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 Sonoma County Water Agency, or Sonoma Water, began stream
maintenance activities in or near more than 50 streams
throughout Sonoma County this week to restore conveyance
capacity and maintain proper function of flood channels.
For almost half of California’s communities, the engineering
studies supporting flood insurance rate maps are over 20 years
old. Less than 30,000 miles of the State’s 180,000 stream miles
have been mapped by the National Flood Insurance Program, and
less than 23% of the flood-mapped river miles are designated as
While those in San Francisco worry about a large earthquake, in
Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, when residents think about
“the big one,” they should be thinking about a flood.
Fortunately, we know how to meet this challenge – starting with
these key steps.
Here’s a safe prediction: Generations to come will be thankful
for everything done today to protect the Russian River. Here’s
another: Restoring and preserving the river’s health will
become more challenging and expensive each time action is
With a deadline to take action just weeks away, lawmakers and
the governor haven’t settled controversial issues regarding the
so-called wildfire fund: How much money does the state need and
what portion of that will come out of the pockets of
electricity customers? Lawmakers are looking to Gov. Gavin
Newsom to take the lead and provide answers to one of
California’s most high-stakes problems.
Construction has started on an underground water vault at
McKinley Park in Sacramento. The vault, which will be built
underneath the George “Butter” Cole baseball field, will hold
rain and wastewater during big storms when the combined sewer
system is at capacity. The goal is to reduce flooding.
The agencies want ideas for actions needed now to help
California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, year-round wildfires, species declines, aging
infrastructure, contaminated water supplies and changing
demands for water. The input will help determine priorities and
identify complementary actions to ensure safe and dependable
water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the
state’s communities, economy and environment.
The Amethyst Basin flood control and groundwater recharge
facility, aimed at meeting the water needs of the High Desert,
was formally dedicated on Thursday. The 27.4-acre project, 10
years in the making, has been a cooperative effort between the
San Bernardino County Flood Control District, the Mojave Water
Agency, the City of Victorville and California Department of
The Los Angeles River is on the verge of a new era. In the few
years since the flood control channel was reclassified as a
“navigable waterway,” the region has re-embraced its oddball
amalgam of concrete and nature, which winds roughly 51 miles
from the San Fernando Valley out to the ocean in Long Beach. A
$1-billion-plus plan to restore 11 miles north of Downtown LA
is (slowly) working its way through federal approvals.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, the National Weather
Service’s flagship computer prediction model has received a
major makeover, which its leadership says will pave the way for
Through the BCK Program’s SWPPP internship, which stands for
Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program, students are working
with industry professionals to study the problem of runoff
pollution leaving their school sites and prevent some of the
negative impacts it can have on the surrounding environment.
San Mateo County officials are moving forward on a green
infrastructure plan that aims to transform the urban landscape
and storm drainage systems. The plan will help the county
transition from relying solely on traditional drain
infrastructure, which allows stormwater to flow directly into
drains and bodies of water, to a more environmentally friendly
model that disperses runoff to vegetated areas and collects it
for nonpotable uses.
The long-running Middle Creek Restoration Project, which is
designed to massively reduce sedimentation and nutrient load in
order to improve Clear Lake’s health, took another step forward
this week. … The contract provides $15 million – or $5
million per year for three years – for the purchase and
maintenance of properties as part of the Middle Creek Flood
Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Project.
Driving along Interstate 5 south of Sacramento, you wouldn’t
notice anything unique about the land stretched out beyond your
car window. But hidden between Interstate 5 and Walnut Grove,
lies one of the most important environmental restoration sites
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Amethyst Basin flood control and groundwater recharge
facility, aimed at meeting the water needs of the High Desert,
was formally dedicated on Thursday. The 27.4-acre project, 10
years in the making, has been a cooperative effort between the
San Bernardino County Flood Control District, the Mojave Water
Agency, the City of Victorville and California Department of
Senate Republicans lambasted the previous administration’s
water regulations as a federal power grab Wednesday in a
hearing on the new policy rolled out by President Donald Trump.
The Environmental Protection Agency revised the rule known as
Waters of the United States in December, following Trump’s 2017
executive order aimed at minimizing regulations and promoting
The agreement was likely spurred by recent struggles to provide
assistance following hurricane events, especially Hurricane
Maria in Puerto Rico, and other infrastructure failures such as
those experienced at the Oroville Dam in 2017.
The Flood Insurance for Farmers Act of 2019, which [Congressman
John] Garamendi introduced with Congressman Doug LaMalfa in
January, would provide farmers access to discounted rates under
the National Flood Insurance Program. It 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.
The San Diego Water Board is asking 10 local agencies,
including the city and county of San Diego, to curtail the flow
of human fecal matter into the San Diego River. The problem has
gotten worse over the last few years to the point it’s being
compared with similar issues along the U.S.-Mexico border,
according to the state agency that monitors the region’s water
Floating debris on the lake is common, but this year is worse
than most years, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Agency
officials blame it on the high lake level. As the lake level
rises, the water picks up the wood and other debris along the
shoreline, forest service officials said. The wind and currents
in the lake can send huge rafts of logs, sticks, Styrofoam,
plastic bottles, articles of clothing, tires and other debris
into coves and boat launch areas.
A welcome surge of melting snow is pouring out of the Rocky
Mountains and into the drought-stricken rivers of the
southwestern U.S., fending off a water shortage but threatening
to push rivers over their banks.
California is at the epicenter of major natural and human
created disasters. At the top of that list are fires, floods
and earthquakes. … As fire season is now upon us, with
warnings of excessive heat, Mark Ghilarducci, the director of
Cal OES joins Insight to talk about fire, floods and
Through the Airborne Snow Observatory program, NASA and
California’s Department of Water Resources use instruments
mounted on airplanes to create high resolution estimates of
snow water content for priority watersheds in the Western U.S.
The collected data helps determine the timing of the spring
melt, which has downstream effects on hydroelectric power
generation and planning for how much water can be held in
Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, announced Wednesday the 2019-20 state
budget will include $9.25 million for research to better
understand and forecast so-called atmospheric rivers, leading
to improved flood control and water retention in a state
grappling with the effects of climate change and chronic
Today subverted water is reappearing in inconvenient ways
because we have constrained the space it once had to ebb and
flow, and climate change is amplifying storms and droughts. To
cope, cities are increasingly funneling runoff into green
infrastructure such as permeable pavement and bioswales. But a
scientific research center, the San Francisco Estuary Institute
(SFEI), is proposing a more ambitious approach…
This pesky tendency of ours to get as nigh to water as
possible—and to construct our cities and infrastructure
accordingly—is what journalist Elizabeth Rush sets out to
chronicle and ultimately critique in Rising, her account of sea
level rise from the various sinking edges of our nation. And
nowadays, not falling in is becoming more and more difficult.
California is looking to scale up this strategy. The snowpack
that historically has supplied water into the dry spring and
summer is predicted to largely disappear with the climate
crisis. And its winter storms are predicted to grow more
intense. Water managers and scientists, led by the California
Department of Water Resources, are looking for the best places
to move water from winter storms underground for use during the
With June marking the start of the boating season, Shasta Lake
has continued to see people out enjoying the water. One problem
that is raising concern is the amount of debris people are
finding on the lake.
A Marin Audubon project that seeks to restore lost wetlands and
bolster sea-level rise defenses for San Rafael’s Canal
neighborhood cleared a major funding hurdle on Friday after
being awarded a nearly $1 million grant. The San Francisco Bay
Restoration Authority voted unanimously to fulfill Marin
Audubon’s request for $985,300 to conduct an environmental
review and design its planned restoration and expansion of the
20-acre Tiscornia Marsh.
May was an extension of winter and the snowpack actually grew.
But June is here. Days are longer and temperatures are rising.
And that monster snowpack is about to come melting down the
slopes through rivers and streams with ferocity, pushing an
already fast water flow into a furious rage.
A leaking dam that prompted evacuations in the Sierra foothills
during an intense rainstorm last year has been repaired and is
again storing drinking water for 2.7 million Bay Area
residents, San Francisco water officials said Monday.
While some people consider them a nuisance, beaver are called
“keystone species” or “grassroots conservationists” and are
considered vital to riparian habitats. … In areas where there
are beaver lodges vegetation and watersheds stabilize, and
downstream flooding and silt runoff is reduced.
Shorelines in South Bay San Diego will never be fully immune
from the sewage and chemical pollution that flows north from
Mexico over the border through canyons and the Tijuana River.
However, beach closures triggered by contaminated stormwater
and Tijuana’s leaky sewer system can be dramatically reduced…
That was the message last week from President Trump’s U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, which released the most
comprehensive blueprint to date…
The $14 million effort, which is being led by Placer County
through a stewardship contract with the USFS, is aimed at
thinning the forest across both public and private land in an
area where the 2014 King Fire created concern when it
threatened two key reservoirs: French Meadows and Hell Hole
reservoirs. The fire burned so intensely in that watershed that
it impacted taste, odor and water treatment costs.
Central Valley residents know their land is sinking. They’ve
seen cracks in their walls, holes in their roads, and soil
that’s started to slowly disappear below the foundation of
their homes. Though the agricultural hub is still reeling from
one of the worst droughts in California history, its encounter
with subsidence — the gradual caving in of land — is far from
This year, the planting season was repeatedly interrupted by
colder temperatures and exceptionally heavy rainfall. … The
reason for so much delay? Rice fields need enough time after
significantly wet storms to dry out for planting, and the types
of storms received this May came in waves close enough
together, with record amounts of water, to necessitate delayed
Anderson Valley Unified School District on Tuesday held its
public opening ceremony to celebrate new gardens and rainwater
catchment systems designed to improve the district’s stormwater
pollution prevention infrastructure.
President Donald Trump has signed new disaster relief
legislation that will help victims of wildland fires, floods
and extreme weather, including: $1 billion to address
2018 and 2019 floods, which could provide critical support in
Lake, Glenn, Butte and Colusa counties; $349.4 million to
repair local drinking water systems – including the water
system in Paradise, destroyed by the 2018 Camp Fire.
Lake Powell is benefitting considerably from this year’s runoff
following a strong snow year in the Rocky Mountains. The lake
has risen 16 feet in the last month and is experiencing an
inflow of 128% the average.
“Use it or lose it” is what state and federal water managers in
California are wrestling with as one of the biggest
precipitation years has the mountains packed with snow and
reservoirs loaded to the brim. For the state, water is liquid
gold that feeds many people, animals, trees, and industries.
But, if not well managed, it can also present great danger.
The law – the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA –
is beginning to bite. A 2019 study from the Public Policy
Institute of California predicted that at least 500,000 acres
of farmland will eventually be idled. To ease the pain,
engineers are looking to harness an unconventional and unwieldy
source of water: The torrential storms that sometimes blast
across the Pacific Ocean and soak California.
Local leaders and representatives of several federal agencies
met Wednesday to look for a solution to the ongoing sewage
spills contaminating the Tijuana River Valley and the shoreline
from Imperial Beach to Coronado.
California water users have been consistently frustrated over
the seemingly endless water curtailments imposed on them. …
Unfortunately, the messages from the regulators, political
leaders, and media are not always consistent and the public is
often left uncertain and confused. We wanted to show just how
much water can be “lost” by California’s current water system
The added water volume means crews contracted by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers are having to pull back from where they had
been working on the lake’s auxiliary dam, its service spillway
and the lake’s emergency spillway, said the corps’ project
manager, Anthony Burdock.
Since our great awakening in the 1960s, the Bay Area has become
a proud leader in protecting our local environment, from the
redwoods and ridgelines to San Francisco Bay. … But some
wealthy developers don’t care, despite decades of being told,
“no, we won’t build on the Bay anymore.” With Donald Trump’s
help, Cargill Salt and luxury home developer DMB Associates
keep putting their profit above the health of our Bay.
California native Mayor Richard Bailey didn’t grow up in
Coronado. However, when elected to Coronado City Council in
2012 he became acutely aware of the decades long beach closures
in Coronado and Imperial Beach due to toxic waste flowing from
Tijuana into the Pacific Ocean.
I recently sat down with California water expert and Delta
Independent Science Board (ISB) member Jay Lund to talk about
some of the challenges and opportunities for scientists and
decision-makers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. I am
pleased to share highlights from our conversation in this
month’s Delta Stewardship Council Chair’s blog.
In the 1960s a portion of the wetlands community of Devereux
Slough was filled in to make way for the Ocean Meadows Golf
Course. Now, with the help of grant funding from the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and multiple state and local partners,
permanently protected wetlands are being created within the
100-acre North Campus Open Space.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is funding expansion of the
Sacramento Weir. The approximately $350 million project
involves widening the 1,950-foot weir an additional 1,500 feet
north. The weir’s 48 manually operated gates will remain
intact. The expansion is constructing a passive weir to
essentially allow excessive floodwaters to flow over the river
channels and into the bypasses — in turn widening the surface
area, which means the Sacramento Weir will be used less
frequently for more severe flooding events.
Recent rains and snow pack could force California’s Department
of Water Resources to release Oroville Dam’s main spillway as
early as next week. Currently, the 2019 snowpack for California
is now the fifth largest on record dating back to 1950,
according to DWR officials.
Parts of the San Joaquin and Kings Rivers are closed to
recreation. But the high water levels don’t just mean people’s
vacations are getting cut short. … Hilda Warren lives near
the river and says she’s starting to get worried, watching the
water levels rise day by day.
Hermosa Beach, partnering with neighboring cities, was supposed
to receive the money from the State Water Resources Control
Board to help design and build the Greenbelt Infiltration
Project … meant to help clean the Herondo Drain Watershed,
which has consistently had elevated levels of bacteria. But the
city put the funding in jeopardy in March when the council
voted to dissolve a deal with neighboring cities and instead
find a new home for the project.
In order to address the impacts of climate change on the
state’s water resources, the Department of Water Resources
(DWR) has been developing its own comprehensive Climate Action
Plan to guide how DWR is and will continue to address climate
change for programs, projects, and activities over which it has
The Obama administration violated the law when it issued its
embattled definition of “waters of the United States,” a
federal court ruled yesterday. In a long-awaited decision, the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sided
with three states and a coalition of agriculture and industry
groups that have been trying to take down the joint EPA and
Army Corps of Engineers rule since 2015.
Before the threat of rising seas was widely understood,
California created an agency to protect its famous beaches from
overdevelopment. Now the state Coastal Commission is pouring
resources into a war against the effects of climate change, and
it could lead toward the removal of oceanfront homes.
Del Puerto Water District and Central California Irrigation
District have developed the reservoir project without many
public concerns rising to the surface. That was until Patterson
city staff members showed up for Wednesday’s meeting. Maria
Encinas, a city management analyst, asked about a risk
assessment for adjacent communities like Patterson. A failure
in the dam on Del Puerto Creek, on the west side of Interstate
5, would appear to flood part of the city of 23,700, including
perhaps the downtown area in Patterson.
Although flooding hasn’t occurred in Clarksburg since the
construction of the levee system in the early 1900s, the
community is considered a moderate to high hazard flood area,
according to a county report. For that reason, a flood risk
reduction feasibility study has been prepared for the town
similar to those conducted for Yolo and Knights Landing with
funds from the California Department of Water Resources.
Slurries of mud increasingly threaten the water we drink. This
rush of sediment, known as “debris flow,” is a type of erosion
where mud and boulders in steep catchments suddenly tumble down
the stream channel, often traveling at speeds of several meters
per second. … Last year, California saw mudslides that
destroyed more than 100 homes and killed 21 people.
Governor Newsom recently called for a state portfolio of
actions to manage water under rapidly changing climate and
other conditions. This post reviews the state of water
portfolio planning in California today.
It took two consulting groups, but a project charter for the
Sierra Valley Flood Hazard Restudy Project is finished and now
approved by members of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors
on Tuesday, May 14.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today was
awarded $8.5 million in funding over three years by the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy to expand its nutria
An investigation into the Bay Conservation and Development
Commission found mismanagement and disorganization so rampant
that the once-celebrated watchdog agency allegedly neglected
its primary responsibility — to protect San Francisco Bay. A
state audit of the regulatory agency known as the BCDC
describes slow and inefficient enforcement, a huge backlog of
cases and an inability to perform key duties.
In retrospect, it’s clear: We’ve misunderstood how rivers work.
They don’t follow wishful parameters of the Army Corps of
Engineers’ 100-year flood guidelines, or the routes we’ve
penciled in between levees, or even the climatic expectations
of the past. A national program that presumes we can
choreograph today the floods of tomorrow is fundamentally
flawed. It’s time to recognize that the rivers will have their
way. Therefore we need to get out of the way.
A beach closure that has been in place for months for the
southern part of the Imperial Beach was extended Sunday to
include the city’s entire shoreline. The San Diego County
Department of Environment Health issued the order to close the
coastline to swimmers as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff
in the Tijuana River.
A facility designed to increase water supply reliability for
the Inland area was dedicated in a light rain at the foot of
the hulking Seven Oaks Dam near Highland on Thursday, May 23.
Officials used a new concrete diversion box to move water
rushing from the dam to a new sedimentation basin and beyond.
The water is intended to spread out and seep into a groundwater
basin, which officials have said is historically low due to a
Called the Monterey Bay Opportunistic Beach Nourishment
Program, the plan entails hauling beach-quality sand from other
inland locations as a result of construction, development or
dredging projects. The sand would be added to stockpiles at
different locations and then be applied to dry sand areas above
high tide marks…
There are more concerns over lake levels in Oroville as Butte
County leaders take initiative to explore alternative options
for safety measures. The Department of Water Resources (DWR), a
leg of the State Water Project, manages the Oroville Dam. On
Wednesday, DWR officials remained adamant in saying they have
no plans to release water from the Oroville Dam spillway.
Legislation that would require the state to enhance its river
and stream gauging system has cleared the state Senate. … The
bill requires the Department of Water Resources and Water
Control Board to improve and enhance the monitoring system,
including filling those gaps that are found, as well as assess
a funding source to complete the work.
The idea is simple, the task gargantuan: Remove 1.7 million
cubic yards of sediment to return the circa 1920 dam to full
functionality, protecting Pasadena, South Pasadena, Highland
Park and other northeast Los Angeles communities downstream —
including the Rose Bowl, Brookside Park and the Arroyo Seco
Parkway — from the potential flooding of a 100-year storm.
To Eastern Sierra residents, in most years, annual run-off
means the streams and canals rise and pasture lands start to
green-up. For Los Angeles Department of Water and Power,
run-off is the city’s life’s blood… So, how do they figure it
out? Eric Tillemans, LADWP engineer, gave the Inyo County Board
of Supervisors a beginner’s course in Run-Off 101 at a recent
While Belvedere officials consider a series of flood control
projects that could cost up to $27.1 million, the city has
appointed a new advisory committee that represents some of the
hillside homeowners who say that money shouldn’t come out of
their pockets. … An engineering consultant has designed
several iterations of the projects, which are meant to
safeguard the community from the forthcoming effects of
Our Headwaters Tour June 27-28 highlights the connection
between fire and water with an up-close look at the critical
role healthy Sierra forests play in water supply and quality
across California. We will also learn about a new initiative
between Yuba Water Agency, the California Department of Water
Resources and University of California, San Diego’s Scripps
Institution of Oceanography to study how atmospheric rivers
affect the location, duration and intensity of storms.
Coastal communities should not rule out a sea-level rise in
excess of 6.5 feet, according to the study published this week
in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …
Should this worst-case scenario come to pass, good portions of
cities like New York City and Miami on the East Coast and Los
Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast would be underwater
The combination of droughts and floods has given rise to a
process known as saltwater intrusion — what San Jose Mayor Sam
Liccardo refers to as his city’s greatest climate threat. …
In coastal regions like San Jose, overpumping allows seawater
to seep into the city’s aquifers, exposing local residents to
excess sodium in their drinking water. The problem is
compounded by sea level rise, which pushes seawater inland
toward the city’s filtration system.
Residents whose homes were flooded will not be eligible for
financial aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
because state officials determined the amount of damage was
insufficient to qualify.
Two days of above-average spring rainfall in the North Bay have
forced Sonoma County officials to begin deflating the seasonal
dam across the Russian River, an about-face that comes less
than a week after the rubber dam was fully inflated to serve
the region’s drinking water system.
The West Marin ghost town of Jewell is set to be reclaimed by
nature this year with a $593,000 boost from the state. The
Olema-based Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN,
plans to use a grant to restore the historic floodplains on
Lagunitas Creek that once provided vital refuge for the now
dwindling populations of endangered coho salmon and other
Contaminated groundwater is an ongoing problem in some of the
state’s poorest rural communities, particularly in the San
Joaquin Valley. One big threat is nitrate, caused mainly by
many decades of crop fertilization with chemical fertilizers
and dairy manure. We talked to Anja Raudabaugh of Western
United Dairymen about what can be done to address these
Napa County’s latest watershed symposium came at a time when
tensions are high over how to protect trees and reservoirs in
the area’s mountains. Close to 200 people from various
backgrounds came to Copia on Thursday for an A-to-Z look at
what’s happening in the watersheds. Scientists, elected
officials, wine industry members and citizen activists all
President Trump signed a disaster declaration Saturday for 17
Northern California counties that endured battering rains and
landslides this year, making them eligible for federal relief.
The move followed three emergency proclamations this year by
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who directed Caltrans to seek federal
assistance for a string of brutal February storms that doused
rural areas across the state, damaging roads and bridges.
The funding allows CalTrout to develop a broad team of agency
partners to restore a 950-acre tidal marsh estuary surrounding
Cannibal Island, adjacent to the mouth of the Eel River. …
The goal of restoration is to transform the monotypic landscape
of diked and drained land back to a mosaic of natural habitats
and pasture with reconnected tidal slough channels and access
for aquatic-dependent species.
Well, apparently we’re all about to die again. The internet
says so. And while the internet often says we’re all about to
die, and we don’t, for some reason people still unquestionably
believe the next scare to come down the information highway. So
it is with the latest local scare, involving the Oroville Dam
The agency charged with monitoring water quality standards
throughout the Greater Los Angeles region found that local
cities have committed more than 2,000 water quality violations
within a five-year period, but the violators suffered little if
We’re likely seeing the effects of a batch of runaway arctic
air slinking far enough south to energize and reinvigorate the
subtropical jet stream. If true, we can thank the “relentless
grind” of warmth in the Arctic this month for our unusually
rainy May here in the Bay Area.
The Mountain View City Council approved the water district’s
18-foot-deep basin project in 2013 in exchange for the park
upgrades. Designed to accommodate a 100-year flood, the
McKelvey Park basin is one of two basin projects of the larger
Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project, which water district
officials claim will provide natural flood protection for
approximately 2,200 properties in Mountain View and Los Altos.
Federal engineers are raising alarms that a “significant flood
event” could breach the spillway of Southern California’s aging
Prado Dam and potentially inundate dozens of Orange County
communities from Disneyland to Newport Beach. After conducting
an assessment of the 78-year-old structure earlier this month,
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it was raising
the dam’s risk category from “moderate” to “high urgency.”
A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday to block the
Federal Emergency Management Agency from moving forward with
its plans to offer flood insurance to developers and property
owners in 100-year flood zones in California, finding that the
agency failed to consider effects development might have on
endangered wildlife in those areas.
The commission, created in 1965 and comprised of 27 members
appointed primarily by state and local officials, is supposed
to protect the environmental health of the bay. If they won’t
take their job seriously, Gov. Gavin Newsom, legislative
leaders and local officials should replace them with people up
to the task.
Atascadero residents will likely be paying more for wastewater
services starting in just a few months. The last time
wastewater rates were increased in Atascadero, President Bill
Clinton began began his first term in office and Seinfeld was
one of the most watched shows on television.
The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
has “neglected its mission” to protect the bay and surrounding
wetlands, the California state auditor reported Tuesday. The
commission, which issues permits for activities like boating,
dredging and dumping, has a backlog of 230 open enforcement
cases, some decades old.
The “backwash basins” were damaged during the flooding that
occurred because of the heavy rainfall in late February, and
they need to be repaired as soon as possible because they help
the city provide drinking water to its residents during the
peak demand months coming soon.
Dig out that umbrella, and even the tire chains. It’s mid-May,
but a series of rare, winter-like storms will soak the Bay Area
and much of California through next week and bring up to 2 feet
of new snow to the Sierra Nevada.
Rivers may seem especially appealing as the weather becomes
warmer in the spring and summer, but experts and local
officials warn that the waters may not be as welcoming as they
seem. The snowpack that accumulated during a wet and cold
winter is beginning to melt into rivers, making for extremely
cold water and fast currents. “It’s a very dangerous
combination,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesman for the state’s
Department of Water Resources.
Estimates vary, and can change as the water year progresses,
but the Kern River basin, the rivers and streams that collect
the water that flows into Isabella Lake and downstream toward
Bakersfield, is estimated to be at 172 percent of normal,
possibly more. And all that ice and snow is starting to melt,
big time. Are local water managers ready?
People who live along the southern border all say the same
thing: When it rains, it stinks. The reason is a failing, aging
network of pipes that run from Mexico to wastewater treatment
plants in the U.S. When heavy rains fall, the pipes often break
and spill raw sewage on both sides of the border, causing not
only a putrid odor but public health and environmental
Forecasts are calling for a stretch of wet weather across the
Western United States, especially in Northern California, so
meteorologists and emergency officials are keeping watchful
eyes on river gauges and radar reports. All it takes is one
thunderstorm parked over a snow-covered area to wreak havoc
In response to a story that aired Thursday night on CBS13, the
City of Sacramento is now responding and creating a task force
to combat a growing public safety concern. Homeless campers are
carving into levees that protect Sacramento from flooding, a
break in the levee could be devastating.
After sunshine and pleasant weather grace California early this
week, a powerful storm system will barrel into the state during
the middle to latter part of the week. … By the time the
storm moves into the Four Corners region later on Friday, the
foothills of the Sierra Nevada and parts of Northern and
coastal California will receive between 1 to 3 inches of rain.
The hardest-hit locations may receive as much as 4 or 5 inches
When people think of natural disasters in California, they
usually think of earthquakes, drought or wildfire. But the
worst disaster to ever hit the Golden State was the Great Flood
of 1862. When people of European descent first arrived in
California, the native people told them tales of great deluges
in which the rivers overran their banks and large areas of land
were inundated. The newcomers paid little heed to these
stories, and often settled in low-lying areas with easy access
to water sources.
There’s three roads that go up to the hill. Because of flooding
and mudslides, all three of them were blocked. So here we were,
an island. There was no way to get supplies. No way to get
medication. No way to get propane deliveries for heat. People
who work on and off the hill couldn’t go to their jobs. The
whole town was impacted, especially the businesses and
restaurants who depend on the tourism.
A new category of El Niño has become far more prevalent in the
last few decades than at any time in the past four centuries.
Over the same period, traditional El Niño events have become
more intense. This new finding will arguably alter our
understanding of the El Niño phenomenon. Changes to El Niño
will influence patterns of precipitation and temperature
extremes in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Americas.
Reforestation will improve watershed conditions by restoring
severely burned areas to forested conditions, reducing
sedimentation and turbidity, and improving water quality for
downstream users. It will also improve habitat by providing
stabilization that reduces erosion of stream banks and meadows.
Sometimes erosion can be caused by fallen trees or rodents, but
now they’re finding faults intentionally caused by homeless
people carving out campsites. … Tim Kerr, general manager for
the American River Flood Control District, said his engineers
find about two new trenches a month. The danger comes during
flood season when fast-moving water nears the top of a 22-foot
There are actions we can take today that will reduce the
pressure on struggling sea life and protect the industries and
communities that rely on a healthy ocean. … The Ocean
Resiliency Act of 2019 (Senate Bill 69) tackles a range of
threats facing our fisheries, from fertilizer runoff that feeds
harmful algae to sediment flowing downstream from logging
operations that violate clean water rules, which can silt up
the spaces between rocks where baby salmon shelter and feed.
In April 2019, the California State Water Resources Control
Board unanimously approved a comprehensive new legal framework
for protecting California’s wetlands. California has lost
approximately 90% of its historic wetland areas, which have
important water quality, species habitat and other
environmental and economic benefits. … California has never
had its own comprehensive wetlands protection law.
Only 37 percent of the world’s longest rivers remain unimpeded
and free-flowing from their source to where they empty,
according to a study published today in Nature. Free-flowing
rivers are ecologically crucial — replenishing groundwater,
bolstering biodiversity, and reducing the impacts of droughts
Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA) was always going to be tricky. Part of the necessary
growing pains of SGMA is determining how the revolutionary
statute interacts with traditional tenets of water law. As with
any other sweeping legislative change, SGMA does not provide
direct answers for every practical question which arises as the
law is put into place.
A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California
suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past
mistakes. California’s highly variable climate has made it a
crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.
Failing power lines and crumbling roads are just some of the
major issues highlighted in the American Society of Civil
Engineers’ 2019 report card. It’s an analysis that comes out
every six years, grading 17 different areas of infrastructure
including waterways, aviation and schools.
Before California’s Central Valley became known as an
agricultural powerhouse, it contained one of the largest
expanses of streamside forest and wetland habitat in North
America. … Much of that landscape has been transformed into
farmland and urban areas, but at the Cosumnes River Preserve, a
unique partnership of nonprofits and state, federal and local
governments has conserved over 50,000 acres that provide
resources for a variety of wildlife.
Across its multitude of neighborhoods, communities and
cultures, the City of Long Beach offers a diverse haven for
businesses and families to thrive. At the same time, the unique
location of Long Beach in Southern California places it at the
mercy of significant human health risks caused by both
environmental and man-made factors.
Snowpack in every part of Colorado’s high country is sporting
layers of dust, according to a new statewide survey of the
state’s winter accumulation. … Dust is darker than snow. Just
like a black T-shirt on a sunny day, it absorbs more sunlight,
causing what’s underneath it to heat up more rapidly.
We’ve made it through most of the prime water season and have
had a few blockbuster winter storms. For many large reservoirs
in California the mission for reservoirs switches from flood
control to water storage and there isn’t much room left for
storage. All major Northern California Reservoirs are more than
90 percent full and many will reach capacity in a month or so.
Nevada Irrigation District is a very bad steward of the Bear
River and Auburn Ravine, which it uses as a ditch to deliver
water to its paying customers downstream with little regard for
the ecology of Auburn Ravine.
While the state agency responsible for policing Los Angeles
County’s polluted urban and stormwater runoff boasts
significant progress in its monumental task, a National
Resources Defense Council report this week criticizes the
water-quality panel for lackluster enforcement.
When concerned La Cañada residents attended a meeting in
December to learn about the county’s plans to remove more than
2.8 million tons of sediment from nearby Devil’s Gate Dam
starting this spring, fear and anxiety predominated. Many
hadn’t heard about the project and didn’t know diesel trucks
would haul sediment loads near schools and recreation areas in
hundreds of daily trips eight months out of the year for up to
There’s only one San Francisco Bay. But the Bay Area is made up
of nine counties and 101 cities, each with its own politics,
local rules and shorelines, differences that can make it
complicated to figure out how to protect billions of dollars of
highways, airports, sewage treatment plants, homes and offices
from the rising seas, surging tides and extreme storms climate
change is expected to bring in the years ahead. A new report
released Thursday aims to make that gargantuan challenge a
With the Trump administration trudging ahead and re-writing
another Obama-era environmental law, wary California regulators
last month approved new protections for wetlands in the Golden
State. … Hoping to freeze the new wetlands rules, a coalition
consisting of several California water suppliers and the city
of San Francisco sued the water board late Wednesday in state
While oysters and sea grasses may not immediately stand out as
defenders against sea level rise, a five-year test run using
oyster reefs and eelgrass beds in the waters off of San Rafael
has shown promising results. … Marshlands, reefs and other
natural habitats have proven to buffer shorelines from erosion
and powerful waves, but human development over the past two
centuries has resulted in a substantial loss of these natural
Yes, some fish died — including endangered Chinook salmon — but
overall rebuilding the Fremont Weir has done its job and saved
hundred of others. That was the response of Allen Young, public
information officer for the California Department of Water
Resources, after reports surfaced last week that at least 13
Chinook salmon and other fish couldn’t make it through the weir
designed to get them safely into the Sacramento River and died.
At first blush, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest action on water
seems fanciful and naive. But it has logic and conceivably
could work. Newsom wants to reexamine practically everything
the state has been working on — meaning what former Gov. Jerry
Brown was doing — and piece together a grand plan for
California’s future that can draw the support of longtime water
The property, a peaceful meadow at 6,820 feet elevation
near Echo Summit, is also home to … a monthly event that
attracts hordes of reporters and photographers who tromp
through the property on snowshoes. … Carol Pearson would
usually watch the proceedings from the window of the small
cabin, built in 1938, where she’s lived the past 20 years. Now
Pearson, 67, has been displaced by fire. Her cabin burned to
the ground in a chimney fire April 12, killing one of her cats.
An ambitious California irrigation drainage deal is now mired
deeper than ever in legislative and legal limbo, alarming
farmers, spinning government wheels and costing taxpayers money
with no relief in sight. Though nearly four years have passed
since the Obama administration and the Westlands Water District
agreed to settle their high-stakes drainage differences, the
deal remains incomplete. Progress, if there is any, can be
measured in inches.
Imperial Irrigation District general manager Henry Martinez and
California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot have
reached an agreement in principle that the state will be
responsible for construction and maintenance of more than 3,700
acres of wetlands aimed at controlling toxic dust and restoring
wildlife habitat. In exchange, the water district will sign
easements for access onto lands it owns that border
California’s largest lake.
This research will supply information needed for the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers to update the 1970’s-era water control
manuals, which dictate the storm-season operations of both
reservoirs. Yuba Water’s goal is to have a new water control
manual approved about the same time the agency completes
construction of a new, planned secondary spillway at its New
Bullards Bar Dam, estimated for completion in 2024.
As California’s Central Valley grew into the nation’s leading
agricultural corridor, the region gradually lost almost all of
the wetlands that birds depend on during their migrations along
the West Coast. But a dramatic turnaround is underway in the
valley. Dozens of farmers leave water on their fields for a few
extra weeks each season to create rest stops for birds. The
campaign has not only helped salvage a vital stretch of the
north-south migration path called the Pacific Flyway but also
tested a fresh model for protecting wildlife.
The city of Escondido thought it had finally figured out how to
raise the $35 million to $50 million it needs to replace the
Lake Wohlford Dam. But then a complicated and prohibitively
expensive problem arose.
Tracy Hall says she’s lucky to have friendly neighbors who
allow her to live in an RV on their property while water laps
at a temporary barrier on the edge of her property. But Hall
and others are tired of the disruption to their lives that
started more than two years ago when the formerly dry lake in
Lemmon Valley filled with stormwater runoff and urban effluent.
The development of the Arcata Marsh as an integral part of
wastewater treatment in Arcata was the primary focus of two
professors at Humboldt State University, George Allen and
Robert Gearheart, who developed a process that uses what was a
former salt marsh as a means to treat sewage that is then
discharged into Humboldt Bay. On May 7, Gearheart … will be
honored by the Environmental Law Institute at its annual awards
dinner in Washington, D.C.
In 2017, a swarm of seismic activity occurred near California’s
Long Valley Caldera in the Mammoth Mountain area. During the
same period of seismic activity, the area had high levels of
flooding due to snowmelt. The 2016-2017 winter brought heavy
snow that created one of the largest snowpacks ever recorded in
California’s history. A record amount of snowfall occurred in
the same region this year, raising the question of whether the
same occurrence will happen in 2019.
An automated gate was supposed to open once water levels got
high enough to overflow into the bypass, allowing fish to swim
back into the Sacramento River. But in February … too much
water was pouring through the passage, eroding the structure.
Officials had to close the gate almost entirely, meaning fewer
fish could escape. The Department of Water Resources is now
facing an expensive upgrade to an already multimillion
structure to make it ready for the next rainy season.
As a full Tuolumne River flowed behind them, a diverse set of
government leaders and water stakeholders gathered alongside
Congressman Josh Harder Wednesday afternoon in Modesto to unite
under one important cause: protecting water in the Central
The San Rafael Canal needs dredging — again. That’s no
surprise. The waterway into Central San Rafael regularly
becomes clogged with silt and has to be dredged to assure
free-flowing boat traffic. But it’s also no surprise that
maintenance dredging of the canal is going to require a
mustering of political lobbying to get the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers to include the job in its budget.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to
find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to
stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years.
His bipartisan water legislation unveiled Wednesday promises
federal support for storage and innovation projects to address
shortages that too often plague Valley agriculture and
In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the
state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount
of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft … has
ignited interest in replenishing aquifers in California’s
Central Valley through managed flooding of the ground above
them. But until now there has been no reliable way to know
where this type of remedy will be most effective.
The February storms that swelled the Russian River to its
highest level in more than two decades did $23 million in
damage to Sonoma County roads, including more than 100
landslides and slipouts, leaving county crews and contractors
with a Herculean repair job that will take months to complete.
For centuries, the Delta was a dynamic and rich ecosystem of
tidal wetlands, riparian forests, and vast seasonal
floodplains. But about 98 percent of the native habitat
disappeared after the Gold Rush and a population boom across
the Golden State.
Ten-acre Albion Riverside Park can get a lot done. The green
infrastructure built into the park can clean the stormwater
that goes through it, capture pollutants and release it into
groundwater basins. The price tag on the park is about $40
million. The new park sits on the old Downey Recreational
Center and the Swiss Dairy site, bringing new athletic fields
and more to the community.
Napa County is still trying to open the door for federal money
to help protect 2,000 more city of Napa properties from the
worst of Napa River floods. But, after five years of effort,
the county seems stuck in a revolving door.
California is a wonderful place to study water. So many
interesting and important problems, thoughtful and insightful
authors, and much to be learned. Here is a selection of
readings (updated from a 2012 post) on California water.
Introduced by State Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF) and backed by a
diverse array of environmental and business interests, SB 69,
“The Ocean Resiliency Act,” tackles questions as big as the
ocean itself. How much waste does California put in the ocean?
How much more can our oceans take? And how will climate change
amplify our mistreatment of our natural resources?
Local river protection groups and a state regulatory board are
protesting what they characterize as an attempt by Nevada
Irrigation District to circumvent the federal law. At issue is
the relicensing process for NID’s Yuba Bear hydroelectric
project — which includes French, Faucherie, Sawmill and Bowman
lakes and Rollins Reservoir, as well as four powerhouses.
The Department of Water Resources issued notice that it will
seek an updated environmental permit to operate the State Water
Project through a state-based approach in partnership with the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife. … Historically,
DWR has received environmental coverage for its pumping
operations through environmental parameters issued by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries
Work to protect Lake Gregory from a disastrous earthquake is
done. And, just in time for summer. Crews recently finished
retrofitting the 80-year-old seismically unsound dam that
protects the lake, at the heart of Crestline, bringing an end
to years of traffic, noise and other impacts — current and
potential — on the unincorporated mountain community.
The Sierra Club and other conservationists have expressed
worries that without CEQA’s strict protections, next winter’s
first rains could result in mud flows into drinking water
supplies, or the disturbance of the range of an endangered or
threatened species. They are concerned that controlled burns
will create air pollution that will impact people in
By the 1930s, the Leslie Salt Company had consolidated over a
dozen small producers into the world’s largest industrial salt
production company, and half of the South Bay’s extensive
marshes, whose ducks and salmon once far outnumbered humans,
were gone. Now, the south San Francisco bay shoreline’s next
mammoth transformation is well underway: a 50-year project to
return the salt ponds back to the bay, restoring them once
again into tidal marsh for the first time in 150 years.
In just the past week, water about an inch deep has popped up
out of nowhere in both the northbound and the southbound lanes
just south of the 880 interchange. … Underground aquifers are
full from all the recent rain and pressure is now forcing water
to bubble up in weak spots in the surface.
While you may have heard about the Trump administration’s
attempts to narrow the scope of Waters of the United States
(WOTUS), California is expanding its regulations, including
broadening the definition of wetlands subject to permitting
requirements. … Projects impacting California surface waters
and wetlands that are outside federal jurisdiction will now
need state authorization under new and more expansive
The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage to more
than 5 million households and small businesses across the
United States, including more than 229,000 in California. The
program has been hard hit by payouts from major flood disasters
in recent years and is heavily in debt. The Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA), which houses the program, has
recently announced significant changes. We talked to Carolyn
Kousky, a flood insurance expert at the Wharton Risk Center at
the University of Pennsylvania … about the program.
Frustration was evident, whether it was from a flooded
homeowner or a government agency trying to explain its
processes during Wednesday’s “listening session” regarding
flooding in north Chico. … Despite the anger, there seemed to
be some progress, whether it was the cleaning of Rock Creek
west of Highway 99 by the Rock Creek Reclamation District, or
more property owners funding efforts themselves. Lucero
suggested that property owners could pay more into the existing
county service areas set up for drainage maintenance.
I am standing where stream flow begins, in a nameless tributary
of the Russian River to the east of Hopland, California. This
particular spot and location has been a grazing livestock
ranch, primarily sheep, going back more than 100 years. This is
one of thousands of spots in the watershed where water comes to
the surface, joins in a channel, and starts its path
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma announced the competitive
sale this week of $299.6 million in California Department of
Water Resources water system revenue bonds to refinance certain
State Water Project capital improvements, including a portion
of the costs of the Oroville Dam Spillways Response, Recovery
and Restoration Project.
Wildfires alter the chemistry of streams for years, causing
significantly lower concentrations of dissolved organic matter,
which provides a vital energy source to organisms living in
streams and rivers… University of New Hampshire researchers
and their collaborators with the University of
California-Merced and Ohio State University examined the
effects of wildfire on stream chemistry and water quality in
Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Residents are concerned a proposed project aimed at tackling
the pollution problem in the Tijuana River Valley will
ultimately negatively affect them. … Some residents voiced
they are not happy to hear about a proposal to build what they
have dubbed a “sewage pond” near their homes.
Attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia
on Tuesday vehemently opposed the Trump administration’s
proposal to roll back a regulation known as Waters of the
United States, a move they said would end federal oversight of
15 percent of streams and more than half of the nation’s
Oakwood Lakes Water District that serves a gated community and
a mobile home park just outside of the southwest Manteca city
limits needs to expand and upgrade its wastewater treatment
plant. Manteca needs to find a way to send storm water from a
large swath of southwest Manteca to the San Joaquin River. The
two needs have led to a proposed agreement between the water
district and the city …
Prior to the installation of the system, the rain garden was
hardpan dirt, allowing all the rainwater—contaminated and
polluted with oil, gas, sediment, cigarette butts and plastic
wrappers—to drain directly into Orrs Creek and the Russian
River. The new garden is 3- to 5-feet deep and composed of
carefully constructed layers of soil and rock, allowing the
water to be cleaned mechanically and biologically filtering the
A new analysis from Trout Unlimited shows the U.S. Geological
Survey underestimates the number of streams nationwide that
flow only following rain. … The analysis comes as the Trump
administration is soliciting comments on its Waters of the
U.S., or WOTUS, rule that would eliminate Clean Water Act
protections for ephemeral streams, which flow only following
2019 marks the sixth straight winter that scientists from
NASA/JPL have been flying over portions of the Sierra range,
using light-detection and ranging lasers called lidar to map
and decode the snowpack. The Airborne Snow Observatory program,
or ASO, is based on technology that NASA has been using for
years to look at Mars and other planets.
Climate change is already negatively affecting the health of
Marin residents and within 15 years attendant sea-level rise
could threaten the county’s shoreline buildings, roads and
original utility systems. This was the sobering message Marin
supervisors received after Supervisor Kate Sears requested an
update on the local health impacts of climate change and
efforts to prepare for sea- level rise.
All along the lazy Lake County shorelines of creeks, ponds and
lakes you may be able to sneak up on Western pond turtles to
observe their slow-motion antics. … Besides watery places of
residence, however, they require a terrestrial habitat to
thrive. For instance, if the turtles’ resident pond or marsh
dries up seasonally or in a drought, they might end up living
outside of their aquatic environment for two-thirds of a year.
Expected to temporarily hold excess sewer flows during storms,
a project to build an underground flow equalization system
underneath the San Mateo County Event Center parking lot is one
of several components of San Mateo’s Clean Water Program. …
But for many residents … pile driving and the installation of
dewatering wells included in the project’s construction plans
drew concerns about noise, the structural integrity of nearby
homes and the project’s impact on neighbors’ quality of life.
From the first LA River cleanup in April 1989 when 10 people
showed up to the thousands that arrive on the river banks each
April, the group has attracted 70,000 volunteers who have
collectively removed 700 tons of trash in 29 years, the group
reported. … Many argue the cleanup events are the No. 1
reason for the nonprofit’s successes in making the LA River a
The latest declaration will provide aid to local governments
from the state’s Office of Emergency Services and directs
Caltrans to request federal assistance. In addition to Santa
Cruz County, the declaration will affect Butte, Colusa, Del
Norte, Mariposa, Napa, Solano and Tuolumne counties.
An invasive bamboo-like species called arundo is encumbering
the natural ecology of the Salinas River and increasing flood
risk to nearby farmland. But the conservation agency charged
with protecting the area recently secured nearly $3 million
from state coffers for the purpose of fighting the invasion.
Residents in north Chico say they have never seen flooding like
the deluge that came their way this year, and they want to know
how to stop it. Storm water from Rock Creek and Keefer Slough
surged into their backyards, front yards, and in some cases
into their homes. It crept into orchards and overtook Highway
99, north of Chico and continued westward.
Over the past 50 years, hydrology has experienced a revolution
in theory, technical application, and interdisciplinary
collaboration. … But as impressive as these technological
advancements are, the hydrological revolution owes as much to a
shift in culture.
“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood
water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands,
working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the
March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel
discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands
for groundwater recharge.
It’s not clear how much water this year’s snowpack will
produce, but the record snowpack in 2017 produced about one
million acre feet of water. That’s too much for a funnel only
about one-third that size. That means that water managers have
to figure out where to put the excess water as it melts off the
mountains. And the problem becomes potentially worse if a warm
streak hits and melts the snow fast
All this reliance on an overallocated river has left its final
hundred miles as the ultimate collateral damage. Since the
early 1960s, when Glen Canyon Dam impounded the river near
Page, Arizona, it has rarely reached the Pacific Ocean. The
thread is frayed beyond recognition, leaving no water for the
Casey Hashimoto, general manager of the Turlock Irrigation
District since 2010, announced Tuesday that he will retire at
the end of 2019. The leader of one of Stanislaus County’s
largest water and power providers disclosed his plans at the
morning board meeting. Hashimoto, an electrical engineer,
joined TID in 1985 and was an assistant GM for 10 years.
In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the
state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount
of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused
land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out
sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and
damaging infrastructure. … New research from Stanford
University suggests a way to map precisely where and how to use
groundwater recharge to refill the aquifers and stop the
Now that spring is here and the sun is finally out, Bay Area
residents are already reminiscing over what a rainy winter it
was, one of the wettest in recent memory, with many more
downpours than normal. Or was it? Not according to weather
The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has committed $8
million toward the restoration of Baldwin Lake, a severely
polluted body of water that is the centerpiece of the county
Arboretum visited by 400,000 people annually, officials said.
For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the
Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest
estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or
hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians
have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile,
dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s
water supply system.
The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was
covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms. The
workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the
California Conservation Corps.
People living in flood-prone areas throughout Shasta County
seemed to be breathing easier Friday after a long winter
dealing with high water threats. For months, many have been
watching the rivers and creeks around their homes, in case the
waters started to rise. However, despite wet weather and
increased water releases from Keswick Dam this week, the
residents we spoke with Friday say their waterways are staying
at manageable levels.
Our predecessors settled in a valley bordered by mountains that
increase the rainfall and help store water as melted snow
underground. They also experienced drought and, in response,
they thoughtfully set aside thousands of acres of land needed
to capture and replenish the primary source of the water they
Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage
pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines —
shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was
billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will
include a host of other binational issues, including climate
change and commerce.
Our soggy spring has been a big boost to these so-called
“vernal ponds,” ephemeral bodies of water which play a critical
role in preservation of threatened and endangered creatures…
The team found larvae of the threatened California tiger
salamander in 28 of the 58 pools they monitor. The endangered
vernal pool tadpole shrimp was found in 49 of these pools.
That’s the third-highest tally in recent years.
Specifically, the Feather River Recovery Alliance is asking
FERC to not reissue a license to the state Department of Water
Resources to operate the Oroville Dam until terms of the
agreement are renegotiated, including a new recreation plan.
The group says it received 6,469 local signatures on the
Chris Orrock of the California Department of Water Resources
joins the podcast to chat with John Howard and Tim Foster about
what this wealth of snow means for California’s water reserves
and flood dangers, and the implications for wildfires later in
This week California’s State Water Resources Control Board
adopted important new rules to protect the state’s remaining
wetlands resources. Enacted after over a decade of Board
hearings, workshops and deliberation, those rules are overdue,
welcome and critically necessary. Their adoption is
particularly timely now, given the Trump Administration’s
wholesale assault on and erosion of federal programs designed
to protect our nation’s wetlands under the federal Clean Water
Among other ramifications, the new procedures largely duplicate
(and in some respects are inconsistent with) federal
procedures, but add a significant new layer to the already
byzantine regulatory process for permitting projects that
involve fill of federal and state waters and wetlands.
Sacramento County homeowners living in flood-prone areas may be
eligible for a grant to elevate their houses above identified
flood levels. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced
it will fund a $2.6 million flood mitigation grant, which could
help dozens of homeowners in the county.
The heavier than normal rains Napa Valley endured this winter
will have beneficial after-effects for plants and animals like
birds, fish and the endangered Calistoga popcorn flower.
“Coming off several years of drought, there’s really nothing
but a positive from all this rain…,” said Peter Tira of the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Almost everyone who flies into San Francisco or San Jose
airport has seen it — a vibrant patchwork quilt of colorful
water. … As part of a huge effort called the South Bay Salt
Pond Restoration Project, the Cargill salt company has freed
almost 16,000 acres of their salt ponds.
Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the
public — including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who
may be subject to regulation — to make sure the new Clean Water
Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with
the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April
15, there’s no time to lose.