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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 …
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A fierce battle by Berkeley firefighters to prevent a gas-tank
explosion succeeded in averting a potential disaster this week
— but an apparently deadly aftereffect is that hundreds of fish
were killed when water and retardant foam from the firefight
flowed into a nearby stream.
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.
In an era of high population growth and sprawling urban and
wildland development, fire and flood disaster officials have to
plan in advance for post-fire problems… One strategy
California and Colorado are working on is to build political
alliances that combine forestry, water and land issues so that
lawmakers at the state and even the federal level are provided
with a more powerful, holistic view of the problems.
One video follows Matthew Sligar on a “typical 14-hour workday”
during the planting season. Another offers a step-by-step
explanation of how rice is planted in Butte County. In others,
he takes viewers on virtual tractor rides and demonstrates
important tools, like his autonomous agriculture drone. Sligar
doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, either, such as
weed and pest control management and water usage.
California received some good news on Tuesday for the state’s
water supply: The Sierra Nevada snowpack is well above normal,
at 162 percent of average. This amount of snow is thanks to the
more than 30 “atmospheric rivers” that brought storms this
winter and spring. Chris Orrock, with the California Department
of Water Resources, says … this is the fourth largest amount
of snow in recorded history.
It worked. Oroville Dam’s main flood-control spillway reopened
for business Tuesday morning, releasing a gentle sheet of water
into the Feather River for the first time since the 2017 crisis
that sent 188,000 people fleeing for their lives. … It was a
far cry from the scene two years ago, when the massive sinkhole
in the spillway turned water releases into an angry, boiling
On Tuesday, Napolitano, D-El Monte and U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez,
D-Norwalk asked a House Appropriations subcommittee to funnel
$100.4 million into the Army Corps’ construction and dam safety
correction budget for fiscal year 2020, citing the Whittier
Narrows Dam in Pico Rivera as a leading contender for at least
part of that funding.
Alongside auto wrecking yards and shipping centers off state
Route 905, a pop-up world has emerged with some of the
strangest creatures to swim in six inches of water. Here
aquatic plants grow next to cacti, and animals that have waited
for decades in the dust come to life. In this Otay Mesa
preserve are some of San Diego’s vernal pools, fleeting water
bodies that appear and vanish over the course of a season.
Officials predict they might need to open the gates to move
water that accumulated during the wet winter season from the
reservoir down into the Feather River. … Amy Rechenmacher, an
associate professor of engineering practice at USC, said the
spillway’s use is going to be a big test for the agency and
engineers who worked on the project.
Decay festers all around at the Salton Sea, the vast inland
lake in Southern California that once hosted beauty pageants
and boat races in its tourist heyday. … But new life is
moving into the breach. At Bombay Beach, artists drawn by the
cheap prices and surreal setting have been snapping up lots and
crumbling buildings as gallery spaces.
Fortunately, California has developed a forward-looking Central
Valley Flood Protection Plan to meet this challenge. In his
first state of the state address, Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted
the central tenet of the flood plan—investing in floodplain
improvements that give rivers more room to safely bypass flood
waters around cities and infrastructure.
If it seems that wildfires are burning nearly all the time
these days, that there’s no longer a definable fire season in
California, you’re right. Fourteen of the 20 most destructive
fires in state history have occurred since 2007, and California
has 78 more annual “fire days” now than it had 50 years ago.
It’s been a big year for snow in the Sierra Nevada range. This
is the time of year—April 1—when the snowpack is typically at
its peak and on Tuesday, when surveyors do their monthly manual
survey, they’re likely to find a snowpack at about 160 percent
of the average.
Hermosa Beach City Council has scrapped a large stormwater
infiltration project slated for the southern end of city’s
greenbelt, after more than a year of opposition from residents.
City officials will look for a new home for the project, meant
to ultimately reduce bacteria in the Santa Monica Bay, but
could potentially forfeit nearly $3.1 million in grant funding
from the State Water Resources Board.
Lawmakers are considering spending $150 million to fund new
high-tech measurements of the snowpack using lasers. … The
new hi-tech approach is meant to help water managers know
exactly how much water they can expect in water runoff from the
snowpack – and when that runoff will arrive in reservoirs,
rivers, and streams.
For the past year the state’s worked to eradicate the rodents
for a second time. The rodents were brought to California in
the 1900s for the fur trade and fur farming. “[The] challenge
is we keep looking and we keep finding more nutria,” said Peter
Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“However, we do know there’s about 1.8 million acres of
suitable nutria habitat. This is the largest nutria eradication
ever attempted in the United States.”
For the second time in two months, officials had to stop
diverting river water into Lake Casitas this week when several
feet of sandy muck got in the way. … Officials blamed the
Thomas Fire, which burned much of the area upstream in December
2017. When rain slammed into scorched hillsides, debris
and sediment came down the river.
Parts of the bay are experiencing high levels of shoaling —
sediment buildup that shallows the water, putting boats at the
mercy of large waves. … The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation
and Conservation District called for a state of emergency in
February due to increased shoaling halfway across the channel
in the North Bay, a portion known as “Rock and Roll Alley.”
Five months after voters approved a bond measure to protect the
waterfront from earthquakes and flooding from sea-level rise,
San Francisco plans to start using the first batch of funds.
Next week, The City is expected to introduce to the Board of
Supervisors for approval a proposal to use $50 million of the
$425 million Embarcadero Seawall Earthquake Safety general
obligation bond approved by more than 80 percent of the voters
One month after destructive flooding tore through Sonoma
County, residents are waiting for the state to decide if it
will ask the federal government for a disaster declaration — a
move that they say can bring them much-needed financial aid.
Russian River environmental watchdog Brenda Adelman accepted a
water stewardship award from California’s North Coast Regional
Water Quality Control Board last month in a ceremony at NCRWQCB
headquarters in Santa Rosa.
Spearheaded by the San Mateo Resource Conservation District,
with additional support from California State Parks and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the project
aims to re-establish more than a mile of the historic creek
channel, remove 45,000 cubic yards of sediment and restore more
than 10 miles of habitat for threatened steelhead trout and
endangered coho salmon.
Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a
former lobbyist and frequent foe of California
environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next
secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power
to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far
more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last
two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of
Whitewater rafting businesses are holding out hope of getting a
safe landing area near the Ward’s Ferry bridge over the
Tuolumne River, as a condition of relicensing the Don Pedro
hydroelectric project. At a Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission hearing Tuesday in Modesto, speakers said an
existing takeout for rafts on the Tuolumne, upstream from Don
Pedro Reservoir, is under water because of dam operations. And
the options for getting boats out of the water are not safe.
The California Department of Conservation (DOC) announced late
last week that eight organizations have received a total of
$1.85 million in grants to hire watershed coordinators to help
in building local capacity to improve forest health. … Areas
identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection as being most at risk of catastrophic wildfires were
given priority for the grants.
On our Bay-Delta Tour June 5-7, participants will hear from a
diverse group of experts including water managers,
environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will
offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that
would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the
Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance.
Duane Waliser of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory … says as
the climate warms, atmospheric rivers are projected to grow
wider and longer. Powerful ones are also expected to become
more frequent. That could increase water supply in some places.
“But on the other hand, atmospheric rivers come with flood
potential as well, so they’re sort of a double-edged sword, so
The town of roughly 1,000 people is located in the north-east
part of the county and surrounded by active waterways. It has
flooded multiple times in the past. Goals of the study included
reducing the risk of flooding while enhancing habitat
restoration and providing safe access to the river, according
to Sabatini’s presentation.
Major new efforts to manage runoff and protect existing homes
and businesses will be needed. Sea level rise will also affect
water management in other ways. One area is wastewater
treatment. Throughout coastal California and particularly in
the San Francisco Bay Area, wastewater and stormwater treatment
takes place in facilities that are currently at or near sea
level. Water supply will also be affected. Many coastal
aquifers will see increases in salinity …
Water may cascade down Oroville Dam’s rebuilt spillway next
week for the first time since a massive crater formed in its
nearly half-mile long surface two years ago — a major milestone
in the saga that triggered the evacuation of 188,000 people and
a $1.1 billion repair job to the country’s tallest dam. A storm
forecast to hit this week is expected to fill Lake Oroville to
the point that state dam operators might need to open the
Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and
fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We
live with the impacts of state water management decisions from
loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to
collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved
technology be employed to track real time management of
In California, [Jerry] Schubel saw an opportunity to turn the
energy, food and water issues facing the state into a
sustainable model showing how people can live in harmony with
the Earth and the ocean, and thrive. That model required deep
collaboration, a commitment to educational resources for the
public and an aquarium willing to take a risk.
More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an
effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from
California. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said
Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties
in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria are an agricultural pest,
destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water
delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive
Water managers are shifting from flood control to water storage
at reservoirs across California. Folsom Lake is at roughly 70
percent capacity, with about twice the amount of inflow as
outflow. “Some of the challenges we have — there are water
demands that are always increasing at Folsom, we have snowpack
that’s large, we have weather storms that come in,” said Todd
Plain with Bureau of Reclamation.
As the Sacramento River rose in late February and early March
due to a series of storms, it spilled over and flooded several
hundred acres of recently planted fields south of Hamilton
City. Just the way it was planned. The river poured through a
gap that had been opened in the old J Levee and flooded a
habitat restoration project between the riverbank and a new
levee that had been built, set back from the river a mile or
The intense nature of wildfires is undeniable, and while most
people want nothing but to get as far away as possible, artist
Jeff Frost decided that wasn’t an option. … His video and
sound installation, “California on Fire,” showcases 350,000
photographs from more than 70 major wildfires, taken over the
period of five years. The 25-minute video shows just a glimpse
of what Frost experienced behind the lens, and how many people
have been affected during the fires.
In places like Oakland, flooding will occur not just at the
shoreline, but inland in areas once considered safe from sea
level rise, including the Oakland Coliseum and Jones Avenue,
where [UC Berkeley professor Kristina] Hill and her students
now stood, more than a mile from San Leandro Bay. In fact, she
added, rising groundwater menaces nearly the entire band of
low-lying land around San Francisco Bay, as well as many other
coastal parts of the U.S.
Water gives us life, and water does not come easily to
California. It made sense to invite it to stay a while and help
nurture our Gravensteins, our white figs and pear. So I’ve
spent months cutting back bramble and digging out blackberry.
The creek has become my workout video. I spend mornings
contemplating the flow of water and noticing what mushrooms
grow in the leaf litter, what animal prints inscribe the mud.
Water levels and flows on area rivers are looking similar to
conditions in 2017 when there were more than double the water
rescues compared to average years. “Everyone should treat the
river like a wild animal,” said Stanislaus Consolidated Fire
Protection District Captain Jeff Frye. “Enjoy it from afar.”
Another round of soaking winter weather is on the horizon for
the West Coast, with a series of storms expected to impact the
region through midweek. … “Unsettled weather will continue
across the West Coast this week as more rain and mountain snow
targets Northern California, Oregon and Washington,” according
to AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido.
Chinook spawned here historically, but in 1957 Putah Creek was
dammed near Winters to divert water for Solano County. After
that, hardly any salmon made their way up the creek. Then a
lawsuit in the 1990s — and resulting restoration project —
finally gave the fish what they needed to return after all
A “landmark” initiative aimed at restoring Carmel River
floodplain habitat and helping reduce flood risks for homes and
businesses along the lower part of the river and lagoon has
reached a key phase with the release of its environmental
An engineer with 20-plus years experience working on dams fears
the Oroville dam could be in trouble again. He says the same
problem which led to the failure of the main spillway in 2017
is still happening. … Now, expert Scott Cahill told News
Radio KFBK, water can be seen seeping from the foot of the dam
and dozens of points along the new spillway.
The problem is that removing the four dams will not restore
natural river flows. Those flows are, for the most part,
controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which will
continue to divert Klamath River water to the Rogue Basin and
for federal irrigation in the Upper Klamath and Lost River
Officials from the California Department of Water Resources,
the Public Policy Institute of California and the Water
Education Foundation will join regional water managers and
federal agency representatives at the daylong event, “Moving
Forward Together: From Planning to Action Across the Watershed“
at Cal State Fullerton.
FEMA said that a wide range of pre-existing problems
contributed to the deterioration of both the upper and lower
sections of the massive concrete spillway. The agency argues
that federal law, regulations and policy restrict payments only
to work needed to fix damage stemming from a declared disaster.
Water storage at New Melones Reservoir in southeastern
Calaveras County is currently at 84 percent of its 2.4 million
acre-feet capacity – 35 percent higher than its 15-year average
for March… Although the dam’s emergency spillway has never
been tested, Reclamation has been proactively releasing water
in anticipation of snowpack runoff.
To put it bluntly, there’s a chance that a portion of “Capitola
by the Sea,” as it’s sometimes known, could become “Capitola in
the Sea.” The city of Santa Cruz’s Climate Adaptation Plan,
published in 2018, estimates climate change, caused by
greenhouse gas emissions, will result in about 28 inches of
sea-level rise along the Central Coast by 2060.
As the sea level rises, it could impact more than the
California coastline. The rising water could impact the
Sacramento region. Some researchers said the rise could
threaten levees in the area and increase the risk of flooding
throughout the Delta and the Sacramento Valley.
A collection of legislators are taking another shot at getting
state money to repair the canal carrying water to thousands of
farms and several cities along the Valley’s eastside. … The
bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water
supply by investing $400 million in general funds to repair
subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal caused during the historic
Climate advocates say an overhaul of the nation’s flood
insurance program being unveiled by the Trump administration
will spur communities around the country to better plan for
extreme weather, but could drive up costs for some homeowners.
… It will tie premiums to the actual flood risk facing
individual homes nationwide starting in October 2020. The
current system sets prices based largely on whether a home is
inside or outside of the 100-year flood plain.
Ninety-one years ago this week, the worst civil engineering
failure in California history killed more than 450 people when
a wall of water carved a path of staggering destruction from a
canyon north of Los Angeles to the coast.
With rising tides threatening to submerge the Palo Alto
Baylands by mid-century, city officials agreed on Monday
they need to explore new barriers — both physical and
legislative — to protect coastal area from sea level rise.
These measures will be approved as part of a new Sea Level Rise
Implementation Plan, a document that Public Works staff are in
the process of putting together and that could have significant
ramification for properties around the Baylands.
Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires
and state regulations on river flow, two state officials
advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and
other natural-resources issues. At the California Farm Bureau
Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week,
California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot
said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.
A move by the Environmental Protection Agency could revive the
contentious plan to develop 1,400 acres of Redwood City
shoreline owned by Cargill Salt, which operates an industrial
plant there. The EPA removed one barrier to development earlier
this month by ruling that the area is not subject to
restrictions in the federal Clean Water Act. That puts the EPA
at loggerheads with environmentalists, who want to convert the
land back to tidal wetlands.
To better understand how vineyard and housing development could
affect its Upvalley water sources, the city of Napa may join
forces with the county on a study of runoff and inflow into
Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.
By allocating $1 million last week toward a creek restoration
project set to rejuvenate threatened and endangered species and
reduce flooding in Pescadero, county officials locked in
funding needed to begin a dredging effort experts expect will
give the Butano Creek a chance to reset.
On Tuesday, March 19, the California Water Resources Control
Board will hold a session on the North Shore to hear from state
officials about their progress addressing the many issues
related to the Salton Sea. This is a good opportunity for these
officials to break through the remaining obstacles to progress
at the Salton Sea and find a productive way forward.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right
decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. …
Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our
management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively
advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the
results regardless of outcome.
Water is coming out from Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River.
The dam is at about 82 percent of capacity, and the warm
weather is melting the mountain snow. Michael Jackson, area
director for the Bureau of Reclamation, says the flow out of
the dam is being increased. Flood releases don’t usually start
until April, so the extra water is good news for valley
growers, with extra irrigation water available.
Dozens of computer coding teams from around San Joaquin County
were tasked to create an app in roughly seven hours. The issue:
following the destruction caused by the malfunction of the
Oroville Dam in February 2017 and the evacuation of more than
180,000 people, could there be an app that can track dam
leakage, seismic activity and other structural impacts and
communicate with the appropriate individuals to help deter
The statewide snowpack has reached 160 percent of its annual
year-to-date average and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra
Nevada can be seen from Highway 198. … But, if you think
that’s a lot of rain, think again. Sunday marks the 113th
anniversary of the 1906 flood, which filled Visalia’s downtown
streets with about a foot of water. The water didn’t dissipate
for 10 days.
Otters, birds, and turtles might be the last animals you would
expect to find living next door to the Interstate 680
toll-plaza. But, tucked between the freeway, an oil refinery
and a wastewater facility hides an oasis on the mend. … The
21-acre constructed wetland is in the middle of an industrial
zone and is part of the Mt. View Sanitary District Wastewater
Treatment Plant. “It’s the very first wetland on the west coast
to use treated wastewater to create wetlands,” explained
district biologist Kelly Davidson.
When a wild river floods, water and sediment spills over its
banks onto adjacent land, it builds up a natural floodplain.
Floodplains allow a river’s high flows to spread out and slow
down, forming temporary reservoirs that pool over the rainy
season. That means more water percolating down into underlying
aquifers … and less floodwaters barreling toward cities.
The waters are getting warmer due to more heat being kept in
the atmosphere from excess carbon dioxide from the burning of
fossil fuels. … When the earth heats up, so do the waters in
the Arctic where the polar ice caps and sea ice are melting.
This excess water flows down into rivers, streams and bays
where people live. The result: Sea levels rise, causing
flooding to coastal cities.
Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of
migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific
Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year. They
are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed
and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in
Nature’s Scientific Reports.
They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than
a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up
to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up
crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive
behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered
in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing
Heavy snowfall this winter is expected to delay the seasonal
opening of many Yosemite tourist attractions, including
Yosemite Valley campgrounds, Half Dome’s climbing cables and
Tioga Road into the high country, park officials announced
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her
energy to issues associated with management of the Colorado
River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the
Colorado River Commission of Nevada. Now her career is taking a
different direction. Harkins was appointed last August to take
the helm of the United States section of the International
Boundary and Water Commission, the U.S.-Mexico agency that
oversees myriad water matters between the two countries…
The Glory Hole’s inlet is 72 feet in diameter and the outlet
shrinks down to 28-feet wide. Right now, the water is coming
out at 3,800 cubic feet per second. Just in case you are
wondering, that is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized pool
every 23.2 seconds.
A countywide effort to manage sea level rise is beginning to
coalesce. In recent months, San Mateo County officials have
taken steps to form a new government agency to address coastal
erosion, flooding, storm water infrastructure and sea level
A sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San
Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual
mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional
development after the Trump administration this month exempted
the site from the Clean Water Act.
Blockbuster claims in a lawsuit that a racist, sexist, corrupt
culture contributed to the near-catastrophic failure of
Oroville Dam two years ago can go forward, a Sacramento judge
ruled Thursday. The decision … sets the stage for what
plaintiffs’ attorneys vow will be a deep dive into claims of a
poisonous work culture that nearly disastrously compromised the
nation’s tallest dam.
Last month, we broke ground on a long overdue revamp of the
West Fontana Channel. … It was created in the 1970s after the
County of San Bernardino got serious about flood control
following the devastating flooding that occurred in 1969. But
unlike Day Creek, San Sevaine and other flood control
facilities, the West Fontana Channel was never fortified with
concrete to ensure it could handle all of the fast-moving
runoff it gets inundated with after heavy storms.
A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San
Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water
quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by
a wide variety of stakeholders. Senate Bill 69, authored by
Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants,
the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse
gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.
When an atmospheric river meets mountainous terrain like the
Sierra Nevada, the water vapor condenses and becomes rain or
snow. Strong atmospheric rivers can bring about floods and
landslides, but the water and snowpack they leave behind
provide California with 25 to 50 percent of its yearly
precipitation in just a few days.
Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in
better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting
ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers.
What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to
understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital
resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our
Central Valley Tour April 3-5.
The city of Sacramento has approved a $2.9 million contract
that will allow construction of a new sewage vault underneath
McKinley Park. The goal of the project is to provide a place to
store sewage during wet weather, when stormwater runoff — and
wastewater — can end up in the same place, and overflow can
send it all into East Sacramento’s streets.
Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve
balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require
taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of
production in the San Joaquin Valley. … We talked to Soapy
Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust,
about this impending challenge.
A system that transfers and diverts water from the Eel River
basin has been in Pacific Gas and Electric’s control for over
35 years, but the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January —
coupled with its interest in either selling or abandoning the
project — has Humboldt County officials intent on closely
following what happens next.
In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in
California, researchers say damage by the end of the century
could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and
wildfires in state history. A team of U.S. Geological Survey
scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level
rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster —
could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders
came together March 7 to examine the challenges and
opportunities associated with providing California residents
and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water.
Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of
the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields
urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly
complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying
The water within the Paradise Irrigation District is clean. The
trouble is, the infrastructure within the district may not be,
according to Paradise Irrigation District’s Kevin Phillips.
“The water is clean but some of the pipes are contaminated,
that’s why (contamination) is so random,” he said. “One service
line can be contaminated, but the one next door isn’t. If the
water were contaminated, then it would be everywhere.”
Still unconvinced Klamath River dam removal wouldn’t result in
excessive silt at Crescent City Harbor, Del Norte County
supervisors are asking the nonprofit organization behind the
effort to set aside mitigation dollars. With a 4-1 vote
Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed Community
Development Director Heidi Kunstal to draft a letter to the
Klamath River Renewal Corporation with its request.
The sandy playa that used to be underwater is now being baked
by the sun and blown around by the winds that frequently scour
the desert floor here. The dust is tiny and can easily get
airborne. That is a public health crisis for a region already
suffering from some of California’s highest asthma rates.
California’s recent drought may have officially ended, but the
state’s water data drought remains in full effect. Shockingly,
we don’t always know the answers to basic questions such as how
much water is available in our state, let alone where and when.
That’s why improving California’s woefully deficient stream
gage network should be a top priority for the state.
Death Valley, the hottest and driest place in North America,
isn’t exactly known for record rainfall or pop-up lakes
stretching as far as the eye can see. But after a massive storm
lashed the desert with rain and brought chilly temperatures
through Southern California, that’s exactly what happened,
according to photographer Elliott McGucken. He was trying to
get to Badwater Basin, where he thought there could be
flooding, when he saw the giant lake.
It’s not often that communities in California and Louisiana
face similar water challenges. California is better known for
having too little water and Louisiana too much – both
challenges exacerbated by climate change. But record-setting
wet winter weather led both states last week to release
significant amounts of water from reservoirs and rivers to
prevent flooding, underscoring the need for new approaches to
build climate-resilient communities across the country.
California’s state water agency is set to appeal a federal
determination that some of the Oroville Dam’s reconstruction
costs are ineligible for reimbursement. The Federal Emergency
Management Agency last week approved an additional $205 million
for the project, on top of the $128.4 million it sent last
year, according to the state Department of Water Resources. But
FEMA officials told the state they likely won’t fund some
portions of the 2-year, estimated $1.1 billion rebuilding
effort that followed the Oroville Dam’s near-failure in
Santa Monica will experience more frequent droughts and coastal
flooding, hotter temperatures and poorer air quality as the
world’s climate changes throughout the next century. However,
officials said the city’s geography and the City of Santa
Monica’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) will shield
residents from some of the impacts of climate change. The plan,
released last month, describes how the city will ensure
residents have affordable water during droughts, contain sea
level rise and deal with high heat days.
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and a disappearing
snowpack were part of a scary story told to SCV Water Agency
officials recently as they learned the effects of climate
change over the next 100 years. … The latest climate
assessment was intended to advance “actionable science” that
would serve the growing needs of state and local-level
decision-makers from a variety of sectors.
In the midst of the wet winter storms bringing rain and snow to
California this year, you might not expect drought preparations
to be among the state’s current priorities. And yet, they need
to be. In this post, I’ll explore why to set the stage for a
blog series that explores what the state can do to prepare for
the more frequent and intense droughts we expect in
California’s future. The series draws on work my colleagues and
I did for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good
example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood
damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense
and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also
illustrates how the many individual flood management options
presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified
cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and
federal parties concerned with floods.
Subsidence and socialism are two “S” words that wouldn’t seem
to have much in common, especially here in the San Joaquin
Valley. Nevertheless, for insiders in the Valley’s intricate
water game, the words are inextricably linked.
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the
controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection
Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few
recommended changes, but no sea change in direction.
Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some
warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will
hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect
drinking water and combat climate change.
A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of
people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals.
… Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to
notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek
Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek
is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. … Friant-Kern
Water Authority officials later determined the flooding wasn’t
caused by “overtopping” of the Friant-Kern Canal’s banks. The
issue was drainage from Frazier Creek.
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know
it today, you might think there would be libraries full of
books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC
Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most
obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little
there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast
of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and
pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
Millions of Californians could end up with higher water bills
after the Trump administration on Friday announced that federal
emergency officials aren’t going to reimburse the state for
$306 million in repairs to Oroville Dam stemming from the 2017
spillway crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said
federal taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for problems that
existed prior to a massive hole forming in the dam’s concrete
spillway in February 2017…
Oregon’s dam safety regulations are getting an overhaul, for
the first time in nearly a century. A bill pending in the
Legislature would rewrite the laws governing construction,
inspections and enforcement authority for hundreds of
state-regulated dams. The bill would increase the state’s power
to force owners of aging, dangerous dams to do maintenance and
make repairs. And it would require state approval and oversight
of all new dam construction and removal of old dams.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a $35 million
contract to continue the Sutter Basin Project – strengthening a
stretch of Sutter County levees. The project will allow repairs
to continue on approximately five more miles of the Feather
River west levee between Tudor Road and Cypress Avenue in south
Sutter County, according to a press release from the corps.