado River, these facilities use a significant amount of the region’s scarce water supplies. With closure dates looming, communities are starting the contentious debate about how this newly freed up water should be put to use.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Water district addresses Haiwee geothermal project concerns

The Indian Wells Valley Water District will submit a letter to the Bureau of Land Management over a proposed geothermal leasing area near Haiwee Reservoir. The water district’s board of directors discussed its concern about the project at its Monday board meeting, noting the impact it could have on water use in or near the basin.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

So-called ‘negative emissions’ might actually work, at least in California

A report recently published by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Getting to Neutral, suggests that power plants across the state could profitably convert wood from forests and orchards into liquid or hydrogen fuels, all while capturing their carbon.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2019

Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to worker safety, community health and the environment. … That’s why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s multibillion-dollar problem: the toxic legacy of old oil wells

Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

The pros and cons of enhanced geothermal energy systems

Unfortunately, there are few places so well-suited for geothermal energy as the site of the Geysers in California, which was built over an area with naturally occurring steam and a reservoir of hot water. That is why some experts advocate for enhanced geothermal energy systems (EGS), which pump water into the ground to tap natural heat sources, creating conditions for geothermal energy in areas where it would otherwise be impossible.

Aquafornia news City News Service

Petition warns of possible radioactive geysers at San Onofre State Beach

As Southern California Edison begins its eight-year process of decommissioning and dismantling the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a local watchdog group has filed a petition to put a halt to actions at the seaside plant. Public Watchdogs, a nonprofit advocacy group, claims that if the facility is flooded with rain or ocean water, the proposed method of disposing nuclear waste could lead to explosive radioactive steam geysers.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Bright idea saves Manteca money

Borrego Solar is under contract to build … a 5 megawatt solar facility at Manteca’s municipal wastewater treatment plant. Interim City Manager Miranda Ludlow has indicated Manteca is in talks with a number of firms to hammer out a solar power purchase agreement.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez bill would outlaw fracking by 2025

A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled text. The legislation would immediately prevent federal agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking, new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news KQED News

State senator introduces plan for California to take over PG&E

State Sen. Scott Wiener will unveil legislation today to let the state of California seize control of the embattled utility PG&E. Wiener’s bill … would use eminent domain to force the company’s stockholders to sell their shares to the state of California, which would then take over operations.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump administration eyes changes to environmental enforcement

The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Chevron official tells California lawmakers repairs caused 2019 oil spill

A senior Chevron official told California lawmakers on Monday a 2019 incident that spilled over a million gallons of water and oil into a creek bed was likely caused by its attempts to patch up a shuttered well.

Aquafornia news MyValleyNews.com

Lake Elsinore area residents organize to oppose hydroelectric project

Some local residents are organizing to oppose a twice-rejected proposal for a Lake Elsinore hydroelectric plant. The Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage project, more commonly known as LEAPS, was tossed aside by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nearly a decade ago in 2011.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California oil and gas wells could cost $9 billion to plug, clean

Cleaning up the tens of thousands of oil and gas wells scattered across California — which includes plugging them, removing surface infrastructure and cleaning the soil — could eventually cost more than $9 billion if they fall to the state to handle, a new report commissioned by state oil regulators says.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

With some oil drilling on hold, lawmaker wants state to do more to prevent releases

The moratorium has led state officials to place on hold 58 permit applications for high-pressure cyclic steam wells, according to Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the Department of Conservation, which oversees the division now known as the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM. A Southern California lawmaker who has launched an inquiry into the steam injection wells says CalGEM’s new rules don’t go far enough.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California geothermal plan released after leasing spike

One of the biggest indicators of renewed geothermal interest occurred Thursday when the Bureau of Land Management published a final environmental impact statement on a California geothermal leasing area that sat on the shelf for eight years. The statement is for the proposed designation of a 22,805-acre Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area north of Ridgecrest, Calif., and west of Death Valley National Park.

Aquafornia news E&E News

NOAA gets go-ahead to study climate Plan B: Geoengineering

David Fahey, director of the Chemical Sciences Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, told his staff yesterday that the federal government is ready to examine the science behind “geoengineering” — or what he dubbed a “Plan B” for climate change. Fahey said he has received backing to explore two approaches.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

To boost geothermal, Trump seeks rollback of desert protections

In step with President Trump’s push for more energy development in California’s deserts, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it wants to transform 22,000 acres of public land in the southern Owens Valley into one of the largest geothermal leasing sites in the state.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California to build first geothermal power plants in a decade

Geothermal plants can generate emissions-free, renewable electricity around the clock, unlike solar panels or wind turbines. The technology has been used commercially for decades and involves tapping naturally heated underground reservoirs to create steam and turn turbines.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: California can make lowly water heaters mighty climate tools

In a groundbreaking vote, California has allocated nearly $45 million toward boosting highly efficient electric heat pump technology that can help avoid burning fossil fuels to heat our water, as well as store California’s abundant pollution-free solar energy to give us piping-hot showers when the sun isn’t shining.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Experts fear Trump’s weakening of environmental policy could expose North Coast to drilling

A move by the Trump administration to roll back landmark environmental policy intended to ensure vigorous scrutiny of federal infrastructure projects has struck alarm in the hearts of California conservationists, particularly those striving to safeguard North Coast waters from offshore energy exploration and production.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water portfolio lays out state’s long-term plans

Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed strategies. Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration described the document as an effort to guide water management in a way that works for people, the environment and the economy.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Judge: Modesto Irrigation District overcharged 122,000 electric customers to help farmers

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger M. Beauchesne issued his decision Dec. 30 in the lawsuit filed by Andrew Hobbs and Dave Thomas. Each sued the MID in 2016, and their lawsuits were combined into one. … Beauchesne ruled the subsidy was an illegal tax under California law because the MID had not sought voter approval for electric customers to subsidize irrigation water customers.

Aquafornia news Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Blog: Polluted wastewater in the forecast? Try a solar umbrella

Evaporation ponds, which are commonly used in many industries to manage wastewater, can span acres, occupying a large footprint and often posing risks to birds and other wildlife. … Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a way to double the rate of evaporation by using solar energy and taking advantage of water’s inherent properties.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Coastal Commission should approve CalAm desalination plant

Nobody likes to look out to the Pacific Ocean and see oil derricks on the horizon. That’s why California wisely banned new offshore oil drilling 50 years ago. But in Monterey County, coastal views are limited by a relic of a bygone era: a giant, industrial sand plant right on the dunes between Highway One and the ocean.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Groups fight against opening up 1 million acres for drilling, fracking

Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California. … The final supplemental environmental report released recently said the BLM found no adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing that could not be alleviated. Several groups and state officials, however, disagree and have called the analysis flawed.

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Aquafornia news Popular Mechanics

Water desalination just got a lot better

A mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University has developed a new, micro-thin material to make membrane water desalination even better. Amir Barati Farimani, with fellow researchers Zhonglin Cao and Vincent Liu, has calculated how much better his metal organic framework (MOF) works than the traditional membrane method.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

How America’s aging dams risk lives and homes

In the United States, many of the structures that were once engineering marvels are nearing the age most humans decide to retire. Despite steadily increased budgets for dam repair and maintenance, over the past four decades more than a 1,000 have failed … Although some dams are having critical maintenance done, states and private entities are also coming up with a different solution: take them down. California, once a bastion of dam building, took down 35 dams just last year, making it the leader in dam removals in 2018.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Trump administration OKs leasing for new oil drilling in California — again

The Trump administration on Thursday gave the go-ahead to new oil-drilling leases on federal land in California, mostly around petroleum-rich Bakersfield but also in less-obvious spots in the Sierra foothills, such as near Yosemite National Park.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Battle lines are drawn over oil drilling in California

The state is moving to ramp down oil production while Washington is expediting it. State officials are taking a closer look at the environmental and health threats — especially land, air and water contamination — posed by energy extraction, while Washington appears to have concluded that existing federal regulations sufficiently protect its sensitive landscapes as well as public health.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Citizens committee files to stop Oroville Dam re-licensing, says DWR is untrustworthy

The Feather River Recovery Alliance has filed a motion to intervene with the Department of Water Resources’ pending application to re-license operation of the Oroville Dam. … The motion requests that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reopen the licensing process that was conducted over a decade ago, and prior to the community becoming aware of safety concerns at the Oroville Dam.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Future of Potter Valley power project could hinge on options for dam at Lake Pillsbury

CalTrout has identified Scott Dam, which impounds Eel River water in Lake Pillsbury, as one of five aging dams it considers “ripe for removal,” especially in the wake of PG&E’s license surrender. There is, however, a potential middle course backed by Friends of the Eel River, a Eureka-based nonprofit that has long called for the dam’s removal.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

New LADWP commissioner works for a company that markets water and power

Nicole Neeman Brady serves as principal and chief operating officer at L.A.-based Renewable Resources Group, which … is in the business of developing energy and water projects, raising the potential for conflicts of interest if the company seeks to do business with LADWP while Neeman Brady serves on the board.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona tribes oppose plan to dam Colorado River tributary

Native American tribes, environmentalists, state and federal agencies, river rafters and others say they have significant concerns about proposals to dam a Colorado River tributary in northern Arizona for hydropower.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Projects propose new reservoirs, cycling water from Nevada’s desert lakes, with hopes of selling power to LA

During days when solar panels feed more energy into the grid than utilities want to buy, the projects would use the excess power to pump water from Walker Lake or Pyramid Lake into the newly constructed reservoirs. Once there, the water would sit as a giant pool of potential energy. When demand for power increased at night as solar production waned, the water could be released downhill and run through a power plant.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Opinion: What’s next for Potter Valley Project?

Exactly what the Potter Valley Project will look like in the future is not set in stone. The partnership is committed to identifying solutions that meet the needs of the communities and wildlife affected by the project’s operations.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

EPA sued over oil waste dumping in aquifer near Pismo Beach, California

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the agency wrongly allowed oil waste to be dumped into a San Luis Obispo aquifer and ignored impacts to the California red-legged frog and other endangered species.

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Climate change could double greenhouse gas emissions from freshwater lakes

Small shallow lakes dominate the world’s freshwater area, and the sediments within them already produce at least one-quarter of all carbon-dioxide, and more than two-thirds of all methane released from lakes into our atmosphere. The new research, published in the journal PNAS, suggests that climate change may cause the levels of greenhouse gases emitted by freshwater northern lakes to increase by between 1.5 and 2.7 times.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: No new California fracking without scientific review, Newsom says

In a victory for critics of California’s oil drilling industry, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday stopped the approval of new hydraulic fracturing in the state until the permits for those projects can be reviewed by an independent panel of scientists. Newsom also imposed a moratorium on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling, another extraction method … linked to a massive petroleum spill in Kern County over the summer.

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Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

With new deal, Palo Alto banks on recycled water for drought protection

Seeking to fortify the city against future droughts, the Palo Alto City Council endorsed on Monday a long-term agreement with Santa Clara Valley Water District and Mountain View to build a salt-removal plant in the Baylands and then transfer the treated wastewater south.

Aquafornia news Redlands Daily Facts

Poop to power: Highland sewer plant to generate electricity, opportunity

A $32.6 million addition to a water treatment facility rising out of the ground under giant cranes will turn waste into electricity, and provide education, jobs and more to an underserved community, according to the East Valley Water District. A co-digester added to the Sterling Natural Resource Center project will turn sewage and food waste into three megawatts of power per year, enough to power about 1,950 houses.

Aquafornia news EurekAlert

News release: Climate impact of hydropower varies widely

Hydropower is broadly considered to be much more environmentally friendly than electricity generated from fossil fuels, and in many cases this is true. However, a new study reveals that the climate impact of hydropower facilities varies widely throughout the world and over time, with some facilities emitting more greenhouse gases than those burning fossil fuels.

Aquafornia news CityLab

Under Newsom, oil well approvals are going up

As Donald Trump’s administration pushes to expand oil extraction in California, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has signed bill after bill limiting the practice. … But since taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018

Aquafornia news KVPR

Millions of gallons of oily water have surfaced in a Kern County oil field, and more keeps coming

Since July, at least a half dozen surface expressions have been reported into the state spill report database, including one in early November, totaling more than 2.7 million gallons of oil, water and mud. … Under strengthened state regulations, these surface expressions became illegal only in April of this year. But that doesn’t mean the public knows about all of them or how close they occur to communities…

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Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

End could be near for Kilarc Reservoir, a popular fishing spot

PG&E said Thursday that a small powerhouse at the reservoir had been shut down since a canal at the reservoir had been damaged during last winter’s storms. The utility has determined that the costs to repair the canal “outweigh the economic benefit of (power) generation at the Kilarc powerhouse.”

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Potter Valley Project water coalition makes strides toward two-basin solution

A local coalition formed in the hopes of maintaining the most important aspects of the Potter Valley Project is making progress toward a two-basin solution, Janet Pauli told the Ukiah City Council at its last meeting.

Aquafornia news City Watch

Opinion: Unsustainable California

The recent rash of fires, like the drought that preceded it, has sparked a new wave of pessimism about the state’s future. But the natural disasters have also obscured the fact the greatest challenge facing the state comes not from burning forests or lack of precipitation but from an increasingly dysfunctional society divided between a small but influential wealthy class and an ever-expanding poverty population. 

Aquafornia news Reuters

Drilling boom adds stress to U.S. Western water supplies: report

About 60% of federal oil and gas drilling leases offered since 2017 are located in areas that are at risk of shortages and droughts, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Wind and solar can save the planet — can they save our water supply, too?

Hydropower facilities store water in reservoirs in order to release it in a constant flow and produce energy consistently. If wind turbines and solar panels, paired with battery storage, took the pressure off of these facilities to fill the needs of the grid during a drought, more of that water could be released downstream for agricultural use, preventing further groundwater depletion.

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