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.
Autumnal rain has sent a surge of Chinook salmon swimming up
Bay Area creeks, a sharp reversal in fortune for an iconic
species that has struggled after years of drought. A living
link between our mountains and coast, the fish responded to
late October’s fierce atmospheric river by rushing up the
region’s once-parched rivers, say biologists, frequenting spots
where they’ve never been seen. … In recent years, populations
of Chinook, also known as king salmon, have collapsed with
astonishing speed — and even this current run is unlikely to
end well if more rain doesn’t come.
Consumers should prepare to pay more than usual for live and
fake Christmas trees this year because of climate change and
supply chain issues, according to the American Christmas Tree
Association. The real Christmas tree harvest was impacted by
wildfires, floods and extreme weather in Oregon, which is the
number one producer of Christmas trees in the nation and where
many West Coast sellers buy their trees.
About 75,000 gallons of sewage spilled in San Rafael’s
Montecito and Happy Valley neighborhoods after a pipe backed
up, officials said Monday. The spill happened last week off
Highland Avenue above San Rafael High School. It is the latest
sewage spill believed to be linked to the atmospheric river
storm that battered the Bay Area on Oct. 24, according to the
California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Land and waterway managers labored hard over the course of a
century to control California’s unruly rivers by building dams
and levees to slow and contain their water. Now, farmers,
environmentalists and agencies are undoing some of that work as
part of an accelerating campaign to restore the state’s major
floodplains. … The hope, shared by stakeholders who have
traditionally fought over water and land, is to rebuild habitat
for fish, birds and other wildlife while simultaneously
providing benefits, like improved flood protection and
groundwater recharge, for towns and farms.
Land and waterway managers labored
hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly
rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their
water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing
some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore
the state’s major floodplains.
Biologists have designed a variety
of unique experiments in the past decade to demonstrate the
benefits that floodplains provide for small fish. Tracking
studies have used acoustic tags to show that chinook salmon
smolts with access to inundated fields are more likely than their
river-bound cohorts to reach the Pacific Ocean. This is because
the richness of floodplains offers a vital buffet of nourishment
on which young salmon can capitalize, supercharging their growth
and leading to bigger, stronger smolts.
Reclamation District 2140’s set-back levee outside of Hamilton
City is completed, lessening flood concerns for the small Glenn
County town. The levee project officially reached completion
Tuesday, though there is still some construction on the edge of
the land surrounding the Sacramento River where trees and other
flora are projected to be planted. According to an announcement
from the district, the set-back levee spans 6.8 miles of the
Sacramento River east of Hamilton City and has been in the
making for some time.
Guidelines for how cities and local agencies should adapt
roads, railways and water systems to accommodate rising
seas were unanimously approved Wednesday by the state
Coastal Commission. The 230-page document sets a controversial
benchmark by urging communities to prepare for the Pacific
Ocean to rise 10 feet by 2100, a projection so far beyond
current calculations that climate scientists haven’t yet
determined the probability of it occurring. … Ten of the 16
public speakers, including representatives of eight
environmental groups, called on the commission to include
desalination plants as among the “critical infrastructure”
addressed, particularly since the guidance was designed to
address water facilities.
President Biden on Monday signed a historic $1-trillion
bipartisan bill that he said will overhaul the nation’s
infrastructure and boost the nation’s economy, which has been
battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Touting the legislation as a
job creator, the president said it was also an example of him
fulfilling a campaign promise to reach across the aisle to get
things done. … California is set to receive about $3.5
billion to eliminate lead water pipes and take other steps to
improve drinking water. It should also receive more than $80
million to help mitigate wildfires and other natural disasters.
Foster City has completed the first year of construction of its
Levee Improvement Project, a milestone for the major
infrastructure project being built to protect the city during
storms and high tides and from future sea level rise.
… The project also includes redevelopment and widening
of the Levee/Bay Trail, which will provide the community with
an enhanced, more inviting recreation destination. The overall
project timeline is from October 2020 through 2023. Measure P,
the $90 million general obligation bond for the project, was
overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018.
A 22-foot-high floodwall was supposed to protect Aqua
Pennsylvania’s water-treatment facility near the Schuylkill
River from a 100-year storm. But when the remains of Hurricane
Ida barreled through the area near Philadelphia in September,
the 18-inch-thick wall proved no match for the record
rains. Waters breached the barrier and inundated the
plant. Mud and debris coated offices. Employees rushed to shut
down the facility. They barely got out in time, some rolling
down car windows in case they got caught in the rising waters
and had to leap out…
Crenshaw is one of at least 47 communities where the worsening
impacts of climate change will be felt most acutely, according
to a groundbreaking new L.A. County report, which outlines in
stark detail how some of the Southland’s most vulnerable
residents could bear the brunt of extreme heat, wildfires,
drought and floods. … Many of those communities are home
to low-income people and people of color.
A weak atmospheric river rolled through the San Francisco Bay
Area early Tuesday, dumping more than 2 inches of rain in the
Marin County community Kentfield, nestled in the shadow of Mt.
Tamalpais, but giving little relief to the drought stricken
South Bay. Rainfall totals over the last 24 hours depended
entirely on what zip code you lived in.
The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the completed
contract negotiation between the United States and the Orland
Unit Water Users Association for the repayment of costs
expended for Safety of Dams modifications on Stony Gorge in
Glenn County in Northern California. The contract will
allow the U.S. to recover the costs that were expended to
repair the dam as a result of state-of-the-art changes to
improve seismic loads on the dam.
As an environmental officer in Samoa, Violet Wulf-Saena worked
with the Lano and Saoluafata Indigenous peoples to restore
coastline mangrove ecosystems that could slow incoming waves
and protect communities from storm and flood damage. Two
decades later, in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, she’s
the director of a nonprofit called Climate Resilient
Communities that works on the same issue: restoring marshlands
and wetlands to better protect vulnerable neighborhoods in
low-lying areas from sea level rise.
Rain fell across parts of Northern California on Thursday, and
more was possible into the weekend, but forecasts were backing
off chances of an atmospheric river event next week, the
National Weather Service said. Snow levels were expected to
remain high but possibly lower to mountain pass levels when
another system moves through on Friday and Saturday,
By all measures, the storm of October 24th was remarkable. It
broke one-day precipitation records throughout Northern
California. And it did this in October, a month not known for
biblical deluges in California. But did this unusually intense
atmospheric river lead to significant changes in our drought
picture? Yes and, mostly, no. … But the bad is vastly
outweighed by the good from this unusual storm.
A kitten that was just seconds from drowning landed in the best
possible hands, the hands of Skip Campbell, a Sacramento man
who acted quickly to rescue it from fast-moving water. The
record-setting storm on Oct. 24 flooded Chicken Ranch Slough,
which runs behind Skip’s home. As he and his wife Nancy walked
down to check on the water levels, Nancy was recording video
when she heard the distress of a drowning animal.
Tetra Tech, Inc., a leading provider of high-end consulting and
engineering services, announced today that the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers (USACE), Sacramento District awarded a Tetra
Tech-led joint venture a multiple-award contract to assess and
manage risks for dams and levee systems in the western United
States for a period up to five years.
The big storm brought a lot of much-needed moisture to the Bay
Area, but it also brought a lot of stuff into the San Francisco
Bay that doesn’t belong in the bay. … [Sajel
Choksi-Chugh, the executive director for San Francisco
Baykeeper] and her team scooped up visible trash and debris
from the bay on Wednesday. This is something that typically
happens after a big storm, according to Choksi-Chugh.
The Natomas Basin has flood prevention measures in place but
some risked failure Sunday. … The Reclamation District’s
General Manager Kevin King said he hopes the recent storm
reminds people in the Natomas area of the need for
well-functioning flood prevention equipment, especially as his
district prepares to seek millions in public funding next year
for new pumps and support systems.
It had been completely dry in Sacramento for six months. Then
the heavens opened and a record-breaking amount of rain fell in
one day. Such extreme shifts are becoming more frequent in
California and are a harbinger of what is to come for the rest
of a warming planet, scientists say.
The 257-acre Hopkins Fire burned dozens of structures along the
Russian River last month, but cleanup efforts move slower than
rain. So when the National Weather Service (NWS) in Eureka
forecast four to six inches of precipitation in seven days for
the Ukiah valley, county personnel recognized the Hopkins burn
scar as an impending environmental crisis.
Flooding, particularly on coasts, threatens families and
communities. In a recent study published in the academic
journal Earth’s Future, researchers looked at the costs of
coastal flooding through an equity lens, finding that flooding
comes with both monetary and social risks, suggesting that many
people who own or rent homes at risk from rising sea levels may
not have enough money to pay for the associated damages.
… The study, which analyzed counties in the San
Francisco Bay Area, projected flooding impacts from 2020 to
2060, determining that coastal flooding disproportionately
impacts lower-income households.
It rained so hard in California in 1862 that a 300-mile-long
lake was created in the Central Valley, stretching from
Bakersfield to Red Bluff. … Yes, climate change is
distressingly real. The melting Arctic ice cap and rising seas
are evidence enough. So are higher average summer temperatures.
The warming is exacerbated by humans burning fossil
fuels. That doesn’t mean global warming is the mother of
every freak of nature. Not all major events are caused by
climate change, regardless of what Gov. Gavin Newsom repeatedly
asserts about the extremes of wetter and windier storms, dryer
droughts and hotter wildfires. -Written by LA Times columnist George Skelton.
The green beans growing on this Clovis farm were ready to be
picked. But now crews will have to wait a few days until the
muddy rows dry up. … [Farmer David] Sarabian says most of the
green beans should be fine as drier conditions settle in but
there will be some crop loss. … The slow, steady rain that
soaked his farm was more manageable than the windy storm he
watched whip through the [San Francisco] Bay Area on Sunday.
California has always been a state known for its weather
variability. There have been other instances of intense
precipitation, like the heavy rainfall in 2017 that led to the
Oroville dam crisis. But [UCLA climate scientist Daniel]
Swain said that particularly intense precipitation during
periods of dryness are expected to become the norm due to
Atmospheric rivers can bring dangerous flooding, but, without
them, California can head into drought. Improving forecasts for
these huge storms is a focus for the Center for Western Weather
and Water Extremes to keep water flowing in the state. Marty
Ralph remembers living in Los Angeles in the 1980s when a huge
rainstorm dropped nearly half the rainfall for the whole year
in 12 hours. It was at that moment he realized he wanted to
study these kind of storms
With so many extremes hitting California, the state is now
talking about Climate Insurance. The next disaster – combined
with a lack of insurance that many can’t afford and is getting
even more expensive – has the state considering a new
community-based approach to lower risk, and make sure more
people are protected against catastrophic weather events.
… Ideas to lower risk include building wetlands to store
water in floods, creating statewide hazard maps so residents
are clear on the risks where they live, and naming heatwaves
like hurricanes so people properly prepare.
Lake Tahoe’s water levels are back up above the natural rim,
thanks to precipitation from the massive storm system that
pushed across Northern California this weekend. Data from
the U.S. Geological Survey shows that water levels at the
Tahoe City dam, near the outlet of the Truckee River, rose
almost a half of a foot in 24 hours. Meanwhile, more than
2 feet of snow accumulated on the mountaintops surrounding
the Tahoe Basin.
California bore the brunt on Sunday of what meteorologists
referred to as a “bomb cyclone” and an “atmospheric river,” a
convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of
rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, flash
floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada.
… The convergence of storms comes at a challenging time
for California, which has been besieged by wildfires and
drought, the result of extreme weather brought on by climate
While wildfires and droughts dominate California
weather, residents have to prepare for another kind of disaster
— flooding. Sacramento is no stranger to seeing flooding of
epic proportions. It happened during the Great Flood of 1862
that completely submerged Old Town, and the evidence is still
right below our feet. Floodwaters have plagued the Central
Valley several more times before, happening again in 1986,
1995, 1997, 2006 and 2017, but new research by the organization
Climate Central suggests that in 100 years, flooding in the
Sacramento and Central valleys could reach levels
never seen before.
Julian Meisler stood on a human-made levee at low tide along
the shore of San Pablo Bay, surveying 1,000 acres of a dark
brown, mostly barren mud flat. … [Meisler] is the
project manager of Sonoma Land Trust’s 15-year campaign to
restore wetlands intended to protect the Highway 37 corridor —
with both a roadway and rail line — from flooding exacerbated
by sea level rise. And now the levee, a victim of erosion from
wind waves, is being fortified by an unprecedented restoration
project using hundreds of trees — some salvaged from wildfire
burn areas — to blunt the waves and promote wildlife habitat.
In the burned-out town of Greenville, deep on a Plumas County
mountainside, the storms now battering Northern California are
another trauma in a year of heartbreak. “Be careful what you
wish for,” Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss said Thursday,
just off a briefing with state emergency response officials.
Torrential rainfall is expected to soften the state’s drought
this weekend, but the rain also brings the risk of debris flows
and floods in places hit by wildfires.
As aspen leaves blazed across the Colorado Rockies this fall,
NOAA scientists were busy installing a state-of-the-art
observing network in a remote basin near Crested Butte to study
how precipitation forms in the complex, high-altitude terrain
of the West Elk Mountains. Their goal: improving weather and
river flow prediction in a watershed critical to the region’s
The Sonoma Water Board of Directors today approved its
first-ever Climate Adaptation Plan (CAP) that … identifies
threats to Sonoma Water’s water supply, flood control, and
sanitation infrastructure and operations and develops
adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerabilities and risks that
will be exacerbated by climate change. Development of the plan
assumes that climate change is inevitable, it is already
occurring, and the agency must adapt quickly to protect its
After nearly a year without rain, a series of potent Pacific
storms are directed at Northern California this week,
potentially bringing as much as a foot of rainfall and up to
three feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada. Supercharged by a
classic atmospheric river pattern, the storms could lead to
flash floods and dangerous debris flows in a wide swath of the
region already devastated by recent wildfires. With each
successive storm, the moisture potential increases, peaking
with possibly a rare category 5 atmospheric river event on
Three successive storms will surge in from the Pacific Ocean
this week, forecasters said Tuesday, bringing what may be the
most rain in nine months to drought-stricken Northern
California and offering a promising start to winter after two
years marked by record wildfires and dry conditions. Two of
those storms look like atmospheric rivers … After
Sunday’s storm, the 7-day rainfall totals could range from 5 to
8 inches over the North Bay, 3 to 5 inches in the Santa Cruz
Mountains, and 1 to 3 inches across the San Francisco Bay Area
down to Big Sur.
USACE Sacramento District has a proven track record of facing
challenges head-on. When 2020 brought with it the Novel
Coronavirus, the District responded quickly to address the
needs of a rapidly changing work environment…This year marked
the start of major construction on the [American River Common
Features] project, and the pandemic hit just as crews were
mobilizing, meaning both USACE and its contractors faced
unexpected public impacts.
This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.
The islands of the western
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are sinking as the rich peat soil
that attracted generations of farmers dries out and decays. As
the peat decomposes, it releases tons of carbon dioxide – a
greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere. As the islands sink, the
levees that protect them are at increasing risk of failure, which
could imperil California’s vital water conveyance system.
An ambitious plan now in the works could halt the decay,
sequester the carbon and potentially reverse the sinking.
Many of California’s watersheds are
notoriously flashy – swerving from below-average flows to jarring
flood conditions in quick order. The state needs all the water it
can get from storms, but current flood management guidelines are
strict and unyielding, requiring reservoirs to dump water each
winter to make space for flood flows that may not come.
However, new tools and operating methods are emerging that could
lead the way to a redefined system that improves both water
supply and flood protection capabilities.
California is chock full of rivers and creeks, yet the state’s network of stream gauges has significant gaps that limit real-time tracking of how much water is flowing downstream, information that is vital for flood protection, forecasting water supplies and knowing what the future might bring.
That network of stream gauges got a big boost Sept. 30 with the signing of SB 19. Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the law requires the state to develop a stream gauge deployment plan, focusing on reactivating existing gauges that have been offline for lack of funding and other reasons. Nearly half of California’s stream gauges are dormant.
To survive the next drought and meet
the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability
law, California is going to have to put more water back in the
ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging
overpumped aquifers is no easy task.
Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits
for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection
between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around
California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though,
landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will
have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which
millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally
The Colorado River Basin’s 20 years
of drought and the dramatic decline in water levels at the
river’s key reservoirs have pressed water managers to adapt to
challenging conditions. But even more extreme — albeit rare —
droughts or floods that could overwhelm water managers may lie
ahead in the Basin as the effects of climate change take hold,
say a group of scientists. They argue that stakeholders who are
preparing to rewrite the operating rules of the river should plan
now for how to handle these so-called “black swan” events so
they’re not blindsided.
The majestic beauty of the Sierra
Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue
sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and
logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of
trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation.
Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris,
it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.
Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of
Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a
battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous,
New to this year’s slate of water
tours, our Edge of
Drought Tour Aug. 27-29 will venture into the Santa
Barbara area to learn about the challenges of limited local
surface and groundwater supplies and the solutions being
implemented to address them.
Despite Santa Barbara County’s decision to lift a drought
emergency declaration after this winter’s storms replenished
local reservoirs, the region’s hydrologic recovery often has
lagged behind much of the rest of the state.
This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
The whims of political fate decided
in 2018 that state bond money would not be forthcoming to help
repair the subsidence-damaged parts of Friant-Kern Canal, the
152-mile conduit that conveys water from the San Joaquin River to
farms that fuel a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy along
the east side of the fertile San Joaquin Valley.
Just because El Niño may be lurking
off in the tropical Pacific, does that really offer much of a
clue about what kind of rainy season California can expect in
Water Year 2019?
Will a river of storms pound the state, swelling streams and
packing the mountains with deep layers of heavy snow much like
the exceptionally wet 2017 Water Year (Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30,
2017)? Or will this winter sputter along like last winter,
leaving California with a second dry year and the possibility of
another potential drought? What can reliably be said about the
prospects for Water Year 2019?
At Water Year
2019: Feast or Famine?, a one-day event on Dec. 5 in Irvine,
water managers and anyone else interested in this topic will
learn about what is and isn’t known about forecasting
California’s winter precipitation weeks to months ahead, the
skill of present forecasts and ongoing research to develop
The Colorado River Basin is more
than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could
force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously”
underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of
California water industry people.
During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s
Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is
opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their
destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees
that agreement can be reached.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.
And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop
of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad
sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.
Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.
Every day, people flock to Daniel
Swain’s social media platforms to find out the latest news and
insight about California’s notoriously unpredictable weather.
Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the
Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, famously coined the
term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 to describe
the large, formidable high-pressure mass that was parked over the
West Coast during winter and diverted storms away from
California, intensifying the drought.
Swain’s research focuses on atmospheric processes that cause
droughts and floods, along with the changing character of extreme
weather events in a warming world. A lifelong Californian and
alumnus of University of California, Davis, and Stanford
University, Swain is best known for the widely read Weather West blog, which provides
unique perspectives on weather and climate in California and the
western United States. In a recent interview with Western
Water, he talked about the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, its
potential long-term impact on California weather, and what may
lie ahead for the state’s water supply.
This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River
where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand
is growing from myriad sources — increasing population,
declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs is the focus of this tour.
Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries
through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the
issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of
California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State
Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour
participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the
Oroville Dam spillway.
In a state with such topsy-turvy weather as California, the
ability of forecasters to peer into the vast expanse of the
Pacific Ocean and accurately predict the arrival of storms is a
must to improve water supply reliability and flood management
The problem, according to Jeanine Jones, interstate resources
manager with the state Department of Water Resources, is
that “we have been managing with 20th century
technology with respect to our ability to do weather
Work crews repairing Oroville Dam’s damaged emergency spillway
are dumping 1,200 tons of rock each hour and using shotcrete to
stabilize the hillside slope, an official with the Department of
Water Resources told the California Water Commission today.
The pace of work is “round the clock,” said Kasey Schimke,
assistant director of DWR’s legislative affairs office.
ARkStorm stands for an atmospheric
river (“AR”) that carries precipitation levels expected to occur
once every 1,000 years (“k”). The concept was presented in a 2011
report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intended to elevate
the visibility of the very real threats to human life, property
and ecosystems posed by extreme storms on the West Coast.
A hydrograph illustrates a type of activity of water during a
specific time frame. Salinity and acidity are sometimes measured,
but the most common types
are stage and discharge hydrographs. These graphs show how
surface water flow responds to fluxes in precipitation.
Prado Dam – built in 1941 in
response to the Santa Ana
River’s flood-prone past – separates the river into its
upper and lower watersheds. After the devastation of the
Angeles Flood of 1938 that impacted much of Southern
California, it became evident that flood protection was woefully
inadequate, prompting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to
construct Prado Dam.
Contrary to popular belief, “100-Year Flood” does not refer to a
flood that happens every century. Rather, the term describes the
statistical chance of a flood of a certain magnitude (or greater)
taking place once in 100 years. It is also accurate to say a
so-called “100-Year Flood” has a 1 percent chance of occurring in
a given year, and those living in a 100-year floodplain have,
each year, a 1 percent chance of being flooded.
This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past,
present and future of flood management in California’s Central
Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced
the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand.
Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from
California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood
Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they
discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood
protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic
flood management plan for the Central Valley.
20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater,
and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and
turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource
through various activities.
15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster
should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an
earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks,
16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt
water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the
State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.
Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is
today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the
fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically
important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system,
there have been some critical events that had a profound impact
on California’s water history. These turning points not only
forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives
of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a
historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped
the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with
background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features
a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San
Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows
and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam
to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the
history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water
Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the principles of IRWM,
its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to
Flood Management explains the physical flood control system,
including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the
1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and
development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and
outlines ongoing flood control projects.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an
excellent overview of the history of water development and use in
California. It includes sections on flood management; the state,
federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water
rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for
stretching the water supply such as water marketing and
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
explores the history and development of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery
system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes
the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP
brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect
gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the
definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the
state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s
natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts
– including federally, state and locally funded
projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and
natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of
California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects,
wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the
text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water
projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado
With the dual threats of obsolete levees and anticipated rising sea levels,
areas adjacent to waterways that flood during wet years—are
increasingly at the forefront of many public policy and water
issues in California.
Adding to the challenges, many floodplains have been heavily
developed and are home to major cities such as Sacramento. Large
parts of California’s valleys are historic floodplains as well.
When people think of natural
disasters in California, they typically think about earthquakes.
Yet the natural disaster that residents are most likely to face
involves flooding, not fault lines. In fact, all 58 counties in
the state have declared a state of emergency from flooding at
least three times since 1950. And the state’s capital,
Sacramento, is considered one of the nation’s most flood-prone
cities. Floods also affect every Californian because flood
management projects and damages are paid with public funds.
Devastating floods are almost an annual occurrence 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 human-made flood hazards such as levee
instability and stormwater runoff.
Yolo Bypass occupies a historic floodplain between Davis and
With the city of Sacramento and other area communities prone to
flooding, the 59,000-acre Yolo Bypass helps offset that risk
while also providing habitat for wildlife. Managed by
California’s Department of Water Resources and a part of the
Sacramento River Flood Control System, bypass boundaries are
defined by constructed levees. The huge floodway is three-miles
wide in some parts.
Liability for levee failure in California took a new turn after a
court ruling found the state liable for hundreds of millions of
dollars from the 1986 Linda Levee collapse in Yuba County. The
levee failure killed two people and destroyed or damaged about
The collapse also had long-term legal ramifications.
The Paterno Decision
California’s Supreme Court found that, “when a public entity
operates a flood management system built by someone else, it
accepts liability as if it had planned and built the system
This printed issue of Western Water This issue of Western Water
looks at climate change through the lens of some of the latest
scientific research and responses from experts regarding
mitigation and adaptation.
This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the
Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at
improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying
California’s long-term water supply reliability.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues
associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the
water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of
whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they
might be provided.
This printed issue of Western Water discusses several
flood-related issues, including the proposed Central Valley Flood
Protection Plan, the FEMA remapping process and the dispute
between the state and the Corps regarding the levee vegetation
Levees are one of those pieces of engineering that are never
really appreciated until they fail. California would not exist as
it does today were it not for the extensive system of levees,
weirs and flood bypasses that have been built through the years.
This printed copy of Western Water examines climate change –
what’s known about it, the remaining uncertainty and what steps
water agencies are talking to prepare for its impact. Much of the
information comes from the October 2007 California Climate Change
and Water Adaptation Summit sponsored by the Water Education
Foundation and DWR and the November 2007 California Water Policy
Conference sponsored by Public Officials for Water and
This issue of Western Water examines the extent to
which California faces a disaster equal to or greater than the
New Orleans floods and the steps being taken to recognize and
address the shortcomings of the flood control system in the
Central Valley and the Delta, which is of critical importance
because of its role in providing water to 22 million people.
Complicating matters are the state’s skyrocketing pace of growth
coupled with an inherently difficult process of obtaining secure,
long-term funds for levee repairs and continued maintenance.
Is the devastating flooding that occurred in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast an ominous warning to
California? That’s the question policymakers are facing as they
consider how to best protect lives, property and the integrity of
the state’s water supply from the forces of raging floodwaters.
This issue of Western Water analyzes northern California’s
extensive flood control system – it’ history, current concerns,
the Paterno decision and how experts are re-thinking the concept
of flood management.
Some time in the next month or two, slight, temporal changes in
the upper atmosphere will augur the beginning of the rainy
portion of California’s Mediterranean climate. The high pressure
and sunny days should gradually give way to rain and snow,
replenishing the vast reservoir that is the state’s precious
For many of us in northern California, some of the hope and
optimism that fills each New Year’s eve was shattered on New
Year’s Day 1997 when rain from a series of huge tropical storms
began dumping what would eventually be a total of 25 inches of
rain over the region in eight days. People were riveted to their
televisions as the disaster, which took 9 lives, unfolded.