Topic: Legislation — California and Federal


Legislation — California and Federal

Today Californians face increased risks from flooding, water shortages, unhealthy water quality, ecosystem decline and infrastructure degradation. Many federal and state legislative acts address ways to improve water resource management, ecosystem restoration, as well as water rights settlements and strategies to oversee groundwater and surface water.

Aquafornia news South Valley Water Association

Blog: SB 559 & Friant Canal Fix

It seems that every time there’s a proposal in the Legislature to help repair the Friant-Kern Canal, something goes wrong. It happened again last month. Senate Bill 559 would have directed state money toward repairing the Friant-Kern Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct, which are sinking due to land subsidence. The damage is hurting their ability to move water. But the bill got tripped up in the Assembly.

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Governor Newsom signs SB 821, restoring compensation to Delta Independent Science Board

On Thursday, October 7, 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 821, which mandates that members of the Delta Independent Science Board shall not be employees of the Delta Stewardship Council, and that the Council shall issue contracts to pay the Delta Independent Science Board members at professional scientific rates. The Governor’s signing of SB 821 ends an embarrassing chapter in the state’s administration of the Delta Independent Science Board.

Aquafornia news Colusa Sun Herald

Gallagher bill to fast-track Paradise sewer and water projects becomes law

Governor Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 36 authored by Assemblyman Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and co-authored by Senator Nielsen (R-Tehama).  The legislation helps fast-track construction of the Paradise Irrigation District (PID) water intertie and the Paradise sewer project, and is supported by the Town of Paradise, the Paradise Irrigation District and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. 

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Opinion: New ballot measures target the right problems

We also learned last week of two new ballot measures for the 2020 ballot … The first proposal would ban collective bargaining for government workers. The second measure would require 2 percent of the state’s general-fund revenue each year to fund water projects until the state amasses an additional 5 million acre-feet of available water supplies.
-Written by Steven Greenhut, Western region director for the R Street Institute and a member of the Southern California News Group editorial board.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Biden action puts a hold on Trump administration biological opinions

The water wars continue. Not surprisingly on Friday President Joe Biden’s administration took action to essentially place on hold an action taken by former President Donald Trump in early 2020 designed to ensure more water would be delivered to the Central Valley. The issue involved is biological opinions issued in 2019 by the Trump administration to be used when it comes to how water is managed. But a letter issued by the Bureau of Reclamation stated new biological opinions were anticipated. So not surprisingly California Republicans in Congress criticized Biden’s action.

Aquafornia news Good Times Santa Cruz

New bill will help fund Pajaro River levee project

A new bill authored by state Sen. John Laird and Assemblymember Robert Rivas will fund all of the state’s share of the design and construction phase of the Pajaro River Flood Risk Management Project, which will help move forward the long-awaited work. SB 496 directs the Department of Water Resources to pay 100% of the State’s cost-share for reconstruction—a total of $140 million—of the Pajaro River Flood Risk Management Project. Gov. Newsom signed the bill on Sept. 24. 

Aquafornia news The National Law Review

New California public health goals to regulate PFAS in water

On September 28, 2021, the state of California (through the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment) held a virtual workshop for proposed Public Health Goals (PHGs) for two types of PFAS – PFOA and PFOS. The release of proposed PHGs is extremely significant for any company situated in California, as PHGs are used to create enforceable drinking water standards and limits for groundwater contamination.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Congress passes funding bill, aid for California wildfires, drought

Congress passed a government funding bill in a down-to-the-wire vote on Thursday in the face of a looming shutdown. The continuing resolution bill, a short-term spending resolution that will keep the government funded through early December, delegates $28.6 billion to disaster relief efforts, including for wildfire prevention and response and the consequences of drought. Here’s some of what the bill addresses on wildfires and drought.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Advancing ridgetop to river mouth water management in the state budget

The first year of the 2021-22 legislative session recently concluded and the Legislature and the Governor took significant action on various elements to support and provide robust funding for Ridgetop to river mouth water management, including the immense benefits of Healthy Forests, Reactivating Floodplains, Sustainable Groundwater Management, Vital Rivers and Streams, and Healthy Soils and Farms, and Safe Drinking Water.

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Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

State amps up funding commitment to rebuild Pajaro River levees

The State Department of Water Resources will bolster funding the long-anticipated Pajaro River levee system rebuild after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 496 on Friday — a move critical in protecting residents from frequent floods, officials say. The levees — built in 1949 — haven’t stacked up to heavy rainfall events. For Pajaro Valley residents and farmers it’s been a decades-long saga of evacuations, property damage, and safety risks. In 1995 the river flooded, killing two people, and leaving more than $95 million in damages in its wake. 

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Bill to restore compensation for Delta Independent Science Board languishes on Governor Newsom’s desk

Two decades ago, California agencies joined federal agencies in signing the CALFED Record of Decision, which committed to a world class Delta science program. A key part of that commitment was to establish an Independent Science Board to provide oversight and peer review of the overall program. In 2009, the legislature established the Delta Independent Science Board as a replacement for the CALFED Independent Science Board. … The Governor has yet to take action on the bill …

Aquafornia news MSN

Pelosi says infrastructure bill will pass this week — but hedges on timing

The House last month voted for a Sept. 27 deadline to bring the bipartisan infrastructure plan to the floor. On Sunday, Pelosi didn’t specify when this week it would be voted on. … Along with the infrastructure bill, Democratic leadership is also hoping to push through the $3.5 trillion social spending package this week, in part to retain the support of progressives who might otherwise not vote for the infrastructure bill.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State looks to consolidate small drinking water systems in Fresno

State drinking water officials have quietly targeted a dozen small, disadvantaged water systems in Fresno for possible state aid. But it could still take up to three years to get through the paperwork and start putting pipes in the ground. … The State Water Resources Control Board commissioned a feasibility study through Fresno State University’s California Water Institute to get a first glimpse of what it would take to have the small systems folded into the City of Fresno’s much larger drinking water system.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

U.S. lawmakers work to solve problem of disappearing Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake hit a record low this year, but it’s not the only salty lake that’s drying up. Utah Rep. Blake Moore, a Republican, teamed up with California’s Rep. Jared Huffman to introduce the “Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act” last week. The bipartisan legislation … would authorize $25 million over five years for the program, during a critical period where climate change is accelerating their decline….Moore’s bill would also attempt to rescue saline waters such as Oregon’s Lake Albert, Nevada’s Lahontan Wetlands and California’s Salton Sea and Mono Lake.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Solutions to fire and drought in Central Valley

The Central Valley is a special place to live. Friday night football games. Hiking in world-famous parks. The best food anywhere in the world, grown just next door. But right now, so much of what makes our Valley great is in jeopardy, and all you have to do is walk outside and take a breath to feel it. These massive wildfires and the smoke they create mixed with the terrible drought we’re in right now means everything from football to hiking to planting a year’s worth of crops is teetering on the edge of impossible.
-Written by Congressman Josh Harder.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California moves on climate change, but rejects aggressive cuts to greenhouse emissions

As California trudges into another autumn marred by toxic wildfire smoke and drought-parched reservoirs, state lawmakers have cast climate change as a growing public health threat for the state’s 40 million residents. But they were willing to push the argument only so far. … Lawmakers failed to pass legislation to more quickly and aggressively reduce the state’s share of the greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet.

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: 120-day statute of limitations for new or increased California water and sewer rates

A challenge to new or increased California water or sewer rates must be brought within 120 days pursuant to Senate Bill 323, which was signed into law this week. SB 323 applies to rates for both retail and wholesale water and sewer fees adopted or increased after January 1, 2022. How will this impact local agencies across the state?

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Federal agencies head back to the drawing board on Clean Water Act jurisdictional rules…again

Wetlands management and related federal permitting is changing –AGAIN. If you or your organization seek wetlands or related permitting, then the latest changes in for “navigable waters” impact both regulators and the regulated community – and may change your approach. Projects that impact “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA) from the Army Corps, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and states administering CWA permitting programs should look closely at these changes.

Aquafornia news KBAK - Bakersfield

State allocates $50M to fund water conservation projects in agricultural centered areas

Today local lawmakers toured the Kern Water Bank to see drought impact firsthand. $50 million from the state budget is going to fund Assembly Bill 252, which calls for land repurposing all to focus on the drought and getting water flow back to where it matters. … Farmers are faced with the harsh reality of choosing to grow a crop on land that may not have enough water to maintain it or keeping up fallow land that will sit empty for the crop season.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

D.C. could send California billions for fire recovery – but there’s a catch

Billions of dollars that could cover the loss of burned vines and smoke-tainted wine grapes. Hundreds of millions to help with drought, and hundreds of millions more for hazardous fuels management. The House on Tuesday passed a nearly $30 billion disaster relief package that could be a godsend to Northern California’s wildfire-ravaged and drought-stricken communities. But in classic Washington fashion, there’s a catch — the money is tied up in a partisan game of chicken.

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Aquafornia news The Pew Charitable Trusts

Blog: Measures in infrastructure bill would help fish and wildlife

From California to West Virginia, efforts are underway to conserve and restore fish and wildlife migration corridors and habitat. … Constructed in 1947, the Matilija Dam on the Ventura River no longer serves its original purpose: water storage and flood control. The reservoir is almost filled with sediment, blocks fish migration, and contributes to beach erosion. Since 1999, the Ventura County Public Works Agency has engaged in a multi-stakeholder effort to remove the dam from Matilija Creek.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Why California’s congressional delegation must lead on infrastructure bill

With the House of Representatives back in session, we are pleased that one of the first items on its agenda will be consideration of the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate last month. We hope our congressional representatives used their summer break to experience firsthand the desperate situation all Californians face. Wildfires threaten communities, homes and lives; devastating drought is hurting businesses, the environment and the farms Californians count on to grow healthy food. -Written by Dan Errotabere, a farmer in the San Joaquin Valley town of Riverdale, and John Monroe, who farms near the town of Arbuckle in the Sacramento Valley.

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Aquafornia news CNN Politics

High temperatures, wildfire smoke and drought: The politics of climate change in one California congressional district

The changing climate is everywhere Gustavo Carranza looks when he walks through his undulating citrus farm here in this tiny town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The summer temperatures are consistently higher than they used to be. The smoke from nearby wildfires fills the sky, obscuring the sun and speckling his mandarin trees with delicate ash. And, most concerning, the water he needs to run his 150-acre farm has become so scarce … 

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Fresno votes to fight share of Friant-Kern Canal repairs, possibly jeopardize water supply

Following months of hydrologic saber-rattling, Fresno lawmakers voted 4-2 to sue Friant Water Authority over a request for payment to fund repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal in the south Valley. The legal brinkmanship, which centers on a relatively small sum – roughly $2.5 million, could have far-reaching consequences by putting the water supply of California’s fifth-largest city in jeopardy. During Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting, Fresno City Attorney Doug Sloan announced the body voted to approve litigation seeking declaratory relief from the cost-sharing measure proposal to fund subsidence repairs.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Revised repurposing farmland bill on Governor’s desk

After much wrangling over how lost farmland could be used for other purposes — and what purposes they could be — growers who lose farmland should now have a chance to receive the help they need to use their land for other plans. The end result is a bill that has passed the state legislature that keeps much of the provisions of the original bill and also contains $50 million to help farmers use lost farmland for other purposes.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Dems seek ‘historic’ changes to U.S. flood program

Congressional Democrats are moving toward enacting two measures that could vastly expand access to flood insurance and give communities a more accurate picture of their flood risk through better maps. Two provisions in a budget reconciliation bill the House Financial Services Committee approved Tuesday address long-standing shortcomings in flood protection as climate change and coastal development intensify damage from flooding. 

Aquafornia news City News Service

LA County supervisors OK stormwater-capture projects for Measure W funding

Four LA Sanitation and Environment stormwater capture projects were approved for funding on Wednesday, Sept. 15, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.  The board approved the projects for a total of $50.7 million in funding through the Los Angeles County Safe Clean Water 2021-22 Regional Program, which is financed by revenues from Measure W, the parcel tax measure approved by voters in 2018 for projects increasing the water supply, improve water quality, protect public health and provide community enhancements. 

Aquafornia news Village News

Opinion: California lawmakers waste water

Here we go again. We are being told California water supplies are at risk and we need to start using less water under threat of more mandatory water use restrictions. In 2019, we had one of the wettest years on record. At the end of the 2019 water year, major water storage reservoirs in California were at 125% of average capacity. That was just two years ago. In 2019, California had enough rainfall and snow pack to satisfy several years of water supply demands if we had dams and reservoirs of sufficient capacity to capture this life-giving resource.
-Written by Steven Smith, Village News contributor.

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Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Assembly ends SB 559 hopes this year

The Valley’s best hope to renovate its water infrastructure has been put on the shelf for now. Senate Bill (SB) 559, the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021, was moved to the state Assembly’s “inactive file” on Sept. 8. … As written SB 559 offered a holisitic, statewide approach to help restore the conveyance capacity by created a fund to provide up to $785 million to repair key parts of the state’s water infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news Roll Call

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: In response to Western drought, a flood of legislation

Las Vegas visitors can still snap selfies with the mermaids swimming among tropical fish in the Silverton Casino’s massive aquarium and gaze at the colorful dancing water displays of the iconic Bellagio fountains — for now. But southern Nevada and much of the American West are struggling to cope with a worsening drought that has strained municipal water supplies, agricultural operations and wildlife populations.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

California oil industry continues to thwart climate-related bills

This year, natural disasters across the country — including epochal drought conditions and devastating wildfires in California — have thrown into sharp relief the urgent need for action on climate. Despite the urgency of the issue, proposed legislation in the state to address climate change has either been thwarted or diluted by the powerful fossil-fuel industry’s allies and lobbyists. Overall, ten proposed bills that included environmental justice measures, industry accountability and emissions reduction programs never made it to a final chamber in the state Senate or Assembly in the face of opposition from the oil and gas industry.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Farmland repurposing program awaits Gov. Newsom’s OK

A bill that would have created a program to help farmers find new life for farmland idled by coming groundwater restrictions had its own phoenix moment last week in the Legislature when it was simultaneously killed and reborn — this time with money. AB 252, authored by Assemblymembers Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), died in the state Senate last week but much of its content was reborn in a budget bill with $50 million attached.

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

One Planet: CA Democrats fail to pass climate legislation as wells dry up

About 2,700 wells across the state are projected to go dry this year. If the drought continues, 1,000 more will go dry next year. In 2014, the California Legislature enacted a package of new laws that aimed to stop groundwater over-pumping, but as CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports seven years later, little has changed for Californians relying on drinking water wells. Depletion of their groundwater continues. Pumping is largely unrestricted, and there are few, if any, protections in place.

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Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: California budget — funding for fish, water, & people

The California Legislature released the final budget language late on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. CalTrout remains critical of the unnecessary delay in releasing critical budget items like emergency drought funding, wildfire relief, and climate resilience packages. As water curtailment orders go live throughout the state, the legislature is still waiting to officially approve these critical funding packages to combat the effects of climate during this year’s especially dry drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news KUER - Salt Lake City

Federal agencies are ready to loosen protections on certain fish native to the Colorado River

The razorback sucker fish could be downlisted from an endangered species to threatened in the next year or so, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This week, environmental groups sent the agency a letter in opposition to the move. The letter argues the razorback sucker is still in trouble, despite recoveries it’s made in the last 30 years, which is when it was first listed as federally endangered. The fish is native to the Colorado River, which is facing historic shortages due to the west’s megadrought.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Infrastructure bill includes billions for Western water projects

A $1 trillion infrastructure bill that received bipartisan support in the Senate last month includes billions of dollars for Western water projects and programs. The Biden administration has called the infrastructure bill, which includes $8.3 billion for Western water infrastructure, “the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history.” Of the $8.3 billion dedicated to Western water, $450 million is set aside for a competitive grant program to fund large-scale projects that advance water recycling….That program could help pay for a massive recycling project in California that would leave Nevada with access to more water in Lake Mead.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

California approves new spending on drought, wildfire prevention

California lawmakers on Thursday voted to spend more than $2 billion to prevent wildfires and address a severe drought, closing the book — for now — on a $262.5 billion operating budget that began the year with a record deficit because of the pandemic and ended with a record surplus in spite of it. Wildfire spending in California has more than tripled since 2005, surpassing $3 billion last year. But most of that money is spent on putting out fires, not preventing them.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Weekly

Blog: Truckee River dams, reservoirs created to capture Tahoe’s water

President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to see quick action on the new federal irrigation bill. Prior to 1902, private landowners perfected water rights to the Truckee and Carson rivers in accordance with Nevada law (“perfected” meaning that permitted water satisfied the Beneficial Use requirement as described in Part IV of the series). … The Bureau of Reclamation’s strong hand and bold plans concerning the appropriation of Lake Tahoe water and other California hydrological resources for aggressive agricultural expansion in Nevada (the driest state in the nation) enraged California’s residents and politicians.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers shelve plan to fix state’s water supply canals

The major arteries of California’s water-delivery system are crumbling, but a proposal in the state Legislature to spend $785 million fixing them is dead for the year. The legislation, SB 559 was pulled off the table this week by its chief author, state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), after an Assembly committee stripped the funding and made other changes to the legislation. Hurtado’s decision turns SB 559 into a two-year bill that could be revived next year.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California bill to reduce toxic PFAS exposures passed by legislature

The California Legislature took an important step to protect Californians from toxic, “forever” PFAS chemicals by passing Assembly Bill 1200 (Ting) today. Having previously passed on the Senate floor 36-0, the bill now goes to the Governor. AB 1200 would help make our food and our environment safer by banning the use of toxic, “forever” PFAS chemicals in paper-based food packaging.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Whitewater rafting and California water policy

Ironic how a whitewater rafting trip can be a great analogy for water policy work. Collaborating on water policy and water solution implementations in California is a productive pathway forward. Be it in a coalition, at your local farm, in your community, in the Legislature, in the Governor’s office, or when barreling towards rapids in a raft. Without collaboration, particularly in a dry year like 2021, we all may fail for fish, farmers, fowl, floodplains, and for safe drinking water.    

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Notice of funding opportunity for Central Valley Project Improvement Act fisheries habitat and facilities improvement now available

The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity for projects that enhance Chinook salmon and steelhead trout production and associated habitats in the Central Valley, consistent with the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Reclamation and the Service plan to award up to $40 million (subject to appropriations) in fiscal year 2022 through multiple grants or cooperative agreements to projects prioritized by the CVPIA Near-Term Restoration Strategy.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Initiative would allocate two percent of state budget to water

There have been all kinds of efforts and money allocated to trying to solve California’s water woes. Now an organization states it has the solution — the 2 percent solution. In what it’s calling the 2 percent solution More Water Now is working to place an initiative on the November 2022 ballot that would require 2 percent of the state budget to be allocated to the state’s water resources. If placed on the ballot and approved the water abundance ballot initiative would set aside 2 percent of the state budget to water.

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Aquafornia news Nossaman LLP

Blog: Navigable waters protection rule vacated

On August 30, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona vacated the April 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule in which the Trump Administration revised the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The court is still weighing whether (a) to restore the Obama-era WOTUS rule, which more broadly defines jurisdictional areas; or (b) simply to undo the Trump rollback, which would result in a return to pre-Obama WOTUS regulations. 

Aquafornia news Tahoe Weekly

Reclamation Act transforms water rights for Lake Tahoe, Truckee River

In January 1900, Nevada Congressman Francis Newlands sponsored a measure for the federal government to provide water for irrigation in arid regions throughout the western United States. The bill ran into resistance from politicians concerned about giving up state control of water to the federal government, but ultimately the most contentious issues were resolved and the law passed. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

‘Wonderful’: Tooleville relieved in state’s force for water consolidation

Last week, the State Water Board finally intervened in the unincorporated area of Tooleville’s 20-year struggle to obtain the basic human right to clean drinking water with a letter to the city of Exeter and the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association, giving the two parties six months to hash out terms for a voluntary consolidation of Tooleville to Exeter’s water system or face a mandatory order with much less cooperation.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Will Newsom honor pledge for $220M to help Salton Sea? Doubts arise

Concerned that tens of millions of dollars promised to help address woes at the Salton Sea could vanish from this year’s state budget, a chorus of Riverside and Imperial County officials this week wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot politely demanding that the funding stay on track. … Residents in rural communities ringing the rapidly shrinking water body suffer disproportionately high asthma rates and other risks from dust released into the air as the shoreline grows. 

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 San Francisco Chronicle

Exasperated by drought, farmers could be critical in Newsom recall fight

Like many farmers across California, Zack Andrade’s business is being choked by an extraordinary two-year drought. Water cuts could soon erase about a quarter of the irrigation he depends on to grow leafy greens, carrots and beets on his family’s farm in the rolling hills south of Silicon Valley, near Morgan Hill. Andrade said the crisis has been made worse by successive governors, including Gavin Newsom, who he says have punted on damming rivers and building new reservoirs to help California store more water during wet years.

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Aquafornia news AgNet West

Hopes that dry year will prompt action on water management and storage

There is hope that the unfortunate conditions of California’s water supply this year will prompt decisive action on water management and storage. President and CEO of Western Growers, Dave Puglia noted that his conversations with growers have been disheartening. There is significant concern that if California gets another dry year, many farmers will not be able to recover. The dire circumstances of the current water year underscore the imperative need for an updated approach to water management.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Priced out and shut off: Tackling water affordability

Right now, Congress is debating needed investments in our water system decades in the making. While the Senate’s compromise bill passed earlier this month includes billions for lead pipe replacement and helping communities prepare for future drought and floods, the bill falls short of ensuring all families can turn their tap on and access safe, affordable water. … Some utilities are stepping up to help (both San Francisco Public Utilities and East Bay Municipal Utilities District have customer assistance programs) …
-Written by Michael McAfee, president and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute focused on advancing racial and economic equity, and Susana De Anda, co-founder and executive director of the Community Water Center, a nonprofit environmental justice organization based in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

California moves slowly on water projects amid drought

In 2014, in the middle of a severe drought that would test California’s complex water storage system like never before, voters told the state to borrow $7.5 billion and use part of it to build projects to stockpile more water. Seven years later, that drought has come and gone, replaced by an even hotter and drier one that is draining the state’s reservoirs at an alarming rate. But none of the more than half-dozen water storage projects scheduled to receive that money have been built.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Federal judge in Arizona throws out Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which affects wetlands

A federal judge Monday threw out a major Trump administration rule that scaled back federal protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the United States, reversing one of the previous administration’s most significant environmental rollbacks. U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez wrote that Trump officials committed serious errors while writing the regulation, finalized last year, and that leaving it in place could lead to “serious environmental harm.”

Aquafornia news The Fort Morgan Times

Water anti-speculation report from working group comes up short, critics say

Expect legislation next winter in the Colorado General Assembly that would seek to curb potential speculation in Colorado water. But whether water speculation actually poses a problem remains hotly debated. A report released Aug. 13 by a state work group charged with studying how to strengthen Colorado anti-water-speculation law identifies eight concepts to thwart possible water hoarding that should be studied further. One would eliminate or reduce the agricultural tax benefit for lands from which water is removed following a water rights purchase and transfer. 

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Coalition calls for California to require only near-lead-free faucets for sale 

Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, partnered with a coalition of community health experts Thursday, Aug. 26 to garner support for a proposed law that would cut the legal limit of lead leaching from plumbing fixtures for sale by more than half. Lead is a highly toxic metal especially dangerous to kids and youth whose body and brains are still growing. Even low levels can stunt children’s physical, intellectual and behavioral development, according to Alice Kuo, a professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at UCLA. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

A water pipeline to the Mississippi River? Democrat stirs up recall debate with unusual ideas

There was an unusual twist at Wednesday’s gubernatorial recall debate in Sacramento: A Democrat participated for the first time. And that Democrat, 29-year-old millionaire Ventura County real estate investor Kevin Paffrath, jump-started the hour-long debate with some unusual ideas. Paffrath, who has never held elective office, proposed to solve California’s water shortages by building a pipeline to the Mississippi River…. As California falls deeper into an extraordinary drought, all three GOP candidates threw shade on Newsom approach of encouraging conservation. It was one of their most detailed debate exchanges about water policy to date, yet yielded few ideas for immediate action.

Aquafornia news Politico

‘This is a lose-lose’: Drought, wildfires complicate Biden’s California water plans

As climate-driven drought and wildfires rage in California, the Biden administration is struggling to navigate the hard politics that come with deciding who gets access to the state’s precious — and dwindling — water supplies. … Now the Biden administration is delaying action on the fundamental question at the heart of California’s long-running water wars: How much water should be reserved for species protections, at the expense of the state’s powerful agricultural industry?

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

Newsom recall could mean a seismic shift for conservation

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recall election in mid-September, should he lose, will very likely terminate the floundering politician’s career. A late-term gubernatorial replacement would also mean a potentially major shift in California environmental policies. … Budget spending … could be directed away from hundreds of conservation projects that are tentatively scheduled to begin, and directors of wildlife, water, and resource agencies who were appointed by Newsom would almost certainly be replaced.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Top 10 biggest environmental wins in California’s history

California is generally known as an environmental leader, but the state has also faced tremendous environmental degradation and destruction. I chronicled my “top 10” worst environmental decisions in the state’s history last year. But what about the good things state policy makers have done? Here is my list of the most significant environmental wins in California since the state’s founding. 

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Opinion: In Southern Nevada’s endless water crisis, we’re well past the time to be lawn gone

The front lawn came with the house we moved into a couple years ago. The patch of Bermudagrass was smaller than an average putting green and easy to mow. The splash of deep green was cute as far as that goes, but it was out of place on a street that had largely made the transition to colored rock and water-smart landscaping. Beyond the postcard aesthetics, it made zero sense to continue to water a lawn in the desert. Setting aside the politics of climate change and our arid land with its endless water crisis — a basic definition of “desert” — there were no children at home to play on it. 
-Written by John L. Smith, an author and Nevada Independent columnist. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Biden moves to blunt Trump water permitting rule

EPA laid out a path for states and tribes to take more time to negotiate and tackle challenges before signing off on water permits — an attempt to defang a controversial Trump-era rule that allows only a year to approve or deny permits for utilities and oil and gas pipelines. Sources say the move is an attempt by the Biden administration to mitigate the adverse effects of the Trump water rule finalized last year that’s still on the books while showing sensitivity to advocates fighting the proliferation of fossil fuel projects.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Fresno State reports resources available to Central Valley well owners affected by drought

Resources are available to help San Joaquin Valley residents affected by drought maintain access to drinking water. A group of organizations in the San Joaquin Valley coordinated by the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley Water Workgroup have developed an outreach plan and a list of resources available to private well owners or part of a small community who have lost or are concerned about losing access to drinking water due to groundwater level. 

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Aquafornia news Winters Express

Nature Nearby - What’s happening with this ‘extreme’ drought?

Summer is underway and that means splashing around Putah Creek, hiking, camping, and… heat domes? With this excessive heat, the thought on everyone’s minds is likely how does this severe drought affect water resources throughout California? The extreme temperatures coupled with the low snowpack in the Sierra have meant fast evaporation in many of the state’s reservoirs; not to mention a heat dome that has descended upon much of the United States bringing record breaking heat to even the most mild summer climates.

Aquafornia news The Press

Assemblymember Jim Frazier anchors effort to remove abandoned boats from the Delta

Efforts to rid the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of abandoned boats received a boost when Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-11, secured a $12 million allocation for that purpose in the state’s budget for fiscal year 2021 – 2022.  The allocation is specifically earmarked for the removal of abandoned and derelict commercial vessels that litter the Delta. These vessels have the potential to leak any number of dangerous pollutants into the Delta, which is also the heart of the water supply for two-thirds of all Californians. 

Aquafornia news KMPH

Senator Hurtado not satisfied with money allotted for canal restoration projects

California’s water infrastructure is decades old and drastically needs to be fixed. Valley Senator Melissa Hurtado just got water repair money from the Governor but it’s far less than what she wanted. Senator Hurtado got $100-million from Governor Newsom in her water bill. But it’s $685-million short of what she was seeking. The money will go to four water projects, the San Joaquin and San Luis Divisions of the California Aqueduct, Delta-Mendota Canal and the Friant-Kern Canal.

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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 Ag Alert

Water projects in West benefit from infrastructure bill

With vast swaths of the West experiencing exceptional or extreme drought conditions and more than 90 active wildfires, a national coalition led by the California Farm Bureau has helped secure Senate approval for major federal investments in critical water projects. California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson applauded the Senate’s passage of legislation to fund $550 million in infrastructure spending over the next five years. As drought conditions continue to worsen throughout the West, he said, “now is the time to invest and make timely improvements in our nation’s water management portfolio.”

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Rejuvenating our lands – Healthy soils in the Sacramento Valley

With an increasing focus on the multiple benefits of healthy soils, the Budget Act of 2021 recently appropriated $50 million in one-time funding from the General Fund to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for implementation of the Healthy Soils Program and $40 million for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) to reduce greenhouse gases and save water. The CDFA’s Healthy Soils Initiative promotes the development of innovative farm and land management practices that increase water retention and infiltration …

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Conservation groups press Congress to restore migratory bird protections

Conservation groups are pushing for passage of a bill in Congress that would revive migratory bird protections dropped during the Trump administration. Last year, Trump’s Fish and Wildlife Service lifted a rule, which said companies that kill birds in the course of business, called an incidental take, would have to change their practices and/or pay for habitat restoration somewhere else. Jason Rylander, senior endangered species counsel for Defenders of Wildlife, said the Migratory Bird Protection Act of 2021 would reinstate those requirements, and not a moment too soon.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: California water and wastewater arrearage payment program details: arrearage funding program survey is now open

The California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program (Program), passed as part of Assembly Bill 148, is being developed and implemented by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board). This Program will provide funding for “community water systems” that have experienced revenue shortfalls and arrearages on water and wastewater bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Program will prioritize issuing funding to community water systems first, and will extend funding to wastewater providers if the Program still has funding available after providing relief to community water systems.

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 Times of San Diego

California senators seek to expand federal authority over threatened Salton Sea

California Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill on Friday to expand federal authority over the ecologically threatened Salton Sea east of San Diego County. The Salton Sea Projects Improvements Act would significantly expand the ability of the Bureau of Reclamation to partner with state, local, and tribal governments to address the public health and environmental crisis at the Salton Sea. The bill also increases the amount the Bureau of Reclamation is authorized to spend towards these efforts from $10 million to $250 million. 

Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Historic infrastructure bill clears full Senate

In a strong bipartisan vote Tuesday of 69-30, the Senate advanced the bipartisan infrastructure bill and sent it back to the House. The INVEST in America Act spends roughly $1 trillion including $110 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion to expand broadband access, and $17 billion for ports and inland waterways. In the days leading up to the vote the American Farm Bureau Federation as well as members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group urged lawmakers to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would increase infrastructure spending by $550 billion over five years.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Glimmer of hope for Stanislaus-area water storage in federal infrastructure deal

Whenever politicians are asked about the California water wars that threaten our well-being in Modesto and Stanislaus County, eventually the talk gets around to something like, “Well, you know what we really need is more water storage.” As in dams, mostly, and also off-stream reservoirs holding water captured in wet years for use in dry ones.  They say something similar when reporters ask about drought, and sometimes about wildfires and climate change.  
-Written by Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee columnist.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Reversal of Trump-era action spells higher power, water costs

What seemed a victory for water users and power customers in California has been overturned. President Joe Biden rescinded an environmental opinion issued in the last days of the Trump Administration — an action that could have a slew of negative consequences for environmental groups and ag companies as a three-decade-old law threatens the financial viability of public utilities in Northern California. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State agencies announce first round of commitments for $200 million in drought funding to support small communities

Moving to provide immediate support to communities facing water supply challenges, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Wednesday announced the first round of funding commitments for $200 million available through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. DWR, in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, is directing $25 million to 10 small water systems in Tulare, Siskiyou, Shasta, Lake and Kern Counties.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Senate passes Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill

The Senate on Tuesday approved an expansive bill to rebuild the nation’s aging roads and bridges, with $8.3 billion specifically targeted to water infrastructure projects in the West and billions more to fund national projects to mitigate the impact of wildfires. … That includes $1 billion for water recycling systems and more than $1 billion for water storage and groundwater storage projects to take advantage of wet years.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Late nights, early mornings await Senate on infrastructure

Senators were laboring Sunday toward eventual passage of a  $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, resigned to stay as long as it takes to overcome Republican holdouts who want to drag out final votes on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities. The bill has won widespread support from senators across the aisle and promises to unleash billions of dollars to upgrade roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems undergirding the nation. 

Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: Biden Administration begins process of revising Waters of the U.S. rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced on Aug. 4, 2021, the start of a long anticipated rulemaking process to revise the regulatory definition of “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).1 The WOTUS Rule sets forth the geographic reach of the agencies’ authority to regulate streams, wetlands and other water bodies pursuant to the CWA.

Aquafornia news Senator Alex Padilla

News release: Padilla secures over $71 million for water resiliency, fire and other local california infrastructure projects in senate appropriations bills

Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced that he secured over $71 million in federal funding for 20 projects across California in the Senate’s Agriculture, Energy and Water, and Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee bills. The bills were approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee this week and now await passage by the full Senate. 

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Friant-Kern Canal repair process continues with repayment contract

Another hurdle has been cleared in the pending and much needed repairs of a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal. Known as the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Project, repairs will be done on the 33-mile stretch of the canal form between Lindsay and Strathmore to North Kern County. When the federal government provided $206 million in funding for the project last year that meant the project would finally become a reality. 

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Aquafornia news Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein

News release: California water, energy priorities well-represented in funding bill

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, applauded the inclusion of California water priorities in the Energy and Water funding bill for fiscal year 2022, which was advanced out of committee today.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Infrastructure bill recognizes climate change is a crisis

The bipartisan infrastructure deal struck this week provides new money for climate resilience unmatched in United States history: Tens of billions of dollars to protect against floods, reduce damage from wildfires, develop new sources of drinking water in areas plagued by drought, and even relocate entire communities away from vulnerable places. But the bill is remarkable for another reason. For the first time, both parties have acknowledged — by their actions, if not their words — that the United States is unprepared for the worsening effects of climate change and requires an enormous and urgent infusion of money and effort to get ready.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

LaMalfa, Gallagher, Nielsen criticize state leadership’s management of wildfires, water and other resources

Flanked by a hazy backdrop of Lake Oroville with the nearby Dixie Fire creating a smoke-filled sky, federal and state politicians representing the north state gathered above the Hyatt Power Plant at Oroville Dam for a press conference Tuesday to criticize, in their words, the state’s “gross mismanagement” of water, wildlands and power.

Aquafornia news International Business Times

Federal infrastructure bill can help California farmers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a drought emergency in most counties across the state while experts predict the current drought will end up being worse than the one we experienced between 2011-2017. That historic event was caused by nonstop hot and dry weather aggravated by climate change.  Increasing temperatures and fluctuating atmospheric patterns reduce rainfall and devastate farms across the Golden State especially because most farmers can’t rely on state or federal water projects to help supplement the lack of rainfall.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Opinion: Proposed housing bills could cause radical changes in California

But come back in 40 or 50 years, and most California cities would look very different if [new housing] bills passed. Cities would be bigger, housing would be cheaper (after inflation is factored in), and living conditions would be more crowded than ever before. Neighborhoods filled with single-family homes on distinct lots would be far rarer than today. That is, if enough water and energy can be found to make these changes possible, two problems that grow larger and less predictable the longer the current drought continues and the more often dry spells recur in an era of expanded climate change.
Written by Thomas Elias, a syndicated columnist.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Biden rallies public-private sector to thwart infrastructure hacks

Confronting the rise of attacks on major American infrastructure and industry, the White House released an executive order Wednesday in which President Joe Biden will ask companies to layer on more cybersecurity protections. The order follows up on a series of cybersecurity directives prompted this year when the nation suffered a series of fuel shortages after Russian-tied cybercriminals launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

$65M in fed bill for more water storage

Not a drop of new “moon shoot” water storage has been created in California for more than 40 years. It’s a point that isn’t lost on Congressman Josh Harder. Nor is the fact water issues facing the heart of the Northern San Joaquin Valley are interconnected with communities often hundreds of miles away from the 10th District that he represents in Congress. It is why the Turlock Democrat has pursued do-able water projects — including those outside of his district that would reduce efforts to try and commandeer water from the Stanislaus and Tuolumne watersheds to address fish flow, urban, and irrigation needs elsewhere — since taking office in 2019.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Infrastructure talks leave Biden’s entire agenda at risk

President Joe Biden’s latest leap into the Senate’s up-and-down efforts to clinch a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure deal comes with even more at stake than his coveted plans for boosting road, rail and other public works projects. The outcome of the infrastructure deal, which for weeks has encountered one snag after another, will affect what could be the crown jewel of his legacy. That would be his hopes for a subsequent $3.5 trillion federal infusion for families’ education and health care costs, a Medicare expansion and efforts to curb climate change.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Newly introduced bill aims to increase access to clean water in tribal lands

A bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to provide billions of dollars to improve access to clean water in tribal lands. One of the senators who introduced the bill, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., wrote in the foreword of a report about tribal water access within the Colorado River Basin that one estimate states 48% of households within tribal lands lack clean water or sufficient sanitation.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Infrastructure talks hit snags as Senate pressure rises

Senators ran into new problems Monday as they raced to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal, with pressure mounting on all sides to show progress on President Joe Biden’s top priority. Heading into a make-or-break week, serious roadblocks remain. Disputes have surfaced over how much money should go to public transit and water projects. 

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Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

House passes PFAS Action Act, but there’s one problem

Last week, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national drinking water standards for regulating harmful forever chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), that are linked to kidney, liver and other health problems. … The bill now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate. There’s just one problem, however, as the collective water sector opposes the bill.

Aquafornia news Patch

Livermore would get $20M under infrastructure bill

The House of Representatives approved a $715 billion infrastructure plan, and if the Senate passes it, it will mean $20 million for the Valley Link project to connect Bay Area Rapid Transit to the Altamont Corridor Express commuter train. … California would be a big winner under the proposed law. The bill includes more than $900 million for projects throughout the Golden State. They include bridges, bike lanes and express lanes … wastewater and drinking water projects and other infrastructure to prepare for rising sea levels.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California senators press Congress for $1 billion to prep for future drought

With rural wells running dry and reservoir levels dwindling amid the Western drought, California senators are pressing Congress for an infusion of cash to renovate the state’s collapsing drinking water system. But instead of new dams or desalination plants, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla want … to boost stormwater capture, groundwater recharge and water recycling efforts in the Golden State and throughout the U.S.

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Aquafornia news Chemical and Engineering News

California drafts safe limits for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

In a draft report, California says only extremely low levels of two toxic “forever chemicals” are safe for humans to drink in water. A July 22 draft report from the California Environmental Protection Agency would set a science-based safe level­—called a public health goal—of 0.007 part per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 1 ppt for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water. The two compounds are the two most common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—a group of environmentally persistent synthetic molecules—found as contaminants in drinking water.

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Aquafornia news Ripon Advance

Valadao water amendments to appropriations bill nixed by Democrats

U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) last week introduced three amendments to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations fiscal year 2022 bill that aimed to alleviate California’s ongoing drought, but House Appropriations Committee Democrats voted down all three of them during a July 16 markup. The congressman’s first amendment would have extended California water storage provisions of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act for one year …

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Forever chemicals – California unveils health goals for contaminated drinking water

California took a major step towards regulating dangerous “forever chemicals” in drinking water by proposing new health limits for two of the most pervasive contaminants. State environmental health officials recommended goals of one part per trillion and less — a minuscule amount 70 times smaller than the federal government’s non-binding guideline for drinking water nationwide.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: House votes to order EPA to limit chemicals in water

The House on Wednesday approved a bill setting deadlines for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement drinking water regulations for so-called forever chemicals. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly called PFAS, are widely used, man-made compounds that are found in manufacturing and consumer products like Scotchguard, flame-resistant materials, nonstick cooking surfaces and firefighting foam used on military bases since the 1940s.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Fix aging water infrastructure, Senate told

California Farm Bureau, as part of a national coalition representing thousands of western farmers, ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities, urged leaders of the U.S. Senate to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure. Citing an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought, the coalition sent a letter last week to Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Ranking Member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It called for increased federal investment in water infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Independent Science Board: Bill to fix compensation passes Assembly

Senate Bill 821, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Delta Independent Science Board, was introduced by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in March to restore compensation for the Delta Independent Science Board members. The bill has been winding its way through the legislature. SB 821 was passed out of the Assembly on Thursday, July 15 with 70 ayes, 0 noes, and 9 not voting.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Lawmakers, Biden officials vow action on PFAS

Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly mobilizing behind efforts to crack down on so-called forever chemicals as pressure to find a solution swells to a fever pitch. At an inaugural conference pegged to issues around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed to “follow the science” on the chemicals and offer a strong federal partner to local governments. 

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

In first Valley visit, U.S. senator gets pushed on farm water

Alex Padilla made his first official visit to the Central Valley as U.S. Senator, holding several discussions about water. Padilla, along with other elected officials, held a media availability at his only public event of the day — a tour of the Dos Palos water treatment plant. There, he spoke about the need to upgrade infrastructure for drinking water, as well as water for farmers. Padilla says the infrastructure bill being debated in the Senate will help with water, especially in underserved areas.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Water and transit infrastructure key topics in Kate Gallego meeting with President Joe Biden

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said water infrastructure and transit investments in Arizona were two key items discussed during a meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday. Gallego was part of a bipartisan group of three governors and four other mayors who met with Biden at the White House to build support for a proposed $1.2 trillion infrastructure package under consideration in the U.S. Senate…. The group also talked about… the state’s long-term drought and its effects on the Colorado River…  

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California oil lobby seeks to strip environmental protections for groundwater amid drought

A prominent oil and gas lobbying group seeks to strip environmental protections from groundwater sources designated by the state for agricultural use and which may grow increasingly important to California’s water-scarce future, according to a memo obtained through a records request. The proposal, which hasn’t been publicly announced, suggests removing protections for groundwater reserves underneath 1,500 square surface miles in western Kern County, where  the upper groundwater zone alone can extend down thousands of feet.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Bill aims to spend billions to fix nation’s aging dams

Lawmakers in Congress on Friday introduced a bill that would pump tens of billions of dollars into fixing and upgrading the country’s dams. The Twenty-First Century Dams Act, introduced by Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire, proposes to spend nearly $26 billion to make the repairs that would enhance safety and increase the power generation capacity of the country’s 90,000 dams. It also calls for removing any dams that have outlived their usefulness.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Surplus money delays CA budget deal between Newsom, lawmakers

California’s fiscal year started more than a week ago, but lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom still don’t have a budget deal. They’ve enacted placeholder legislation to keep the government running while they hash out the final details, but the delay leaves Californians waiting for details on how money for critical areas including wildfires and infrastructure will be spent. It’s a different situation than the budget stalemates of past decades, when state government had to cut deals with banks to ensure state workers were paid even as budget negotiations dragged into the fall.

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Aquafornia news KESQ

Changes happening at the Salton Sea on a state & federal level

The Salton Sea has been a health problem for decades with longtime inaction from agencies charged with actually doing something about it. But there is recent movement on a couple wetland projects around the lake.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water Act would keep water clean and affordable

California has a long history of treating public water as a commodity instead of a human right and entrusting it to industries that fail to manage it responsibly. Water is a public trust resource that needs protection. The federal Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act would put water systems back in the hands of the people who depend on it for life and livelihood. This bill [S. 11] would set aside $35 billion annually to shore up drinking and wastewater systems. It would ensure no one lacks access to water because they can’t afford it. 
-Written by Alexandra Nagy, California director for Food & Water Watch.

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Aquafornia news WIRED

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: A massive water recycling proposal could help ease drought

Lake Mead, which provides water for 25 million people in the American West, has shrunk to 36 percent of its capacity. One rural California community has run out of water entirely after its well broke in early June. Fields are sitting fallow, as farmers sell their water allotments instead of growing crops, putting the nation’s food supply in peril. As the West withers under extreme drought, legislators in the US House of Representatives have introduced HR 4099, a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to create a program to fund $750 million worth of water recycling projects in the 17 western states through the year 2027.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Running out of water: how climate change fuels a crisis in the US west

Except for a brief stint in the military, Paul Crawford has spent his entire life farming in southern Oregon. First, as a boy, chasing his dad through hayfields and now, growing alfalfa on his own farm with his wife and two kids, who want to grow up to be farmers. … The American west is drying out as the region faces an unprecedented drought. Few places are as devastated as the Klamath Basin, where Crawford’s farm sits. Straddling the border between California and Oregon, the watershed spans 12,000sq miles – from agricultural lands fed by Upper Klamath Lake to tribal communities surrounding the Klamath River.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Two federal decrees affect California water wars

The powerful interests who vie for shares of the state’s ever-changing water supply — dubbed “water buffaloes” — are adept at fending off political and legal assaults by their rivals and the outcomes of their clashes are often stalemates. That’s why it was surprising in June to see two game-changing decrees out of Washington, one from the new Biden administration and another from the Supreme Court, affecting two of the state’s most prominent water interests, Southern California’s Imperial Irrigation District and the San Joaquin Valley’s Westlands Water District.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: SB 222 would establish CA Water Affordability Assistance Fund

California is answering the call to keep the tap open to millions of people who have fallen behind on their water bill payments through a recent $1 billion investment from Gov. Gavin Newsom. The timely assistance comes amid serious economic fallout from the pandemic that caused record unemployment and left 1.6 million households drowning in water debt. At the same time, some small water systems are struggling to keep the water flowing due to lost income from unpaid bills. The governor’s plan addresses both problems, for now. But what happens next year?
-Written by Sen. Bill Dodd (Napa) and Sen. Lena Gonzalez (Long Beach).

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Biden to talk heat wave, drought with western state leaders

With a record-shattering heat wave suffocating much of the Pacific Northwest and a drought-fueled wildfire season already well underway in New Mexico, Arizona and California, President Biden will attend a virtual meeting with leaders of Western states on Wednesday to discuss strategies to minimize weather-related disasters this summer. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the president planned to bring together members of his cabinet and the Western governors to assess “the devastating intersection of drought, heat, and wildfires,” as well as “prevention, preparedness, and response efforts for this wildfire season.”

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Infrastructure bill could help California drought, water storage

As California and the West suffer through an epic drought, President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans and Democrats have included $5 billion for Western water projects in their infrastructure deal. The prospect of federal money comes as several big-ticket water projects are on the drawing boards in California — although many are still years from completion and probably wouldn’t get finished in time to help California with the current drought. But the federal dollars, which are probably months and several more negotiations away from possible approval, could enable California to jump-start projects that have been in the works for years.

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Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Controlling lead in public drinking water supplies

Communities may face a range of issues associated with aging water infrastructure, including elevated lead levels in tap water. Because of lead’s toxicity, even at low levels, reducing lead exposures from drinking water and other sources remains a public health priority. Other sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint and contaminated soil and dust from deteriorated lead-based paint. Nationally, the phaseouts of leaded gasoline and lead-based paint, along with regulatory controls and technical changes, have reduced lead exposures. 

Aquafornia news Transportation Today

Reps. DeFazio, Pallone announce details of $715B surface transportation and water infrastructure bill

U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) announced Thursday new details of the $715 billion INVEST in America Act, which is scheduled to be sent to the House floor this week. The bill, the congressmen said, will create jobs, rebuild and reimagine the country’s roads, bridges, transit, rail, and wastewater infrastructure, as well as the drinking water infrastructure.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California budget – Newsom, Legislature have a deal

California lawmakers voted [Monday night] to approve a record-busting state budget that reflects new agreements with Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand health care for undocumented immigrants, spend billions to alleviate homelessness and help Californians still struggling through the pandemic… The budget includes $1 billion over several years for wildfire prevention, $3 billion to alleviate drought and $3.7 billion over three years to mitigate dangers posed by climate change — but Newsom and legislative leaders are still figuring out how to spend the funds.  

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Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Opinion: California budget surplus a rare opportunity to create climate strategy

There is no drought – the Los Angeles Times wrote in a recent editorial. The Times argued “if ‘drought’ means a period of dry years followed by a return to the norm, California is not in drought. The current climate is the norm.” That analysis has important implications for Stockton and other communities along the San Joaquin River and in the Delta. As our precipitation increasingly swings between drought and flood, each extreme challenges our communities.
-Written by Douglass Wilhoit, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and a former San Joaquin County supervisor; and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director and co-founder of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: ‘We have a deal’: Biden, lawmakers reach tentative bipartisan infrastructure agreement

President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators agreed on a nearly $1-trillion infrastructure plan Thursday, the culmination of months of negotiation over a proposal to fortify the nation’s roads, bridges and broadband internet access….The plan calls for $109 billion for road and bridge projects, $7.5 billion to build a new network of electric vehicle-charging stations, $55 billion to replace all lead pipes and upgrade water infrastructure….

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

How is California’s landmark groundwater law impacting Sonoma County?

The drought is intensifying efforts to conserve all of Sonoma County’s water resources, including a supply that has eluded oversight until recently: groundwater. But even as plans for groundwater monitoring and sustainable use proceed, tensions are building over its management. The authority to evaluate and regulate groundwater comes from a 2014 law crafted in the middle of the state’s last drought. 

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Aquafornia news Association Of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA-Sponsored SB 323 advances to Assembly floor

ACWA-sponsored SB 323 passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and is headed to the Assembly floor. SB 323, authored by Senator Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), would provide financial stability for public agencies by creating a 120-day statute of limitations for challenges to new water and sewer rates. This would provide public agency water and sewer service rates the same protections already afforded to fees and charges that fund other essential government services. 

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

New bill would make it easier to transfer water throughout California

Growers are dealing with severe cutbacks in the surface water deliveries they normally receive from reservoirs. The lack of steady irrigation has already impacted spring cropping decisions made by farmers. … A bill introduced by Republican Congressman David Valadao would allow more water to be moved south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while keeping protections in place for fish such as the delta smelt and salmon.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: CDFW awards $39 million for ecosystem and watershed restoration, protection and scientific study projects statewide

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 28 projects to receive funding for projects to restore and protect multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects under its Proposition 1 grant programs. The awards, totaling $39 million, were made under CDFW’s 2021 Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant & Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program Proposal Solicitation Notice.

Aquafornia news Sen. Bill Dodd

News Release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee on Wednesday. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Water quality legislation attracts bipartisan support

President Biden’s “Build Back Better” initiative proposes to invest $111 billion in rebuilding and modernizing drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as funding other water quality-related priorities, including addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water supplies.  Legislation proposed in both the Senate and House of Representatives in the 117th Congress (2021-2022) reflects a bipartisan effort to translate the President’s goals into national policy.

Aquafornia news U.S. EPA

News release: EPA announces $6 million for tribes to support wetlands and healthy watersheds

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced selections under two Clean Water Act (CWA) grant programs to support leadership of Tribes in protecting and restoring water resources. The agency anticipates awarding approximately $3 million to 18 Tribal nations and one Intertribal organization under the Tribal Wetland Program Development Grant competition and an additional $3 million in CWA Section 319 Tribal Competitive Grants to 32 Tribal nations to support projects to manage nonpoint source pollution.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

PFAS, emerging contaminants & how polluters are paying municipalities for water remediation costs

Toxic manmade chemicals, like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,2,3-Tricholoropropane (TCP), are showing up in water systems across the US. It’s not new, but it has become more common, as municipalities are now increasing mandatory testing due to new state and federal regulations. … TCP was tagged as a carcinogen in 1999 by the state of California which lead to the strictest state MCL level in the country at 5 ppt. One ppt is the equivalent of one drop of impurity in 21 million gallons of water – in other words, TCP is very toxic.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

House advances bill with increased funding for clean water

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week marked up and advanced H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021. … By 2035, the City of Los Angeles expects to recycle 100 percent of its water supplies and reduce its reliance on costly imported water from the Colorado River. Truckee Meadows Water Authority in Reno is planning 13-mile pipeline to provide 1.3 billion gallons of recycled water annually to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, home to Tesla, Switch and Google, and ensure 20,000 jobs remain in Nevada.  

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bills to fund canal repairs moving forward

Excessive groundwater pumping has collapsed the land beneath several key canals, crimping their ability to move water. Fixing them will be expensive. There are two bills moving through the state Legislature and Congress that could provide some funding. This is the second try for the state bill, Senate Bill 559 by Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger). … Representative Jim Costa (D-Hanford) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.) introduced S. 1179, the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act, on April 15.

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA and Army Corps to propose repealing and replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced their intent to revise the reach of the federal Clean Water Act by changing the definition of “waters of the United States.” This move, announced yesterday, would reverse the Navigable Waters Protection Rule adopted during the Trump administration, which itself replaced a 2015 revision by the Obama administration.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Biden moves to restore clean-water safeguards ended by Trump

The Biden administration began legal action Wednesday to repeal a Trump-era rule that ended federal protections for hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, leaving them more vulnerable to pollution from development, industry and farms. The rule — sometimes referred to as “waters of the United States” or WOTUS — narrowed the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act. It was one of hundreds of rollbacks of environmental and public health regulations under President Donald Trump, who said the rules imposed unnecessary burdens on business.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Farm groups seek $49 billion for Western water, forests

Even as a federal infrastructure bill teeters on the brink of failure, more than 200 Western farm and water organizations pushing for canal and reservoir repairs are proposing nearly $49 billion for projects improving water conveyance, dam safety and forest health. In a letter June 9 to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, organizations ranging from Western Growers to the Idaho Potato Commission cited an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought.

Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

With new law, Las Vegas water agency bets on ‘aggressive municipal water conservation measure’ to remove decorative turf, conserve Colorado River supply

With Lake Mead approaching critically-low levels, the Southern Nevada Water Authority recently turned to the Legislature to double-down on its existing strategy for using less water: turf removal. … [Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager John] Entsminger, in a recent interview, said the prohibition would result in significant water savings. The removal of an estimated 3,900 acres of decorative turf could save roughly 9.3 billion gallons of water annually — about 10 percent of the state’s entire Colorado River allotment.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Rafael dredging project gets $6.75M earmark

San Rafael Creek could be dredged — at least in part — next summer. The Biden administration’s proposed budget sets aside $6.75 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin working on the $13 million project. The budget must be approved by congressional committees and is expected to be finalized in October, according to the city. Due to years of neglect and minimal funding, the creek has not been fully dredged since about 2003. It was partially dredged in 2011, but storms have carried sediment into the channel and shoaled it to depths as shallow as 2 feet in some parts…

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How water bonds plug spending holes

As California responds to yet another drought and prepares for a future of greater climate extremes, securing funding to boost the water system’s resilience is a top priority. One go-to funding source over the last two decades has been state general obligation bonds. In dollar terms, GO bonds play a relatively small role in water system spending, yet they punch above their weight when it comes to filling critical gaps. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Las Vegas’s new strategy for tackling drought – banning ‘useless grass’

In Sin City, one thing that will soon become unforgivable is useless grass. A new Nevada law will outlaw about 40% of the grass in the Las Vegas area in an effort to conserve water amid a drought that is drying up the region’s primary water source: the Colorado River. Other cities and states around the US have enacted temporary bans on lawns that must be watered, but legislation signed Friday by the state’s governor, Steve Sisolak, makes Nevada the first in the nation to enact a permanent ban on certain categories of grass.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

Mono Lake Kut-za-dika’a Tribe might get official

According to U.S. Congressman Jay Obernolte’s (R-Hesperia) office, last Tuesday, June 1, he introduced a bill, HR 3649, titled the Mono Lake Kutadika’a Paiute Tribal Recognition Act that would grant federal recognition to the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a tribe as a distinct Native American Tribe. The legislation was originally introduced by former Rep. Paul Cook. The bill would address the tribe’s decades-long struggle for indigenous sovereignty and would afford them the services, benefits, and rights provided to federally recognized tribes, says the communique.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

U.S. bill aims to recognize Native tribe in Mono Lake Basin

They were expert hunters, gatherers and basket weavers who lived for thousands of years on a trade route over the Sierra Nevada connecting them with the rest of California. The modern history of the Mono Lake Kutzadika Paiute people is told mostly through economic hardship, displacement and a 150-year fight for federal recognition as a distinct Native American tribe — a step needed to establish a sovereign land base to call home.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Biden administration moves to reverse Trump endangered species rollbacks

The Biden administration is taking aim at Trump-era rollbacks to endangered species protections, though environmental advocates have raised concerns about how long their actions could take. In a statement on Friday, federal agencies said they would “initiate rulemaking in the coming months” to either rescind or revise Trump-era rules that lessened protections for these species, or reinstate pre-Trump language that provided additional protections for endangered animals and plants.

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Aquafornia news National Law Review

Blog: Clean Water Act updates and more hydro news

Citing numerous “concerns” with the Clean Water Act (CWA) section 401 water quality certification rule enacted by the Trump Administration in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Notice of Intention to reconsider and revise the rule.  EPA’s notice states that the new rule will be “better aligned with the cooperative federalism principles that have been central to the effective implementation of the Clean Water Act” and is “responsive to the national objectives outlined in President Biden’s Executive Order 13990.”

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: Biden Administration releases FY 2022 budget proposal

The Biden Administration last week released its FY 2022 budget proposal. The $6 trillion dollar budget includes funding for several water resources priorities, including PFAS research and remediation, drought resilience, watershed protection, and infrastructure improvements. The Biden budget proposes an increase of 16.5% for discretionary, non-defense spending. Notably, the budget includes $27.9 billion for the Department of Agriculture (USDA), $17.4 billion for the Department of Interior (DOI), $6.8 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Aquafornia news Senator Bill Dodd

News release: Senate approves Sen. Dodd’s water project bill

Facing a statewide drought that is rapidly draining reservoirs and agricultural supplies, the bipartisan California Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to streamline improvements to the state’s outdated central water delivery system. … California’s 60-year-old water delivery system, known as the State Water Project, serves more than 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland through its 700 miles of aqueducts, canals and pipelines. It is the largest state-owned and operated water system in the world. 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR releases first assessments of initial Groundwater Sustainability Plans

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).   DWR has completed its assessment and approved plans for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado to California Water Commission: Keep water funds meant for the Central Valley in the Central Valley

On Thursday, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) issued the following statement regarding a bi-partisan letter she sent that urges the California Water Commission to prioritize water storage projects in the Central Valley when assessing how to reallocate funds from Proposition 1: … California is currently in a state of emergency due to drought. As a result, the amount of water allocated to Central Valley farmers has been greatly reduced. 

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press Online

Opinion: Coachella Valley – Should IID stay or should IID go?

On Tuesday, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors will consider the future of IID in the Coachella Valley with a direct question — should IID stay or should IID go? In my short tenure on the IID Board, I personally have enjoyed working to improve our service, responsiveness and outreach to our Coachella Valley communities and customers. But Assembly Bill 1021 by Assemblyman Chad Mayes, I-La Quinta, threatens the continued presence of IID in the Coachella Valley … 
-Written by JB Hamby, vice president of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif. Senate advances bill to spend $785mil to repair Valley canals

A bill aimed at improving the Valley’s two largest canal systems from continued subsidence-driven damage advanced through one house of the California State Legislature on Friday. Senate Bill 559, a top priority for legislators on both side of the aisle in the San Joaquin Valley and led by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger), seeks to dedicate $785 million in spending for improvements to four sets of waterways, spearheaded by two canals servicing the Central Valley Project: the Delta-Mendota Canal and the Friant-Kern Canal.

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Aquafornia news Senator Melissa Hurtado

News release: Hurtado releases statement after the State Water Resiliency Act passes Senate 34-1

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following statement after her bill, Senate Bill 559—The State Water Resiliency Act – passed the Senate 34-1 … The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will allocate $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct…

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Biden budget seeks boost for EPA core programs and research

The EPA envisions making good on Biden’s pledge to help communities replace lead drinking water pipes, in part by bolstering Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act loans to local water systems. That includes a proposed increase of more than two and a half times in the budget for the EPA’s grant program for helping local and tribal governments replace lead pipes under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Funds for the grant program would total $81.5 million in fiscal 2022.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Working Group

News release: California Assembly approves bill to sharply reduce lead leaching from water faucets and fixtures

Today a bill to sharply reduce lead leaching from water faucets and fixtures passed the California Assembly. If it becomes law, it will create the nation’s most legally stringent lead leaching limit for faucets. Assembly Bill 100, by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), passed the state’s lower house by a vote of 45 – 0. The bill would limit lead leaching to no more than 1 microgram, making California the first state to enact a performance standard to ensure faucets and fixtures are practically lead-free.

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Aquafornia news KMPH

Local push to raise levels in two storm water reservoirs

Two large reservoirs in our backyard are capable of holding 40,000 acre feet of water to recharge the underground table. But federal rules prevent them from reaching capacity and it will take an act of Congress to change the rules. Big Dry Creek Reservoir in Clovis and Fancher Creek Reservoir east of Clovis together can hold 40,000 acre feet of storm water. That’s water that can eventually stream into the underground water table. 

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Chris Mathys, GOP primary candidate, begins effort to declare Delta smelt extinct

The delta smelt could be declared endangered if Chris Mathys, a Republican primary challenger to David Valadao, gets his way. “Federal and state mandated rules related to the delta smelt in California are severely restricting the releases of surface water relied upon by California’s farmers and ranchers. Agriculture products are vital to California’s economy and farmers depend on an adequate water supply to grow nuts, fruits and vegetables that provide food for Americans and the rest of the world,” Mathys wrote in a statement.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Congress seeks long-term solutions for drought crippling Western US

A crippling drought — largely connected to climate change — is gripping the Western United States, affecting over 70 million people and around 40% of the U.S.  … Farmers, scientists, tribal officials, foresters and other groups affected by the worsening drought testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife hearing on Tuesday, asking lawmakers for both short-term relief and long-term solutions from the worsening conditions.

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Aquafornia news Patch

Opinion: The case for investing in our water infrastructure

Infrastructure is rightly enjoying its spot in the national limelight these days, with the Biden Administration busily unveiling its plans. However, being well intentioned is as important as being pragmatic. After all, the warning signs have been there for all to see when it comes to lack of investment in infrastructure—impacting communities from Los Gatos to Washington, D.C.
-Written by Andy Gere, president and chief operating officer of San Jose Water.

Aquafornia news Water Alternatives

Research paper: Disadvantaged unincorporated communities and the struggle for water justice in california

The notion of access to water for drinking and sanitation as being a human right – not a privilege or a commodity to be bought and sold – is based on the understanding that water is essential for life itself and should not be subject to the dictates of the market. This understanding parallels other treatments of vital resources such as housing and healthcare and has been codified in multiple United Nations frameworks. Human rights have been less common as a basis for public policy in the United States, where the more limited concept of civil rights has predominated. This has begun to change, most notably with the passage of California’s 2012 Assembly Bill 685 on the human right to water…

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Fresno-area candidate for Congress wants to declare the Delta smelt extinct

A hopeful for a Fresno-area seat in Congress has initiated a petition to have the embattled Delta smelt declared extinct. Chris Mathys said Monday he took the first step toward that petition, which is a letter of intent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of California 30 days before filing the formal petition. The petition is similar to a court document in that it needs to lay out the argument and back it up with facts and science, Mathys said.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Dollars and drought – Windfalls for innovation or entrenchment?

California’s Governor Newsom recently declared a drought emergency throughout much of California and announced over $5 billion in new water program investments.  These twin emergency and funding announcements are a classic “bad-news creates good news story” (and potentially vice versa) for California’s water problems. They are opportunities for innovation and making long-term improvements for California’s water problems.  They also can reward and entrench less effective programs and approaches.

Aquafornia news U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman

News release: Huffman introduces water infrastructure bill to improve drought preparedness and water supply reliability

[On May 20, 2021] Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) reintroduced his FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act (FUTURE Act), an ambitious water infrastructure proposal that is the culmination of months of public vetting and legislative development. This bill would develop more resilient water infrastructure, expand the use of modern water management tools and technologies, and assist underserved areas in meeting their drinking water needs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California must prevent another devastating drought

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought. It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state. Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air.
-Written by George Skelton, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California’s budget surplus can help achieve a climate-safe future

California is becoming ground zero for the climate crisis. Intensifying drought and wildfire emergencies caused by climate change are the harbingers of a great gamble that risk the loss of California as we know it. The drought is not an anomaly but part of a multi-decadal pattern caused by climate change, threatening dust bowl-like impacts to California’s agricultural heartland. It fueled the largest wildfires in state history. More than 4.2 million acres burned last year, causing a toxic smoke storm that smothered much of the state.
-Written by Nayamin Martinez, the executive director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network, and Judith Mitchell, who served for seven years on the California Air Resources Board, and 10 years on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Water district funding 30 new groundwater level monitoring wells

The Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District (EPCWD) has begun creating a groundwater level monitoring network. Initially, the district has begun work to add 30 new groundwater level monitoring sites, using existing wells, throughout the 37,000-acre district. The campaign marks a significant effort in the basin to move toward groundwater sustainability in the Paso Robles Subbasin, according to the EPCWD.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State proposes to add funding for water goals

As more of California sinks into extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the Legislature to appropriate billions of dollars to address critical water needs. In the “May revise”—an update to the budget proposal he initially submitted to the Legislature in January—Newsom proposes to spend nearly $3.5 billion on water supply and resilience projects, with total investment reaching $5.1 billion over multiple years. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Emergency water urged for rural Latino communities before California drought worsens

California lawmakers should take prompt action before drought conditions worsen by sending emergency drinking water to vulnerable communities in parched regions of the state, legislative advisers say. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report last week providing recommendations on how to address increasingly dry conditions throughout the state. Based on an analysis of the state’s previous efforts for the last major drought, from 2012 to 2016, analysts said lawmakers should start sending emergency water supplies to vulnerable communities in the San Joaquin Valley region… 

Aquafornia news Arizona News

Arizona Legislature proposes pumping Mississippi River water to help with drought

Arizona’s drought has lawmakers looking into drawing water from the Mississippi River to be used here in the desert. “This kind of project would be looking 20 years down the road,” said Republican Rep. Tim Dunn from Yuma. Dunn sponsored House Concurrent Memorial 2004, which got bipartisan support in the Arizona legislature, and urges Congress to study a plan for a pipeline that would take water out of the Mississippi River near Davenport, Iowa. 

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil wells

California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 unveiled his May budget revision that allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, many located near low-income residential areas where the majority of residents are Latino and Black. In January 2020, a report by the California Council on Science & Technology revealed that California taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $500 million to plug thousands of “orphan” wells drilled and abandoned by oil and gas companies. .. Plugging all 107,000 oil and wells in California when they become idle would cost more than $9 billion, the report also found.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Newsom offers billions to fight climate change, California drought

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to throw $11.8 billion of California’s money at climate change and the hazards it poses to the state. The governor’s gargantuan revised budget proposal, released Friday, includes expenditures to fight and prevent wildfires, combat sea-level rise, put more Californians behind the wheel of an electric vehicle and speed up the transition to a carbon-free electricity grid. Nearly half of his climate change package — $5.1 billion — would go toward easing the effects of California’s newly-declared drought and remedying long-term water supply problems, such as crumbling canals.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

States ask Biden to trash Trump-era Clean Water Act change

With shrinking reservoir levels and a summer of water shortages impending, drought-ridden California on Wednesday pressed the Biden administration for more control over future infrastructure projects planned in the Golden State. California and a collection of states urged the federal government to drop a Trump-era rule that reduced states’ authority to deny permitting and licensing for things like new water infrastructure, oil pipelines, wastewater plants or development projects in wetland areas. The states claim the rule gives them little say over projects that could ultimately harm water quality and the environment.  

Aquafornia news Sen. Dianne Feinstein

News release: Bipartisan bill introduced to reauthorize Lake Tahoe restoration act

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.) today joined with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen (both D-Nev.) to introduce bipartisan legislation to extend authorization of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. The original Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was passed in 2000 and authorized $300 million for the restoration of the lake and surrounding basin. The current authorization, which was passed in 2016, will expire in 2024. Reauthorizing the bill will prevent an interruption in conservation and restoration planning.

Aquafornia news Congressman Jim Costa

News release: Costa legislation aims to improve water quality and supply

At a time when California is facing severe drought conditions that triggered Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaring a state of emergency and providing more than $5 billion dollars for water infrastructure and drought response funding, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced bipartisan legislation to address California water supply and water quality goals…

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 Noozhawk

Opinion: Watch out, state assembly wants to help us

AB-377, is a proposed state Assembly bill titled Water Quality: Impaired Waters. The premise of this legislation seems to be that local authorities are responsible for all the dirty water in local waterways. While the goal of “cleaning up the water” is commendable the proposed solution is problematic. The Lompoc City Council discussed a staff request to oppose this legislation on May 4; the staff explains that “Assembly Bill (AB) 377 seeks to ensure California’s waterways are drinkable, fishable and swimmable by 2050.” 
-Written by Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident.

Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

County officials applaud new Salton Sea funding

Newly announced state funding for the Salton Sea is expected to maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response and climate resilience proposal, which he announced Monday as part of his $100 billion “California Comeback Plan,” includes $220 million for the Salton Sea. At Tuesday’s Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, District 1 Supervisor Jesus Eduardo Escobar wanted to know what is meant by providing immediate economic relief to the community and how this would occur. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Mining industry, builders sought changes in Arizona water bill

Newly released emails reveal that lawyers and lobbyists for mining companies, developers and the agriculture industry had a hand behind the scenes in shaping Arizona’s newly adopted law on clean-water rules for rivers and streams. The emails show the involvement of these influential groups went beyond their public endorsements of the legislation. Their lawyers and lobbyists were given access to offer input while the final legislation was being drafted, and the emails show they suggested specific language, offered “wordsmithing” tweaks and requested significant changes that state officials incorporated into the bill. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Newsom Proposes $220M for Salton Sea

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response, and climate resilience proposal includes $220 million for the Salton Sea, and Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, applauded the announcement. Garcia, chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, stated in a press release from his office that the funding would maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

What does ‘conserved’ environment mean? Interior seeks an answer

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Thursday that her department is pushing forward with its efforts to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and waters by 2030, even as the administration’s own findings highlight the need to define what it means for an area to be considered conserved. Haaland cited a recent move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand hunting and fishing opportunities and previewed an upcoming announcement of $150 million for a program that builds parks in underserved communities.

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Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Los Padres wilderness and rivers bill introduced in Senate

Last week, Senator Alex Padilla (D-Ca) announced the introduction of a bill that will protect special places in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument for their ecological, cultural, and recreational values. The bill also prohibits future oil drilling in certain places, improves equitable access to the outdoors, and benefits local and statewide economies. The bill is a companion to Representative Salud Carbajal’s Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives in February. It … safeguards about 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?

In scale and ambition, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has few parallels. And the work becomes increasingly urgent as the climate crisis makes water shortages increasingly severe. … This emphasis on local expertise points to SGMA’s possibilities — and its potential pitfalls — especially when it comes to deciding what “sustainable” water management means. Each management body has wide discretion to define “sustainability” — and the path to sustainability by 2040 — for its particular basin.

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Aquafornia news

Gov. Doug Ducey signs historic water protection legislation

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a landmark water protection bill Wednesday to ensure clean water in nearly 800 Arizona streams, lakes and rivers that are critical for everyday use. The legislation will preserve water quality, list protected Arizona waters and develop management practices that will protect the waterways.

Aquafornia news The Pew Charitable Trusts

Blog: More US rivers deserve outstanding designation

In many American communities, rivers irrigate the farms that feed families, quench people’s thirst—rivers are the source of more than two-thirds of the drinking water in the U.S.—sustain wildlife habitat, and provide an economic boost for communities. Yet only a very small portion of those waterways are protected from threats ranging from pollution to damming, which would wreck the water’s natural flow. … California’s Regional Water Quality Control Boards have authority to designate ONRWs but to date have done so for only two bodies of water: Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake. However, the state did initiate an analysis of the Smith River as an ONRW but has not completed the effort. The Smith is a Pacific salmon stronghold.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Some rural California residents doubt they’ll ever get clean water

When Ramona Hernandez turns on her kitchen faucet in El Adobe, an unincorporated town just a few miles southeast of Bakersfield, the water that splashes out looks clean and inviting. But she doesn’t dare drink it. … Drinking the tap water in this tiny community of dusty ranches and unpaved roads could expose Hernandez to arsenic. So, for years, she and her husband, Gerardo, have shuttled twice a week to the nearby town of Lamont to load up on bottled water. At a cost of about $80 a month, it’s enough for drinking and cooking. 

Aquafornia news California Farm Bureau

Blog: President’s message – Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential. During the coming few months, as California struggles through another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed public officials feel the same way. [A]n overarching, long-term problem needs to be solved to make sure farm employees can not just work safely, but can have jobs, period: water supplies.

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 Water Finance & Management

Congress, water sector signal optimism for major investment

On Thursday the U.S. Senate voted to pass S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA). It is the first infrastructure bill approved by the Senate this Congress. The bipartisan, comprehensive clean water and drinking water infrastructure legislation will authorize strong annual water infrastructure investment to help boost total federal investment. In full, the legislation authorizes more than $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater resource development projects across the country …

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area Democrats want to pass climate change laws. Can they deliver?

Now that Democrats have full control of Washington for the first time in a decade, Bay Area lawmakers want to make sure they don’t walk away empty-handed. For many of them, that means seeing green. After several years of historically severe wildfires, heat waves and recurring drought conditions, bills related to climate change are at the top of the agenda for many lawmakers with local ties. Some of the legislative proposals … would address the threats of extreme weather by allocating more money to reduce wildfire risks, strengthen water infrastructure and upgrade the electric grid.

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

State Senate lays out $3.4 billion drought relief package

California Senators have unveiled a $3.4 billion drought relief package to address the hardships created by ongoing dry conditions. The Senate Budget Plan on Drought, Safe Drinking Water, Water Supply Reliability, and Ratepayer Assistance would be the single largest investment to address drought challenges in California. During the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy hearing, the proposal was passed by a 4-0 vote. The proposal offers a comprehensive approach to drought relief, with funding designated for water supply projects, research, and water-use efficiency projects.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California could get 600,000 acres of new federally protected wilderness

California could get 600,000 new acres of federally protected wilderness under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate recently. The designation would ensure the lands remain free of development, vehicles and commercial activity. … It would also designate more than 583 miles of river — including 45 miles of San Gabriel River tributaries, as well as Little Rock Creek — as “wild and scenic rivers,” a protection that prohibits dams or new mining.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why California is planning to ban fracking

A little more than a week ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that not only would California effectively ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by 2024, but the state also would work to phase out oil extraction entirely by 2045. … It was — like the governor’s promise last year that the state would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — a sweeping pronouncement meant to show urgency in addressing climate change while the state he leads struggles with many of its most dire effects. But meeting those goals requires complex regulatory maneuvering.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Monday Top of the Scroll: Pandemic lockdown exposes the vulnerability some Californians face keeping up with water bills

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt. Water affordability concerns, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Trump-era water rules should be reversed

On the way out the door, the Trump administration committed many environmental and financial scandals. One can cost low-income water users while lining the pockets of one of California’s largest and most powerful water districts. The focus of one scandal was the failure of the Trump administration to collect required fish and wildlife mitigation costs set out in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Passed by Congress in 1992, it established new financing rules.
-Written by Caty Wagner, the Southern California Water Organizer for Sierra Club California, and Brandon Dawson, the acting director of Sierra Club California.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water bill may open spigot for Biden infrastructure plan

Rarely has a routine water resources bill generated so much political buzz, but as senators hoisted the measure to passage Thursday the bipartisan infrastructure legislation served as a potential template for building consensus around President Joe Biden’s ambitious American Jobs Plan. The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 authorizes about $35 billion over five years to improve leaky pipes and upgrade facilities, and is widely supported by lawmakers and their states back home. This time, though, it could be so much more — a building block in Biden’s broader $2.3 trillion proposal to invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Is Newsom making any difference on fracking?

British journalist James Bartholomew is widely credited with creating the phrase “virtue signaling” to describe positioning oneself on the popular side of an issue without actually doing anything about it. Politicians are particularly prone to uttering words or making token efforts on difficult issues to stave off criticism about their failure to act meaningfully. Gov. Gavin Newsom is California’s champion virtue-signaler as he faces a recall election later this year. … There’s no better example than Newsom’s ever-shifting attitude toward hydraulic fracturing to increase petroleum production.
-Written by Dan Walters

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Central Valley lawmakers push emergency drought declaration

More than a dozen Central Valley lawmakers and elected officials met on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide. Three state senators and three Assembly members joined the chairs of the boards of supervisors from Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings counties in a bipartisan news conference at Harlan Ranch in Clovis to call for action that the group said is necessary to divert a crisis.

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