Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and
conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground,
though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of
underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed
to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and
leader in high-tech industries.
Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities
and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future
sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an
average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply
comes from groundwater.
A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local
and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable
groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.
The water that gurgles from a spring on the edge of this
Northern California logging town is so pristine that for more
than a century it has been piped directly to the wooden homes
spread across hills and gullies.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed Senate Bill 1262 into law,
representing an initial attempt to incorporate groundwater
management requirements under the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act into two of California’s water supply planning
laws. … SGMA was adopted in 2014 and, for the first time in
California, establishes statewide requirements for establishing
sustainable groundwater management in all basins designated by
the California Department of Water Resources as medium- or
Drive through rural Tulare County and you’ll hear it soon
enough, a roar from one of the hundreds of agricultural pumps
pulling water from beneath the soil to keep the nut and fruit
orchards and vast fields of corn and alfalfa lush and green
under the scorching San Joaquin Valley sun.
Sinkholes are caused by erosion of
rocks beneath soil’s surface. Groundwater dissolves soft
rocks such as gypsum, salt and limestone, leaving gaps in the
originally solid structure. This is exacerbated when water is
acidic from contact with carbon dioxide or acid rain. Even
humidity can play a major role in destabilizing water
Irrigation is the artificial supply
of water to grow crops or plants. Obtained from either surface or groundwater, it optimizes
agricultural production when the amount of rain and where it
falls is insufficient. Different irrigation
systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in
practical use are often combined. Much of the agriculture in
California and the West relies on irrigation.
States Geographical Survey (USGS) defines freshwater as
containing less than 1,000 milligrams per liter dissolved solids.
However, 500 milligrams per liter is usually the cutoff for
municipal and commercial use. Most of the Earth’s water is
saline, 97.5 percent with only 2.5 percent fresh. Of this water,
about 70 percent is confined in glaciers and permanent snow in
the Arctic, meaning the remaining available water is accessible
after treatment, as potable water.
Springs are where groundwater becomes surface water, acting as openings
where subsurface water can discharge onto the ground or directly
into other water bodies. They can also be considered the
consequence of an overflowing
aquifer. As a result, springs often serve as headwaters to streams.
Potable water, also known as
drinking water, comes from surface and ground sources and is
treated to levels that that meet state and federal standards for
Water from natural sources is treated for microorganisms,
bacteria, toxic chemicals, viruses and fecal matter. Drinking
raw, untreated water can cause gastrointestinal problems such as
diarrhea, vomiting or fever.
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the U.S. Bureau of Land
Management from opening more than 1 million acres in Central
California to oil drilling because the agency did not properly
explore the potential dangers of fracking.
Extensometers are among the most valuable devices hydrogeologists
use to measure subsidence, but most people – even water
professionals – have never seen one. They are sensitive and
carefully calibrated, so they are kept under lock and key and are
often in remote locations on private property.
During our California
Groundwater Tour Oct. 5-6, you will see two types of
extensometers used by the California Department of Water
Resources to monitor changes in elevation caused by groundwater
Flowing into the heart of the Mojave Desert, the Mojave River
exists mostly underground. Surface channels are usually dry
absent occasional groundwater surfacing and flooding
from extreme weather events like El Niño.
As the western United States struggles with chronic water
shortages and a changing climate, scientists are warning that
if vast underground stores of fresh water that California and
other states rely on are not carefully conserved, they too may
soon run dry.
With a theme focusing on “Wave of Change: Breaking the Status
Quo,” the Water Education Foundation’s 34th annual Executive
Briefing will be held March 23 in Sacramento. The event will
examine new approaches to water management, tools to extend
supplies, plans to prepare for drought, and the intersection
between politics and policy.
This premiere water conference will offer you the
opportunity to hear from top policymakers and leading
stakeholders on key water topics:
Hilton Sacramento Arden West
2200 Harvard Street
Alluvium generally refers to the clay, silt, sand and gravel that
are deposited by a stream, creek or other water body.
Alluvium is found around deltas and rivers, frequently
making soils very fertile. Alternatively, “colluvium” refers to
the accumulation at the base of hills, brought there from runoff
(as opposed to a water body). The Oxnard Plain in Ventura
County is a visible alluvial plain, where floodplains have
drifted over time due to gradual deposits of alluvium, a feature
also present in Red Rock Canyon State Park in Kern County.
Under the $29-million expansion plan launched Monday, officials
said the groundwater recharge facility will double in
capacity by 2018, helping ween Angelenos off increasingly
expensive and unreliable imported water.
A pollutant that has leached into California aquifers since
farmers first began using synthetic fertilizer continues to
accumulate and would not be removed from groundwater even if
the state’s agriculture businesses abruptly quit using
nitrogen-based materials to boost the productivity of their
Regional groundwater leaders took some necessary next steps
this week on the road to groundwater management and
sustainability. In less than a year, local water leaders need
to decide who will oversee state-mandated groundwater
A coalition of environmental groups had worked for more than
two years to persuade [Alameda] county leaders to ban fracking
and other high intensity oil recovery practices to protect
against pollution of local groundwater. The Board of
Supervisors approved the ban 5-0.
As California regulators plan to set a legal limit on a
cancer-causing chemical found in Valley water systems, clean
water advocates are urging residents to attend coming public
workshops on the issue.
This 2-day, 1-night tour travels from the Sacramento region to
rural Capay Valley to view sites that explore groundwater, a key
resource in California.
Examine groundwater monitoring stations where you will
learn how this precious resource is measured, tracked and
evaluated. Visit local farms and wineries that are
mitigating groundwater needs through innovative irrigation
techniques. Learn about groundwater contamination and ways to
prevent it at a local dairy.
The more scientists study California’s declining supplies of
groundwater, the more they’re emphasizing one basic point: We
still don’t know nearly enough about the water in our aquifers,
and we need a lot more data.
California took a needed and much overdue step in 2014
when it passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA) to regulate groundwater. The law will take decades to
implement, but the first steps of the process are already
The Central Valley has been hit hard by the long-running
drought. La Niña has failed to deliver the relief everyone was
hoping for, but researchers at Stanford have discovered what
could be good news for the region and for the state.
The Central Valley is home to California’s productive farming
belt, but the region’s groundwater is so severely overdrafted
in some places that the land has been sinking. … Now
scientists from Stanford University have found that the region
might actually have three times more groundwater than previous
estimates, which are decades old.
A new Stanford study indicates California’s groundwater supply
is three times greater than previous estimates and could
represent a potential “water windfall,” its authors say. …
However, water experts not involved in the Stanford study say
the newly discovered supply may be too deep and too difficult
Our [Stanford University] new study published this week in
the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences concludes
that the Central Valley has almost three times more fresh water
underground than the state estimates. … Assembly Bill
1755, scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the Senate Committee on
Natural Resources and Water, establishes a shared water
database for surface and groundwater and water diversions.
Promised state funding for the increasingly costly Interlake
Tunnel project in legislation backed by Assemblyman Luis Alejo,
D-Watsonville, has been cut by 60 percent to $10 million,
potentially risking long-term project financing.
In the past 30 years, perhaps no legislative effort to bolster
the state’s water policy has received as much attention as the
management of groundwater. This effort lead to the
expansion of water district powers, the creation of special act
districts with unique powers, the authorization of voluntary
plans and finally culminated in the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA) and its trailing legislation.
A ballot initiative created by a group of concerned citizens
aims to alter groundwater management in Siskiyou County.
Chapter 13 of the Siskiyou County Code governs the withdrawal
and transport of groundwater, and section 3-13.301 does not
allow the unpermitted transport of water from the county;
however, “commercial water-bottling enterprises” are exempt
from requiring such a permit.
With this year’s storms helping to refill the Sacramento
region’s lakes and reservoirs, local water district officials
and state regulators are diverting and percolating stormwater
from Cache Creek into the Yolo County canal system to recharge
groundwater supplies used by local farmers, city residents and
For anyone who doubts that we’re still in a drought, San
Joaquin County’s groundwater “savings account” was even more
depleted this spring than last, despite improved rainfall over
the course of the winter.
By this time next year a lot of work needs to be done on a
regional groundwater sustainability plan. … Every big task
needs to start somewhere, and this week the public is being
asked to join the conversation.
Chloride and nitrate concentrations are rising and arsenic
levels are holding steady or falling. Those are two of the
conclusions from a U.S. Geological Survey assessment of changes
in the nation’s groundwater quality in the last two
A new era of groundwater management
began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies
to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management
plans with the state as the backstop.
SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the
“management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be
maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without
causing undesirable results.”
Cadiz Inc. won a decisive courtroom victory Tuesday for its
plans to transfer ancient groundwater in a remote part of San
Bernardino County’s Mojave Desert to parts of Orange County and
The ruling by a three-judge panel in Santa Ana moves urban
districts a step closer to getting up to 75,000 acre feet of
desert groundwater a year from the Cadiz and Fenner valleys in
San Bernardino County — enough to supply about 150,000 homes.
The group Protect Monterey County delivered 16,108 signatures
Wednesday to the Monterey County Elections Department in
support of putting an initiative on the November ballot to ban
fracking and dangerous oil production practices in the county.
The military is checking U.S. bases for potential groundwater
contamination from a toxic firefighting foam, but most states
so far show little inclination to examine civilian sites for
the same threat.
Legislation to protect California’s aquifers and groundwater
resources from permanent damage due to over-pumping has been
approved by the state Senate Committee on Natural Resources and
Water on a 6-2 vote.
Farm water managers said new rules for managing underground
supplies are confusing and potentially expensive. … The
regulations are slated to go into effect June 1; the state
Department of Water Resources is taking public comment about
them until April 1.
The film, titled “Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing
Groundwater,” was co-produced by Steve Elfers of USA TODAY and
Ian James of The Desert Sun, and was supported by a grant from
the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
The Department of Defense has announced that it is testing
military sites nationwide to determine if perfluorooctane
sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid – both chemicals used in
foams that extinguish flammable liquids – are in sediments and
groundwater around runway areas.
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, introduced a package of water
measures Friday, including legislation halting the
proliferation of new wells to slow the depletion of aquifers,
and avoid permanent damage to the state’s groundwater
The Department of Water Resources has now released the first
draft regulations to manage groundwater sustainably. The plan
lays out the steps local public agencies will need to take to
prevent chronic groundwater overdraft.
This symposium will focus on three areas related to paying for
development and implementation of groundwater projects and
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA)-related
activities; obtaining outside funding; developing the agency
contribution, or “match”, and Generating revenue to implement
your Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).
This event is sponsored by the Groundwater Resources Association
of California. The Water Education Foundation is a Cooperating
After suffering another year of historic drought and a State of
Emergency declared by Governor Brown, California remains poised
in 2016 for the extension of Emergency Drought Regulations
promulgated by the State Water Resources Control Board. But will
2016 also be a year of finding and finalizing solutions for long
term groundwater sustainability? Join the Groundwater Resources
Association for a dialogue on this and other subjects with
California’s most influential Legislators and Administration
The U.S. Geological Survey has begun collecting private well
water samples here as part of a $5.4 million study of the area
to determine how much of a cancer-causing chemical in the
groundwater is man-made and how much was put there by
Nearly three years after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla
Indians sued the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts,
the two sides remain just as far apart in a case that
could force changes in how water is managed locally and set a
precedent for similar disputes nationwide.
The state Department of Water Resources on Thursday released a
list of 21 groundwater basins and subbasins that are
overdrafted, causing land subsidence, chronically lowered
groundwater levels and, in the case of the Salinas Valley,
In an effort to restore California’s desperately depleted
ancient aquifers, scientists are testing an approach that
seizes surplus winter rain and delivers it to where it’s most
useful: idle farms and fields.
This winter, dozens of water agencies across the state are
counting on a drenching El Niño to produce surplus water to
stash in the earth and make up for what’s been pumped out at
unprecedented rates due to the recent absence of surface
Water experts in Yolo County are actively monitoring water
wells to measure the groundwater supply. … The
groundwater supplies about 30 percent of the water in our
region, according to the Northern California Water Association,
which represents water rights holders in the Sacramento Valley.
Aquifers largely remain unmanaged and unregulated, and water
that seeped underground over tens of thousands of years is
being gradually used up. … These are stories about people on
four continents confronting questions of how to safeguard their
aquifers for the future – and in some cases, how to cope as the
water runs out.
In Great Oaks Water Company v. Santa Clara Valley Water
District, originally issued March 26, the Sixth District Court
of Appeal found that the water district’s groundwater pumping
fees are property-related fees subject to Proposition 218. …
The Great Oaks opinion, however, reached a different conclusion
than the Second District Court of Appeal reached in City of San
Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District, issued
A new law regulating groundwater use for the first time in
California is decades away from being fully implemented. But
already, it is clear how difficult it will be for local water
providers to comply.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, set to
take effect in 2020, will limit how much groundwater can be
extracted over the long haul. While details of what constitutes
“sustainable” pumping are still being fleshed out, water policy
experts say many farmers will gradually have their water
supplies curtailed – and the nation’s leading agricultural
state will farm fewer acres.
The tensions in Kings County offer just a taste of what’s
expected in cities and towns throughout California’s farm belt
over the next few years as local officials work to enact the
state’s first-ever groundwater regulations.
By analyzing isotopes of tritium, an atomic variant of hydrogen
that accumulated in lands and waters after the dawn of the
nuclear age, a group of researchers was able to produce the
first global estimate of the age of groundwater. The results
show that groundwater, which provides two-fifths of the water
used for world agriculture, is not inexhaustible.
When the California Water Commission this year surveyed water
agencies about storage proposals that might qualify for funding
under Proposition 1, the 2014 water bond approved by state
voters, half the responses involved groundwater projects,
including one from [Gary] Serrato’s [Fresno Irrigation]
Water year 2016 began with the potential for heavy El Niño rains
that captured the attention of the public. State and federal
officials knew that California’s drought-stricken reservoirs
would not recover that quickly.
Hydrologic conditions, precipitation patterns, the need for
fishery flows, and forecasts of state and federal water project
operations were all discussed at a special FREE briefing
held February 23, 2016. Sponsored by the California
Department of Water Resources and the Water Education Foundation,
the briefing was held at the Sacramento Convention Center, Room
Sacramento Convention Center
1400 J Street, Room 204
Almost 28 years since state regulators learned there was a
chromium-6 problem in Hinkley, officials from the same agency
approved a comprehensive clean-up order for the world’s largest
known plume of this cancer-causing chemical.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an
amended water recycling agreement between the county Water
Resources Agency and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution
Control Agency, the primary backer of the groundwater
replenishment project also known as Pure Water Monterey.
In the drought-ravaged Central Valley, scientists are using a
new imaging technology to find ancient worlds of trapped water,
hidden hundreds of feet underground. … This week, a
helicopter swept 60 linear miles of parched fields in the
Tulare Irrigation District in one of the most arid regions of
The governor should use his emergency powers under the existing
drought to ban new wells in areas where groundwater pumping is
causing significant economic damage. I [Gerald H. Meral] don’t
take this position lightly. I understand it would harm people
who need groundwater to keep their farms going.
In an attempt to prevent its oil industry from contaminating
groundwater sources that could be used for drinking water,
California regulators closed 33 wells last week that were
injecting oilfield waste into protected aquifers.
It’s been one year since California Governor Jerry Brown signed
a landmark law to manage the state’s groundwater. The
California Water Commission has approved new groundwater basin
boundaries – the first major step in implementing the law.
On October 9, 2015, Governor Brown completed what is probably
one of the most remarkable two years in water legislation in
California’s history. … In signing SGMA, the Governor
pledged that during the 2014/15 legislative session, he would
submit a proposal to streamline groundwater
adjudications. With the signing of AB 1390 (Alejo) and SB
226 (Pavley), the Governor kept his promise.
A much-anticipated “Godzilla” El Niño this winter may refill
California’s drought-diminished reservoirs, but it won’t do
much to restock the severely depleted aquifers we rely upon to
get by during droughts. One reason for this is the sheer depth
of California’s precipitation deficit – the deepest of any
drought in 120 years of recordkeeping. The state has been drier
than normal for 10 of the past 14 years.
The CEO for embattled Cadiz Inc. has a plan to keep alive a
controversial project to transfer ancient groundwater in a
remote part of San Bernardino County’s Mojave Desert to parts
of Orange County and other locations, where it could serve as
many as 400,000 people.
California American Water is expected to resume pumping from
its stalled Monterey Peninsula desalination project test slant
well operation by early November after the Coastal Commission
gave its unanimous approval Tuesday.
The Eastside Water District board voted Thursday to ask its
farmers for $6 million for a groundwater recharge project. The
system would eliminate no more than 10 percent of the overdraft
in the 61,000-acre district, which straddles Stanislaus and
Merced counties southwest of Turlock Lake, but backers said it
would be a worthwhile start.
Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm
district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been
fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first
state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas
Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was
published in 1946.
The Hinkley plume of cancer-causing chromium-6 may appear to be
shrinking in future maps. But ongoing cleanup may not be the
only reason. It might be that the methodology for drawing the
plume has changed.
On September 16, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown, cheerfully
triumphant, signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, which many observers assert is the most
significant addition to California’s water protection code in a
For years, an obscure team of water wonks has met each month in
a conference room at the California Water Service Co. offices
in downtown Stockton. Their charge: To protect the region’s
precious groundwater, an invisible natural resource as
little-known as those who guard it.
Eleven local governmental bodies, trade groups, labor groups
and others have filed amici “friend of the court” support for
the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage
Project in a remote Mojave Desert section of San Bernardino
[Derek] Chernow’s declaration, obtained by the Associated
Press, was contained in an Aug. 21 court filing in a lawsuit
brought by a group of Central Valley farmers who allege that
oil production approved by Brown’s administration has
contaminated their water wells.
How many domestic wells are having trouble throughout the
state? More than 2,500. That’s not an exact figure, but its
better than the smattering of reports that had been collected
before the most recent statewide summary.
Portions of the San Joaquin Valley floor are sinking at an
alarming rate as farmers pump ever more groundwater during
California’s extended drought, according to a NASA study
released Wednesday. The report, generated by NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory for the state Department of Water
Resources, sheds new light on the phenomenon known as
Vast areas of California’s Central Valley are sinking faster
than in the past … Meanwhile, the Department of Water
Resources is launching a $10 million program to help counties
with stressed groundwater basins to develop or strengthen local
ordinances and conservation plans.
Until things are back to normal, some folks in Glenn County
want to see a halt to new well drilling. Tuesday, the issue
will be before the Glenn County Board of Supervisors, at the
request of farmer Sharron Ellis.
Los Angeles-based land and water resources company Cadiz Inc.
on Monday announced it has lined up a technology company to
help it remove the cancer-causing chemical Chromium-6 from its
groundwater in the San Bernardino County desert.
SMUD’s big bet on a system to store energy by pumping water
uphill just got a little more complicated. The state wants the
Sacramento Municipal Utility District to monitor groundwater at
the site, a remote spot near Camino, for an entire year before
The depletion of groundwater stores also is a problem familiar
to farmers struggling with drought in California, where pumping
for irrigation has put the state’s Central Valley Aquifer under
the most strain of any aquifer in the U.S., according to NASA
As California implements a landmark law to balance demand for
groundwater with available supplies, an Indian tribe’s lawsuit
in federal court has the potential to add new layers of
complexity to managing a prized resource that is in short
supply during California’s worst ever drought.
[Donna] Johnson is known as the water angel. … The
72-year-old is her town’s biggest advocate, sitting in on
drought funding meetings with county and state leaders,
shepherding reporters from around the globe so no one forgets
A vote Thursday secured the raw water supply for a treatment
plant proposed for Turlock, Ceres and south Modesto. … The
long-delayed project would reduce reliance on wells, as has
happened for 20 years with a similar plant for the rest of
NASA researchers have studied the aquifer beneath the Coachella
Valley and concluded that while flows of imported water have
helped boost groundwater levels in places, much of the aquifer
has continued to decline.
More than a third of the largest groundwater basins in the
world are being depleted faster than they are getting
replenished, and there are little to no accurate data showing
just how much water is left in them, according to two new
studies published Tuesday.
A defunct iron ore mine near Joshua Tree National Park, a site
once considered for the world’s largest landfill, has sold for
$25 million to a company that wants to develop a hydroelectric
Some of those concerned with the groundwater debate maintain
that flood irrigation of crops can be an effective way of
refilling aquifers. The University of California Cooperative
Extension in Stanislaus County is working on a pilot project to
test the theory.
California American Water and a group of experts will be asked
to prove regional agricultural irrigation pumping caused most,
if not all, of the decrease in north Marina groundwater levels
that halted pumping of the Monterey Peninsula desalination
project’s test slant well last month.
Two California Appellate Court decisions handed down in March
addressed whether or not a local water agency’s groundwater
pumping charges are property-related fees. One of these cases
concluded that they are not property-related fees. That court
decision will now be reviewed by the California Supreme Court.
The history beneath your feet in this Valley goes far deeper.
It’s a piece of the story about the nation’s second-largest
groundwater basin — California’s Central Valley, the San
Joaquin and Sacramento valleys.
A search for new sources of water by the Rio Linda-Elverta
Community Water District has found that wells closest to the
former McClellan Air Force Base have the highest levels of
hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, a known carcinogen.
[David] Orth is general manager for the Kings River
Conservation District, a California Water Commissioner, and a
key participant in the negotiations leading up to the enactment
of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.We spoke at
a recent event in Fresno about the challenges facing the new
Winemakers, small farmers and rural residents near the Russian
River, accustomed to reveling in Mother Nature’s bounty, were
slapped with restrictions on well water use Wednesday,
including a ban on lawn watering, in the latest effort by the
state to cope with a fourth year of drought.
More than a third of the largest groundwater basins in the
world are being depleted faster than they are getting
replenished, and there are little to no accurate data showing
just how much water is left in them, according to two new
studies published Tuesday.
Organized by the Water Education Foundation and the UC Davis
Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair, Toward Sustainable
Groundwater in Agriculture: 2nd International Conference Linking
Science and Policy provided scientists, policymakers,
agricultural and environmental stakeholders, government officials
and consultants with the latest scientific, management, legal and
policy advances for sustaining our groundwater resources in
agricultural regions around the world.
Check out the UC Davis
website for more information and a program for
the 2016 conference. You can also read the abstracts here. On
Twitter, check the hashtag #AgGroundwater
for tweets about the conference.
Groundwater is the lifeline for many rural and agricultural
regions and their associated cultures and populations around the
globe and a cornerstone of global food production.
Groundwater constitutes nearly half the world’s drinking water
and much of the world’s irrigation water supply.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
1333 Bayshore Hwy
Burlingame, CA 94010
San Joaquin County is once again eligible for millions of
dollars in grants to bolster the region’s water supply, after
landowners agreed to provide private well construction details
to the state, officials announced Wednesday.
Mining desert groundwater, as far-fetched as it may seem, seems
among the most plausible additions to the region’s existing
sources of imported water: the Colorado River, and State Water
Project – which transfers water from Northern California to
Southern California. But, like many grand water schemes, this
one is attracting its share of detractors.
As California struggles to respond to a heightening drought
emergency, state lawmakers are promoting legislation that would
potentially increase scientific knowledge about the state’s
shrinking groundwater reserves. On June 1, the California
Senate passed SB 20 by a vote of 21 to 15. The bill requires
public access to the groundwater information that well drillers
file with the Department of Water Resources after completing a
The Santa Ana River is a robust and beautiful sight these days.
Five miles west of the Prado Dam in Yorba Linda, the water has
cut a narrow channel in a sandy bed and courses briskly over
submerged rocks and tree limbs.
The Water Education Foundation’s flagship event, the 33rd
annual Executive Briefing, will be held March 17, 2016 in
Sacramento. The theme for this year’s Briefing is “Defining the
This is the go-to conference for water district managers and
board members, state and federal agency officials, city and
county government officials, farmers, environmentalists,
attorneys, consultants, engineers, business executives and public
Confirmed speakers include State Water Board Chair
Felicia Marcus and California Natural Resources
Secretary John Laird. See announcements on the
right-hand of this screen for more program information.
Doubletree by Hilton
2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815
Despite opposition from agriculture groups, the state Senate
Appropriations Committee approved legislation Thursday that
would make data on water wells available to the public like is
done in all other Western states.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the
pharmaceutical industry Tuesday to an Alameda County law, the
first of its kind in the nation, requiring drug manufacturers
to pay the costs of disposing of consumers’ unused medications.
A groundbreaking law that forces the pharmaceutical industry to
pay for collection and disposal of unused drugs passed its
final court test Tuesday, and the Alameda County officials who
originated the concept predicted it will now spread across the
As environmental review for its Monterey Peninsula desalination
project approaches a critical stage, California American Water
is already moving ahead with hiring contractors for key aspects
of the project.
People don’t easily forget the moment the water dies. … In
this corner of the scorched Tulare Lake Basin, where lives and
livelihoods depend on water that comes from the ground, a human
crisis is accelerating amid California’s unrelenting drought.
While state-mandated requirements of Colusa County’s
groundwater are still years away, concerns about aquifer health
among local farmers already exist. About 50 local residents and
growers participated in a public informational meeting about
groundwater at the Colusa County Fairgrounds on Tuesday night.
Millions of gallons of polluted stormwater runoff from Los
Angeles International Airport will be treated and cleaned
before washing into the Pacific Ocean or working its way into
L.A.’s groundwater basin, according to an agreement signed
Thursday by city and airport officials.
The picture of the drought is bleak. Water managers told
lawmakers almost 2,000 wells are dry. They’ve observed
groundwater levels drop by more than two feet in over 40
percent of measured wells this spring.
A private water bottling company will soon be sucking up
thousands of gallons a day from an aquifer that feeds the
Sacramento River, the primary source of drinking water for
millions of thirsty Californians struggling to cope with a
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 creates an
opportunity to establish standards for the way California
accounts for its stores of groundwater, which provide up to 60
percent of the state’s water supply during droughts.
For the second time in less than a month, Monterey Peninsula
business leaders are seeking a legal and technical analysis of
California American Water’s desalination project in an effort
to sniff out any issues that could potentially further delay or
derail the proposal.
This issue looks at remote sensing applications and how satellite
information enables analysts to get a better understanding of
snowpack, how much water a plant actually uses, groundwater
levels, levee stability and more.
Fifteen years after the film ["Erin Brockovich"] showed
triumphant residents winning a $333-million settlement with
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for contaminating its water — and
nearly 20 years after the settlement itself — Hinkley is
emptying out, and those who stay still struggle to find
Even as the worst drought in decades ravages California, and
its cities face mandatory cuts in water use, millions of pounds
of thirsty crops like oranges, tomatoes and almonds continue to
stream out of the state and onto the nation’s grocery shelves.
One Holds that the Fee is Subject to Prop. 26 and Another
that it is a Property-Related Fee Subject to Prop. 218 —
Two California Appellate Court decisions handed down this month
address whether or not a local water agency’s groundwater
pumping charges are property-related fees, and reach different
conclusions. The distinction is important because of the
restrictions imposed for property-related fees under
Proposition 218 — as well as the exemptions for fees that are
considered taxes under Proposition 26.
Sonoma County this week unveiled its first formal response to a
wave of queries over the past six months about how California’s
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which establishes the
first rules for pumping groundwater in the Golden State, would
affect property owners and agriculture.
As California farms and cities drill deeper for groundwater in
an era of drought and climate change, they no longer are
tapping reserves that percolated into the soil over recent
centuries. They are pumping water that fell to Earth during a
much wetter climatic regime – the ice age.
State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas – author of two of three
historic groundwater laws passed by the Legislature last year –
has introduced a new bill to make well logs public. A hearing
is scheduled for today.
Los Angeles-based Cadiz Inc. has created a 7,400-acre sanctuary
in the eastern San Bernardino County desert for protection of
desert tortoise and its habitat — the largest such set-aside in
California. Under a California Department of Fish and Wildlife
program, this land deal is structured as a conservation bank.
Irrigation leaders were pleased to learn in a recent meeting
that groundwater levels in the Oakdale Irrigation District’s
wells have dropped less than 4 1/2 inches in the past year, on
average, despite record pumping. But those numbers were based
on data from only three-fourths of OID’s deep wells, a Modesto
Bee analysis found.
Parts of the San Joaquin Valley are deflating like a tire with
a slow leak as growers pull more and more water from the
ground. The land subsidence is cracking irrigation canals,
buckling roads and permanently depleting storage space in the
vast aquifer that underlies California’s heartland.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released
for public review and comment a draft strategic plan (Strategic
Plan) describing its roles and responsibilities under
the State’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA). The Strategic Plan documents DWR’s strategy to
implement the SGMA and the efforts it will take to develop and
share information with those affected by, or tasked with,
implementation of the SGMA.
A recent defining experience for communities in California, and
many other regions of the county, has been drought of an
intensity that hasn’t been seen in generations. The
severity of this drought has forced communities to address
questions about their ability to meet their basic water
needs. A common theme for many has been the critical role
of a reliable supply of ground water in their ability to
survive and thrive into the future.
Just a few months ago the state announced that new local
groundwater sustainability plans will be required throughout
California. … About 85 people gathered in Orland Thursday
night for the first of what will be many meetings on
Initial efforts implementing the state’s new Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act must focus on getting local and
state agencies organized and able to communicate with each
other. Having common expectations for the contents of the law’s
required “Groundwater Sustainability Plans” will save the
agencies and stakeholders considerable grief and confusion.