Devastating floods are almost annual occurrences in the West and in California. With the anticipated sea level rise and other impacts of a changing climate, particularly heavy winter rains, flood management is increasingly critical in California. Compounding the issue are man-made flood hazards such as levee stability and stormwater runoff.
An engineer with 20-plus years experience working on dams fears the Oroville dam could be in trouble again. He says the same problem which led to the failure of the main spillway in 2017 is still happening. … Now, expert Scott Cahill told News Radio KFBK, water can be seen seeping from the foot of the dam and dozens of points along the new spillway.
The problem is that removing the four dams will not restore natural river flows. Those flows are, for the most part, controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which will continue to divert Klamath River water to the Rogue Basin and for federal irrigation in the Upper Klamath and Lost River Basins.
Water storage at New Melones Reservoir in southeastern Calaveras County is currently at 84 percent of its 2.4 million acre-feet capacity – 35 percent higher than its 15-year average for March… Although the dam’s emergency spillway has never been tested, Reclamation has been proactively releasing water in anticipation of snowpack runoff.
To put it bluntly, there’s a chance that a portion of “Capitola by the Sea,” as it’s sometimes known, could become “Capitola in the Sea.” The city of Santa Cruz’s Climate Adaptation Plan, published in 2018, estimates climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, will result in about 28 inches of sea-level rise along the Central Coast by 2060.
As the sea level rises, it could impact more than the California coastline. The rising water could impact the Sacramento region. Some researchers said the rise could threaten levees in the area and increase the risk of flooding throughout the Delta and the Sacramento Valley.
A collection of legislators are taking another shot at getting state money to repair the canal carrying water to thousands of farms and several cities along the Valley’s eastside. … The bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds to repair subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal caused during the historic drought.
Climate advocates say an overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program being unveiled by the Trump administration will spur communities around the country to better plan for extreme weather, but could drive up costs for some homeowners. … It will tie premiums to the actual flood risk facing individual homes nationwide starting in October 2020. The current system sets prices based largely on whether a home is inside or outside of the 100-year flood plain.
Ninety-one years ago this week, the worst civil engineering failure in California history killed more than 450 people when a wall of water carved a path of staggering destruction from a canyon north of Los Angeles to the coast.
Officials from the California Department of Water Resources, the Public Policy Institute of California and the Water Education Foundation will join regional water managers and federal agency representatives at the daylong event, “Moving Forward Together: From Planning to Action Across the Watershed“ at Cal State Fullerton.
FEMA said that a wide range of pre-existing problems contributed to the deterioration of both the upper and lower sections of the massive concrete spillway. The agency argues that federal law, regulations and policy restrict payments only to work needed to fix damage stemming from a declared disaster.
Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires and state regulations on river flow, two state officials advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and other natural-resources issues. At the California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.
With rising tides threatening to submerge the Palo Alto Baylands by mid-century, city officials agreed on Monday they need to explore new barriers — both physical and legislative — to protect coastal area from sea level rise. These measures will be approved as part of a new Sea Level Rise Implementation Plan, a document that Public Works staff are in the process of putting together and that could have significant ramification for properties around the Baylands.
To better understand how vineyard and housing development could affect its Upvalley water sources, the city of Napa may join forces with the county on a study of runoff and inflow into Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.
By allocating $1 million last week toward a creek restoration project set to rejuvenate threatened and endangered species and reduce flooding in Pescadero, county officials locked in funding needed to begin a dredging effort experts expect will give the Butano Creek a chance to reset.
On Tuesday, March 19, the California Water Resources Control Board will hold a session on the North Shore to hear from state officials about their progress addressing the many issues related to the Salton Sea. This is a good opportunity for these officials to break through the remaining obstacles to progress at the Salton Sea and find a productive way forward.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. … Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the results regardless of outcome.
Water is coming out from Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River. The dam is at about 82 percent of capacity, and the warm weather is melting the mountain snow. Michael Jackson, area director for the Bureau of Reclamation, says the flow out of the dam is being increased. Flood releases don’t usually start until April, so the extra water is good news for valley growers, with extra irrigation water available.
Dozens of computer coding teams from around San Joaquin County were tasked to create an app in roughly seven hours. The issue: following the destruction caused by the malfunction of the Oroville Dam in February 2017 and the evacuation of more than 180,000 people, could there be an app that can track dam leakage, seismic activity and other structural impacts and communicate with the appropriate individuals to help deter another disaster?
The statewide snowpack has reached 160 percent of its annual year-to-date average and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada can be seen from Highway 198. … But, if you think that’s a lot of rain, think again. Sunday marks the 113th anniversary of the 1906 flood, which filled Visalia’s downtown streets with about a foot of water. The water didn’t dissipate for 10 days.
Otters, birds, and turtles might be the last animals you would expect to find living next door to the Interstate 680 toll-plaza. But, tucked between the freeway, an oil refinery and a wastewater facility hides an oasis on the mend. … The 21-acre constructed wetland is in the middle of an industrial zone and is part of the Mt. View Sanitary District Wastewater Treatment Plant. “It’s the very first wetland on the west coast to use treated wastewater to create wetlands,” explained district biologist Kelly Davidson.
When a wild river floods, water and sediment spills over its banks onto adjacent land, it builds up a natural floodplain. Floodplains allow a river’s high flows to spread out and slow down, forming temporary reservoirs that pool over the rainy season. That means more water percolating down into underlying aquifers … and less floodwaters barreling toward cities.
A move by the Environmental Protection Agency could revive the contentious plan to develop 1,400 acres of Redwood City shoreline owned by Cargill Salt, which operates an industrial plant there. The EPA removed one barrier to development earlier this month by ruling that the area is not subject to restrictions in the federal Clean Water Act. That puts the EPA at loggerheads with environmentalists, who want to convert the land back to tidal wetlands.
The waters are getting warmer due to more heat being kept in the atmosphere from excess carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. … When the earth heats up, so do the waters in the Arctic where the polar ice caps and sea ice are melting. This excess water flows down into rivers, streams and bays where people live. The result: Sea levels rise, causing flooding to coastal cities.
Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year. They are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports.
They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing area.
The Glory Hole’s inlet is 72 feet in diameter and the outlet shrinks down to 28-feet wide. Right now, the water is coming out at 3,800 cubic feet per second. Just in case you are wondering, that is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized pool every 23.2 seconds.
A countywide effort to manage sea level rise is beginning to coalesce. In recent months, San Mateo County officials have taken steps to form a new government agency to address coastal erosion, flooding, storm water infrastructure and sea level rise.
A sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional development after the Trump administration this month exempted the site from the Clean Water Act.
Blockbuster claims in a lawsuit that a racist, sexist, corrupt culture contributed to the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam two years ago can go forward, a Sacramento judge ruled Thursday. The decision … sets the stage for what plaintiffs’ attorneys vow will be a deep dive into claims of a poisonous work culture that nearly disastrously compromised the nation’s tallest dam.
Last month, we broke ground on a long overdue revamp of the West Fontana Channel. … It was created in the 1970s after the County of San Bernardino got serious about flood control following the devastating flooding that occurred in 1969. But unlike Day Creek, San Sevaine and other flood control facilities, the West Fontana Channel was never fortified with concrete to ensure it could handle all of the fast-moving runoff it gets inundated with after heavy storms.
Heavy snowfall this winter is expected to delay the seasonal opening of many Yosemite tourist attractions, including Yosemite Valley campgrounds, Half Dome’s climbing cables and Tioga Road into the high country, park officials announced Wednesday.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado River Commission of Nevada. Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins was appointed last August to take the helm of the United States section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries…
Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers. What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our Central Valley Tour April 3-5.
The city of Sacramento has approved a $2.9 million contract that will allow construction of a new sewage vault underneath McKinley Park. The goal of the project is to provide a place to store sewage during wet weather, when stormwater runoff — and wastewater — can end up in the same place, and overflow can send it all into East Sacramento’s streets.
Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. … We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.
A system that transfers and diverts water from the Eel River basin has been in Pacific Gas and Electric’s control for over 35 years, but the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January — coupled with its interest in either selling or abandoning the project — has Humboldt County officials intent on closely following what happens next.
In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water.
The water within the Paradise Irrigation District is clean. The trouble is, the infrastructure within the district may not be, according to Paradise Irrigation District’s Kevin Phillips. “The water is clean but some of the pipes are contaminated, that’s why (contamination) is so random,” he said. “One service line can be contaminated, but the one next door isn’t. If the water were contaminated, then it would be everywhere.”
Still unconvinced Klamath River dam removal wouldn’t result in excessive silt at Crescent City Harbor, Del Norte County supervisors are asking the nonprofit organization behind the effort to set aside mitigation dollars. With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal to draft a letter to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation with its request.
A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by a wide variety of stakeholders. Senate Bill 69, authored by Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants, the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.
When an atmospheric river meets mountainous terrain like the Sierra Nevada, the water vapor condenses and becomes rain or snow. Strong atmospheric rivers can bring about floods and landslides, but the water and snowpack they leave behind provide California with 25 to 50 percent of its yearly precipitation in just a few days.
California’s recent drought may have officially ended, but the state’s water data drought remains in full effect. Shockingly, we don’t always know the answers to basic questions such as how much water is available in our state, let alone where and when. That’s why improving California’s woefully deficient stream gage network should be a top priority for the state.
Death Valley, the hottest and driest place in North America, isn’t exactly known for record rainfall or pop-up lakes stretching as far as the eye can see. But after a massive storm lashed the desert with rain and brought chilly temperatures through Southern California, that’s exactly what happened, according to photographer Elliott McGucken. He was trying to get to Badwater Basin, where he thought there could be flooding, when he saw the giant lake.
It’s not often that communities in California and Louisiana face similar water challenges. California is better known for having too little water and Louisiana too much – both challenges exacerbated by climate change. But record-setting wet winter weather led both states last week to release significant amounts of water from reservoirs and rivers to prevent flooding, underscoring the need for new approaches to build climate-resilient communities across the country.
California’s state water agency is set to appeal a federal determination that some of the Oroville Dam’s reconstruction costs are ineligible for reimbursement. The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week approved an additional $205 million for the project, on top of the $128.4 million it sent last year, according to the state Department of Water Resources. But FEMA officials told the state they likely won’t fund some portions of the 2-year, estimated $1.1 billion rebuilding effort that followed the Oroville Dam’s near-failure in February 2017.
Santa Monica will experience more frequent droughts and coastal flooding, hotter temperatures and poorer air quality as the world’s climate changes throughout the next century. However, officials said the city’s geography and the City of Santa Monica’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) will shield residents from some of the impacts of climate change. The plan, released last month, describes how the city will ensure residents have affordable water during droughts, contain sea level rise and deal with high heat days.
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and a disappearing snowpack were part of a scary story told to SCV Water Agency officials recently as they learned the effects of climate change over the next 100 years. … The latest climate assessment was intended to advance “actionable science” that would serve the growing needs of state and local-level decision-makers from a variety of sectors.
In the midst of the wet winter storms bringing rain and snow to California this year, you might not expect drought preparations to be among the state’s current priorities. And yet, they need to be. In this post, I’ll explore why to set the stage for a blog series that explores what the state can do to prepare for the more frequent and intense droughts we expect in California’s future. The series draws on work my colleagues and I did for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.
The sandy playa that used to be underwater is now being baked by the sun and blown around by the winds that frequently scour the desert floor here. The dust is tiny and can easily get airborne. That is a public health crisis for a region already suffering from some of California’s highest asthma rates.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.
Subsidence and socialism are two “S” words that wouldn’t seem to have much in common, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley. Nevertheless, for insiders in the Valley’s intricate water game, the words are inextricably linked.
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
Millions of Californians could end up with higher water bills after the Trump administration on Friday announced that federal emergency officials aren’t going to reimburse the state for $306 million in repairs to Oroville Dam stemming from the 2017 spillway crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said federal taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for problems that existed prior to a massive hole forming in the dam’s concrete spillway in February 2017…
Oregon’s dam safety regulations are getting an overhaul, for the first time in nearly a century. A bill pending in the Legislature would rewrite the laws governing construction, inspections and enforcement authority for hundreds of state-regulated dams. The bill would increase the state’s power to force owners of aging, dangerous dams to do maintenance and make repairs. And it would require state approval and oversight of all new dam construction and removal of old dams.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a $35 million contract to continue the Sutter Basin Project – strengthening a stretch of Sutter County levees. The project will allow repairs to continue on approximately five more miles of the Feather River west levee between Tudor Road and Cypress Avenue in south Sutter County, according to a press release from the corps.
A long battle over development of the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City may soon return after the EPA declared the site exempt from the federal Clean Water Act — causing concern by environmentalists and the city’s mayor. The Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision earlier this month, effectively removing one of several barriers to development of the 1,400-acre Bayside property.
Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled for this time of year in Orange County, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st pinniped since the year began. … While the exact reason for the increase in the number of strandings this year is unknown, Higuchi said it could be tied to warmer ocean waters caused by an El Nino weather pattern or excess stormwater runoff from all of this winter’s rains.
In this edition of In Depth we take on two water topics. First, there’s growing concern that a lot of the rainwater we’ve been getting is just going down the drain and out to sea. We plumb the depths of California’s water system to find out where it’s coming up short and what can be done to fix it. Then, new research suggests that the historical link between wet winters and less severe fire seasons has broken down. We discuss why even in the rainiest of years, we still can’t count out damaging wildfires.
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few recommended changes, but no sea change in direction. Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect drinking water and combat climate change.
A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals. … Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. … Friant-Kern Water Authority officials later determined the flooding wasn’t caused by “overtopping” of the Friant-Kern Canal’s banks. The issue was drainage from Frazier Creek.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will produce safe water.
The Crossroads Open Space soccer field in Santa Maria is filled with water thanks to the most recent storm. Located on S. College Dr., the field also serves as a basin to collect storm runoff. The city says the water will soak into the ground, recharging the groundwater basin.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved $205 million to reimburse California for the Oroville Dam spillway reconstruction costs, the state Department of Water Resources announced Thursday. … However, FEMA has notified DWR that it doesn’t think some of the reconstruction costs are eligible for reimbursement,
We love our Russian River for its eternal beauty, its nurturing forces, its quenching properties, its recreation and play and its renewing spirits. We love our river — except when we don’t. And right now we are distraught over the destruction its breached muddy torrents visited upon us yet again.
Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term impacts for California farmers. Mary Ann Renner, a dairy farmer in the Humboldt County town of Ferndale, said the flood from the Eel River was not the worst she’s seen—but was close.
While handing out at the Guerneville Safeway store $50 grocery gift cards to residents affected by last week’s flood, Jeniffer Wertz was forced to turn away several people Sunday after running out of cards. “It was heartbreaking,” said Wertz, a volunteer for the nonprofit Russian River Alliance. For people whose homes, cars or businesses were damaged by the worst flooding along the Russian River in two decades, local nonprofit leaders say, the need for financial help is immediate.
Heavy rains this winter will help replenish groundwater aquifers and benefit projects that use excess surface water to recharge groundwater basins. At the California Department of Water Resources, planners focus on a voluntary strategy known as Flood-MAR, which stands for “managed aquifer recharge.” The strategy combines floodwater operations and groundwater management in an effort to benefit working landscapes, and could also aid local groundwater agencies as they implement the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Water is starting to seep down the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway. California Department of Water Resources officials said Wednesday this is common and will not affect the operation of the dam’s gates, which are not watertight. … Both spillways at the 770-foot earthen dam, the nation’s tallest, collapsed in February 2017, forcing nearly 200,000 people downstream to evacuate.
You can’t see them. You can’t swim in them. But groundwater aquifers are one of the most important sources of water in the North Coast. Aquifers are water-rich underground areas. They aren’t like lakes or pools but are composed of water-filled areas between rocks, sands, and gravels. Plants and animals benefit from groundwater when it’s near the surface, and feeds creeks and streams. Humans tap into aquifers through wells used for drinking, irrigating crops and operating businesses.
Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues.
The moment a lone duck was sucked into a 200ft-deep drain at a reservoir in northern California – and reportedly survived – has been captured on video. Known locally as the “Glory Hole”, the giant spillway is designed to capture excess water at Lake Berryessa reservoir in Napa County. Rick Fowler, the lake’s water resources manager, filmed the bird as it drifted towards the fast-swirling vortex and dropped down into the hole.
Former Interior Secretary and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt will be the distinguished speaker at the 2019 Anne J. Schneider Memorial Lecture on April 3 at the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento. Babbitt’s talk is titled “Parting the Waters — Will It Take a Miracle?”
Behind the initial damage toll of $155 million from last week’s Russian River flood is some positive news: only 35 homes and businesses have been red-tagged as uninhabitable. After the last major Russian River flood, in 2006, 66 homes and businesses were red-tagged. … The steadily declining numbers reflect three decades of progress in fortifying river communities to withstand floods, most notably an ongoing program to elevate homes.
The Success Dam Enlargement Project, headed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, has been working its way towards construction since October 2018. … On Tuesday morning the timeline was published, and it reveals that construction on the Success Dam Enlargement Project will begin in mid 2020. Until then, plenty of work is scheduled to happen before construction starts.
The state Department of Water Resources announced that releases from the powerplant were being increased from 1,750 cubic feet per second to 5,000 cfs. Ten-day projections show the lake reaching 835 feet on March 14, according to DWR. The department has said it does not anticipate that it will utilize the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway anytime soon; however, crews have been making preparations in case its use becomes necessary. The spillway becomes usable once water reaches its gates at 813 feet, which should happen Tuesday morning.
Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250 million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility that began in last week’s storm. The three-day deluge pushed more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant. It was the highest inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city.
The dramatic shift from dry to wet this winter hints at what’s to come. Scientists predict that California’s total precipitation will remain close to constant in the future, but it will fall in a shorter window of time, with more of it as rain. The state will also experience greater variability—more very wet and more very dry years. These findings highlight the need to capture rainfall and improve aging infrastructure. Here’s what to expect from California’s wet seasons, now and in the future.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.
Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.
The powerful storm that swept over Sonoma County last week caused an estimated $155 million in damage to homes, businesses, roads and other public infrastructure, county officials announced Saturday. The updated assessment came at the end of a week marked by the largest flood on the lower Russian River in nearly a quarter century. Guernville and other riverside communities took the heaviest blow, but flooding elsewhere — in Sebastopol, Healdsburg and Geyserville — led to widespread damage countywide.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the Hyperion plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will produce safe water.
Just months before the Woolsey Fire, Las Virgenes Mutual Water District had joined CalWARN, a mutual assistance system set up for water utilities. General manager Dave Pedersen had heard about it from a neighboring agency. Before dawn Nov. 9, the district requested emergency generators. Within a few hours, they had gotten a response.
Around 3,000 Santa Barbara County residents are being told to evacuate their homes once again this week. Rainstorms forecasted starting Tuesday are expected to be severe enough to potentially cause debris flows and mudslides, especially with already-saturated ground.
But the river remains an unpredictable force, one that could give rise to even more destructive floods in an era of increasingly extreme weather, experts say. … County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins has her sights on the opportunities to tame floodwaters in the river’s middle reaches, starting near Windsor and upstream, where it broadens and meanders more freely in a floodplain less constricted by roads and other development.
Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.
When California’s new governor announced during his February 12 State of the State address that he didn’t support WaterFix as a two-tunnel behemoth, he received a loud burst of applause. Yet, in the next breath, when Newsom added he supported a one-tunnel version, no applause followed. That’s partly because the one-tunnel announcement hasn’t alleviated fears of people living on the north side of the estuary. Hood, Clarksburg and Courtland property owners still face the very real possibility of being hit with eminent domain.
California is drenched and its mountains are piled high with snow amid a still-unfolding winter of storms that was unimaginable just a few months ago. Drought conditions have almost been eliminated, hills blackened by huge wildfires are sporting lush coats of green, and snow has fallen in the usually temperate suburbs of Southern California. … The California Department of Water Resources reported Thursday that the Sierra snowpack is now 153 percent of average to date.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Thursday in Sonoma County, a day after disastrous flooding from the Russian River left numerous communities across Northern California inundated. The governor’s order, which included Lake, Amador, Glenn and Mendocino counties, allows Caltrans and local government agencies to request immediate assistance from the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program and the Office of Emergency Services.
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
California has been blessed with a wet winter this year. That’s been good news for the California plants, animals, and humans that rely on water to survive and recreate. But lots of precipitation now doesn’t necessarily mean that California will have lots of water when it needs it. That’s because what matters is not only how much water we get, but when and how we get it.
The southern Sierra Nevada is expected to see a pair of storm systems in the coming days that could create “significant flooding” over several burn scars in the area, according to weather officials. … Next week’s storm, which is expected to hit the area midweek, is the primary source of concern. “That storm could bring between 2 and 5 inches of rain,” said Kevin Durfee, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “If those rain amounts do materialize, we could be looking at some significant flooding over the burn scars, and rising water levels in rivers and streams.”
State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) said Senate Bill 559, will “help secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million toward restoring lost (delivery) capacity on the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the San Joaquin Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.” … The $400 million would be appropriated from the state general fund to the Department of Water Resources to administer the repairs.
To help build leadership capacity and acquire water management tools for valley communities, Self-Help Enterprises invites water board members and staff, water leaders, and residents from rural communities to participate in the 2019 Rural Communities Water Managers Leadership Institute. The six-month program is scheduled for March through August, with sessions held one Saturday per month at Self-Help Enterprises in Visalia.
A Northern California river flooded 2,000 homes, businesses and other buildings and left two communities virtual islands after days of stormy weather, officials said Wednesday. The towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio were hardest hit by water pouring from the Russian River, which topped 46 feet (13 meters) late Wednesday night. It hadn’t reached that level for 25 years and wasn’t expected to recede again until late Thursday night.
The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system, according to Bontadelli. However, proposed modifications to the Bypass to enhance habitat for out-migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the it will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users.
The Russian River has surpassed flood levels after an extraordinary 48 hours of rainfall, and by Wednesday morning the waters had blocked all roadways into and out of the town of Guerneville. By 6 a.m., all routes out of the 4,500-person town of Guerneville were blocked by the rising water, which was creeping closer to 41 feet — nine more than the flood level of 32 feet — with an additional five feet expected.
Most of the active volcanoes lie in Northern California. The report warns a future eruption would have far-reaching adverse impacts on natural resources and infrastructure vital to the state’s water, power, natural gas, ground and air transportation and telecommunication systems.
All eyes have been on the Colorado River recently with headlines across the west announcing the progress – or lack thereof – of the efforts of the seven basin states to reach agreement on the Drought Contingency Plan. So is the Colorado River in crisis? At the 2019 California Irrigation Institute conference, Dr. Brad Udall’s keynote presentation focused on answering that question.
On their to-do list is determining how to spread costs from wildfires in “an equitable manner” and considering whether the state should create a special find to cover wildfire costs. They face a tricky task with an array of competing interests, chief among them how to balance wildfire costs between utilities, their shareholders and their customers.
With stepped-up stormwater capture programs, the Pacific Institute said in a 2014 study, Southern California and the Bay Area could boost the state’s water supply by 420,000 acre-feet annually. That’s enough water to meet the needs of 300,000-400,000 people.
The Board of Commissioners for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District passed a motion to declare a countywide state of emergency in light of shoaling, or increased sedimentation, on Humboldt Bay near the channel entrance — conditions that could persist for months, officials said. … The shoaling stems from recent winter storms and has brought activity on the bay to a halt…
This is among the hottest of Napa County’s hot potatoes. That’s because it strikes such nerves as possible, further constraints on new vineyard development in local hills and a perceived need in some quarters to do more to protect water quality in local reservoirs.
If you stand on a fragile levee of the Sacramento River these days and watch the chocolate brown water rushing toward the delta only a few feet under your boots, one can’t help but wonder why the state and federal governments aren’t capturing more of this precious resource. Why is all but a tiny fraction heading out to sea?
Los Angeles County officials are proposing to take ownership of 40 miles of flood-control channels along the Los Angeles River from the federal government in order to expedite maintenance and water conservation improvements as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather.
Rains over the past several weeks have caused erosion to a recently improved portion of levee along the east side of the Feather River and protecting Marysville. But officials say the damage is superficial and doesn’t pose a threat to public safety.
One week after an atmospheric river storm pounded Northern California, causing flooding, mudslides and traffic headaches, another one appears to be forming in the Pacific and is set to arrive early next week. Computer models show the storm hitting Monday or Tuesday, with the North Bay and parts of California farther north taking the brunt, although that could change, experts say.
Lake Oroville, currently at 773-foot elevation, could rise to 780-785 feet by the end of the month based on current projections. DWR and crews with Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the contractor for the spillways construction project, would remove equipment from the main spillway if the lake elevation reached 780 feet.
At a Town Hall Tuesday night, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) told the large crowd filling nearly every available seat in the Ukiah Valley Conference Center about a possible future for the Potter Valley Project that would remove the controversial dam, but preserve the water supply the Ukiah Valley has depended on for more than a century.
In 2014 Santa Monica embarked on a course to be virtually water independent through local sources by 2023. … The switch has been accomplished through an extensive plan that encompasses small measures like toilet replacements, household rain harvest barrels and aggressive conservation to large measures like cleaning up contaminated groundwater, capturing street runoff and recycling water.
In another sign Southern California is having its wettest winter in years, Mystic Lake has risen again in the rural, agricultural valley between Moreno Valley and San Jacinto. The ephemeral body of water was largely absent the past decade
February storms have almost eliminated drought conditions from California. The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday that just over 67 percent of the state is totally free of any level of dryness. Just under 30 percent is classified as abnormally dry, and less than 4 percent remains in either moderate or severe drought.
Rep. Grace Napolitano, a Democrat with a district office in El Monte, sent a letter Wednesday, Feb. 20, urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make safety repairs at Whittier Narrows Dam its highest budgetary priority in light of an assessment that the barrier could fail in the event of a very large, very rare storm.
At the March 29th Santa Ana River Watershed Conference in Orange County, the PPIC’s Ellen Hanak will put the top managers of the watershed’s five major water districts on the hot seat to uncover the region’s latest innovations and find out what the next generation of integrated water management planning looks like.
When it floods in California, the culprit is usually what’s known as an atmospheric river—a narrow ribbon of ultra-moist air moving in from over the Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric rivers are also essential sources of moisture for western reservoirs and mountain snowpack, but in 1861, a series of particularly intense and prolonged ones led to the worst disaster in state history: a flood that swamped the state. What would happen if the same weather pattern hit the state again?
Noting the Klamath River’s history as the West Coast’s third-largest salmon-producing river, the City Council’s letter states that they believe a “free-flowing Klamath will revitalize” both the commercial and recreational fisheries, creating jobs and bringing revenue to the community.
We find that the occurrence of both extreme wet and extreme dry events in California—and of rapid transitions between the two—will likely increase with atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The rising risk of historically unprecedented precipitation extremes will seriously test California’s existing water storage, distribution, and flood protection infrastructure.
A landslide that dumped about 6 million cubic yards of rock and debris across California Highway 1 near near Big Sur, California, in May 2017 was the result of drought followed by deluge, a team of scientists say. … The researchers determined that water replaces air in the tiny spaces between soil particles, which greatly increased the pressure on those particles, speeding up the rate of collapse.
When 2019 started, California’s snowpack was at 67%. Now it’s at over 136% and rising. The atmospheric rivers that are dumping rain along coastal California are also dumping massive amounts of snow in the state’s Sierra Nevada.
Many no longer recall the Great Midwest Flood despite its record-breaking precipitation, flooding and $13 billion price tag. Sure, 1993 seems like a long time ago, but I believe the reason the flood has left most people’s memory is because, over the last 25 years, the nation has experienced one devastating, record-breaking flood after another. Our memories are diluted by the frequency of such events.
At the end of 2017, several local rice farmers teamed up with researchers for a pilot program known as “Fish in the Fields” through the Resource Renewal Institute, a nonprofit research and natural resource policy group, to see what would happen when fish were introduced to flooded rice fields. Now in its second year of experiments, researchers have concluded that it works, with methane – a climate-changing byproduct of rice agriculture much more detrimental than carbon dioxide – being reduced by about two-thirds, or 65 percent, in flooded fields that had fish in them.
Although it might sound absurd to those who still recall five years of withering drought and mandatory water restrictions, researchers and engineers warn that California may be due for rain of biblical proportions — or what experts call an ARkStorm. … In heavily populated areas of the Los Angeles Basin, epic runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains could rapidly overwhelm a flood control dam on the San Gabriel river and unleash floodwaters from Pico Rivera to Long Beach, says a recent analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Colorado River has been dammed, diverted, and slowed by reservoirs, strangling the life out of a once-thriving ecosystem. But in the U.S. and Mexico, efforts are underway to revive sections of the river and restore vital riparian habitat for native plants, fish, and wildlife. Last in a series.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community said in a statement Thursday that a decision by House Speaker Rusty Bowers to move forward with a contentious water bill threatens the community’s plan to support the drought agreement. The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because it’s entitled to about a fourth of the Colorado River water that passes through the Central Arizona Project’s canal.
An atmospheric river storm that walloped the Bay Area on Thursday, causing traffic snarls, flood scares and at least one major mudslide that wrecked homes and cars, has finally left Northern California. … The biggest storm of the winter so far also delivered something quite valuable: a boost to the Sierra Nevada snowpack to 102 percent of its historical average for April 1. In other words, California already has the equivalent of an average winter’s snow supply, with six weeks still left to go in this year’s winter rain and snow season.
The interrelated nature of water issues has given rise to a management approach that integrates flood control, environmental water, and water supply. The Yuba Water Agency manages its watershed in this kind of coordinated manner. We talked to Curt Aikens, the agency’s general manager, about the lessons they’ve learned from this “integrated management” approach.
Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that El Niño — the periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, with weather consequences worldwide — has officially arrived. El Niño typically peaks between October and March, so it’s pretty late in the season for a new one to form. This year’s El Niño is expected to remain relatively weak, but that doesn’t mean this one won’t be felt — in fact, its cascading consequences already in motion.
Major dams in California are five times more likely to flood this century than the last one due to global warming, a new study finds, possibly leading to overtopping and catastrophic failures that threaten costly repairs and evacuations. That means Californians can expect more disasters like the Oroville Dam, whose overflow channel failed in 2017 after days of flooding had filled state reservoirs to 85% of their capacity.
Lawyers representing the state Department of Water Resources will make their case Friday for striking portions of lawsuits over the spillway crisis filed by the city of Oroville, several farms, businesses and other plaintiffs. The state is arguing that certain “inflammatory and irrelevant” allegations should be removed from the lawsuits, including allegations about racist actions, sexual harassment and petty theft by DWR employees and conspiracy to cover up or destroy documents.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, introduced a bill in Congress to remove a provision from the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 to allow presidents to divert disaster recovery funds during a declared state of emergency. In January, during the government shutdown, senior Defense department officials reportedly discussed with President Donald Trump the possibility of using a portion of funds set aside by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for civil works projects to fund 315 miles of barrier along the Mexican border.
The wet weather broke a daily rainfall record in Sacramento, with 1.6 inches of rain recorded at the Sacramento Executive Airport over 24 hours. But the state’s network of flood-control dams and levees appeared to handle the deluge without major problems. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning Wednesday morning for the Sacramento Valley, and it was expected to remain in place until 6 p.m. Thursday as heavy and moderate rainfall was forecast to continue through Thursday.
A powerful “atmospheric river” storm is expected to pummel Northern California starting Tuesday night and deliver heavy rain, gusty winds, downed trees, power outages and rough driving conditions Wednesday and Thursday. … The storm should bring up to 5 feet of new snow in the Sierra Nevada, forecasters said. The National Weather Service announced flash-flood and high-wind warnings for the Bay Area, along with Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
Our floodplain reforestation projects are biodiversity hotspots and climate-protection powerhouses that cost far less than old-fashioned gray infrastructure of levees, dams and reservoirs. They provide highly-effective flood safety by strategically spreading floodwater. Floodplain forests combat the effects of drought by recharging groundwater and increasing freshwater supply.
The new report, “Sustainable Landscapes on Commercial and Industrial Properties in the Santa Ana River Watershed,” explores how landscape conversion on commercial and industrial properties can reduce water use, increase stormwater capture and groundwater recharge, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use.
Work will soon begin on a $6 million effort to upgrade Oxnard’s wastewater treatment plant. The City Council this week awarded a contract to the Livermore-based GSE Construction Co. to upgrade facilities that are at the highest risk of failure. The project includes repairing settling tanks known as primary clarifiers, bio towers that filter waste and other equipment.
California’s San Joaquin River Delta is in danger of being overrun by voracious beagle-sized rodents. The state has a plan to deal with them, but it’s going to take a lot of time and money. Nutria, a large South American rodent, have become an invasive species in several states, including Louisiana, Maryland and Oregon.
Runoff from the Ventura River gave Lake Casitas some much-needed relief over the past several weeks until about five feet of muck got in the way. … Dubbed “a critical shutdown,” work to clear the buildup is expected to take through the weekend. With the forecast calling for more rain, Casitas officials said they were trying to finish as quickly as possible.
Just over half the city’s infrastructure needs are in the city’s Public Utilities Department, which is responsible for sewage, water and the city’s ambitious water recycling program, Pure Water. The city expects to have all the money it needs in those areas because they are funded by water and sewer rates. The picture is far less rosy for infrastructure that has less reliable revenue sources. The city is short $719.8 million for stormwater infrastructure — by far the biggest unfunded capital need in the city.
The coring project is the initial phase of a multiyear analysis in partnership with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the National Park Service and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The agencies have set aside $1.3 million for the study, about half going toward extracting the cores.
The Department of Water Resources reported last week that the surface level of most of the Sacramento Valley wasn’t dropping, which is incredibly good news. But it’s the kind of news that most people can not appreciate.
For the first time, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and collaborating institutions have documented the transition of a stable, slow-moving landslide into catastrophic collapse, showing how drought and extreme rains likely destabilized the slide. The Mud Creek landslide near Big Sur, California, dumped about 6 million cubic yards (5 million cubic meters) of rock and debris across California Highway 1 on May 20, 2017.
Workers were patching Oroville Dam’s weathered concrete spillway, nearly four years before a massive crater would tear it open. Michael Hopkins, an employee at the Department of Water Resources, alleges he saw something he would never forget. A legally deaf woman was assigned to drive a truck down the spillway and listen for hollow sounds in the concrete as her colleagues performed what’s known as “chain drag testing,” Hopkins wrote in a declaration filed last week in Sacramento Superior Court.
Thursday marks two years since the first hole opened up in the Oroville Dam Spillway, triggering an emergency that forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people. … The new emergency spillway is covered with roller-compacted concrete that looks like a giant staircase. It is one of the biggest changes during the reconstruction of the spillway project.
With another potential government shutdown on the horizon, President Donald Trump remains coy about whether he’ll declare a national emergency to fund the border wall he promised during his 2016 campaign. This week, he told reporters that he could use that power and divert money from the Army Corps of Engineers. Democrats worry that could mean taking money away from ongoing projects in Northern California, like raising Folsom Dam.
In the past, cyclical erosion would naturally occur — wintertime storms washed sand out to sea, while summer swells deposited it back on the beach. Besides climate change melting ice at the poles and causing sea levels to rise, strong storms such as those seen over the last few days can also pull sand out to sea. But there are also the hard structures that are having an impact, such as construction inland that stops the natural flow of sand down creeks and riverbeds to the beach.
Anyone who has been on Balboa Island during a hard rain knows the streets can flood. The city of Newport Beach is considering replacing the island’s 1930s-era drainage system with several automated below-ground pumps. That would save on labor and costs associated with manually opening the tide gates at the end of streets and sending out portable pumps and slicker-clad city workers to dump excess storm water into the bay.
In 70 years, San Francisco as we know it could look drastically different. Gentrification, development and the other forces of urban change we fret about may be mere trifles compared to the drastic effects of climate change, including the rise of sea levels and erosion, scientists say. By 2100, rising sea levels could displace more than 480,000 people along the California coast and result in property losses upwards of $100 billion if no preventative measures are taken, according to a 2009 study by the California Climate Change Center.
With each storm, the rain-swollen Russian River is washing away more of a steep, muddy bank perilously close to River Road near Geyserville, prompting Sonoma County supervisors to approve Tuesday an emergency repair estimated at $250,000. Should the river wipe out the road, about 400 residents of Alexander Valley, a famed wine grape growing area, would be cut off from a connection to Highway 128 leading southwest to Geyserville and Highway 101.
Just as Carpinteria was finishing its draft ocean adaptation report, the State of California put out some gloomy news: Sea-rise levels were now expected to rise 10 feet by 2100, not 5 feet. Carpinteria will be holding an all-residents-invited workshop on February 12 to discuss the findings and possible solutions.
A countywide effort to address sea level rise is gaining momentum after San Mateo County supervisors took steps to form a new government agency to manage flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion and stormwater infrastructure this week. By expanding the San Mateo County Flood Control District’s responsibilities … officials have looked to facilitate coordination between jurisdictions as they set their sights on a new set of challenges for water infrastructure projects.
In September of 2018, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released the report, “Managing Drought in a Changing Climate: Four Essential Reforms”, which asserted there are five climate pressures affecting California’s water… The report recommends four policy reforms: Plan ahead, upgrade the water grid, update water allocation rules, and find the money.
Several areas of the Oroville Dam and lake are undergoing extensive renovations and improvements, and the Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee met Friday to hear reports from the various member organizations overseeing them. … Aaron Wright of the California Department of Parks and Recreation said that several of the recently reopened areas near the dam have received a good amount of traffic.
A new approach to flood management around the San Francisco Bay could trim maintenance costs for water agencies, restore habitat for endangered species, and help protect against rising seas. What links the three? Sediment. Winter storms push sediment down creeks that flow into the Bay and, long ago, these waterways fanned out when they reached the edge. Sediment settled there, nourishing tidal baylands — salt marshes and mudflats that are rich in wildlife, and also buffer the shore from storm surges, the highest tides, and sea level rise. Today few of these low-lying tidal baylands remain.
The strongest Pacific storm of the season will lash California through Saturday with high winds, feet of Sierra snow, and heavy rain that could trigger flash flooding, debris flows and rockslides. If that wasn’t enough, another colder storm is waiting in the wings behind this first system.
Five dams across California – including one in Lake County that forms Lake Pillsbury – have been listed as key for removal by an advocacy group in the effort to stop the extinction of native salmon and steelhead. In response to what it calls a “statewide fish extinction crisis,” which indicates 74 percent of California’s native salmon, steelhead and trout species are likely to be extinct in the next century, the fish and watershed conservation nonprofit organization California Trout on Tuesday released its list of the top five dams prime for removal in the golden state.
What was supposed to be a great flood control project that kept homes safe in the South Bay has turned into a nightmare for many homeowners. Repair crews continue to work on Ridgemont Drive in San Jose, where they are replacing brick pillars residents claim were damaged by the pounding to the flood control project along the Silver Creek. Homeowners are footing the bill for the repairs and say someone else should be paying.
Congressmen John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa have reintroduced legislation to provide farmers access to discounted rates under the National Flood Insurance Program. The bipartisan Flood Insurance for Farmers Act of 2019 (H.R.830) would also lift the de facto federal prohibition on construction and repair of agricultural structures in high flood-risk areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
After many years of hard work, North Coast dam removal efforts are now rapidly accelerating. On Friday, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced that it is pulling the application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, a series of two dams and a large diversion on the Upper Eel River. On Feb. 6, the California Water Resources Control Board is coming to Arcata to take comments on their final 401 (Clean Water Act) permit to remove four dams on the Klamath River. What does this all mean? Are we really about to see the Eel and Klamath River dams come down?
January storms bolstered a drought-stressed Lake Casitas, but officials say burned hillsides continue to cause problems to capturing water. About 8 inches of rain fell near Casitas Dam in January. That pushed the area slightly above normal for this time of year… But now, as rain slams into burned hillsides, debris and ashy muck floods into the diversion facility along with the water.
Early last year, construction started on a $90 million project to build seven miles of setback levees and floodplains to protect Hamilton City from floods on the Sacramento River. … The new barriers are much farther from the riverbanks—as far as a mile away in places. In some respects, the concept is absurdly simple: During heavy rains or spring snowmelt, rivers need room to expand; moving levees back from riverbanks provides it. Setback levees not only reduce the need for newer and larger dams and levees, but also restore the natural habitat.
Sonoma County water officials, under order from the state to improve the capacity of their sewage system, say a valve malfunction and leaky pipes resulted in a string of spills this month that released 2.7 million gallons of waste and stormwater, some of which flowed into local creeks and San Pablo Bay.
The city of San Diego decided Tuesday to back California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s lawsuit that seeks to hold the Trump administration accountable for sewage and other toxic flows that routinely spill over the border from Tijuana and foul beaches as far north as Coronado. The City Council voted unanimously in closed session on Tuesday to join the legal action. Councilman Chris Cate was absent.
Maintaining functional wetlands in a 21st-century landscape dominated by agriculture and cities requires a host of hard and soft infrastructures. Canals, pumps, and sluice gates provide critical life support, and the lands are irrigated and tilled in seasonal cycles to essentially farm wildlife. Reams of laws and regulations scaffold the system.
The proposed tunnel path stretches 35 miles from west of Elk Grove to just below Discovery Bay. The tunnels would take water from three intakes along the Sacramento River to existing aqueducts south of Discovery Bay, and then the water will be sent to Southern California. Along the proposed path, there are at least 22 levees that would sit above the tunnels…. The concern is not so much the levees themselves, but the kind of soil that is below the levees.
New data released measure changes in land subsidence in the Sacramento Valley over the past nine years, finding the greatest land surface declines in Arbuckle. According to the Sacramento Valley GPS Subsidence Netwook Report and accompanying fact sheet … land in the Arbuckle area has sunk 2.14 feet compared with baseline measurements recorded in the same location in 2008, according to a press release from the Department of Water Resources.
It took more than a decade to create, but a revised state definition of wetlands and procedures to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities requires still more work to make the plan more clear and to reduce its impact on farmers, ranchers and foresters.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board, or SWRCB, are extending outreach to the cannabis cultivating community with presentations at four permitting workshops in Northern California. The presentations are ideally suited for cannabis cultivators, consultants and anyone interested in the topic. SWRCB will cover policy and permitting, and other important information. Computers will be available for applicants to apply for water rights and water quality permits.
City leaders met with Oregon state legislators this past week to discuss the earliest stages of funding an $80 million plan to fortify the city’s water system and ensure drinking water is free from harmful algal toxins. The need for cleaning out cyanotoxins and developing a backup water system became apparent to city officials last summer when Salem experienced a month-long drinking water crisis.
Unable to cope with wildfire claims, PG&E made good on its vow to file for bankruptcy Tuesday, launching a perilous journey with major implications for ratepayers, investors, state officials and the thousands of California wildfire victims who are suing the utility. Citing “extraordinary financial challenges” and a rapidly deteriorating cash position, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and its parent PG&E Corp. sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an electronic filing shortly after midnight.
A new NASA study shows that warming of the tropical oceans due to climate change could lead to a substantial increase in the frequency of extreme rain storms by the end of the century. The study team, led by Hartmut Aumann of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, combed through 15 years of data acquired by NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument over the tropical oceans to determine the relationship between the average sea surface temperature and the onset of severe storms.
From 1,000 feet above, you can see surf pounding long sequences of seawalls and riprap rocks protecting homes, the ocean sometimes appearing to threaten structures, despite the installed barriers. Where there are cliffs with no homes, the waves gnaw away at the bluffs, moving the beaches at their base farther inland. The extreme king tides of the past few days occur only once or twice a year, but they offer a glimpse of what normal tides will be eventually be doing daily as the result of rising sea levels.
The nutria invasion of California continues. Greg Gerstenberg, a biologist and nutria operations chief with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said 372 nutria had been trapped in the state as of Jan. 10. Bruce Blodgett, executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, wants farmers and others who maintain levees to be aware.
With four straight days of rain, the Los Angeles River has come alive. Thanks to Measure W, which was passed by voters last November, projects will be funded and infrastructure will be built to capture, treat and recycle all this rain water. Measure W is predicted to raise $300 million per year for L.A. County off a new property tax for what is called impermeable areas. That would be the driveway of your house, concrete patio or anything that stops water from going into the ground.
Southern California Edison — fighting dozens of legal claims related to the Montecito mudslides that followed the Thomas fire — is putting the blame on Santa Barbara County and Caltrans for failing to prepare for deadly debris flows they knew were inevitable.
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.
Heavy rains this week left Lake Mendocino, the North Bay region’s second-largest reservoir, with an extra 2 billion gallons of water that until now officials would have been obliged to release into the Russian River and eventually the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to a $10 million program that blends high-tech weather forecasting with novel computer programming, the Army Corps has the latitude to retain an additional 11,650 acre feet of water, and Lake Mendocino has now impounded a little more than half that much.
Because of the potential of massive flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers is rushing to begin a $500-million repair project for Whittier Narrows Dam, classified as the highest priority of any of the 13 “high risk” dams in the country. Nearly three years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers elevated the risk of failure from “high urgency” to “very high urgency” after a re-inspection revealed a greater threat of erosion and breach that would cause massive downstream flooding to one million Southern California residents in the event of a severe storm event.
Locally, the primary impacts of climate change on people can broadly be broken into four categories: sea level rise, drought, flood and wildfire. The good news is, work and planning are already well underway to mitigate impacts, though it’s hard to say how much of an effect the measures will have, and how much those agencies – and their constituents – will be willing to spend on them. But this much is clear: Local, state and federal agencies are taking climate change seriously, and treating it like the potentially existential threat that it is.
At least one state agency has indicated it will not issue necessary permits to allow federal officials and a Fresno-based water district to begin construction to raise the height of Shasta Dam. In addition to facing opposition from the state, the project could also face fresh hurdles from Congress, which this year came under control of Democrats. In a letter to the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, the State Water Resources Control Board says raising the height of Shasta Dam would violate state law.
Around the world, vanishing glaciers will mean less water for people and crops in the future. … Glaciers represent the snows of centuries, compressed over time into slowly flowing rivers of ice. … But in a warming climate melting outstrips accumulation, resulting in a net loss of ice.
The whims of political fate decided in 2018 that state bond money would not be forthcoming to help repair the subsidence-damaged parts of Friant-Kern Canal, the 152-mile conduit that conveys water from the San Joaquin River to farms that fuel a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy along the east side of the fertile San Joaquin Valley.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Delta Conservation Framework as a comprehensive resource and guide for conservation planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through 2050. The framework provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape.
Most of the native habitat in California’s San Joaquin Desert has been converted to row crops and orchards, leaving 35 threatened or endangered species confined to isolated patches of habitat. A significant portion of that farmland, however, is likely to be retired in the coming decades due to groundwater overdraft, soil salinity, and climate change. A new study … found that restoration of fallowed farmland could play a crucial role in habitat protection and restoration strategies for the blunt-nosed leopard lizard and other endangered species.
A simple web search will pull up nearly a million articles, videos and photos featuring Frank Gehrke. He’s no fashion icon like Kim Kardashian or a dogged politician like Gov. Jerry Brown. But he has broken a lot of news. … For 30 years, you might have seen Gehrke on TV, the guy trudging through snow with a measuring pole, talking about how deep the pack is each winter on the evening news. He retired from his post as the state’s chief snow surveyor in December, but he’s not letting go of his snowshoes and skis anytime soon.
The confluence of California’s two great rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, creates the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Those of us who live here call it, simply, the Delta. It is part of my very fiber, and it is essential to California’s future. That’s why we must save it.
Arcadis has announced it will partner with Kiewit Infrastructure West and PERC Water to serve as the progressive design-build team for the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Project (SWIP) in the City of Santa Monica, Calif. Currently, the city partially relies on imported water to meet its water needs. This project will allow the city to take a major step toward water independence, supporting existing programs designed to create a sustainable water supply
Rising sea levels are not only going to increasingly flood parts of Long Beach, but could leave the most vulnerable neighborhoods uninhabitable within a generation or two, according to a city presentation Monday night that drew more 300 residents concerned about the city’s — and their own — future.
The McCormack-Williamson Tract restoration project, a 1,500 acre site, lowers the levees on the north side of the island to allow the river to overtop into the site. On the south side, DWR will alleviate the surge flows that pose a risk to neighbors by opening small holes in the levee. 2018 saw the completion of construction of a levee to protect existing infrastructure on the site, as well as progress on habitat restoration plans. For the next phase, DWR will strengthen the interior levees and take steps toward opening the site up to tidal flows.