Topic: Hydropower

Overview

Hydropower

Hydroelectric power is generated by the ability to turn falling water into electricity and in California accounts for about 15 percent of the state’s power supply annually.

Aquafornia news Water News Network

Request for proposals issued to develop San Vicente energy storage facility

San Diego County Water Authority this week issued a formal Request for Proposals seeking a full-service private partner capable of developing a large-scale pumped energy storage project planned jointly by the Water Authority and the City of San Diego. Proposals are due by 2 p.m. Nov. 3, and details such as how to file are included in the RFP document  at www.sdcwa.org/contracting-opportunities. The partner agencies aim to maximize the value of the existing San Vicente Reservoir for on-demand energy generation to support the state’s clean energy goals.

Aquafornia news Treehugger

Is American hydropower in jeopardy?

The visible signs of America’s lingering drought are obvious at reservoirs across the American West. Drive from Las Vegas and step out of your car at Hoover Dam and Lake Mead in Nevada or peek out at Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border, and you’ll see the stone-stained “bathtub rings” indicating the high-water marks of better times. … [A]s water levels drop, the unseen effect of these drastic reservoir declines is that hydroelectric power is decreasing. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Blog: Electric costs in Colorado set to surge as Lake Powell struggles to produce hydropower

The federal agency that distributes electricity from hydropower plants in the Upper Colorado River Basin will ask its customers, including more than 50 here in Colorado, to help offset rising costs linked to Lake Powell’s inability to produce as much power due to drought. The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which distributes Lake Powell’s electricity, is gathering public comments and asking its customers how best to cope with long-term drought conditions that have pushed Powell and other reservoirs to historically low levels.

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Aquafornia news American Society of Civil Engineers

Private entity sought to develop San Diego pumped-storage energy facility

As part of its recently enacted budget for 2021-22, California included funding to help foster the development of one such storage method, known as pumped-storage hydropower. In particular, the budget provided $18 million to the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority for use in advancing their planned joint project known as the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility. The funding will enable the two entities to issue a request for proposals in September for a private partner willing to develop the project at its own expense.

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Aquafornia news Gizmodo

California approves 5 temporary gas plants as drought cripples hydropower

Wildfires and declining water levels at reservoirs have threatened California’s power supply at various points this summer. Desperate to avoid blackouts amid the compounding crisis, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom is eyeing the construction of five “temporary” gas-fueled plants in the coming months. According to Bloomberg, California’s Energy Commission approved licenses for the emergency gas generators on Tuesday for up to five years, each of which reportedly has an individual capacity to generate 30 megawatts of energy.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Opinion: It’s too bad Josh Harder isn’t in Sacramento instead of Congress

Not only does the Turlock-native Congressman refrain from partisan politics for the most part, although those who don’t understand why a Democrat would vote for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker as opposed to Kevin McCarthy will argue that point, but Harder knows a drought when he sees one. The second term 10th District congressman in late July noted that California is in dire straits. Harder pointed out the reservoirs we rely on are at a lower point now than they were at the depth of the last drought that ended in 2019.
-Written by Turlock Journal columnist Dennis Wyatt. 

Aquafornia news Reuters

Droughts shrink hydropower

Severe droughts are drying up rivers and reservoirs vital for the production of zero-emissions hydropower in several countries around the globe, in some cases leading governments to rely more heavily on fossil fuels. The emerging problems with hydropower production in places like the United States, China and Brazil represent what scientists and energy experts say is going to be a long-term issue … In California, the State Water Project was forced to shut down a 750-MW hydroelectric power plant at Lake Oroville this month for the first time since it was built in 1967 because of low water levels.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Western water projects in infrastructure deal

Included in the sweeping $1 trillion infrastructure bill approved by the Senate is funding for Western water projects that farmers, water providers and environmentalists say are badly needed across the parched region. … The plan would provide $1.15 billion for improving water storage and transport infrastructure such as dams and canals. Groundwater storage projects, which replenish underground aquifers that aren’t vulnerable to evaporation, would also get funding. 

Aquafornia news KOBI-TV NBC5 / KOTI-TV NBC2

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s Lake Oroville sees historic low water levels

In a year already plagued by the pandemic and wildfires, Californians are also entangled with the crippling effects of a drought. For example, the drought has lowered Lake Oroville’s level to its lowest level in nearly 44 years, impacting recreation and wildlife. A shuttle boat ferries people back and forth across Lake Oroville. Now, it’s the only way to get to the houseboats on the water.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Lake Oroville levels reach historic low, impacting recreation

In a year already plagued by pandemic and wildfires, Californians are also entangled with the crippling effect of drought. … In 2017, hundreds of thousands of lives were threatened when massive flooding damaged the Oroville Dam. Today, changing weather conditions have created a stark contrast from years ago: Hot temperatures and low rainfall have left miles of dusty, cracked shorelines exposed.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects Jacklynn Gould as Lower Colorado Basin regional director

Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton today named Jacklynn (Jaci) L. Gould as regional director for the Lower Colorado Basin Region. Gould has more than 29 years of experience with Reclamation. … As regional director, Gould will lead over 800 employees in the region, which encompasses the last 700 miles of the Colorado River to the Mexican border, southern Nevada, southern California, and most of Arizona. She will oversee hydropower operations and maintenance for 15 facilities … 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: California drought squeezes power supplies – Hydro plant at Lake Oroville shuts down

The giant hydropower plant at Lake Oroville shut down in a historic first Thursday because of the drought, putting another dent in California’s defense against rolling blackouts. The state Department of Water Resources said the Hyatt Powerplant, a fixture at Lake Oroville since the reservoir was built in the late 1960s, has been taken down because of low water levels.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

2 Little Colorado River dam projects have been withdrawn

A developer has withdrawn two of the three proposals to build a series of hydroelectric dams in the Little Colorado River watershed, projects that had drawn opposition from several tribes and environmentalists. Phoenix-based Pumped Hydro Storage LLC relinquished preliminary permits for the Salt Trail Canyon and Little Colorado River proposals on July 26. … The company left in place an application for a third proposal in nearby Big Canyon. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California drought: One of the state’s biggest reservoirs hit a record low this week

Lake Oroville, one of California’s biggest reservoirs, reached its lowest-ever point this week, breaking a record set decades ago in the latest troubling sign of the punishing drought conditions afflicting the state. The lake reached a “new historic low elevation” of 642.73 feet of water, which is down from 645 feet in September 1977, said John Yarbrough, assistant deputy director of the California State Water Project, in a statement.

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Aquafornia news Politico

Colorado River: A watershed moment

A “mega-drought” across the Southwest will force the federal government to declare a water shortage on the Colorado River this month. The decision would be historic for the watershed, which serves 40 million people in seven states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. The river system provides irrigation that turns desert into farmland and is an important source of drinking water and hydroelectric power.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Electricity from hydropower in California fell 44.3% in 2020 due to drought

The annual snapshot of California’s electricity generation shows how much drought conditions can affect the state’s power mix. In-state hydroelectricity generation in 2020 dropped 44.3 percent from the year before, according to numbers recently released by the California Energy Commission. All told, 21,414 gigawatt-hours came from a combination of the state’s large and small hydro power plants — significantly lower than the 38.494 gigawatt-hours hydro delivered in 2019.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Editorial: San Vicente hydroelectric project a smart way to make power grid more resilient

The state government’s decision to provide $18 million to fund preliminary work on state and federal approvals for the long-anticipated San Vicente Energy Storage Facility — advocated by the San Diego County Water Authority and the city of San Diego — makes the $1.5 billion project significantly more likely to come to pass. The great news is that the “pumped hydro” facility at the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside will strongly shore up available energy supplies at night after solar power is no longer directly available.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Federal act introduced to invest in dam safety and removal

We are excited to share that the Twenty-First Century Dams Act was introduced this month on July 15, 2021. This bill would invest $21.1 billion to enhance the safety, grid resilience benefits, and power generating capacity of America’s dams and provide historic funding to remove dams that are no longer necessary.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

First steps taken to make pumped hydro energy storage project at San Vicente Reservoir a reality

With an $18 million boost from the state, a major energy storage project using hydroelectric power is taking shape at the San Vicente Reservoir, nestled in the Cuyamaca Mountains near Lakeside.  The long talked about San Vicente Energy Storage Facility — proposed by the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority — received the funding earlier this month when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state budget.

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Aquafornia news Fox 40

‘It’s been dropping fast all year’: Concerns rise over water levels at Lake Oroville

The drought is taking its toll on dams and rivers throughout California and there is no clearer example than at Lake Oroville where water levels have been dropping all year. … The Oroville Dam is the state water system’s tallest, but boaters and fishermen have witnessed the water level fall nearly 250 feet below average. State water regulators are required to release water to protect fish downstream. They are trying to preserve as much water as possible, but levels are dropping a foot a day.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Feds will prop up Lake Powell as it hits record low elevation

With water levels falling rapidly at Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border, federal officials are taking what could be the first of several steps to prop it up. This month the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation started a six-month effort to raise the lake around 3 feet by the end of 2021 by releasing 181,000 acre feet of water from three upstream reservoirs. It comes as the lake just Sunday fell below its lowest level on record.

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Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Court ruling finds FERC 401 waiver not justified – important implications for California hydropower project licenses

On July 2, 2021, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, overturning an Order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  FERC’s Order had found that the state of North Carolina had unlawfully “coordinated” with the license applicant to delay the state’s certification that a new FERC license for the Bynum hydroelectric project complied with state water quality laws.  FERC found that North Carolina’s participation in the delay meant that the state had “waived” its authority under Section 401 to issue the certification.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Low water levels could force Oroville hydropower offline

A major California hydroelectric power plant could soon stop generating power amid worsening drought conditions. According to state water officials, the Edward Hyatt Powerplant at Lake Oroville could go offline as soon as August or September — a time frame that would coincide with a feared power crunch this summer. The plant, which opened in the late 1960s, has never been forced offline by low lake levels before.

Aquafornia news PV Magazine USA

Pumped storage project gets seed money… now the work begins

A 500 MW pumped energy storage project proposed jointly by the City of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority received $18 million in the California state budget. The support will help fund the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility through initial design, environmental reviews, and the federal licensing process. The project … could generate revenue to help offset the cost of water purchases, storage, and treatment.

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Aquafornia news KUNC

Hydropower worries grow as Colorado River reservoirs keep dropping

The water levels behind the Colorado River’s biggest dams are fast-approaching or already at record lows. The historic 21-year megadrought that is squeezing some Western states’ water supplies will also likely start showing up in energy bills, because those dams can’t produce as much electricity. The problem is most acute at the Upper Colorado River basin’s largest reservoir: Lake Powell.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

“Water battery” being considered on Mokelumne River

 [A] developer hopes to submit [an application] by the end of the year [to] utilize excess solar and wind energy to power their pumped storage technology … By using renewable energy to transfer water back and forth between two reservoirs, the project would be a non-consumptive means of using water to generate power. In the case of the Mokelumne Pumped Storage Water Battery Project, the Salt Springs Reservoir has been identified as the lower reservoir, as it already has a small hydro-facility on it that generates about 44 megawatts of energy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Solar on farmland could help California keep the lights on

To the extent most Californians are thinking about energy right now, they’re probably wondering whether the lights will stay on during the next heat wave. It’s a reasonable fear, especially after the state’s power grid operator issued an urgent call for electricity supplies last week and warned of possible shortfalls this summer. The California Independent System Operator is seeking bids from power plants that can fire up after sundown, when solar panels stop generating but air conditioners keep humming.
-Written by Sammy Roth, LA Times columnist. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Energy Information Administration

Blog: California’s hydroelectric generation affected by historic drought

[A]s a result of this year’s harsh drought conditions, we expect hydroelectric generation in California to be lower in 2021 than it has been in recent years. In the first four months of 2021, hydroelectric generation in California was 37% less than in the same four months in 2020 and 71% less than during those months in 2019. According to our Short-Term Energy Outlook, hydroelectric generation in California this year will be 19% less than last year, decreasing from 16.8 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2020 to 13.6 million MWh in 2021.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Hydro energy reduced as California reservoirs shrink

California’s reservoirs and rivers are startlingly low, forcing many of the state’s more than 270 hydropower facilities to generate less power. Lake Oroville, one of the state’s largest reservoirs, made headlines because its water levels have dropped so low the power plant may need to shut down for the first time. While most other hydropower plants aren’t at risk of shutting down, plants that rely on watersheds up and down the state are not able to generate normal amounts of power.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Budget trailer bills misused for renewable energy squabble

To understand a sharp-elbows squabble that’s developing behind the scenes in the state Capitol, one must first understand “pumped-storage hydro,” a way for electrical energy to be stored. In its simplest form, water stored in a reservoir is released to generate power as it flows into a second reservoir at a lower elevation. Later, when the electrical grid’s need for power diminishes, the water is pumped back into the upper reservoir so the cycle can be repeated when demand increases.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Little Colorado hydro project appears to have stalled

A project to generate electricity in the Little Colorado River Basin may have stalled. Conservation groups were concerned when a Phoenix-based company proposed building dams on the Navajo Nation to generate electricity. Their concerns grew last year, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary permit for feasibility studies. But the company has missed deadlines that would move the project forward.  … The company has also failed to receive approval for the project from the Navajo Nation, which would be a critical step in the process.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Severe heat, drought pack dual threat to power plants

Record-setting heat and drought gripping the western United States are exposing a potentially severe risk to the nation’s long-term power supply, and experts warn that grid operators lack sufficient tools to plan and carry out a defense. … Persistent drought also threatens power from hydroelectric dams in the West, a critical resource for California during extended heat waves. Water levels are so low at Lake Oroville, California’s second-largest reservoir, that officials are considering shutting down a hydroelectric plant there.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Less water means more gas’: how drought will test California’s stressed power grid

In a few weeks, officials say, [Lake Oroville's] water levels are likely to dip even lower – forcing them to shut down one of the state’s largest hydroelectric power plants for the first time since it was built in 1967. Amid a historic megadrought, the climate crisis and energy crisis in California are about to collide, and set off a vicious cycle. The state’s diminishing water supply is cutting down hydropower, and California is relying more on fossil fuels as extreme summer heat drives up electricity use.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: CA must abandon hydro power and embrace offshore wind energy

High temperatures are returning again this week — with the hottest months still ahead — and that means the demand on electricity will keep spiking. The answer to our problems is not in rivers or lakes but in the ocean. Last month, the Biden administration announced plans to build roughly 380 wind turbines in federal waters off the California coast. Eventually, the turbines will generate 4,600 megawatts — enough to power 1.6 million homes.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Water: Lake Pillsbury Alliance – Part 2

In April of 2017, PGE began moving forward with its plans to relicense the Potter Valley Project (PVP)—with, as of yet, no designs to remove any of the infrastructure—and in August of 2019, Congressman Jared Huffman created the PVP Ad Hoc Committee, a Two Basin Solution for the Eel and Russian River basins, whose more than 20 members were tasked with the relicensing process of the PVP to improve fisheries and fish migration, minimize adverse impacts to water supply reliability, respect tribal rights and minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to Lake County including Lake Pillsbury. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Lake Oroville’s depleted water levels may force power plant to shut down for the first time ever

Water lines on the banks of Lake Oroville in Butte County have depleted so rapidly that the reservoir’s hydroelectric power plant may have to shut down for the first time ever, straining an already encumbered power grid during the hottest part of the summer, California officials announced Thursday.  Since 1967, the Edward Hyatt Power Plant has been a crucial source of electricity for the area and usually has the capacity to power up to 800,000 homes, pumping water from the lake through its underground facilities, according to CNN.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: Plan to raze 4 dams on California-Oregon line clears hurdle

A proposal to bring down four hydroelectric dams near the California-Oregon border cleared a major regulatory hurdle Thursday, setting the stage for the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history to save imperiled migratory salmon.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought hurts power supplies as heatwave engulfs the West

California’s shaky power grid is on a collision course with an epic drought that’s depleting a major source of supply: hydroelectricity. The Western heatwave that began Wednesday has the manager of the state’s grid, the California Independent System Operator, warning of potential power shortages through the weekend. Although the organization stopped short of predicting another round of rolling blackouts, it appealed to Californians to conserve energy to get the state through a tough week.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

California is walking a ‘tight rope’ as hydropower supply fades

The catastrophic drought that’s gripping the U.S. West is claiming a new victim: the hydropower dams that much of the region depends on for electricity supplies. Low water levels in key reservoirs mean that hydropower supplies are declining. One of the hardest hit areas is California, where output has tumbled to the lowest in more than five years.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Interior Secretary pens letter supporting Klamath Dam removal

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland released a letter Friday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee in support of Klamath dam removal. … The four hydroelectric dams clogging the Klamath River are slated to be removed in 2023 under an agreement forged between the states of California and Oregon, the dams’ owner PacifiCorp and the Karuk and Yurok tribes. And Haaland’s letter comes as conditions in the Klamath River Basin are the worst they’ve been in years due to drought conditions.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego launches $10M assessment of aging city dams

San Diego is launching a $10 million effort to complete risk assessments of all nine of the city’s aging dams — only three of which are considered in satisfactory condition. City officials say the assessments are expected to reveal problems that will require an estimated $1 billion in repairs and upgrades in coming decades — and possibly some replacement dams in extreme cases. San Diego’s dams are among the oldest in the state and the nation.

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Aquafornia news Plumas News

Editorial: Despite a dry year, snowmelt makes for dangerous water recreation

Despite the dry year, outdoor recreationists who enjoy California rivers and streams should remain aware of dangerously cold swiftly moving water. Although California’s snowpack is about half of normal, rising temperatures are accelerating the snowmelt. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) urges those who choose to venture near or in water to take extra precautions, especially around hydroelectric facilities and dams, where water flows can change rapidly. Anglers also are encouraged to take precautions as trout season has opened for most California rivers.

Aquafornia news The Nation

Exhuming California’s St. Francis Dam disaster

Just before midnight on March 12, 1928, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s St. Francis Dam collapsed, inundating the canyon below with some 12 billion gallons of water. The floodwaters, which in the darkness registered first as a mounting roar to those who were awake, tossed 10,000-ton fragments of the dam thousands of feet downstream and scoured the canyon walls to bare rock. More than 400 people in the flood’s 53-mile path to the sea were drowned or battered to death as the torrent sheared through orchards, pulverized buildings, and crumpled bridges. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Lower Colorado River Tour

Only one week remains to register for our May 20 virtual Lower Colorado River Tour where you can hear directly from experts offering a range of perspectives on the most contested and meticulously managed river in the United States. Practically every drop of water in the Colorado River is already allocated, but pressure on the hard-working river continues to grow from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat and climate change.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Huffman hosts drought summit, water managers ask for aid, presidential emergency

Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, along with prominent North Coast water managers and politicians gathered at a virtual summit yesterday morning to discuss the severe drought facing the North Coast and the entire state. At the summit (a recording of which is available on YouTube), State Senator Mike McGuire stated that the state legislature is moving forward on a several billion dollar drought relief package, which would include $1 billion in grants to help ratepayers and utilities pay off back bills and $500 million to help smaller low income communities develop enhanced drinking water supplies, among other things (read the full list below).

Aquafornia news Hometown Station

California Department of Water Resources urges caution during Castaic Dam modernization in Santa Clarita 

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) advises being cautious during visits to Castaic Lake starting this May during construction on the Castaic Dam in Santa Clarita, which is expected to include a series of modernizations to prepare for potential major earthquakes. Intending to reduce risks from potential major earthquakes, the DWR plans to oversee Castaic Dam construction in Santa Clarita, but the department also warns of potential water hazards during the process. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: Hydropower can help solve climate change, groups tell Biden

Conservationists in California and across the West are deeply skeptical of hydropower, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a long history of government agencies damming spectacular canyons, choking off rivers, obliterating fish populations and cutting off access to Indigenous peoples. … But despite the environmental damage they’ve done, many dams also generate electricity that is free of planet-warming carbon emissions. Tearing down dams can revitalize ecosystems, but it can also contribute to a climate crisis that is making rivers around the world drier in some cases, more prone to flooding in others, and in many cases hotter and more polluted. 
-Written by Sammy Roth, a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Endangered species: Feds deny protection for salamanders threatened by dam

The Fish and Wildlife Service said today it will deny federal protections to three salamander species that environmentalists fear could be put in danger by a proposed California dam project. Pressed by a lawsuit to make a decision, the federal agency concluded the Shasta salamander, Samwel Shasta salamander and Wintu Shasta salamander don’t need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act even if plans proceed to expand the Shasta Dam by raising it.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County leaders pass local drought emergency resolution

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution proclaiming a local drought emergency. The vote on the resolution during Tuesday’s special meeting was unanimous. The resolution comes after Fresno leaders joined officials from three other Central Valley counties on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide. Fresno County Chairman Steve Brandau said the drought “is a crisis that we are putting upon ourselves.” He said he’s not a water expert, but it has been “painful” for him to watch “as water flows out into the ocean unused for human resources.” 

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Aquafornia news Arizona Central

Arizona preparing for cutbacks on Colorado River water amid drought

With the Colorado River’s largest reservoir just 38% full and declining toward the threshold of a first-ever shortage, Arizona water officials convened an online meeting this week to outline how the state will deal with water cutbacks, saying the reductions will be “painful” but plans are in place to lessen the blow for affected farmers next year. Lake Mead’s decline is expected to trigger substantial reductions in water deliveries in 2022 for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. The largest of those cuts will affect Arizona, slashing its Colorado River supplies by 512,000 acre-feet, about a fifth of its total entitlement.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Water wonk with Hill, Interior chops to lead Army Corps

President Biden’s pick this week to oversee the Army’s vast natural resources operation would bring to the job decades of water experience at the Interior Department and on Capitol Hill. The president tapped Michael Connor to be the Department of Defense’s assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, which oversees the Army Corps of Engineers and its huge network of dams and other projects. Connor would play a major role in some of the most controversial projects facing the Biden administration in the environmental arena, including the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as Clean Water Act permitting.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Environmental groups appeal federal court decision on Gross Reservoir Dam

While a decades-long battle over one major dam and river diversion in northern Colorado appeared to end last week, environmental groups signaled another fight will go on longer as they filed an appeal meant to undermine Denver Water’s Gross Dam expansion. The environmental coalition Monday asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a dismissal of their case by a federal district court and order a trial on the merits of their claims about the dangers of adding 131 feet to the height of Gross Reservoir Dam. They argue federal review agencies neglected species-protection laws and other guidelines when handing Denver Water a permit for Gross.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Citing potential water waste, court sides with California dam operators

A federal court has ruled that Best Best & Krieger LLP client City of Santa Maria and others are correctly not releasing more water from a dam above the City, as doing so would be in conflict with the dam’s Congressional purpose. … The lawsuit claims the defendants are violating the Endangered Species Act by not releasing enough water from Twitchell Dam on the Cuyama River, thereby not providing sufficient water for federal law-protected Southern California Steelhead trout to spawn.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Learn about infrastructure and environmental restoration during Lower Colorado River Tour

Visit key infrastructure and environmental restoration sites along the lower Colorado River during our online tour May 20 of the iconic river as it weaves through the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. Our Lower Colorado River Tour starts at Hoover Dam near Las Vegas and stops at major agricultural regions, tourist destinations and key wildlife areas such as the Salton Sea and a wildlife refuge in Yuma, Ariz. resulting from a tribal-city partnership.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: The Bay-Delta salmon crisis that didn’t have to be

The state and federal agencies tasked with protecting our fish, wildlife, and natural resources are once again scrambling to avoid wiping out this year’s cohort of chinook salmon that spawn below Shasta Dam. If this sounds familiar, it is because this scenario is a repeat of attempts to “manage” Shasta operations in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in over 75% of the eggs and fry of endangered winter run chinook salmon being destroyed in both of those years, solely from the lack of sufficient cold water being released from Shasta Dam …

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Aquafornia news KRCR

Yurok Tribe: Klamath River salmon stock conditions dire, fishery canceled for 5th year

The Yurok Tribe said it’s sounding the alarm as culturally invaluable salmon edge closer to extinction. The Yurok also said it is canceling its commercial fishery for the fifth time this year. Tribal officials said past water management decisions and climate change have put Klamath river salmon stocks at risk. The tribe said it’s gravely concerned about the rapidly declining salmon stocks in the Klamath River Basin … Tribal officials said [Reclamation's] plan provides bare-minimum flows for imperiled Klamath salmon and sucker fish populations.

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Aquafornia news Fox40

Recreational waterways can still be dangerous despite drought conditions, officials warn

The Yuba Water Agency manages water storage and deliveries to downstream customers while having a hand in preserving fish habitats and recreational areas. Currently, the agency has already begun doubling its reservoir releases at a time when visitors to the river are also expected to go up. Due to the time of year, those releases from upstream reservoirs are dictated by irrigation needs of downstream growers. 

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: The dam problem for the Bay-Delta estuary

The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers and putting business in front of the environment.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: New DWR powerplant turbine helps California achieve clean energy future

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) took another step in its ambitious efforts to reduce climate change impacts by replacing an old electricity-generating turbine with a new, energy efficient model at the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Powerplant in Butte County that will help the Department achieve its goal of using 100 percent zero-emission resources by 2045.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: On World Water Day, reflecting on the value of water  

Water is one of the most valuable resources on the planet — we need it to survive, to stay clean and healthy, to grow food, to run businesses, to support ecosystems, and so much more. And yet clean, accessible, abundant water is often taken for granted, in part because its cost rarely reflects its true value. But anyone who has spent even a day, or a few hours, without access to water knows its vital importance. Still today over 2.2 billion people globally lack access to safe drinking water.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California vies for $3-trillion Biden infrastructure plan

A Biden initiative expected to pour up to $3 trillion into repairing America’s decrepit infrastructure and funding other programs has sparked a scramble across the nation for the federal funds — with California expecting to reap the biggest piece. …Rep. John Garamendi, a Northern California Democrat who is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee…spent more than an hour with Biden in recent weeks and came away convinced that the program will be broad enough to improve most areas of the nation’s infrastructure: highways, passenger rail, electric grids, dams, sewers and water systems, ocean terminals and airports…. 

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: That time Warren Buffett got involved in California water

[I]t was with some surprise that last year Warren Buffett found himself recently embroiled in a hugely important California water issue – removal of the Klamath River dams. The socioecological effects of dams on the Klamath River have been massive, almost uniformly negative, and ongoing. The Klamath watershed has been estimated as the third-most productive drainage on the West Coast for salmon and steelhead. Yet salmon runs declined substantially over the last century in part because dams fragment and isolate salmon from their historical upland spawning habitats. … Indigenous peoples have disproportionately dealt with the brunt of ecological impacts from dams on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Projects throughout the Western United States receive $42.4 million in grants from Reclamation to conserve and use water more efficiently

The Bureau of Reclamation is awarding $42.4 million in grants to 55 projects throughout 13 states. These projects will improve the water reliability for these communities by using water more efficiently and power efficiency improvements that water supply reliability and generate more hydropower…. In California, near the Arizona border, the Bard Water District will receive $1.1 million to complete a canal lining and piping project. The project is expected to result in annual water savings of 701 acre-feet, which will remain in the Colorado River system for other uses.  

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah governor declares a state of emergency because of drought

After a record dry summer and fall — and with winter snowpack currently at 70% of normal levels — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed an emergency order Wednesday declaring a state of emergency due to drought conditions. The move comes after a recommendation from the state’s Drought Review and Reporting Committee and opens the door for drought-affected communities and agricultural producers to potentially access state or federal emergency funds and resources, according to a news release. Cox said Wednesday that state leaders have been “monitoring drought conditions carefully and had hoped to see significant improvement from winter storms.”

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Aquafornia news EurekAlert!

New research: Geomorphologists map fine sediment in Colorado River to improve sandbar management

Grain by grain, sandbars are ecologically important to the Colorado River system for humans and wildlife, say scientists. How sand, silt and clay move along and become deposited within the river corridor in the Grand Canyon National Park, downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, has become an important question to a number of government agencies as well as to Native American tribes. The answer impacts the entire Colorado River ecosystem and will help scientists better understand how the Colorado River system works.

Aquafornia news Charlotte Observer

Water flow change at Grand Canyon to reveal riverbed

The water flow in the Grand Canyon is temporarily changing and it could reveal some surprises, geologists said. The U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday that an 11-day “spring disturbance” flow will start Monday and will drop water levels in parts of the Grand Canyon. … While dam maintenance may not seem exciting, the drop in water could reveal parts of the Colorado riverbed that hasn’t been seen in decades, USGS said. It could also impact in the Colorado River ecosystem. The change in water levels will also mimic what the Colorado River was like before the dam was built, USGS said.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Sun

Reduced water flow prepped at Lake Powell

Scientists and boatmen with the United States Geological Survey are preparing for a busy week on the Colorado River as engineers at Glen Canyon Dam prepare to reduce the water flowing out of Lake Powell substantially. In order to conduct maintenance on the concrete apron downstream of the dam, engineers will be limiting the water that runs through the dam’s turbines starting Monday and continuing through the rest of the week.

Aquafornia news KCLU

Anniversary of dam break which killed more than 400 people in Ventura, LA counties

Today marks the anniversary of the deadliest man-made disaster in California history.  It’s a largely forgotten event which killed hundreds of people in Ventura County. On March 12th, 1928, the St. Francis Dam collapsed, sending a wall of water more than 50 miles from the Santa Clarita area through the Santa Clara River Valley.  More than 400 people died. The water surged through parts of Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula and Ventura in the middle of the night.  It was later determined that the newly complete dam collapsed because of a combination of issues with the terrain, and design.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Operating dams to better manage big storms can build resiliency to climate extremes

California’s large reservoirs are currently operated using historical hydrology and outdated assumptions about the state’s climate. Many experts are calling for changing how reservoirs are managed to reflect advances in weather forecasting, which can help the state adapt to a warmer, more volatile climate. We talked to Martin Ralph—director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography—about advances in this field.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

New report: U.S. dams, levees get D grades, need $115 billion in upgrades

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a C- grade in its quadrennial assessment issued March 3. ASCE gave the nation’s flood control infrastructure – dams and levees – a D grade. This is a highly concerning assessment, given that climate change is increasingly stressing dams and levees as increased evaporation from the oceans drives heavier precipitation events. … Climate scientists at Stanford University found that between 1988 and 2017, heavier precipitation accounted for more than one-third of the $200 billion in [flood] damage…

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Fight of the river people: The generational push that brought Berkshire Hathaway to the table and put dam removal back on track

It was a Friday in late August when four jet boats made their way up the Klamath River under a cloudless blue sky. The boats carried three tribal chairs. From the Karuk Tribe, there was Russell “Buster” Attebery, who’d found pride as a boy catching salmon from the river and bringing them home to his family, and later come to believe some tribal youth’s troubles — from suicides to substance use — could be traced back to their never having had that opportunity, growing up alongside a river now choked with algae and diminishing fish populations. 

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Blog: Humans have completely transformed how water is stored on Earth

Human fingerprints are all over the world’s freshwater. A new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that while human-controlled freshwater sources make up a minimal portion of the world’s ponds, lakes, and rivers, they are responsible for more than half of all changes to the Earth’s water system. … Climate change already looms large over the world’s freshwater supply. Major sources of drinking water, like the Colorado River, have less water and are flowing more slowly due to climate change—even as they face increasing demand from our water-hungry farms and cities. Rainfall itself is becoming more erratic in some locations, such as California…

Aquafornia news Wild Rivers Outpost

Blog: Skeptical about Klamath River dam removal, harbor district, Del Norte County seek protection against potential damages

Though the nonprofit tasked with Klamath River dam removal is about to submit its definite plan to federal regulators, Del Norte County and the Crescent City Harbor District are still worried about potential negative impacts. Harbor commissioners on Thursday agreed to sign onto a memorandum of understanding that includes the county and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. The MOU contains conditions that ensures the harbor and county can recover potential damages to the port and the fishing industry that occur as a result of dam removal and reservoir drawdown on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news Lake Powell Chronicle

Blog: Is Lake Powell doomed?

On Feb. 22, 2021, Lake Powell was 127.24 feet below ‘Full Pool’ or, by content, about 38% full. Based on water level elevations, these measurements do not account for years of sediment (clay, silt, and sand) accumulation—the millions of metric tons on the bottom. Geologist James L. Powell said, “The Colorado delivers enough sediment to Lake Powell to fill 1,400 ship cargo containers each day.” In other words, Lake Powell is shrinking toward the middle from top and bottom. The lake is down over 30 feet from one year ago, and estimates suggest it could drop another 50 feet by 2026. The Bureau of Reclamation estimated the lifespan of Glen Canyon Dam at 500–700 years. Other estimates aren’t as optimistic, including some as low as 50 years. 

Aquafornia news Winters Express

Opinion: Nature nearby – Climate change and Putah Creek

How do you factor in climate change? It can be a worrisome question, yet, it’s one that rightfully so demands an answer. A question that seems to loom over us, especially those who work within and on behalf of the environment. Yet, it might be difficult to notice the effects of climate change on Putah Creek. A walk along the creek exposes you to native riparian habitat and birds aplenty. Surely, the Chinook salmon return to their historic spawning habitat along Putah Creek could only signal a more healthy and stabilized habitat.
-Written by Alli Permann, Putah Creek Council Education Program Assistant. 

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Groups call Lake Powell hydropower project unsustainable

Federal regulators have issued a preliminary permit for a pumped-hydropower project using water from Lake Powell, but conservation groups say climate change could make the plan unsustainable. The project would pump water from the lake, drain it downhill to a generator, and send the power to massive batteries for storage. The 2,200-megawatt project would supply cities in Arizona, California and Nevada, over lines previously used by the retired Navajo Generating Station. Gary Wockner, executive director for Save the Colorado, which opposes the plan, said falling water levels will make the Colorado River Basin an unreliable source of water.

Aquafornia news BBC News

Extinction: Freshwater fish in ‘catastrophic’ decline

Conservation groups said 80 species were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone. Millions of people rely on freshwater fish for food and as a source of income through angling and the pet trade. But numbers have plummeted due to pressures including pollution, unsustainable fishing, and the damming and draining of rivers and wetlands. The report said populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in the last 50 years. Over the same time period, populations of larger species, known as “megafish”, have crashed by 94%.

Aquafornia news Wired

Opinion: The energy sector must prepare for more extreme weather

Texas has always seen its share of extreme weather events, but over the past two decades they have intensified. A few years ago, after the fifth “ 500-year flood” in five years, I remarked to a friend, “We’re going to have to stop calling them that.” … Of course, this uptick in extreme weather is not limited to Texas. Numerous places across the country—and indeed the globe—have experienced multiple “historic” weather events in recent years. Last year, droughts in California led to six of the largest wildfires in the state’s history. In 2017 and 2018, British Columbia had two consecutive record-setting forest fire seasons.
-Written by Robert Rapier, a chemical engineer with over 25 years of experience in the energy industry.  

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Editorial: Dragons, unicorns, and Colorado’s water crisis, part six

“Basic climate science reveals that Lake Powell is not a reliable water source for this ill-conceived project.” The reference to ‘basic climate science’ refers to recent computer models that show a drier climate throughout the American Southwest over the next few decades, allegedly due to the continued use of fossil fuels all around the globe. But even without access to clever computer models, we have all seen Lake Powell and Lake Mead — America’s two largest water reservoirs — struggle to remain even half full, as we watch water users extract more water than nature can replace.

Aquafornia news American Rivers

Blog: 69 dams removed in 2020

Despite the challenges of working through a pandemic, river restoration practitioners continued to pursue dam removal projects in 2020 to revitalize local economies and communities and reconnect 624 upstream river miles for fish, wildlife and river health. Sixty-nine dams were removed in 2020 across 23 states, including: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Another low return for Klamath kings in 2020

Following a disappointing 2019 adult fall run on the Klamath, 2020 proved to be only slightly better. Unfortunately, the numbers weren’t enough to get us out of the “overfished” category, and it’s likely we’ll have some severe restrictions both in the ocean and in the Klamath and Trinity rivers in 2021. … According to CDFW, the number of returning fall run kings in 2020 was 45,407, about half the long-term average. In 2019 only 37,270 adult kings returned. The return of fall Chinook jacks was 9,037 fish, which is also below the long-term average of 17,740.

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Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Klamath dam update – Restoration contract signed

Last month in an announcement on Business Wire, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) and Resource Environmental Solutions (RES) announced they have signed a contract for RES to provide restoration services in connection with the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement between RES and KRRC finalizes habitat restoration, maintenance, and liability transfer responsibilities for a fixed price, opening the door to a successful restoration of native vegetation and anadromous fish habitat along the historical, pre-dam path of the Klamath River.  

Aquafornia news Eos

Adaptation can compound climate change impacts on energy and water

In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, [Julia] Szinai and her colleagues present a framework that outlines the links between and vulnerabilities of [California's] energy and water systems. The findings can be used to evaluate how both climate change and our adaptation decisions might affect the interconnected systems. It’s a first and an “exhaustive” quantification of the linkages between energy and water…

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

FEMA releases more funds for reimbursing Oroville Dam spillway repair costs

The process to recoup over $1 billion in repairs to Oroville Dam’s spillways after the 2017 crisis is receiving more federal funds. The Department of Water Resources announced Feb. 1 that the Federal Emergency Management Agency released an additional approximately $308 million in requested funds for the Oroville Dam spillways reconstruction and emergency response. These funds are in addition to over $260 million that FEMA has already committed to …

Aquafornia news The Center Square

California water users petition to end proposed Klamath River dam demolition

A Northern California water users’ association has filed a motion against a $450 million plan to tear down four dams on the Klamath River they claim irrevocably hurts local homeowners. The motion was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Wednesday by the Murphy and Buchal Law firm on behalf of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association. It claims the interstate agreement reached by Oregon and California last year to remove the dams has incurred “irreparable damage” to lakefront home values in the COPCO Lake area as water levels are feared to decline.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘Better days ahead’: Restoration deal signed to revive Klamath River after dam removal

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation last week signed an agreement with Resource Environmental Solutions, a Texas-based ecological restoration company, to provide restoration services following the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement with RES brings North Coast tribes one step closer to their decades-long goal of dam removal. 

Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

Water warning: The looming threat of the world’s aging dams

Tens of thousands of large dams across the globe are reaching the end of their expected lifespans, leading to a dramatic rise in failures and collapses, a new UN study finds. These deteriorating structures pose a serious threat to hundreds of millions of people living downstream…. In 2017, a spillway collapsed at the 50-year-old Oroville Dam in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the evacuation of around 180,000 people. The 770-foot dam is the highest in the U.S. and, after repairs to the spillway, remains critical to the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

TUD schedules special water rights meeting

The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) Board of Directors is hosting a virtual information meeting to update local board members and agencies about the proposed purchase of water infrastructure and water rights contracts. As reported here in March last year, TUD and PG&E announced they were in exclusive negotiations about the potential transfer of the Phoenix Hydroelectric Project. The proposed agreement includes the Phoenix Powerhouse, the Main Tuolumne Canal, the pre and post 1914 water rights, the Lyons Dam and Reservoir, Strawberry Dam and Pinecrest Reservoir. 

Aquafornia news Wild Rivers Outpost

Klamath River Renewal Corporation hires contractor to spearhead post-dam removal habitat restoration

The organization tasked with removing four dams on the Klamath River has contracted with Resource Environmental Solutions to spearhead habitat restoration work. The Bellaire, Texas firm will be the lead restoration contractor for the project led by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. In hiring RES, KRRC meets federal and state permitting requirements, according to a Friday news release from Business Wire.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation's Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: In the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, two groundwater sustainability agencies try to find their balance

Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems. The land is literally sinking…

Aquafornia news OutThere Colorado

Creating Colorado’s largest body of water meant destroying a thriving mountain town

The largest body of water in Colorado, Blue Mesa Reservoir is nothing to scoff at. Found in the southern portion of the state, Blue Mesa Reservoir is 20-miles-long, home to 96 miles of shoreline, and constrained by a 390-foot-tall dam. However, before this man-made reservoir and popular outdoor recreation spot existed, the area was home to a thriving mountain town that has since been wiped off the map. 

Aquafornia news PV Magazine USA

Drought conditions could impact power generation in the West

Ongoing drought in parts of the West could trigger water conservation measures across seven states this year. It would mark the first time that cutbacks outlined in drought contingency plans drafted two years ago have been put in place. Everything from hydroelectric power generation to agricultural production to the bubbling fountains at Las Vegas casinos could be impacted. Impacts on hydro generation could have ripple effects across the Southwest, including solar and energy storage.

Aquafornia news The Pagosa Springs SUN

Opinion: When water dries up, it can be deadly

In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese that fill the sky during migration have moved south.  This summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence. The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on the Oregon-California border.
-Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Upper Colorado River drought plan triggered for first time

Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan. The 24-month study released in January by the Bureau of Reclamation, which projects two years of operations at the river’s biggest reservoirs, showed Lake Powell possibly dipping below an elevation of 3,525 feet above sea level in 2022. That elevation was designated as a critical threshold in the agreement to preserve the ability to produce hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam. 

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Aquafornia news Financial Times

Fund manager bets on new source of renewable power: old river dams

Dams built long ago to control floods or ease river transport are gaining attention as a potential zero-carbon electricity source in the US, as environmentalists and the hydropower industry drop their longstanding antagonism in the face of climate change.  Hydroelectricity is like wind, solar and nuclear power in that it emits no planet-warming carbon dioxide, yet hydro capacity has not grown for decades after big dams became impossible to build. 

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

A second chance for Eel River salmon and steelhead? 

For many years Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has operated the “Potter Valley Project,” a hydroelectric facility on the main stem of the Eel River consisting of Scott and Cape Horn dams and a tunnel diverting water into the Russian River watershed, where it is used to generate a small amount of electricity and for irrigation by farmers in Potter Valley and farther south in Sonoma County.  The construction of Scott Dam in 1922 completely blocked passage of critically imperiled anadromous fish including salmon, steelhead and lamprey…

Aquafornia news UC Santa Barbara

Blog: Researchers propose a framework for evaluating impacts of climate change on California’s water and energy systems

As the planet continues to warm, the twin challenges of diminishing water supply and growing energy demand will intensify. But water and energy are inextricably linked. For instance, nearly a fifth of California’s energy goes toward water-related activities, while more than a tenth of the state’s electricity comes from hydropower. As society tries to adapt to one challenge, it needs to ensure it doesn’t worsen the other. To this end, researchers from UC Santa Barbara, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have developed a framework to evaluate how different climate adaptations may impact this water-energy nexus.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Opinion: A second chance for Eel River salmon and steelhead?

In 2019 the Two-Basin Solution Partnership filed a Notice of Intent to apply for relicensing and ownership of the [Potter Valley] project, followed in the spring of 2020 by a feasibility study and project plan that includes removal of Scott Dam, and a commitment to provide water to Potter Valley and the Russian River…. Many questions remain, starting with impacts on local recreational users and cabin owners. By Victoria Brandon, board president of Tuleyome, a nature-based environmental organization based in Woodland.

Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: CSPA opposes Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts’ petition for waiver of Clean Water Act

Joining a growing list, Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts filed a Petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking that the commission find that the State of California has waived certification under the Clean Water Act. … The Districts are seeking a new FERC license for two hydropower projects on the Tuolumne River, the Don Pedro Project and the La Grange Project.

Aquafornia news Action News Now

Lake Oroville needs and safety assessment released

The Department of Water Resources recently published a summary report of a comprehensive needs assessment of safety at Oroville Dam. It comes after the reconstruction of the spillways that were damaged and failed in 2017.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Podcast: Craig Tucker on Klamath dam agreement

Karuk Tribe natural resources spokesperson Craig Tucker joined John Howard to talk about the historic agreement, its impact on the region’s Salmon fisheries, and the potential for replication in other places where dams are contested.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Trump administration finalizes Shasta Dam raise plan to increase water storage for Californians and the environment

The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

PG&E hires new CEO to confront wildfire risk

PG&E Corp. named a new CEO on Wednesday, hiring a Michigan utility executive to run California’s largest utility as it confronts the state’s mounting wildfire risks following a stint in bankruptcy. Patricia K. “Patti” Poppe, who has been CEO of Michigan-based CME Energy Corp., will take over Jan. 4.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, Oregon will take over dams on Klamath River – and tear them down

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Oregon counterpart signed a landmark deal Tuesday to take control of four aging dams targeted for removal on the Lower Klamath River, an agreement designed to push the controversial $450 million plan over the finish line. … The agreement “ensures that we have sufficient backing” to get the four dams demolished, said Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

What a Biden Administration could mean for Klamath water

The last three administrations have been active in Klamath Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach.

Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Yuba Water files lawsuit against State Water Resources Control Board

The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s requirements to obtain what is called a water quality certification.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Overlooked Army Corps rulemaking would shrink federal stream protections

The Army Corps of Engineers … is considering another rule change that would also shrink federal protection of small streams, ecologists and lawyers say. The Corps said in its proposal it is acting in response to the president’s order to review regulations that burden energy development. Some of the proposed changes will have essentially the same consequence as the Trump administration’s contraction of the Clean Water Act…

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

DWR study finds no ‘unacceptable risks’ at Oroville Dam

A 19-month study of the safety of the Oroville Dam project has found no “unacceptable risks.” The Department of Water Resources released its Comprehensive Needs Assessment on Oct. 30, and notes its findings generally agree with those of an Independent Review Board and a regular five-year review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…

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Aquafornia news Medford Mail Tribune

Opinion: The message is clear: We must manage our resources better

Why are our food producers, including many century-old family farms with 100-year-old water rights, facing a shortage of water? Because we drain Oregon’s largest lake to artificially increase water supply in California.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

FERC declaratory order finding waiver of California Section 401 authority challenged in Ninth Circuit

The California State Water Resources Control Board and a group of environmental organizations each have filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of FERC orders finding that the Water Board waived its authority under section 401 of the Clean Water Act to issue a water quality certification in the ongoing relicensing of Merced Irrigation District’s Merced River and Merced Falls Projects.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Ex-official blows whistle on Army Corps’ dam program

Judith Marshall joined the corps’ Portland office in 2011 to manage several projects, including the agency’s 13 dams in the Willamette River Basin. She quickly learned the corps was out of compliance with several major environmental laws for virtually all of them. She got nowhere when she raised her concerns to her supervisors. Then she was harassed and bullied. Now Marshall is blowing the whistle.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: 5 reasons to rethink the future of dams

The future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat, decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams produce have a role in our energy transition?

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Go with the flow — SMUD’s latest powerhouse nearly operational

Located right below Slab Creek Dam and Reservoir and priced at $16.5 million … the project has two main functions. One includes a recreational flow release on a nine-mile stretch below the reservoir that will improve boating, rafting and kayaking opportunities… The other release feeds water into the powerhouse to drive the turbine.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Temperance Flat Reservoir project status update

At the October meeting of the California Water Commission, Aaron Fakuda representing Temperance Flat Authority and Bill Swanson, Principal Engineer with Stantec discussed the project’s status with the Commission.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Influential California congressman opposes Sonoma County-backed plan to drain Lake Pillsbury

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi has filed an official objection to a plan backed by Sonoma County and his House Democratic colleague Jared Huffman to remove Scott Dam on the Eel River and drain Lake Pillsbury, a popular recreation spot for nearly a century.

Aquafornia news Resources Magazine

Dismantling dams can help address US infrastructure problems

Dam failure, though rare, can cause catastrophic destruction of property and lives. Repairing hazardous dams can help, but simply removing them can be a better, more cost-effective option with accompanying environmental benefits … a mere five states account for half of all removals: Pennsylvania (343), California (173), Wisconsin (141), Michigan (94), and Ohio (82).

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Klamath residents, Yurok tribal members to participate in ‘day of action’ targeting Pacificorp over dam removal

Virtual rallies will be held Friday at the utility’s headquarters in Portland and in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Neb., according to a Save California Salmon news release. A rally will also be held in Seattle, home of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the top shareholder in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Berkshire Hathaway Energy is PacifiCorp’s parent company.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Rep. Garamendi comes out against Scott Dam removal

Congressman John Garamendi, who represents the northern half of Lake County, on Friday submitted a formal comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing removal of Scott Dam on the Eel River at Lake Pillsbury and demanding that Lake County have an equal seat at the table for determining the future of Potter Valley Project and the lake.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

New agreement on U.S. hydropower and river conservation

A dialogue organized by Stanford that brought together environmental organizations, hydropower companies, investors, government agencies and universities has resulted in an important new agreement to help address climate change… Dan Reicher, a former U.S. assistant secretary of energy and board member of the conservation group American Rivers, spoke with us about brokering this new agreement…

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Environmentalists and dam operators, at war for years, start making peace

The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement Tuesday to work together to get more clean energy from hydropower while reducing the environmental harm from dams, in a sign that the threat of climate change is spurring both sides to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but contentious source of renewable power. The United States generated about 7 percent of its electricity last year from hydropower, mainly from large dams built decades ago, such as the Hoover Dam, which uses flowing water from the Colorado River to power turbines. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Big infrastructure bill ‘isn’t dead’ as WRDA talks heat up

A high-stakes Supreme Court confirmation and COVID-19 negotiations may be the focus on Capitol Hill, but a sprawling water infrastructure bill is still advancing quickly behind the scenes.

Aquafornia news University of Texas

News release: Key indicators discovered of climate change’s impact on California water supply

In the new study, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists found that leading climate projections used by the state strongly agree that climate change will shift the timing and intensity of rainfall and the health of the state’s snowpack in ways that will make water management more difficult during the coming decades.

Aquafornia news Voice of America

Western wildfires threaten water supplies, spur utilities to action

In California’s Placer County, an unusual partnership between a county water utility, the U.S. Forest Service and environmentalists is taking on the work to prevent catastrophic fires on more than 11,000 hectares in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The partnership arose from the ashes of 2014’s King fire. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

DOE study: Solar-hydro projects could power 40% of world

Linking floating solar panels with hydropower could produce the equivalent of 40% of the world’s electricity, according to a new study by researchers at the Department of Energy. … The study provides the first global look by federal researchers at the technical potential of the hybrid concept.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Creek Fire: Water deliveries from dams might be affected due to evacuations

Among the people forced to flee the Creek Fire were workers who keep the vast network of hydroelectric dams running. Eric Quinley, general manager of the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District, worried some of his table grape growers might not get enough water in the future to finish up the growing season.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Dominos from the massive Creek Fire teetering over Central Valley farmers

When the Creek Fire erupted on Sept. 5 and chewed through the forest toward Southern California Edison’s Big Creek power system, little did anyone know how that might affect grape growers in Delano nearly a month later.

Aquafornia news Writers on the Range

Opinion: A clear warning about the Colorado River

A crisis could be approaching. The two giant reservoirs on the Colorado River are both below 50 percent of capacity. If drought causes even more drastic drops, the Bureau of Reclamation could step in to prioritize the making of electricity by the hydro plants at lakes Mead and Powell. No one knows what BuRec would do, but it would call the shots and end current arrangements.

Aquafornia news EOS.org

Study: Dams alter nutrient flows to coasts

The right balance of nutrients is crucial for a healthy coastal ecosystem. If rivers deposit too much nitrogen and phosphorus in coastal areas, algae that flourish on those nutrients can cause dead zones; if too little silicon flows downstream, organisms that depend on it will die off.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Panel to question FERC picks on climate, infrastructure

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will this week consider a pair of nominations — one Republican, one Democratic — to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

Coming home to the Klamath

Four aging dams on the Klamath River are coming down. Their completion between 1921 and 1964 brought hydroelectric power to Northern California. It also blocked hundreds of kilometers of fish habitat, causing Chinook salmon to effectively disappear from the upper river basin. But the removal of dams is no guarantee the fish will return, so a team of wildlife researchers hopes it can coax the fish to repopulate the river by exploiting a new discovery about salmon genetics.

Aquafornia news International Water Power Magazine

US agencies sign collaborative hydropower agreement

The Bureau of Reclamation, US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technology Office and Army Corps of Engineers signed the memorandum at Hoover Dam on Monday, which was National Hydropower Day. The MOU provides for a collaborative working relationship that prioritizes similar goals and aligns ongoing and future renewable energy development efforts among the three agencies.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Lake Elsinore hydroelectric project would threaten sacred land, Pechanga tribe says

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians once warned that a proposed mine would obliterate a sacred site equal to the Biblical Garden of Eden. Now, the southwest Riverside County tribe is sounding a similar alarm about the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage Project, or LEAPS, a hydroelectric project proposed for the Lake Elsinore area.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

20th century dam building found to have offset sea level rise

Most scientists in the field agree that sea levels should have risen more than they did over most of the past century. In this new effort, the researchers have taken another look at the problem and suggest the reason for the discrepancies was water being captured in reservoirs by dams.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Major California water agencies partner with Scripps to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management

The San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday it is partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve water management before, during and after those seasonal storms. [The other affiliates are: Irvine Ranch Water District, Orange County Water District, Sonoma Water, Turlock Irrigation District, and Yuba Water Agency.]

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Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

WRDA 2020 may have to wait until lame duck

A new Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, has made headway in Congress, most recently with House passage of a bill authorizing about $9 billion for Army Corps of Engineers flood and storm protection, environmental restoration and other projects. But with time running short before Congress breaks for the Nov. 3 elections, industry sources say water infrastructure legislation may be put off until an expected lame duck session.

Aquafornia news Valley News

Opinion: Water delivery agreement between Elsinore Valley and LEAPS project ended years of litigation and defined roles

As the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage, or LEAPS, hydroelectric project proceeds with licensing approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, local roles have been defined with a water delivery agreement following years of litigation over project details.

Aquafornia news Popular Science

California shut off power grids, but not because of clean energy

It will take time to conduct a thorough autopsy of the blackouts. Some observers have said the shutoffs were actually unnecessary, that the state had enough power to make it through the heat wave. Gov. Newsom has called for an investigation into the matter.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Poor planning left California short of electricity in a heat wave

The California Public Utilities Commission assumed that hydroelectric plants would provide as much as 8,000 megawatts when demand peaked this summer. But that number appears to have failed to take into account low water levels at many dams… And those plants delivered only 5,514 megawatts last Friday, according to the California Independent System Operator.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Huffman presses utility on Klamath dam removal

Rep. Jared Huffman repeatedly sought this week to pin down the utility PacifiCorp on whether it would recommit to the country’s largest dam removal project — and when.

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Aquafornia news The Grass Valley Union

News release: State Water Board and conservationists sue Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The State Water Board and environmental conservationists have filed lawsuits against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to protect the Yuba and Bear river watersheds…

Aquafornia news Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes

Blog: Forecast informed reservoir operations using ensemble streamflow predictions for a multi‐purpose reservoir in Northern California

Sonoma Water Engineer Chris Delaney led development of a forecast informed reservoir operations (FIRO) decision support system for Lake Mendocino… Center For Western Weather And Water Extremes… A proof-of-concept model was originally developed by Chris in 2015 as a personal research project, and has been refined over the past 5 years with research and real-time testing…

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Company at a crossroads: Huffman’s Klamath forum wraps with sharp questioning of power company executive

North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs Tuesday afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from the ailing Klamath River.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom declares statewide emergency as fires burn across California

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency in order to help California respond to the fires burning across the state amid an extreme heat wave that brought more warnings about power outages on Tuesday. More than 30 wildfires are burning across California, including nearly a dozen that started in the last two days…

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Glen Canyon Dam tapped for emergency water releases to meet California power demands

For the first time in nearly two decades, the federal government tapped Glen Canyon Dam for extra power generating capacity this weekend, triggering emergency water releases as heat waves persisted across the West.

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Huffman to lead forum examining impact of Klamath dams

North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman will lead a live-streamed forum that will examine the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes, fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders on Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

PG&E cancels upcoming whitewater flows in Feather River, citing coronavirus

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced it will no longer be conducting higher water flows for whitewater recreation on the Feather River during the weekend of Aug. 22-23, saying in a press release the cancellation came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘This land is all we have left’: Tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 30-day public comment period for Central Valley Project Friant Water Authority operation, maintenance and replacement contract

The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday a 30-day public comment period for a 35-year contract renewal of the transfer of operation, maintenance and replacement activities related to Friant-Kern Canal and other associated works to the Friant Water Authority.

Aquafornia news KQED Forum

Audio: UCLA study: Less snow and more rainfall spell trouble for California

By the 2070s, climate change will reduce snowpack and increase extreme rainfall in the Sierra Nevada and California’s reservoirs will likely be overwhelmed. That’s according to a new study by UCLA climate scientists, who predict that run-off during so-called atmospheric rivers will increase by nearly 50 percent, leading to widespread flooding across the state.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Loss in hydropower hampered by drought will impact utilities

The loss in hydroelectric generation during the 2012-16 drought cost PG&E and other California utilities about $5.5 billion, a new study says. As California’s climate becomes more prone to severe droughts, the findings point to future costs that utilities — and ultimately ratepayers — will likely be forced to bear.

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Aquafornia news National Geographic

Can the Colorado River keep on running?

The average annual flow of the Colorado River has decreased 19 percent compared to its 20th century average. Models predict that by 2100, the river flow could fall as much as 55 percent. The Colorado River, and the people it sustains, are in serious trouble.

Aquafornia news The Oregonian

Opinion: PacifiCorp should move forward with historic Klamath dams agreement

For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to traditional subsistence foods.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Monday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River levels may rise with COVID-19 electricity demands

Summer energy demands driven higher as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps more people at home could lead to more water flowing from Glen Canyon Dam into the Colorado River. That could mean rapidly changing conditions for rafters, anglers, hikers or others on the river in Glen Canyon or the Grand Canyon, officials said.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

FERC faces environmental justice reckoning

A 1997 guidance document from the White House Council on Environmental Quality lays out best practices for FERC and other agencies to address environmental justice as part of reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency isn’t legally required to act on its findings.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Trump makes two FERC nominations, potentially rebalancing commission

President Trump made two nominations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Monday, bowing to pressure from Democratic lawmakers who have pushed to maintain the bipartisan split in the commission.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Migratory river fish populations plunge 76% in past 50 years

Species such as salmon, trout and giant catfish are vital not just to the rivers and lakes in which they breed or feed but to entire ecosystems. By swimming upstream, they transport nutrients from the oceans and provide food for many land animals, including bears, wolves and birds of prey.

Aquafornia news Roseville Today

Placer County, PCWA split $12 million revenue distribution

In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been made…

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Blog: Creating a new fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir

For the past five years, Monty Currier, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, has been working to rebuild the fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir after the PG&E impoundment went dry in 2015 from the combined effects of maintenance work and the drought. The unfortunate fish kill presented Currier with something of a dream opportunity.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

Blog: Will “two lined swimming pools connected by a pipe” help us get rid of natural gas?

Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is a pretty simple technology. … The effect is not to create energy. In fact, these facilities are net consumers of energy. But by making renewable energy available when it is most needed, PSH helps renewables better match demand, reducing the need for gas on the grid.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

A more modest Sites Reservoir focuses on environment

The latest proposal would trim the budget by $2 billion and the storage capacity by about 300,000 acre-feet, according to Jerry Brown, the new executive director of the project. Sites would use existing canals for conveyance rather than build new pipelines. The plan also eliminates a pumped-storage system for generating and storing energy during high flow events. He said the business case for that element of the project “just didn’t pencil out.”

Aquafornia news E&E News

FERC throws wrench into major dam-removal project

The country’s largest dam removal project was thrown into question last week when federal regulators refused to let the current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to carry out the demolition.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Removal of Scott Dam key to salmon and steelhead recovery

While it’s fair to say that salmon and steelhead are dying the death of a thousand cuts in the Eel River, Scott Dam is by far the deepest and most damaging of these injuries. Dam removal efforts from Maine to Washington State to here in California have shown time and again that restoring access to historical spawning grounds is key to rebounding fish populations.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Federal decision leaves future of Klamath dam removal unclear

After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the license, too.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Thursday Top of the Scroll: House panel approves major water infrastructure measure

A multibillion-dollar measure that would help build, repair, and maintain a wide variety of water infrastructure projects sailed through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Wednesday. Approved unanimously by voice vote, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (H.R. 7575) would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers every two years to carry out specific projects and feasibility studies.

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Forest Service: Water activities prohibited during Karuk Tribe’s world renewal ceremonies

The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions, outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest Service has announced in a press release.

Aquafornia news BBC News

The most powerful renewable energy

Last year, the world’s hydropower capacity reached a record 1,308 gigawatts… As with other energy sources, however, hydropower is not without an environmental cost. 

Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

To dam or not to dam

For the past two decades, dams have been falling across the United States in a bid to reverse a legacy of destruction of fish and their habitat. … But in southwestern Washington, a local flood control district is going against the flow by proposing a major new dam on the Chehalis River. … The Chehalis is a critical salmon stream and the largest river system fully contained within the state’s boundaries.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

After lengthy legal battle, Pasadena groups victorious at Devil’s Gate Dam

Pasadena conservationist groups secured a major victory on Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a settlement agreement, ending a protracted legal battle centered on the removal of 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment from the Devil’s Gate Dam and its potential environmental impacts.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Protecting the Clean Water Act

Decades of environmental protection is threatened to be undone by the recent Trump Administration Executive Order to roll back regulations from the Clean Water Act to speed up energy projects. The proceeding EPA rule-making procedures make it easier for owners of hydroelectric dam projects to bypass state oversight and environmental accountability. Without legislative protection, our waterways are under threat.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Humpback chub ‘alien abductions’ help frame the future of the Colorado River

Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time, several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has become central to an ecosystem science program with implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news National Science Foundation

Blog: New software tool to model the economic and environmental impacts of California drought

In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters, a National Science Foundation-funded team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the effects of a drought in California. The drought happened from 2012-2016 and was one of the worst in the state’s history. The scientists found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major utilities in the state.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Federal district court denies environmental plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction as to Shasta Dam operations

On June 24, 2020, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California denied the preliminary injunctive relief requested by a coalition of fishery and environmental groups regarding the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s operations of Shasta Dam and Reservoir, and related temperature management actions on the upper Sacramento River.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion: A Trojan horse with a state water grab inside

With a global pandemic, a catastrophic economic recession and record-high unemployment, one would think the state has enough issues to tackle. But proponents of a state water grab that I have been fighting since the day I was sworn into office in 2012 disagree. Where others see turmoil and anguish, they see opportunity. Apparently, they believe in the adage, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Opinion: Feasibility study for Scott Dam removal has ‘frighteningly misguided’ conclusions

The feasibility study refers to removal of Scott Dam as a foregone conclusion. The reason being salmon and steelhead are not able to access spawning grounds above the dam. This area is a small percentage of the overall spawning habitat of the Eel River watershed. … A fish ladder around Scott Dam makes much more sense.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

How a historic drought led to higher power costs and emissions

A team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the downstream effects of a drought in California that took place in 2012-2016, and was considered one of the worst in the state’s history. They found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major investor-owned utilities in the state… They also found that increased harmful emissions of greenhouse gases could be linked to hydropower losses during drought in the future, even as more sources of renewable energy are added to the grid.

Aquafornia news North Carolina State News

News release: How a historic drought led to higher power costs and emissions

A team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the downstream effects of a drought in California that took place in 2012-2016, and was considered one of the worst in the state’s history. They found that drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major investor-owned utilities in the state… They also found that increased harmful emissions of greenhouse gases could be linked to hydropower losses during drought in the future…

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Yurok Tribe, Rep. Huffman respond to increased Klamath River flows

Beginning June 11, the Bureau released flows to help sustain juvenile salmon, but it plans to provide only 16,000 of the 40,000-acre feet promised in the plan developed with the Yurok Tribe, fishing groups and irrigators in March. And nearly a month passed without augmented flows when young salmon were being infected and dying from disease-causing parasites and 1.5 million hatchery fish were released and ready to pass through the infection zone.

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Aquafornia news Water Power Magazine

Opinion: The next generation of pumped storage

The first slide of Daybreak Power’s first-ever presentation to potential investors quotes Paul Allen, the legendary co-founder of Microsoft, asking what he calls the most exciting question imaginable: “What should exist? … What do we need that we don’t have?”. The answer I reached in the years leading up to co-founding Daybreak in 2018 is this: A bunch of big-honkin’ pumped storage hydropower projects

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Our community will have a voice in proposed hydro-electric storage project near Joshua Tree

The proposed Eagle Mountain project went through nearly 10 years of regulatory review, mostly under the Obama administration, with deep investigations of potential impacts and subsequent requirements for some of the most stringent mitigations ever placed on a project. … The one hitch for us? We, the very communities who will be impacted by this project have no real voice.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Dam safety and the importance of the division of safety of dams with Andy Mangney

In recognition of National Dam Safety Awareness Day, Andy Mangney who serves as the Field Engineering Branch Chief overseeing DSOD’s dam inspection and monitoring program, took some time to answer questions about what DSOD is doing to protect Californians.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: EPA limits states and tribes’ ability to protest pipelines and other energy projects

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule Monday curtailing the rights of states, tribes and the public to object to federal permits for energy projects and other activities that could pollute waterways across the country. The move … upends how the United States applied a section of the Clean Water Act for nearly a half century.

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Aquafornia news Greenbiz.com

Here’s how California’s water laws were made

This is an excerpt from “Ruling the Waters: California’s Kern River, the Environment, and the Making of Western Water Law” by Douglas R. Littlefield, published in May 2020.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Company plans dams in canyon next to Little Colorado River

When a Phoenix company floated a proposal last year to build two hydroelectric dams on the Little Colorado River, it faced an outpouring of opposition. … Taking note of the criticisms, the two businessmen who run the company have pivoted to a different approach. They propose to move the project off the Little Colorado River to an adjacent canyon to the east, where they would build four dams. 

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Keep momentum going to remove Klamath River dams and restore salmon runs

For Indians, confronting economic uncertainty and food shortages has been part of life since Europeans arrived in our lands. … This is why the Yurok Tribe is fighting so hard to remove Klamath River dams and restore the salmon runs that have fed our people since the beginning of time.

Aquafornia news Redwood Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Coalition to take major step in acquiring Potter Valley project from PG&E

A partnership of numerous Northern California agencies intends to file an initial plan to acquire the Potter Valley project from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., multiple sources confirmed. The coalition will submit a document to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its consideration. If approved, the group may be able to form a partnered ownership of complex water infrastructure dividing the Eel and Russian rivers.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Major water infrastructure bills move ahead in Senate, House

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works gathered the last few comments on Friday on its plans to move two mammoth water infrastructure packages this year. … At the same time, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is gearing up to introduce its own big water bill, which should come by month’s end and be marked up over the summer, according to a committee aide.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Law Symposium: Removing dams on the Klamath River

At the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, a panel discussed the project. Seated on the panel was Richard Roos-Collins, a principal with the Water and Power Law Group and General Counsel for the Klamath River Renewal Corporation; Paul Weiland, lawyer for Siskiyou County; and Mike Belchik, Senior Fisheries Biologist with the Yurok Tribe.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Water Forum

News release: Water Forum marks 20 years of collaboration and progress on the Lower American River

When the Water Forum Agreement was officially signed 20 years ago, the occasion marked an unprecedented show of regional cooperation. For years, interests representing business, the environment, water suppliers and others had sparred over the water needs of people vs. the environment of the lower American River.

Aquafornia news Sites Project Authority

News release: Sites Project Authority to “right size” Sites Reservoir to meet current and future needs

Over the past several months, the Authority has undertaken a rigorous Value Planning effort to review the project’s proposed operations and facilities in an effort to develop a project that is “right sized” for current participants while still providing water supply reliability and enhancing the environment.The process has resulted in a project that includes facilities and operations that are different than originally proposed…

Aquafornia news Plumas News

PG&E to begin work on Lower Bucks Lake

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced that it will be upgrading the Lower Bucks Lake Dam this year by attaching a waterproof membrane to the upstream surface of the dam to prevent seepage and extend the dam’s service life.

Aquafornia news The HIll

Opinion: Free-flowing rivers help ecosystems, wildlife, people and the economy

Now, just as the first Earth Day in 1970 gave U.S. policymakers a chance to chart a fresh course for conservation, this year’s 50th anniversary offers lawmakers an opportunity to act on a growing body of evidence that free-flowing, well-protected rivers serve the greater public good.

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Aquafornia news Water Power Magazine

Largest dam removal project in US takes further step forward

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River in the US has taken a major step forward with the issuance of key documents from the California State Water Board. The plan – the largest dam removal project in the US – would re-open 360 miles of the Klamath River and its tributaries to salmon.