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.
The Del Puerto Water District is set to vote Wednesday on
approving a final environmental impact study on a much-disputed
storage reservoir in western Stanislaus County. … According
to proponents, the reservoir storing up to 82,000 acre-feet
will provide more reliable water deliveries to farmers south of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… Water pumped from the
nearby Delta-Mendota Canal would be stored behind the dam.
Working over the last year, construction crews expect to
complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It
will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres,
or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had
been diked and drained for agriculture and development during
the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Now in its second year, a long-term project intends to learn
whether rice farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can
succeed economically while helping to preserve the region’s
uniquely carbon-rich peat soils.
In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created
equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be
recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers
has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer
those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire
Experts say it’s likely not a matter of if, but when, intense
rainfall triggers mudslides that threaten the properties and
lives of thousands of people in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The
area has seen these disasters before: In January 1982, the Love
Creek mudslide killed 10 people near Ben Lomond. But the CZU
Lightning Complex, larger than any fire in the region’s
recorded history, created an unprecedented hazard.
In 2011, heavy snows in the Rocky Mountains filled the Colorado
River, lifting reservoirs—and spirits—in the drought-stricken
U.S. Southwest. The following year, however, water levels
dropped to nearly their lowest in a century… Now, scientists
say they may have come up with a potential early warning system
for the Colorado’s water levels—by watching temperature
patterns in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thousands of
The solutions are not just about spending money, but changing
how we do coastal development — fewer expensive seawalls and
roads, and more “living shorelines” and coastal parks that can
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken a dramatic
step to encourage communities to use environmentally friendly
features such as wetlands for flood protection instead of
building sea walls and levees.
Protecting intact peatlands [such as those in California] and
restoring degraded ones are crucial steps if the world is to
counter climate change, European researchers said Friday. In a
study, they said peat bogs, wetlands that contain large amounts
of carbon in the form of decaying vegetation that has built up
over centuries, could help the world achieve climate goals like
the limit of 2 degrees Celsius of postindustrial warming that
is part of the 2015 Paris agreement.
A University of Arizona researcher is leading a National
Science Foundation project that is integrating artificial
intelligence to simulate the nation’s groundwater supply for
the purpose of forecasting droughts and floods. [One aim,
the researcher said, is to] “come up with better forecasts
for floods and droughts in the upper Colorado River Basin…”
In the new study, scientists at The University of Texas at
Austin in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists
found that leading climate projections used by the state
strongly agree that climate change will shift the timing and
intensity of rainfall and the health of the state’s snowpack in
ways that will make water management more difficult during the
On the heels of a historic drought, at the beginning of the
implementation of historic groundwater legislation, and in
light of potential flooding, Porterville will have more water
in the future and a larger dam to prevent it from damaging the
A federal judge ruled Monday that a sprawling collage of salt
ponds in Redwood City is subject to protection under the Clean
Water Act — going against a previous decision by the
Environmental Protection Agency that would have eased
development along the bay.
Congress has given final approval to a bill that would take on
nutria, a giant rodent threatening waterways in the Central
Valley and beyond. … The measure, HR 3399, would provide $12
million to California and several other affected states for
nutria control, research and related efforts.
Valley Water this week began draining Anderson Reservoir in
preparation for a seismic retrofit of the body’s dam in east
Morgan Hill, but Gov. Gavin Newsom also vetoed a state Assembly
bill that would have expedited the project that the water
district has been planning for more than 10 years.
In California’s Placer County, an unusual partnership between a
county water utility, the U.S. Forest Service and
environmentalists is taking on the work to prevent catastrophic
fires on more than 11,000 hectares in the northern Sierra
Nevada Mountains. The partnership arose from the ashes of
2014’s King fire.
Californians are understandably focused on the wildfires that
have charred more than 3 million acres and darkened our skies –
forcing us to find masks that protect us from both COVID-19 and
smoke. But Californians should also pay attention to the
multiple hurricanes that have devastated the Gulf Coast this
season. These disasters have much in common.
Biologists and engineers are setting the stage for an
environmental recovery effort in downtown Los Angeles that
could rival the return of the gray wolf, bald eagle and
California condor. This time, the species teetering on the edge
of extinction is the Southern California steelhead trout and
the abused habitat is a 4.8-mile-long stretch of the L.A. River
flood-control channel that most people only glimpse from a
Extended weather outlooks are providing some hope for
fire-scorched Northern California. Weather models are starting
to show greater agreement on the possibility of moisture making
its way into Northern California by the second half of next
week, the National Weather Service said.
Assessments of the worst-case scenario predict the Bay may rise
a damaging 1.9 feet by 2050 and as much as nearly 7 feet by
2100. Restoring even a fraction of the Bay’s lost wetlands
would provide long-lasting benefits.
Three Coachella Valley high schoolers kayaked across the Salton
Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological
crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to
shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.
The proposed ecological wetland park at Alameda Point, known as
DePave Park, is another step closer to becoming a reality. On
Sept. 15, four members of the city council gave thumbs up to
moving forward with seeking a $2 million grant to pay for a
master planning process.
No California communities are more shaped by water than those
in the Delta. Water surrounds communities like
Stockton. Water shaped our history and still shapes our
economy, quality of life, culture, and is essential for a
healthy environment. And for our communities,
water-related disasters are devastating. We see proof of that
The last time Mt. Tamalpais had a major wildfire was in 1929.
In 1930, Marin’s population was 41,648. Today it’s more than
258,000. … As with many other utilities, the Marin Municipal
Water District is updating its treatment plants. It is unclear,
from a technology and science perspective, whether our
community treatment plant could handle sediment runoff from a
big rainstorm after a catastrophic, climate-driven wildfire.
Earlier this summer, American Rivers released a new report,
Rivers as Economic Engines, detailing how the right investments
in water infrastructure, natural infrastructure and river
restoration can create jobs, strengthen communities and address
longstanding injustices. … We are calling on Congress to
invest $500 billion over 10 years to create the
transformational change we need when it comes to ensuring clean
water and healthy rivers for everyone.
The Embarcadero faces severe threats, with regionwide
repercussions from both earthquakes that could undermine the
city’s seawall and a rise in bay waters that could flood
downtown streets and inundate BART and Muni tunnels, according
to an exhaustive new study from the Port of San Francisco.
Work on a long-planned effort to reduce flood risk and improve
safety for businesses and residents in the Ross Valley is
underway as workers move dirt and debris to create a flood
retention basin at the former Sunnyside Nursery outside of
When fires burn up vegetation, the charred remains become
hydrophobic—meaning they repel away any water. The soil is also
very dry, which counterintuitively makes it harder for water to
infiltrate. … Fires can also destroy the natural clumps in
soil, increasing their erodibility. Altogether, this means that
water is hitting the ground with more force and the soil is
unable to suck it up.
For years, a stretch of Chorro Creek near Hollister Peak ran
through active farmland, where its flow was diverted for
irrigation and its banks were shored up by levees, blocking the
water’s natural access to its floodplain. … After nearly two
decades of planning and fundraising, the Estuary Program and
its partners recently completed a major restoration of the
New mapping of salt concentrations in the world’s oceans
confirms what physics and climate models have long suggested:
Global warming is intensifying Earth’s water cycle, speeding up
the rate at which water evaporates in one area and falls as
rain or snow somewhere else. That intensification has enormous
implications because it worsens droughts and increases extreme
rainstorms and flooding.
One of the most severe examples is the San Lorenzo Valley Water
District, which serves parts of inland Santa Cruz County, in
central California. More than 7 miles of an HDPE plastic water
supply pipeline were destroyed in the CZU Lightning Complex
Fire, according to Rick Rogers, the district manager.
Zone 7 Water Agency’s failed flood control system needs a total
revamp from the ground up, according to a consultant hired by
the agency. The system can’t be saved by adding touches here
and there. It will need a whole new rethinking, and will be
expensive, said Eric Nagy, a principal with the firm Larsen,
Wurzel & Associates in Sacramento.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all
sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to
sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself,
development and other land use changes have left only a tiny
fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by
scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical
streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the
Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.
California is on track to get drier over the coming decades.
But that doesn’t mean the golden state’s water woes come only
from too little rain. In a new study, researchers at UC Santa
Barbara and UCLA warn that flooding potential associated with
extreme precipitation events is set to sharply increase.
At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board,
the new members joined with the outgoing members for
reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed
on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.
The idea was to lower the flows while temperatures were still
warm enough to dry out the caddis larvae. That required buy-in
from local merchants and the Bureau of Reclamation, local
tribes and others. They were able to do it, and on Aug. 27, the
first of two flow reductions took place. When the river
dropped, people pitched in for a day of river cleanup.
The most pressing risk is debris that could clog the San
Lorenzo River near River Street and Highway 1 where water
enters the city’s system, said Santa Cruz Water Director
Rosemary Menard. The San Lorenzo River is the city’s largest
water source. It represents about 45% of the water supply.
There is something in the water on planet Earth. A study
published Wednesday reveals climate change has amplified the
water cycle, which explains the more frequent extreme weather
patterns in recent years.
If current predictions hold, the entire Palo Alto Baylands
could be submerged by the middle of the century because of sea
level rise, a destructive predicament that would threaten both
the sensitive habitat and the critical infrastructure in the
nature preserve. To prepare for rising tides, the city is
moving ahead with the creation of a new Sea Level Adaptation
Americans support far more aggressive government regulation to
fight the effects of climate change than elected officials have
been willing to pursue so far, new research shows, including
outright bans on building in flood- or fire-prone areas — a
level of restrictiveness almost unheard-of in the United
States…in California and elsewhere, officials continue to
approve development in areas hit by fires.
Climate change could deliver more silt, sand and pollution to
the San Francisco Bay-Delta, along with a mixed bag of other
potential consequences and benefits, according to a new study
in the AGU journal Water Resources Research, which publishes
research articles and commentaries providing a broad
understanding of the role of water in Earth’s natural systems.
A multimillion dollar water project in the heart of Northridge
is on the fast track to becoming a reality. The Aliso
Creek-Limekiln Creek Restoration Project at Vanalden Park is
aimed at reducing pollutants in city waters by treating
stormwater and urban runoff from Aliso and Limekiln creeks and
an open channel storm drain.
For the first time in years, boats will soon be able to travel
freely again down the Petaluma River. … Once a vibrant
waterway, Petaluma River is now silted in, full of mud. Lt.
Colonel John Cunningham says the river hasn’t had a full
cleaning by the Army Corps of Engineers for nearly 20 years.
The owner of a Suisun Bay island violated the federal Clean
Water Act when he destroyed marshland by building a levee and
dumping dredged material while building duck-hunting ponds, a
federal judge ruled Wednesday. The ruling is the latest in a
years-long battle between regulators and John Sweeney, who owns
an island in Suisun Bay, a tidal channel and marsh area
northeast of San Francisco.
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Wednesday the agency
would pay for more water treatment south of the border, and
work with San Diego to control trash coming into the United
States from Mexico by way of the Tijuana River. Wheeler made
the announcement during a visit to Southern California, a
region long plagued by sewage, water, trash, and other
contaminants flowing from Mexico.
On Aug. 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a service
contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an
existing wetlands on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at
Alameda Point. The wetlands project is being implemented to
offset impacts to wetlands areas elsewhere on the VA property
where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will
San Diego water managers are working with local researchers to
understand how atmospheric rivers bring water to the region.
… Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers are working
to better understand atmospheric rivers, or ARs, so they can
predict when and where the weather systems will hit.
Recent research looking at projected global temperature
increases and large-scale oceanic and atmospheric processes
contains alarming news for California water and flood planners.
According to this emerging science, intense precipitation and
flooding from “pineapple express”-style winter storms could
both shift eastwardly landward and intensify by up to 40% by
the latter half of the century.
Residents have until Wednesday to comment on a proposal for
restoring Franks Tract, a 3,000-acre flooded island in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, to marshlands. … The preferred
concept that’s emerged after several public meetings would
restore about 1,000 acres to tidal marsh habitat and deepen
other areas to provide fill for the marsh. Community concerns
regarding navigation and recreation would also be addressed…
A fish rescue has taken place in the South Bay, where the
Anderson Dam retrofit project is about to get underway. Using
nets and buckets, a team with the Valley Water District scooped
up Central California Coast steelhead in upper Coyote Creek to
save the fish and help the species survive.
Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If
California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the
western coast of the North American continent will be damaged.
Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water
relationship that has a personally significant impact to your
California rice growers wishing to participate in a
state-funded program to flood their fields for winter wildlife
habitat have until Sept. 14 to submit their requests to the
state. Growers who qualify this year will receive $15 per acre
to flood their rice fields.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced plans to
extend the border wall and have it cut across the Tijuana River
where the river enters the U.S. in San Diego. … Usually, the
river has more debris and old tires in it than it has water.
But there is no barrier between the two countries here.
After more than two years, another big El Dorado Irrigation
District project is complete as renovations and improvements to
the El Dorado Forebay Dam and Reservoir are finished and the
At ACWA’s virtual conference held in July of 2020, a panel
comprised of agencies described the experience of the American
River region in evaluating climate impacts on their watershed
in a new cutting-edge study and the comprehensive suite of
projects designed to address increasing threats from more
frequent and intense floods, fires, and droughts.
This month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency detailed a
new program, worth an initial $500 million, with billions more
to come, designed to pay for large-scale relocation nationwide.
… On the other side of the country, California has told local
governments to begin planning for relocation of homes away from
Realtor.com has become the first site to disclose information
about a home’s flood risk and how climate change could increase
that risk in the coming decades, potentially signaling a major
shift in consumers’ access to information about climate
While the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex deals
with one of its biggest botulism outbreaks in recent history,
emergency water deliveries from the Klamath Project have
prevented the situation from worsening. The waterborne
bacterial illness, which causes paralysis and often leads to
death, has impacted more than 15 percent of the molting birds
currently on Tule Lake’s main sump.
The San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday it is
partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC
San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve
water management before, during and after those seasonal
storms. [The other affiliates are: Irvine Ranch Water District,
Orange County Water District, Sonoma Water, Turlock Irrigation
District, and Yuba Water Agency.]
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
California’s rivers and aquatic species are in trouble, but
restoration projects often get bogged down by lengthy
permitting processes. Sustainable Conservation has been at the
forefront of finding ways to speed up badly needed restoration
projects with improved permitting. We talked to Erika
Lovejoy—director of Sustainable Conservation’s Accelerating
Developers submitted dueling bids for the right to revamp a
48-acre triangular stretch of land off Sports Arena Boulevard
in San Diego’s Midway District. Critics are fixated on whether
to replace the old, grain bin-looking sports arena. … But
whatever stands there in the end could be up to its ears in
seawater in the second half of this century.
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.
Because the invasive 20-pound rodents pose a unique threat to
California’s wetlands, the state has expanded the Nutria
Eradication Program over the past year to a staff of 26 field
operatives 100% dedicated to exterminating the swamp rat.
Unlike just about everything else in the state, the war against
nutria has been almost entirely unaffected by the coronavirus
In the new study, researchers modeled the effects of rising sea
level along the entire California coastline. While results
varied with local topography, the study indicates rising sea
levels could push inland water tables higher, resulting in
damage to infrastructure and increased severity of flooding.
A report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office has
sobering reminders of what sea-level rise will do to our
coastline, our economy and to our public and private property.
The report urges local and state governments not to get
distracted by COVID-19 from planning ahead for the rising seas.
Sonoma Water Engineer Chris Delaney led development of a
forecast informed reservoir operations (FIRO) decision support
system for Lake Mendocino… Center For Western Weather And
Water Extremes… A proof-of-concept model was originally
developed by Chris in 2015 as a personal research project, and
has been refined over the past 5 years with research and
With up to $4,058,220 available, the program provides economic
incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their
properties in accordance with a management plan developed
through a consultation with biologists from California
Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat
Program for a two-year period.
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
A correct analysis of the state’s water supply is always
important, but especially during drought years. A new bill
introduced by Rep. Josh Harder and Sen. Dianne Feinstein on
Friday hopes to improve the state’s water management by
establishing an airborne snowpack observation program.
Valley Water biologists will be rescuing federally threatened
Central California Coast Steelhead and other sensitive fish
from Coyote Creek next week and relocating them to a more
suitable environment in the Coyote watershed.
A stretch of concrete and asphalt that was once an aircraft
taxiway will be removed so the site along San Francisco Bay can
be converted to a wetlands park, according to a proposal the
city is considering.
Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, yet a world away from San
Francisco, in an unincorporated and oft-overlooked area known
as Marin City, sea level rise is rarely the first worry that
comes to mind. Traditional flood maps for this predominantly
Black and working-class community suggest that the area is safe
from rising water until 3 feet or more. But sea level rise is a
lot more complicated than just waves breaking over seawalls and
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
councilmembers heard briefings on the activities of the Delta
Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy, and an update
on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
After years marked by a historic statewide drought and
devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara
County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to
approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects,
from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs
of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.
By the 2070s, climate change will reduce snowpack and increase
extreme rainfall in the Sierra Nevada and California’s
reservoirs will likely be overwhelmed. That’s according to a
new study by UCLA climate scientists, who predict that run-off
during so-called atmospheric rivers will increase by nearly 50
percent, leading to widespread flooding across the state.
If California lawmakers set aside climate concerns like sea
level rise, and focus only on the pandemic, the state could be
setting itself up for an even worse economic hardship, the
nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office cautioned in a report
The loss in hydroelectric generation during the 2012-16 drought
cost PG&E and other California utilities about $5.5
billion, a new study says. As California’s climate becomes more
prone to severe droughts, the findings point to future costs
that utilities — and ultimately ratepayers — will likely be
forced to bear.
A group dedicated to protecting the Ballona Wetlands is among
the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in
public funds have been misused for what they claim is a
“deceptive” plan to bulldoze the ecological reserve under the
guise of being a restoration effort.
The state will suffer dire long-term consequences if lawmakers
set aside concerns about rising seas to focus solely on
COVID-19, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office warned
Monday. Sea level rise will likely put at least $8 billion in
property underwater by 2050, and could affect tens of thousands
of jobs and billions in gross domestic product, according to
studies cited by the office. Sea level rise and related
flooding and erosion … also pose threats to water treatment
plants, roads, marinas, ports and railways.
People hoping to get a handle on future droughts in the
American West are in for a disappointment, as new University of
Southern California-led research shows El Niño cycles are an
unreliable predictor. Instead, they found that Earth’s dynamic
atmosphere is a wild card that plays a much bigger role than
sea surface temperatures, yet defies predictability, in the wet
and dry cycles that whipsaw the western states.
In California, many of the wildfires occur in the Sierra Nevada
mountains, which are the source of 70% of California’s water
resources. Understanding the feedbacks and implications of
disturbances on the hydrological cycle can help watershed
managers plan for future scenarios with wildfires and climate
Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated when the spillways failed
at Oroville Dam in 2017, an infrastructure disaster that cost
around a billion dollars to repair. Three years later
scientists say events that partially led to the incident could
become more frequent. It comes down to how and when snow and
The effort is part of an overall plan to develop a Lower Cache
Creek flood study through the US Army Corps of Engineers, the
Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the California
Department of Water Resources. And despite any objections to
the project, it may be more than five years before the first
spadeful of earth is turned to build the barrier.
As part of Valley Water’s mission to provide flood protection
for our communities, we are continuously preparing for the
possibility of flooding. We must regularly keep our streams and
creeks well maintained to handle the rainy season and protect
the many species of wildlife that live there.
Much needed work at Schafer Dam at Success Lake is finally set
to begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
will begin construction to realign Avenue 146 and widen the
existing Tule River Spillway at Success Lake in Porterville on
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator John Kennedy
(R-La.) to introduce legislation to amend the Nutria
Eradication and Control Act. The legislation would authorize an
additional $6 million a year to increase assistance for states
that implement initiatives to eradicate the invasive species.
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…
Last rainfall season was a big one for the Central and South
Coasts, with above average rainfall for many drought impacted
local communities. … But, could we be headed back to a
drought year? There are some early indications it’s a
possibility, with a nearly 50-50 chance of us being impacted by
a “La Niña” pattern of cooler ocean water in the Western
Gov. Gavin Newsom released strategies Tuesday to improve
drinking water quality, revive a stalled multibillion-dollar
tunnel and build new dams. Newsom says the sweeping water
portfolio will help the Golden State prepare for global warming
by reinforcing outdated water infrastructure and reducing the
state’s reliance on groundwater during future droughts.
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
The Senate has confirmed Maj. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon as the
Army’s 55th Chief of Engineers and commanding general of the
Corps of Engineers, elevating him to one of the most crucial
infrastructure-related positions in the federal government.
What was extraordinary was the unusually deep snow recorded in
the northern Sierra Nevada mountains before the storm event.
Subsequently, several records were set for how much snowmelt
occurred during the atmospheric river. The melt took place
because of unusually warm and wet conditions, and it increased
water available for runoff by 37 percent over rain alone,
straining the capacity of California’s second-largest
Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors Thursday authorized
staff to move forward with a new design of an estimated $225
million secondary spillway at New Bullards Bar Dam, marking an
important step forward for the agency’s largest project to
reduce flood risk since the dam was built.
U.S. dam safety frameworks have helped to prevent major
calamities, but the May collapse of the 95-year-old Edenville
Dam in Michigan illustrates that key failure risks remain—often
involving many causes, according to a study of dam safety risk
assessments by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
A largely ignored waterway in El Cajon is about to get some
much-needed TLC through $2 million in grant money. Broadway
Creek, a sliver in the 52-mile San Diego River watershed, runs
behind businesses along Broadway. Much of the creek and its
wetland habitat sit between homes and an apartment complex near
Magnolia Avenue, in the heart of the city.
A water main break has caused major flooding on part of
southbound Highway 99 at 12th Avenue in Sacramento, California
Highway Patrol officials confirmed Monday evening. … Tim
Swanson, a spokesperson for the City of Sacramento, said the
break started as a leak that was expected to be repaired in the
FEMA maps show that roughly 500,000 California properties are
at substantial likelihood of flooding, with a 1% chance of
being flooded in any given year. The study found that more than
twice that amount—1.1 million properties—are already at this
level of risk, and that an additional 150,000 properties will
join them in the next 30 years, mainly because of rising seas.
Imperial Beach Mayor Pro Tem Paloma Aguirre joined Good Morning
San Diego to discuss a new report claiming that an audit done
by Baja California governor accuses big US companies of water
theft and contributed to raw sewage and hazardous pollutants
ending up in the Tijuana River.
The latest proposal would trim the budget by $2 billion and the
storage capacity by about 300,000 acre-feet, according to Jerry
Brown, the new executive director of the project. Sites would
use existing canals for conveyance rather than build new
pipelines. The plan also eliminates a pumped-storage system for
generating and storing energy during high flow events. He said
the business case for that element of the project “just didn’t
“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite
construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem
restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater
flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local
Da Yang, an atmospheric scientist at UC Davis and his
co-authors predict the entire West Coast will experience
greater month-to-month fluctuations in extremely dry and wet
weather, especially in California. The study explores the
Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO), an atmospheric phenomenon that
influences rainfall in the tropics…
The Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill held back by a 240-foot
dam built in 1950 could be rebuilt following the State
Assembly’s passage of AB 3005 in June. … The project would
cost about $576 million but still needs to pass through the
The high-tide flooding that inundated the streets of Newport
Beach’s Balboa Peninsula over the Fourth of July weekend will
grow ever-more common throughout the state — and nation —
thanks to rising seas, according to a National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration’s report released Tuesday, July 14.
California’s wild weather swings, from pounding rain to drought
and from fires to floods, are widely expected to worsen as the
climate warms. A new study shows just how severe things might
get, and it’s not pretty.
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.
A vision first formed in the early 1990s finally came to
fruition when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District authority to
manage a long-awaited project that will benefit water,
environmental, economic and community interests in the Upper
Santa Ana River Wash.
California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the
Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last
month. … News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil
Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea
Authority, to see how the new funds will be used.
The “Guardians of the Reservoir” challenge seeks ideas to
remove or transport the amount of sediment building up in the
reservoirs, replacing available space for water storage, that
provide critical water supplies for the country. There will be
up to a total of $550,000 in cash prizes available for the
three-phase the competition.
For 50 years, Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) have
unintentionally stifled conversations of flood risk. They have
encouraged property-owners and governments at all levels to
dwell on map details for one static event, rather than flood
risks for a range of events… Now, First Street Foundation has
released a new tool that can change how these conversations
The Consul General of Mexico in San Diego said there are things
happening in Tijuana that will help. In a written statement
responding to questions by KPBS, Carlos González Gutiérrez said
there are several projects underway.
For the past two decades, dams have been falling across the
United States in a bid to reverse a legacy of destruction of
fish and their habitat. … But in southwestern Washington, a
local flood control district is going against the flow by
proposing a major new dam on the Chehalis River. … The
Chehalis is a critical salmon stream and the largest river
system fully contained within the state’s boundaries.
The federal Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch
Thursday, indicating the odds favor the Pacific Ocean cooling
in the next six months and enhancing the chances for a cold and
wet upcoming winter in the Northwest.
With support from EDF, four UC Santa Barbara graduate students
have developed a new mapping tool for California’s Central
Valley to identify the best locations for groundwater recharge
to secure these bonus benefits. The tool, called Recharge for
Resilience, is available online and also can be downloaded by
users with more technical expertise.
Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32) and Linda T. Sánchez
(D-CA-38) announced that the FY2021 Energy and Water
Appropriations bill is providing $384,900,000 as part of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dam Safety and Seepage Program.
In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as
mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist,
chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force,
the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the
Delta Stewardship Council. … In a two-part oral history with
Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the
myths and complexities of California water politics.
This brown bag seminar is part of the selection process for a
California Sea Grant Extension Specialist who will be hired
jointly with the Delta Stewardship Council. The position with
the Delta Stewardship Council will provide leadership in
advancing collaborative partnerships and initiatives and in
catalyzing and implementing social science research to inform
management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region of
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
Pasadena conservationist groups secured a major victory on
Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
approved a settlement agreement, ending a protracted legal
battle centered on the removal of 1.7 million cubic yards of
sediment from the Devil’s Gate Dam and its potential
The city of Imperial Beach, environmental advocacy group
Surfrider Foundation and the San Diego Regional Water Quality
Control Board agreed to put down their proverbial legal swords
for a period of 12 months while the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency puts a stack of cash to work on the
decades-long sewage issue plaguing the Tijuana River watershed.
A total of $83.9 million grant funding has been issued to
communities in San Diego, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Sierra and
Central Coast regions. The funding is aimed at supporting
projects to address infrastructure needs, depleted groundwater
levels, flood control issues, and other water issues of
Stream gages are critical for managing California’s water
resources. The devices help with early flood warning and
generate important data used by the Department of Water
Resources (DWR), and other state and federal agencies.
Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address
aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded
ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and
built water systems. These investments present a significant
opportunity to support not only water, but to provide economic,
social, and environmental benefits.
Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater
than government estimates show, new calculations suggest,
exposing millions of people to a hidden threat… That new
calculation, which takes into account sea-level rise, rainfall
and flooding along smaller creeks not mapped federally,
estimates that 14.6 million properties are at risk from what
experts call a 100-year flood, far more than the 8.7 million
shown on federal government flood maps. [See the map to explore
county flood risk in California and the West.]
There can be little argument that many of the more than 90,000
dams in this country are in need of immediate attention. The
catastrophic failure of two dams in Michigan last month
following an extraordinary amount of rain in a relatively short
period, highlights a number of issues:
The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish
and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the
Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in
Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality,
providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the
ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.
California has the most variable weather conditions in the
United States, often varying between extremes such as drought
and flood. Our ability to forecast variable weather conditions
well in advance is a driving factor in how water managers
maximize the benefits and minimize the hazards of each storm.
Voters approved a $90 million general obligation bond for the
project in 2018, and construction was supposed to be complete
by December of this year. Now officials are expecting the
project to cost about $109 million and not be complete until
As crews continue to battle a human-caused wildfire that has
become one of the largest in Arizona history, state agencies
are concerned about the potential impact on wildlife and water
resources. The Bush Fire, now the fifth-largest fire on record,
had burned 186,086 acres in the Tonto National Forest as of
Monday morning… The Tonto National Forest encompasses some of
the main water sources for Phoenix residents.
As winter rains intensify with climate change, flooding will
worsen in Santa Clara County, the Bay Area’s largest by
population… The Coyote Creek system — 1,500 miles of
waterways that drain a 350-square-mile watershed — connects
half a dozen elements that are key to climate adaptation, from
reservoirs to creek confluences to the Bay shore.
Encouraged by a recently vetted new method for creating carbon
offsets from wetlands, a flurry of new climate adaptation
projects on publicly owned islands strewn along the central
Delta corridor aim to defend against sea-level rise, restore
habitat, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In recognition of the immense opportunity for recovery in Elk
River, CalTrout, the North Coast Regional Water Board, and
several project partners joined together to form the Elk River
Watershed Stewardship Program. The purpose is to engage with
the Elk River community to develop a landowner supported
recovery plan to reduce nuisance flooding, address the severe
sediment impairment, and rehabilitate habitat for native
Driving on Highway 101 from the South Bay, up the Peninsula,
commuters zoom by nearly invisible infrastructure keeping the
highway and nearby communities dry. Beyond the highway, at the
edge of the San Francisco Bay, are levees and tide gates
protecting roads and neighborhoods against high tides and storm
flooding. Unless you visit the bay lands to walk the levee
trails, you might never know these important structures exist.
Aaron Thomas arrived back in Paradise Valley just in time to
christen the Ambiente Course, which proved a sort of launching
pad for all manner constructive, on-course experimentation. …
Thomas confirms the new design saves between 45 million and 55
million gallons of water annually, compared to pre-2013 levels.
That is the platform from which Thomas has worked these past
Existing residents in the 200-year-flood zone are not off the
hook when it comes to paying for more robust protection. …
That’s because fees assessed on new growth — homes, commercial
and industrial concerns — being built in the flood zone only
will cover a third of the bill.
In an effort to move forward a $576 million Anderson Dam
Seismic Retrofit Project, the California State Assembly passed
AB 3005 on June 8, the Expedited Dam Safety for Silicon Valley
Act, facilitating the construction of the project. Assemblyman
Robert Rivas (D-Hollister, Calif.), who wrote the bill, says
the overwhelming vote of bipartisan support shows the
importance in fixing the dam.
Hundreds of studies on nature-based solutions to extreme events
show that “green infrastructure” is often cheaper and more
effective than engineered projects like dams, levees and sea
walls, according to a new analysis. Experts say federal and
state governments should heed those findings and increase
funding for natural landscapes and systems to reduce climate
disaster risk. Solutions include floodplain restoration and
“living shorelines” along vulnerable coasts and rivers.
USGS spokesman Paul Laustsen said the May 21 incident along
Pilarcitos Creek was just the most recent vandalism of the Half
Moon Bay stream gage. The vandalism only stopped the flow of
data for two days; the gage has since been replaced. He said
equipment vandalism is a big prob-lem for the agency all across
Three months after federal dam safety regulators ordered
Anderson Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Santa Clara
County, to be drained due to earthquake concerns, new details
are emerging on what will happen to all that water, the fish
that depend on it, and the water supply for Silicon Valley.
Construction will begin soon at Lake Success to increase flood
protection in the Porterville area by widening and reinforcing
Schafer Dam. On May 18, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
awarded a contract for up to $30 million to Central
Environmental Incorporated in Anchorage, Alaska to begin
Grimes and Knights Landing are among three projects that have
been selected to receive grant funding under the second phase
of the Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Program,
according to the California Department of Water Resources.
In recognition of National Dam Safety Awareness Day, Andy
Mangney who serves as the Field Engineering Branch Chief
overseeing DSOD’s dam inspection and monitoring program, took
some time to answer questions about what DSOD is doing to
The likelihood of intense storms is rising rapidly in North
America, and the study, published Monday in the Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences, projects big increases in
such deluges. … If the current rate of warming continues,
Earth will heat up 5.4 degrees by 2100. Then, 20, 50 and
100-year extreme rainstorms could happen every 1.5 to 2.5
years, the researchers concluded.
In May, Cyclone Amphan made landfall in Bangladesh and eastern
India. The category 5 storm forced around 3 million people to
flee their homes. With this scenario in mind, a group of
disaster experts published guidelines for political leaders and
emergency managers so that they can prepare before the storms
U.S. policymakers understand quite well the impact of Mexico’s
wastewater management on American communities. What they fail
to comprehend is that the ongoing border sewage crisis is
rooted in a longer history of U.S. imperialism and private
enterprise in the San Diego-Tijuana region.
The proposals from the Bureau of Land Management would
eliminate a 15-day protest period afforded to the public to
comment on timber sales and other forest management decisions.
BLM said the comment period they are proposing to cut is
repetitive, as people can already submit their thoughts when a
project is undergoing review under the National Environmental
The water keeps rising, shrinking the window for implementing
solutions. Sea-level rise already threatens the bay shore,
which, at about 500 miles, is half the length of the entire
California coast. The worst is yet to come: The Bay Area needs
to plan for a 2-foot rise by 2050 and up to 7 feet by 2100.
The term “crisis on the border” typically refers to immigration
issues or drugs being smuggled into the country. But it has one
more meaning, as we discovered, when we went to the border in
early February: tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage that
spill every year into the Tijuana River on the Mexican side and
flow across the border right into Southern California,
polluting the land, air, and sea.
The 2008 financial market crash was called a “black swan” event
— an extreme catastrophic event that was not anticipated. We
hope that when a catastrophic dam failure occurs in the United
States it will not be called a black swan, since there is
already strong evidence that the combination of aging and
poorly maintained infrastructure and climate extremes could be
This network has been built up over 20+ years during several
epochs, including most recently in support of Forecast-Informed
Reservoir Operations with USACE and Sonoma Water, and with an
eye toward developing knowledge of what observations would be
needed in the future to support California’s needs for
hydrometeorological information related to drought and flood
monitoring and mitigation across the state.
As part of an effort to modernize Pyramid Dam located in Los
Angeles County, the Department of Water Resources (DWR)
recently completed assessments for the dam’s gated and
emergency spillways. The Pyramid Dam Modernization Program is
now entering the investigations phase, which includes
structural and hydraulic analyses for the gated spillway and
erodibility analysis for the emergency spillway.
In 2014, the Cleveland National Forest (CNF) initiated an
effort to restore the migratory corridors for fish and other
aquatic species in the San Juan and Santiago Watersheds by
removing the remnants of small (approximately 2 – 15 ft) dams
constructed by Orange County (California) between 1940-70s.
It was during the drought in the late-1980s that Robin Kulakow
and her fellow birdwatchers began noticing that Putah Creek was
running dry. The same observation was being made at places such
as Camp Davis, a popular site near the university where youth
paddled their canoes and participated in other activities.
More than 15,000 dams in the US would likely kill people if
they failed, and at least 2,300 of them are in poor or
unsatisfactory condition, according to recent data from the
federal government’s National Inventory of Dams.
To address the challenges atmospheric rivers present, the
Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) was
established at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography to advance
scientific understanding of atmospheric rivers and their role
in extreme events and to improve forecasting capabilities.
Earlier this year, a webinar hosted by the Scripps Corporate
Alliance highlighted the Center’s accomplishments.
No one can say yet whether the intense rainfall that preceded
this disaster [in central Michigan] was made worse by climate
change. But global warming is already causing some regions to
become wetter, and increasing the frequency of extreme storms,
according to the latest National Climate Assessment. … That
puts more of the nation’s 91,500 dams at risk of failing,
engineers and dam safety experts said.
Over the past six months, scientists have been flying high over
the Pacific Ocean, into the stratosphere to study weather
phenomena called atmospheric rivers. These rivers in the sky
can deliver huge amounts of rain and snow to the west coast.
And they may be getting more intense. NPR’s Nathan Rott joined
them for a flight.
The agreement between property owners, nonprofits and multiple
governmental agencies outlines a plan to remove the weir, or
low wooden dam at the mouth of the lagoon, and excavate the
entire 220-acre preserve to restore tidal flushing. … Without
intervention, the lagoon would continue to fill with sediment
and vegetation until it eventually disappears.
For decades, sediment buildup in California’s Butano Creek
caused an array of issues for both fish and people. It flooded
roads and local communities, prevented steelhead and coho
salmon from migrating, and contributed to substantial die-offs
of fish. In October 2019, the NOAA Restoration Center and
partners finished a $7 million effort to remove the sediment
and restore the creek.
The Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority plans to finish a
levee improvement program at the Goldfields later this year
that has been in the making since 2004 and will have cost
approximately $500 million once all is said and done.
Like an undulating seesaw, weather in some regions swings from
drought to heavy rain under the weight of climate-induced
changes, a new study finds. The analysis, published in
Geophysical Research Letters, finds a link between droughts
followed by heavy rain events, along with an increased rate of
these successive extreme weather occurrences.
California has a paradoxical history with its environment. On
one hand, the state boasts incredible natural beauty, along
with a government that is an internationally recognized leader
for strong environmental policies. But the state’s residents
have also caused severe environmental destruction, particularly
in the late nineteenth century — some of which helped spur the
mobilization that led to these environmental successes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed spending
$300 million to address the problem of toxic sewage flowing
across the border into San Diego County, legislators announced
Tuesday. The money would be part of the United
States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act, and will be
used for the engineering, planning, design and construction of
wastewater infrastructure at the border, officials said.
The 2017 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan’s Investment
Strategy looked at … retooling the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Drainage District to provide a small continuous funding stream
for ongoing expenditures of the flood management system. At the
April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board,
consultants discussed the upcoming feasibility study.
A strange thing happens during particularly wet winters in
California: farmers flood their fields. … Aquifers are the
last line of defense against drought conditions. By flooding
their fields in January, farmers hope to fill these underground
reservoirs with water they can use in August. If a trio of
recent studies prove accurate, one can expect to see this
method deployed more regularly.
Being born from an engineering miscalculation on the part of
the California Development Company means the Salton Sea has
been written off as an “accident” in histories inked on many
pages, ranging from The Washington Post to the Daily Mail. But
that framing is too simplistic, new research suggests, arguing
that the sea’s formation was inevitable, regardless of the
famous canal breach in 1905.
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced
today the availability of up to $5 million for wetland
mitigation banks. This funding through the Wetland Mitigation
Banking Program is available to help conservation partners
develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural
producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs.
Rather than soaking into the ground, the water is swept quickly
into rivers and streams where it increases flood hazards. But
how much of a hazard are these impervious surfaces? A new study
has estimated the size of the effect. For every additional
percentage point of impervious surface in a watershed — going
from 5 percent coverage to 6 percent coverage, for instance —
the peak of the highest flood flow of the year increases by 3.3
A long awaited $74 million project to enlarge the Success
Reservoir will expand water storage along the Tule River from
82,000 to 110,000 acre feet and provide additional flood
protection for residents of Porterville and surrounding
The U.S. Department of Interior started a water experiment
along the Colorado Friday, May 1, at the Glen Canyon Dam,
located near Page Arizona. The experiment is meant to improve
the egg-laying conditions for insects that live at least some
part of their lives in the water, which are the primary food
source for endangered Colorado River fish as well as native
Dr. Laurel Larsen, an expert in hydroecology, landscape
dynamics, complex environmental systems, and environmental
restoration, was unanimously appointed by the Delta Stewardship
Council on Thursday as lead scientist. Most recently, Dr.
Larsen has served as an associate professor in the Department
of Geography and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the UC
On a recent sunny, windy March day – just before COVID-19 sent
the [San Francisco] Bay Area into lockdown – Dave Halsing stood
on the trails at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve and
pointed out what used to be old industrial salt ponds. He noted
how they’re gradually being restored into a rich mosaic of
tidal wetlands and other ecosystems in the South Bay Salt Pond
To prevent flooding and manage water levels in a Sonoma creek,
a pond leveler will be installed where a family of beavers is
living, Sonoma County Water Agency officials said. The pond
leveler will help water transfer through the beaver dam so that
the pond doesn’t cause flooding. It will also assist with
maintaining the habitat for the beavers…
The Department of Water Resources announced $7 million in
grants to restore streams, creeks, and rivers to more natural
environmental conditions and reduce flood damage risks across
multiple communities in California.
Just days before Covid-19 spurred a vast quarantine-at-home in
California, a crew of workers in downtown Oakland was busily
planting dozens of potted grasses, shrubs and trees in a newly
sculpted garden bed in what had been a gutter and a row of
parking stalls a block from City Hall.
When the Water Forum Agreement was officially signed 20 years
ago, the occasion marked an unprecedented show of regional
cooperation. For years, interests representing business, the
environment, water suppliers and others had sparred over the
water needs of people vs. the environment of the lower American
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.
Lewis MacAdams, a poet and crusader for restoring the concrete
Los Angeles River to a more natural state and co-founder of one
of the most influential conservation organizations in
California, has died. He was 75.
Although it is clear that river discharge is the major source
of plastic pollution entering the oceans, there remains
uncertainty around how plastic pollution is transported through
rivers and coastal marine waters. How important is stormflow
for delivering plastic pollution from rivers to the coastal
ocean? How are microplastics transported through coastal
environments? How much is eventually sinking and settling on
It has been 30 years since the last time a dam was seriously
considered on the East Fork [of the Carson River] as a means to
reduce flooding and increase water for agriculture and other
uses. … The East Fork begins near the base of Sonora Peak in
California. The river’s upper gorge was carved out by a 16-mile
glacier coming off the 11,500-foot high mountain. It is one of
only two major free-flowing rivers in the Eastern Sierra.
Yolo Basin Foundation’s Board of Directors announced this week
that Chelsea Martinez has been named the Foundation’s new
executive director. … Martinez joined the Foundation in 2017
as the Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and has grown
and sustained the Foundation’s volunteer base to over 200
volunteers as well as helped to increase community involvement
in its programs.