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 KCRA - Sacramento

Sen. Alex Padilla focuses on water affordability in hearing

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., convened his first hearing as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, on Wednesday. Sen. Padilla appeared on the KCRA News morning show on My58 and said the hearing will focus on how rising water rates, aging infrastructure and extreme weather events have affected access and affordability of clean water across the country. … According to a state audit in 2022, California required an estimated $64.7 billion to upgrade its water infrastructure. In April, the EPA awarded a fraction of that, $391 million. To hear more about the subcommittee’s initiatives, watch the attached video.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Two Utah sites will get over $19 million in federal funds to restore public lands. Here’s where it’s going.

The federal government is putting $160 million in public lands — including over $19 million to two sites in Utah — to restore the landscapes, restore wildlife habitats and improve water on public lands. The effort is part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda. In a news conference Wednesday, Bureau of Land Management leaders announced a total of 21 sites would receive funding for restoration. Among those sites were two in the Beehive State — the Upper Bear River in northeastern Utah and for Color Country in southwestern Utah. The Upper Bear will receive $9.6 million in funding, while Color Country will receive $9.73 million. … Southwest Utah’s booming population is in large part why the BLM chose to focus part of the funding on that region of the country, said BLM Senior Policy Advisor Tomer Hasson during the news conference. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California to send $95 million to undocumented flooding victims – months after promising ‘rapid response’

California will send $95 million to flood victims in a long-awaited program to assist undocumented residents suffering hardship and damage from the recent months of storms. The money will be available in many affected counties starting in June, according to the state’s Department of Social Services.  The announcement comes two months after Gov. Gavin Newsom promised flood victims that help would come from the state’s Rapid Response Fund. Since then his office provided few details despite repeated queries and criticism.  Alex Stack, a spokesperson for Newsom, said state officials were trying to ensure the program would be accessible to a population that is often hard to reach, while also protecting taxpayer funds from fraud.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Slew of water bills swirl around Sacramento

Senior water rights holders have arguably the sweetest deal in California water. They often have ironclad deals and some even get access to substantial water during the worst of drought.  But three new bills in the state legislature are taking aim at senior water rights in an attempt to level the playing field. The bills propose expanding the authority of the state Water Resources Control Board. Senior water rights date back to before 1914, when there was no permitting or state water authority yet. For years, advocacy groups have decried the water rights system and demanded changes. Some of those changes could become reality if legislators and the governor approve the current bills. 

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: California water proposal has dark, hidden currents

When’s the last time you thought about where your water comes from? If you aren’t steeped in water policy, it’s fair to assume you may not appreciate the complexities of managing our water systems. But what’s vital to know is that water is the essential building block to ensure prosperous, healthy communities. This resource ensures housing gets built, people can afford groceries and local businesses can offer good jobs. Legislation introduced in Sacramento creates uncertainty that threatens these underpinnings of our economy. As a former legislator, I trust that my former colleagues had the best intentions in putting these policies forward, but residents should be aware that these bills are far reaching and will create dramatic changes that increase costs.
-Written by Jerry Hill, a former state senator and assemblyman 19th District who represented San Mateo and Santa Clara County residents in the California Legislature. 

Aquafornia news Mendocino Beacon

Genetic rescue can help declining Russian River coho, study finds; habitat restoration still needed

At the turn of the century, the plight of coho salmon on the Russian River was severe — so severe that the Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program was initiated in 2001 to prevent extirpation (or localized extinction) of coho in the river. Scientists at the Broodstock Program at Don Clausen Fish Hatchery in Sonoma County have worked to pull the fish back from the brink in the decades since, with the eventual goal of re-establishing self-sustaining salmon runs in the watershed. A new study published in Conservation Letters offers genetic rescue — a captive breeding intervention that crosses an at-risk species’ population with the same species from another geographic area — as a viable method to keep Russian River coho salmon from disappearing. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Duarte pitches bipartisan bill to fund water technology grants

Last week, Rep. John Duarte (R – Modesto) introduced the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Modernization Act to create federal grant programs aimed at increasing the use of smart water technologies.  Duarte teamed up with Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego to author the bill.  The big picture: The Water Infrastructure Modernization Act would provide $50 million in new EPA funding for grants which water utilities can use to purchase and implement new technology. Such technology includes identifying water loss, examining pipe integrity, detecting leaks, preparing for severe weather and innovating water storage systems, among others. The grants would be dished out in two programs over a five-year period.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California Democrats sideline Gavin Newsom’s plan to build big things, faster

Dealing a blow to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Democratic legislators today (Thursday) shot down his ambitious attempt to reform state environmental law and make it easier to build big infrastructure projects in California.  In a 3-0 vote, a Senate budget committee found Newsom’s package was too complex for last-minute consideration under legislative deadlines. The cutoff for bills to pass out of their house of origin is June 2, just two weeks after the governor rolled out his proposal to adjust the landmark California Environmental Quality Act. The 10 bills include measures to streamline water, transportation and clean energy projects with an eye toward helping the state meet its climate goals. 

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: California Legislature could make overdue changes to water rights if these three bills pass

For the first time in several decades, policy makers in Sacramento seem poised to actually do something about California’s dysfunctional water rights systems. There are three promising policies winding their way through the Legislature this session. All three bills just made it out of the committee review process, and are slated to be voted on by June 2. These incremental changes are a long-overdue start toward addressing California’s outdated and unjust water rights system.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

California’s Ventura gets $173M in EPA loans for more resilient water supply

Ventura, Calif., is moving forward with its VenturaWaterPure plan to increase the resilience of the city’s water supply against drought, thanks to a pair of Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans totaling $173 million, announced May 23 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The WIFIA loans will fund several projects, including an advanced water purification plant.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Date set for annual Water Summit in the fall

The Water Education Foundation’s annual Water Summit has been set for Oct. 25 in Sacramento. The day-long summit is the Foundation’s premier event of the year and features engaging conversations about critical issues affecting water statewide and across the West. Keynote speakers in recent years have included Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources secretary; Erica Gies, science journalist and author; and Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. The 2023 event will be held at the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in downtown Sacramento. More information coming soon!

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Delta Tunnel plan touted by Newsom gets push-back from Congress member

California’s long-discussed “Delta tunnels” project is on the front-burner again. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced sweeping legislation that would fast-track infrastructure projects across the state. That announcement included the latest version of a tunnel project in the Delta, which would divert Sacramento River water and ultimately send it to Southern California.  Congressman Josh Harder, who represents the Stockton area and has been opposed to the Delta tunnels project for five years, is speaking out against the governor’s move. Harder and other advocacy groups say the project could negatively impact the ecosystem of the Delta in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

PFAS in the crosshairs

In the world of water utility finance, it’s widely known that ratepayers like residents and businesses represent the primary source of revenue for local water and sewer systems. Therefore, when regulatory mandates come down from the federal government with the potential to increase costs for water systems, even with federal support, it’s generally the local ratepayer who is left to foot the bill. This is one of the main concerns the sector is figuring out how to navigate after a big regulatory announcement in the spring. In March, following much anticipation, the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its first-ever proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Opinion: Enviros fume as Newsom looks to sidestep regulations for water projects

Gov. Gavin Newsom is slowly becoming more emboldened to go toe-to-toe with some of his closest allies in pursuit of advancing critical infrastructure forward. The battle centers on circumventing environmental rules frequently relied upon by activists to sue and block massive projects. Driving the News: Governor Gavin Newsom has pledged to fast-track hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects throughout the state, including a pair of large water endeavors that have been delayed for years. California officials have pursued the water projects in the drought-prone state. One would construct a giant tunnel to carry large amounts of water beneath the natural channels of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to drier and more populous Southern California. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California advances bill banning hedge fund water profiteering

California lawmakers advanced a bill that would prohibit hedge funds and other institutional investors from buying and selling agricultural water resources for financial gain.  Under the measure, which passed the State Assembly by a 46 to 17 vote on Monday afternoon, speculation or profiteering by investment funds in the sale, transfer or lease of water rights on agricultural land would be considered a waste or unreasonable use of water.  

Aquafornia news California Agriculture News Today

Blog: Residents’ water security concerns could spur climate adaptations

As water system managers across California devise strategies to help secure their water supply, they often face a major obstacle to implementing those measures: a lack of interest or will to act among community members. … Because popular support is essential for realizing many water-related adaptations – from changing the rate structure to approving bonds for new infrastructure – Dobbin and her colleagues recently published a paper looking deeper at residents’ experiences of, and concern about, climate impacts to household water supply. Through a drinking water-focused portion of a long-term panel survey administered by California State University, Sacramento, scholars in the Household Water Insecurity Experiences research network had the opportunity to query Californians on how they are experiencing the climate crisis at their taps. 

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Inside Las Vegas’ legislative push for tools to reduce water use before any big cuts come

In 2021, at a Colorado River conference in Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Water Authority laid out an ambitious and detailed plan to lower per capita water use through conservation. The presentation quantified why deep municipal conservation — limits on decorative grass, pool sizes, golf courses, septic tanks and landscaping — was necessary to adapt to a far drier future.  It was a signal that Las Vegas planned to go all-in on conservation. Part of this was necessity. Of the seven states that rely on the Colorado River, Nevada has by far the smallest allocation. It is also one of the urban centers most reliant on the river, the source of 90 percent of its water supply. Part of the plan was to shore up water for more growth. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Gavin Newsom wants to fast-track huge water projects in California

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday pledged to fast-track hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects throughout the state, including a pair of large water endeavors that have languished for years amid permitting delays and opposition from environmental groups. For the past decade, California officials have pursued the water projects in the drought-prone state. One would construct a giant tunnel to carry large amounts of water beneath the natural channels of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to drier and more populous Southern California. The other would be a massive new reservoir near the tiny community of Sites in Northern California that could store more water during deluges. … Newsom is seeking a slew of changes to make it much faster for these projects to gain the required permits and approvals.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom unveils plan to speed up infrastructure in California

Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to unveil a sweeping package of legislation and sign an executive order Friday to make it easier to build transportation, clean energy, water and other infrastructure across California, a move intended to capitalize on an infusion of money from the Biden administration to boost climate-friendly construction projects. The proposal aims to shorten the contracting process for bridge and water projects, limit timelines for environmental litigation and simplify permitting for complicated developments in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and elsewhere. 

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Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR delivers $143.7 million to local communities to address regional water supply challenges and build climate resilience

To help empower local communities and address impacts caused by climate change, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has awarded $143.7 million to implement 115 projects that support groundwater recharge, strengthen flood management, increase water conservation and improve water quality through the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) program. … Proposition 1 funding totaling $143.7 million will be allocated to projects in the funding areas of Central Coast, Colorado River, Los Angeles, Mountain Counties, North Coast, North/South Lahontan, Sacramento River, Santa Ana, San Diego and San Francisco Bay Area.

Aquafornia news Politico

Newsom chides McCarthy over California water money

Gov. Gavin Newsom is ramping up his pressure campaign against Republicans as a slow-moving natural disaster hits a conservative-leaning region of California. And the Democrat is using a perennial Republican calling card — water funding — to drive home his message. Newsom, who has grown increasingly frustrated over the lack of federal action, is casting Republicans as unwilling to fund critical flood protection in the Central Valley, where record snowmelt has already submerged farms and will continue to threaten communities into the summer, while California steps up to front the money.

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Aquafornia news Regional San

News release: Regional San’s monumental wastewater treatment plant expansion project delivered on schedule, under budget

The Sacramento region can expect to see big changes related to how wastewater is treated and reused with the completion of Regional San’s $1.7 billion, decade-long expansion. Named the EchoWater Project, the immense upgrade was completed in spring 2023—on schedule and under budget. The result is a safe and reliable supply of treated water for discharge to the Sacramento River, which will also be used for recycled water purposes—like irrigating local agriculture and supporting habitat conservation land. The expanded tertiary treatment facility is now the second largest treatment plant of its kind in the nation, and the expansion project was among the largest public works projects in the Sacramento region’s history. Regional San treats an average of 135 million gallons of wastewater each day from 1.6 million people throughout Sacramento County and West Sacramento.

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Aquafornia news Stanford

Blog: The human right to water

If safe water is a human right, why does it remain out of reach for so many? A Stanford-led project, supported by the Sustainability Accelerator of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, is focused on the broad goal of achieving the human right to water (HR2W) in California. Cindy Weng, a PhD candidate in environmental engineering, is leading the project’s data analytics for assessing equity in urban water access during droughts. Recently, she discussed the project, water equity issues, and potential solutions for California and the rest of the country.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

New funding will help protect and restore the coastal wetlands at Elkhorn Slough.

If you’ve never visited the Elkhorn Slough, you should. It’s one of the most incredible places on the Central Coast to view wildlife—especially birds—and is home to the most extensive salt marshes in California south of the San Francisco Bay. It’s a haven for the natural world amidst our built environment, one that was nearly transformed into an industrial wasteland decades ago but for the efforts of environmental activists. But that’s another story—sort of.  David Schmalz here, with news to share about the Elkhorn Slough that will help this ecological treasure weather the effects of climate change, which is something I think about a lot, as it represents an existential threat to human civilization. I would argue most humans don’t think about it enough. 

Aquafornia news 8 News - Las Vegas

Septic tank compromise struck as talk turns to AB220 effect on residential water use in Southern Nevada

An uproar over a bill requiring residents with septic systems to connect to municipal sewer systems is causing a major pivot in the effort to conserve water in Southern Nevada. An amendment is changing a requirement into an option. That’s the latest move to accommodate residents who repeatedly told lawmakers they just couldn’t afford to pay for the conversions themselves. Not 50%. Not 20%. Not 15%. Assembly Bill 220 (AB220) was heard Tuesday by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The current language in the bill gives residents the chance to take advantage of an offer to cover 100% of the costs of connecting to a municipal sewer system as long as funds are available. 

Aquafornia news US EPA

News release: EPA announces $128M loan to improve drinking water reliability in drought-prone Santa Cruz

Today, in conjunction with Infrastructure Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $128 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the City of Santa Cruz, California to upgrade their drinking water system to be more resilient to drought and climate change. With this WIFIA loan, EPA is helping the City of Santa Cruz protect its water supply and deliver safe, reliable drinking water to nearly 100,000 residents.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Bill that could limit home water use in Las Vegas proceeding

A sweeping water conservation bill that would give Las Vegas Valley water managers the unprecedented ability to limit how much water single-family residential homes in Southern Nevada could use continues to make its way through the state Legislature. Assembly Bill 220 would give the Southern Nevada Water Authority the power to limit residential water use to 0.5 acre-feet per home per year in Clark County during times when the federal government has declared a water shortage along the drought-stricken Colorado River that supplies about 90 percent of Southern Nevada’s water. If approved, Nevada would be the first state to give a water agency the power to cap the amount of water that flows into individual homes.

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Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Opinion: The rural water crisis may soon be at an end

Everyone has heard about the water crises in cities like Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi, but America’s rural communities are facing equally dire problems with toxic taps and outdated infrastructure, and they typically have even less to spend on fixes. That may change soon. In addition to the historic water funding included in recent infrastructure bills, the farm bill that is currently being negotiated in Congress could support real progress in small towns across the country, thanks to the billions it includes for construction of rural water and sewer systems. We know firsthand what a huge impact those dollars can make on the ground. In California, people in an estimated 300 communities can’t drink from the tap.
-Written by Michael Prado, President of Sultana Community Services District; and Celina Mahabir, Federal Policy Advocate with Community Water Center. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Old lumber port preps for new life as California offshore wind hub

Eureka’s halcyon days as the “timber capital” of California are long gone, but the deepwater port city 270 miles north of San Francisco may see its fortunes turn as the hub of the state’s first foray in offshore wind energy. Located on Humboldt Bay at a particularly windy corner of the Northern California coast, Eureka sits across two of the five swaths of Pacific Ocean along the California coast that the federal government auctioned off to offshore wind developers this past December for a total of $757 million. The three other leases are on the Central Coast across from Morro Bay. California is a late entry in the race to explore offshore wind as a source of renewable energy because until recently it wasn’t feasible to deploy wind turbines on the steep ocean bottom off the Pacific Coast.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: New California budget means a $6 billion cut, and future uncertainty, for climate spending

For climate advocates, the growing state deficit unveiled in the revised 2023-24 state budget offers some bad news, some good news and a great deal of uncertainty. The bad news in the budget presented Friday morning by Gov. Gavin Newsom is that, despite lobbying efforts and environmentalists pitching at least two alternative proposals, the $6 billion in cuts to climate spending that Newsom proposed in January are still included. If those multi-year cuts stand it will mean significant hits to funding that previously was pledged to help speed California’s transition to non-polluting cars, clean up the water supply, decarbonize buildings and protect residents against the increasingly dire effects of extreme heat. … The storms also prompted Newsom in this revised budget to allocate $290 million to pay for flood prevention programs needed as record snowpack melts in the summer.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom restores floodplain funds, adds $290 million to flood control budget

Four months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom yanked $40 million in funding to restore San Joaquin Valley floodplains from his proposed budget, angering legislators from both parties and conservationists. Today, he gave all of the money back as part of a $290-million package to increase flood protection funding statewide. The funding comes in addition to $202 million already included in Newsom’s 2023-24 budget proposal in January. That makes a total of $452 million in investments that Newsom is proposing to protect Californians from flooding in the wake of winter storms that inundated towns in the San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Federal money is coming to fix aging flood control systems – but plans all too often reflect historical patterns and not future risks

Flooding is the costliest type of natural disaster in the U.S., responsible for about 90% of the damage from natural disasters each year. It happens almost every day somewhere in the country. Yet, much of the aging infrastructure meant to protect U.S. communities is in bad shape and, in some cases, failing. … The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the most significant U.S. infrastructure law in recent years, includes $55 billion in new spending for water infrastructure – money that is making its way to communities. But that’s barely an eighth of what the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates is needed for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements. 

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

More grant money means expanded fire mitigation in Los Gatos Creek Watershed

The Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative received one of the largest awards last week in CAL FIRE’s latest round of Forest Health Grants. The $6.3 million grant will go toward expanding the collaborative’s project area by 841 acres to include Aldercroft Heights and Lupin Lodge, residential neighborhoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, bringing overall coverage to 2,700 acres. Aldercroft Heights and Lupin Lodge have a handful of areas that are at a high fire risk. Residents have to travel one-lane roads during evacuations, which can cause traffic and congestion, said Seth Schalet, chief executive officer of the Saratoga-based Santa Clara County FireSafe Council.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Should foreign governments own CA farmland and water rights?

A Valley legislator has reworked a bill to stop foreign powers from owning ag land and having rights to water and food production. But concessions made to the bill could have little impact on what lawmakers hope to solve. Senate Bill 224 from state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) will ban foreign governments and state-backed enterprises from owning agricultural land in California and create an inventory account of who has water rights on what land. … Saudi Arabian companies have leased land from the Arizona State Land Department to grow alfalfa and ship it back home to feed cattle. In 2016, drought-stricken Saudi Arabia banned alfalfa farming.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Colorado’s legislative action on water this year was mostly about what lawmakers didn’t do 

The 2023 Colorado lawmaking session was one of “incremental steps” on water issues, which means Coloradans have to wait until next year to see if legislators can find policy solutions to key water security questions. Colorado, like the six other Western states in the Colorado River Basin, is facing an uncertain water future as a two-decade drought and overuse threaten the basin’s water supply. This year, state officials started the 120-day lawmaking session saying water was going to be the “centerpiece” of Democratic environmental policy. … Fewer than 20 bills specifically addressed water issues, although several other bills could have indirectly impacted the state’s water system. 

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Aquafornia news E&E News

EPA preps Trump-era plan to push wetlands permitting to states

EPA is moving forward with plans to clarify how states can take control of federally administered wetlands permitting, in a move that opponents worry will empower deregulation enthusiasts. At least two Republican-led states, Alaska and Nebraska, and one led by a Democrat, Minnesota, are on a quest to oversee a dredge-and-fill permitting program that influences construction projects with implications for federally protected waters. Their push coincides with EPA’s plans to advance a Trump-era rule revising Clean Water Act requirements around that program, with the agency intending to issue a proposal by September. EPA is currently having discussions with the trio of states about the possibility of shifting primacy over the permitting program, the agency confirmed to E&E News. 

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: More federal funding can close the rural water gap. Will Congress and the USDA step up?

This week is Drinking Water Week, but not everyone in America has the same access to safe, reliable running water, or a system for removing and treating wastewater when flushing toilets. Rural communities and communities of color are more at risk of unsafe water and inadequate sanitation due to historical disinvestment, regulatory failures, and structural racism. This is the rural water gap, and while new federal funding is meant to address this gap, a study released today demonstrates that federal agencies need clearer metrics and milestones to ensure they reach the communities that need it most. Doing so would contribute to the Biden Administration’s commitment to Justice40 and environmental justice for all.

Aquafornia news US Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA proposes to establish first-time clean water act protections for over 250 tribes

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed federal baseline water quality standards for waterbodies on Indian reservations that do not have Clean Water Act standards, ensuring protections for over half a million people living on Indian reservations as well as critical aquatic ecosystems. Fifty years ago, Congress established a goal in the Clean Water Act (CWA) that waters should support fishing and swimming wherever attainable. All states and 47 Tribes have established standards consistent with that goal. However, the majority of U.S. Tribes with Indian reservations lack such water quality standards. This proposal would extend the same framework of water quality protection that currently exists for most other waters of the United States to waters of over 250 Tribes and is the result of decades of coordination and partnership with Tribes.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water bills advance as lawmakers from both parties back more agency funding

Nevada is the nation’s driest state, and it’s hard not to argue water is one of its most valuable resources. Water supports communities and ecosystems in countless ways — every day.  Yet the state agency most responsible for managing water rights is underfunded. At a meeting Tuesday morning, a bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed to do something about it. During the Tuesday hearing on the agency’s budget, Assemblyman Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas) made a motion to increase the governor’s recommended budget for the Division of Water Resources by about $3.1 million over the next two years to address backlogs and gaps in staffing. The motion was unanimously approved by the budget committee.

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Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Assembly appoints Maria Mehranian to the council

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has appointed Maria Mehranian to the Delta Stewardship Council, effective May 5, 2023. This is her second appointment to the Council. Mehranian served as a Senate-appointed Council member from 2018 to 2022. “Maria’s understanding of the issues at hand and strategic approach in responding to them make her an asset to the Council,” says Chair Virginia Madueño.” I couldn’t be happier to lead a fully-staffed membership of leaders from across our state whose unique areas of expertise diversify and strengthen our ability to advance the coequal goals.” Of the Council’s seven members, four are appointed by the Governor, one each by the State Senate and Assembly, and the seventh is the chair of the Delta Protection Commission.

Aquafornia news American Bar Association

Blog: California tackles plastic pollution at the source

In 2022, California took a bold step to address plastic pollution by enacting the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act (Senate Bill (SB) 54), which dramatically overhauls how single-use packaging and single-use plastic foodware will be offered for sale, sold, distributed, and imported in the state, and tackles plastic pollution at the source.  The problem with plastic An estimated 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the marine environment each year with devastating consequences for the ocean ecosystem. Everywhere we look, we find plastic; it is in our land, water, air, food, and even in our bodies. And the problem is expected to get worse as the production and use of single-use plastic has skyrocketed over the last decade. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Toxic trail of pollution’: states step up to curb the use of ‘forever chemicals’

Few chemicals have attracted as intense public and regulatory scrutiny as PFAS, but even as the highly toxic and ubiquitous compounds’ dangers come into sharper focus, industry influence has crippled congressional attempts to pass meaningful consumer protections. Federal bills designed to address some of the most significant sources of exposure – food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products, clothing, textiles, cookware and firefighting foam – have all failed in recent sessions. However, a patchwork of state laws enacted over the last three years is generating fresh hope by prohibiting the use of PFAS in those and other uses. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Valadao’s sweeping water legislation advances out of committee

A sweeping overhaul of California’s water policy, specifically the rules that govern water throughout the Central Valley, took one step closer to becoming reality.  Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act, which was introduced by Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford).  The backstory: Valadao initially introduced the WATER for California Act last December and brought it back for the new Republican-controlled House in January. … Part of the legislation centers on the 2019 biological opinions that govern the state’s water usage. President Joe Biden’s administration has been working to throw out the Trump-era rules and revert back to the previous biological opinions administered in 2008 and 2009.

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Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

‘We’re not prepared’: Experts call for doubling levee protections as California faces increasing floods

California water experts and environmental justice advocates are calling for state leaders to mandate that new levees be built with double the federal required protection to withstand the increasingly severe storms caused, in part, by human-caused climate change. California’s levee protection regulations are not uniform; the state’s seemingly endless dikes and causeways are overseen by a patchwork of widely varying rules. Some communities like Pajaro in Monterey County, which was swamped by floodwaters this year, are protected only against smaller storms that happen every eight years, while levees protecting urban areas of the Central Valley are bolstered against much more powerful storms.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Dolores River conservation efforts surge with record flows

This month’s swirling flow in the Dolores River is mostly snowmelt from the Disappointment Creek basin that drains almost 350 square miles of the western San Juans before joining the meandering Dolores through miles of dramatic Wingate Sandstone canyon. … Hard times are common for the Dolores River, where dwindling water supplies in a warming climate offer only feeble leftovers for almost 200 miles of river canyon below McPhee Reservoir. But this winter’s bountiful snowpack is expected to float thousands of boats on the river that rarely sees navigable flows. … There are two pieces of legislation from Colorado’s federal lawmakers — an unlikely pairing of Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert and Democratic U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper — vying to establish a new conservation area on the upper section of the river.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

City receives $1.26M for microplastic pollution research

The City of Santa Barbara has received a $1.26 million grant to research microplastic pollution prevention, with the goal of providing clean streets, clean air and clean seas. The city’s Sustainability & Resilience Department announced Friday that its Creeks Restoration and Water Quality Improvement Division, in partnership with the University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant Program, was awarded the grant. Microplastics are small plastic pieces or fibers smaller than 5mm in size (about the size of a pencil eraser). They are found on our streets, in our creeks and ocean, the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe.  Microplastics can absorb and carry pollutants, leach harmful chemicals into water and are often mistaken for food by wildlife. 

Aquafornia news Bond Buyer

California lawmakers eye bonds to fund climate resiliency and flood protection

Massive flooding in California’s central valley that has wreaked havoc and resurrected the long-dormant Tulare Lake has lawmakers contemplating multi-billion-dollar bond measures to stem further damage. Assembly Bill 305 — introduced by Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton —would place a $4.5 billion flood protection bond measure on the Nov. 5, 2024, ballot, while Senate Bill 638 —authored by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, and Sen. Roger Niello — R-Fair Oaks, would ask voters to approve $6 billion of bonds to fund climate resiliency and flood protection.

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Lawmakers propose $4.5B flood protection bond measure

Californians could be voting on a major flood protection bond next November. State lawmakers are pushing a $4.5 billion bond measure which would help fund water infrastructure projects across the state. The bill’s author, San Joaquin Valley Democratic Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, said the language is not yet set in stone, but that funds from the bond would go to the Department of Water Resources (DWR). According to the bill, $1 billion would be allocated to “multibenefit flood protection projects” under the Central Valley Flood Protection Board as well as other projects in the San Joaquin Valley.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Commonsense measures needed to fight California’s water mismanagement

Sticker shock at the grocery store has become the norm for many American families, with food prices increasing by 11.4 percent in 2022. According to the USDA, an average family of four is paying $131 more per month this year, and groceries now account for 20 percent of an average household’s income. Since 1959 the U.S. has been a net food exporter of agricultural goods, but for the second time in the last three years, the U.S. will be a net agricultural food importer. The ongoing war in Ukraine, China’s growing influence on the U.S. agriculture industry, and supply chain backlogs should all serve as warning signs that the security of our domestic food supply is at risk.
-Written by David Valadao, a dairy farmer from the Central Valley and the representative for California’s 22nd District; and Cliff Bentz, now representing Oregon’s 2nd District, specialized in ranch reorganization and water law as an attorney in Eastern Oregon.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Biden Administration’s definition ‘waters of the United States’ goes into effect in select states while regulatory uncertainty continues

Controversy over the Clean Water Act definition of “waters of the United States” persists as the Biden Administration’s new rule goes into effect in 24 states, but is enjoined in the remaining 26 states, continuing the trend of regulatory uncertainty that has characterized the issue for decades. The Biden Administration’s definition of “waters of the United States” (2023 Rule) comes after definitions adopted by the Obama Administration in 2015 (the 2015 Clean Water Rule) and the Trump Administration in 2020 (the Navigable Waters Protection Rule). However, neither the 2015 Clean Water Rule nor the Navigable Waters Protection Rule were valid at the time President Biden assumed office.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Lower Tule River Irrigation District receives $2 million water preservation grant

Since “every drop” of water counts a $2 million grant awarded to the Lower Tule River and Pixley Irrigation Districts will help those districts preserve as much of their water as possible. On Friday the Bureau of Reclamation announced the districts were awarded the $2 million grant. The funding was part of $140 million announced by President Joe Biden’s administration. The Department of the Interior is providing the funding for water conservation and efficiency projects. There were 84 projects in 15 western states that received the funding from the Infrastructure Bill. In addition the Tule Hydroelectric Rehabilitation Project for a facility above Springville was awarded a $500,000 grant as part of the $140 million awarded.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Home water use in Las Vegas will be limited under approved bill

The Nevada Assembly on Monday approved a wide-ranging water conservation bill that would allow the Southern Nevada Water Authority to limit residential water use in Las Vegas if Lake Mead’s levels plummet. But it was a provision in the bill that would require some septic tank users in Las Vegas to convert to the municipal sewer system within the next 30 years that has drawn the most criticism thus far. … The water authority has said the legislation is needed in case the federal government imposes steep cuts to Nevada’s share of the Colorado River in the next few years.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California’s water rights battle enters the Legislature

After its first committee hearing, Assembly Bill 1337 was amended last week, which could be the opening salvo of a monumental political and legal war over who controls access to water in California – an issue that stretches back to the state’s founding in 1850. If enacted as now proposed, AB 1337 would overturn a key state appellate court decision and give the state Water Resources Control Board the legal authority to curtail diversions from rivers – even by those who now hold the most senior water rights, those gained prior to the state asserting authority over water in 1914. The legislation, carried by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, a Democrat who represents East Bay suburbs, would bolster a years-long drive by environmental groups to enhance natural river flows by reducing agricultural diversions during periodic droughts.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

California overhauls its sea level rise plan as climate change reshapes coastal life

Sea level rise lapping over and pushing up groundwater under the California shoreline is the next climate threat in a state already thrashed around by wildlife, drought and deluge. State and federal scientists are preparing a comprehensive assessment of the threat that rising seas pose to California, updating a highly scientific and complicated document from 2018 (PDF) with the latest science in user-friendly guidance for local leaders. The new sea level rise plan will incorporate federal climate models from last year and attempts to compel cities and counties to take ownership of the issue, coordinate and move rapidly to prepare for rising tides at the local level.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Blog: How modernizing infrastructure can help to capture more storm flow

The series of atmospheric river storms that brought record-breaking amounts of rain and snow this year has many Californians asking if our existing water infrastructure is able to capture and store flows from these extreme weather events. With climate change resulting in stronger storms carrying more water and creating major flooding, the answer is more complicated than one might think. … Whether it falls as rain or snow, the majority of that water flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – the center of California’s water distribution system – on its way to the San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Westlands receives $1.5mil for desalination pilot program

Westlands Water District received a state grant to support desalination and on-farm recycling.  Westlands, which serves western Fresno and Kings Counties, views the grant as strengthening its ability to improve the water supply for local communities and farmers. The backstory: California voters approved 2014’s Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act, which made grants available for various water projects throughout the state. The big picture: The grant will work with Westlands’ pilot project for the desalination of groundwater. Westlands is able to process and treat 1,460 acre-feet of groundwater per year that were previously unsuitable due to high salt contents. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of the Interior

News release: Biden-Harris Administration announces over $140 million for water conservation and efficiency projects in the West

The Department of the Interior today announced a $140 million investment for water conservation and efficiency projects as part of the President’s Investing in America agenda to enhance the resilience of the West to drought and climate change. Funding for 84 projects in 15 western states, provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and annual appropriations, will go to irrigation and water districts, states, Tribes and other entities and are expected to conserve over 230,000 acre-feet of water when completed. … In the Colorado River Basin, 12 projects will receive more than $20 million in federal funding from today’s announcement, resulting in more than $44.7 million in infrastructure investments.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom

News release: Governor Newsom expands storm state of emergency to four additional counties

Supporting ongoing storm response and recovery efforts, Governor Gavin Newsom today proclaimed a state of emergency in the counties of Contra Costa, Riverside, San Diego, and Yolo, which join the 47 counties for which the Governor has previously proclaimed a state of emergency since the start of severe winter storms in late February. At Governor Newsom’s request, President Biden has issued a Presidential Emergency Declaration and a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration, which has since been expanded to include additional counties, to bolster state and local storm response efforts. The text of today’s emergency proclamation can be found here.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Klamath Basin water users advocate in Washington, D.C.

At the end of March, representatives from the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional representatives and officials in the Biden Administration. With 15 meetings and a congressional oversight hearing scheduled over the course of three and half days, water users pursued a host of issues related to the Klamath Project. Luckily, this was a crew well-seasoned to arduous meetings over water policy. Topping water users’ agenda was addressing the current dysfunction in the Project’s operations. During the last three years, farmers and ranchers have been limited to approximately 16% of the inflow to Upper Klamath Lake (in comparison to the 83% allocated to river flows), leading to widespread, economic, social, and environmental hardships.

Aquafornia news Scott Valley Agriculture Water Alliance

News release: Legislators urge Governor Newsom to lift drought restrictions for Siskiyou

Two California legislators are urging Governor Newsom to lift the drought restrictions on farmers and ranchers in Siskiyou County. Senator Brian Dahle and Assemblywoman Megan Dahle sent a letter to the Governor on April 19th, stating, “There is no longer a drought in the Klamath Basin. There certainly isn’t an emergency that justifies continuing the Water Board’s strict measures and the costs they’ve imposed on agriculture in the region.” They noted that snowpack in the Scott River watershed is 163% of the historical average, and the drought designation is “likely” to be removed soon by the U.S. Drought Monitor. … Scott Valley farmers are required to reduce their water use by 30% in order to avoid 100% curtailment this summer.

Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

This tour traveled along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720

New EPA Regional Administrator Tackles Water Needs with a Wealth of Experience and $1 Billion in Federal Funding
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Martha Guzman says surge of federal dollars offers 'greatest opportunity' to address longstanding water needs, including for tribes & disadvantaged communities in EPA Region 9

EPA Region 9 Administrator Martha Guzman.Martha Guzman recalls those awful days working on water and other issues as a deputy legislative secretary for then-Gov. Jerry Brown. California was mired in a recession and the state’s finances were deep in the red. Parks were cut, schools were cut, programs were cut to try to balance a troubled state budget in what she remembers as “that terrible time.”

She now finds herself in a strikingly different position: As administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9, she has a mandate to address water challenges across California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii and $1 billion to help pay for it. It is the kind of funding, she said, that is usually spread out over a decade. Guzman called it the “absolutely greatest opportunity.”

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

Explainer: The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: The Law, The Judge And The Enforcer

The Resource

A groundwater pump in the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater provides about 40 percent of the water in California for urban, rural and agricultural needs in typical years, and as much as 60 percent in dry years when surface water supplies are low. But in many areas of the state, groundwater is being extracted faster than it can be replenished through natural or artificial means.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

With Sustainability Plans Filed, Groundwater Agencies Now Must Figure Out How To Pay For Them
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: California's Prop. 218 taxpayer law and local politics could complicate efforts to finance groundwater improvement projects

A groundwater monitoring well in Colusa County, north of Sacramento. The bill is coming due, literally, to protect and restore groundwater in California.

Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in California spent months putting together plans to show how they will achieve balance in about 20 years.

Foundation Event

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Virtual Workshop Occurred Afternoons of April 22-23

Our Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the workshop was held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Understanding Streamflow Is Vital to Water Management in California, But Gaps In Data Exist
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A new law aims to reactivate dormant stream gauges to aid in flood protection, water forecasting

Stream gauges gather important metrics such as  depth, flow (described as cubic feet per second) and temperature.  This gauge near downtown Sacramento measures water depth.California is chock full of rivers and creeks, yet the state’s network of stream gauges has significant gaps that limit real-time tracking of how much water is flowing downstream, information that is vital for flood protection, forecasting water supplies and knowing what the future might bring.

That network of stream gauges got a big boost Sept. 30 with the signing of SB 19. Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the law requires the state to develop a stream gauge deployment plan, focusing on reactivating existing gauges that have been offline for lack of funding and other reasons. Nearly half of California’s stream gauges are dormant.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law Jenn Bowles Nick Gray

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

The Water Education Foundation’s Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop held on Feb. 20, 2020 covered the latest on the most compelling issues in California water. 

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

Bruce Babbitt Urges Creation of Bay-Delta Compact as Way to End ‘Culture of Conflict’ in California’s Key Water Hub
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Former Interior secretary says Colorado River Compact is a model for achieving peace and addressing environmental and water needs in the Delta

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gives the Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum.  Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Sustainability plans required by the state’s groundwater law could cap Kern County pumping, alter what's grown and how land is used

Water sprinklers irrigate a field in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County.Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

California Officials Draft a $600M Plan To Help Low-Income Households Absorb Rising Water Bills
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report proposes new taxes on personal and business income or fees on bottled water and booze to fund rate relief program

Filling a glass with clean water from the kitchen tap.Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.

That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
One-day workshop included optional groundwater tour

One of our most popular events, our annual Water 101 Workshop details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop on Feb. 7 gave attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resources.

 Optional Groundwater Tour

On Feb. 8, we jumped aboard a bus to explore groundwater, a key resource in California. Led by Foundation staff and groundwater experts Thomas Harter and Carl Hauge, retired DWR chief hydrogeologist, the tour visited cities and farms using groundwater, examined a subsidence measuring station and provided the latest updates on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Novel Effort to Aid Groundwater on California’s Central Coast Could Help Other Depleted Basins
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Michael Kiparsky, director of UC Berkeley's Wheeler Water Institute, explains Pajaro Valley groundwater recharge pilot project

Michael KiparskySpurred by drought and a major policy shift, groundwater management has assumed an unprecedented mantle of importance in California. Local agencies in the hardest-hit areas of groundwater depletion are drawing plans to halt overdraft and bring stressed aquifers to the road of recovery.

Along the way, an army of experts has been enlisted to help characterize the extent of the problem and how the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is implemented in a manner that reflects its original intent.

Western Water California Water Bundle Gary Pitzer

Statewide Water Bond Measures Could Have Californians Doing a Double-Take in 2018
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Two bond measures, worth $13B, would aid flood preparation, subsidence, Salton Sea and other water needs

San Joaquin Valley bridge rippled by subsidence  California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.

Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Event included optional Delta Tour

One of our most popular events, Water 101 details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.

McGeorge School of Law
3285 5th Ave, Classroom C
Sacramento, CA 95817

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

Participants of this tour snaked along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

A man watches as a groundwater pump pours water onto a field in Northern California.A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.”


The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
A Handbook to Understanding and Implementing the Law

This handbook provides crucial background information on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The handbook also includes a section on options for new governance.

Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 237 feet below sea level.

Aquapedia background

Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act sets standards for drinking water quality in the United States.

Launched in 1974 and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Safe Drinking Water Act oversees states, communities, and water suppliers who implement the drinking water standards at the local level.

The act’s regulations apply to every public water system in the United States but do not include private wells serving less than 25 people.

According to the EPA, there are more than 160,000 public water systems in the United States.

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Magazine

Overdrawn at the Bank: Managing California’s Groundwater
January/February 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by local, regional and state management. For more background information on groundwater please refer to the Founda­tion’s Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Western Water Magazine

Water Policy 2007: The View from Washington and Sacramento
March/April 2007

This issue of Western Water looks at the political landscape in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento as it relates to water issues in 2007. Several issues are under consideration, including the means to deal with impending climate change, the fate of the San Joaquin River, the prospects for new surface storage in California and the Delta.

Western Water Magazine

Are We Keeping Up With Water Infrastructure Needs?
January/February 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines water infrastructure – its costs and the quest to augment traditional brick-and-mortar facilities with sleeker, “green” features.

Western Water Magazine

Dollars and Sense: How We Pay for Water
September/October 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines the financing of water infrastructure, both at the local level and from the statewide perspective, and some of the factors that influence how people receive their water, the price they pay for it and how much they might have to pay in the future.

Western Water Magazine

Making the Connection: The Water/Energy Nexus
September/October 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy requirements associated with water use and the means by which state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge and improve the management of both resources.

Western Water Magazine

Mimicking the Natural Landscape: Low Impact Development and Stormwater Capture
September/October 2011

This printed issue of Western Water discusses low impact development and stormwater capture – two areas of emerging interest that are viewed as important components of California’s future water supply and management scenario.

Western Water Magazine

A Call to Action? The Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study
November/December 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study and what its finding might mean for the future of the lifeblood of the Southwest.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.


The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (20 min. DVD)

20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues related to complex water management disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances Fisher.


The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (60 min. DVD)

For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.


Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2020

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2005 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use, Colorado River transfers and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market. 

Order in bulk (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.

Publication California Groundwater Map

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.


Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management
Updated 2009

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management explains the physical flood control system, including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the 1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and outlines ongoing flood control projects. 


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.

Aquapedia background

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Litigation

For more than 30 years, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been embroiled in continuing controversy over the struggle to restore the faltering ecosystem while maintaining its role as the hub of the state’s water supply.

Lawsuits and counter lawsuits have been filed, while environmentalists and water users continue to clash over  the amount of water that can be safely exported from the region.

Aquapedia background

National Environmental Policy Act

Passed in 1970, the federal National Environmental Policy Act requires lead public agencies to prepare and submit for public review environmental impact reports and statements on major federal projects under their purview with potentially significant environmental effects.

According to the Department of Energy, administrator of NEPA:

Aquapedia background

Judge Wanger Rulings

Federal Judge Oliver Wanger overturned a federal scientific study that aimed to protect Delta smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Legislation

California has considered, but not implemented, a comprehensive groundwater strategy many times over the last century.

One hundred years ago, the California Conservation Commission considered adding  groundwater regulation into the Water Commission Act of 1913.  After hearings were held, it was decided to leave groundwater rights out of the Water Code.

Aquapedia background

Federal Reserved Rights

Federal reserved rights were created when the United States reserved land from the public domain for uses such as Indian reservations, military bases and national parks, forests and monuments.  [See also Pueblo Rights].

Aquapedia background

Federal Endangered Species Act

Federal Endangered Species Act

The federal government passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973, following earlier legislation. The first, the  Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, authorized land acquisition to conserve select species. The Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 then expanded on the 1966 act, and authorized “the compilation of a list of animals “threatened with worldwide extinction” and prohibits their importation without a permit.”

Aquapedia background

California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

North Fork of the American River,  a section deemed wild and scenic. California’s Legislature passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1972, following the passage of the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act by Congress in 1968. Under California law, “[c]ertain rivers which possess extraordinary scenic, recreational, fishery, or wildlife values shall be preserved in their free-flowing state, together with their immediate environments, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the state.”

Rivers are classified as:

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California Endangered Species Act

California was the first state in the nation to protect fish, flora and fauna with the enactment of the California Endangered Species Act in 1970. (Congress followed suit in 1973 by passing the federal Endangered Species Act. See also the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.)

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Area-of-Origin and California Water

The legal term “area-of-origin” dates back to 1931 in California.

At that time, concerns over water transfers prompted enactment of four “area-of-origin” statutes. With water transfers from Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to supply water for San Francisco and from Owens Valley to Los Angeles fresh in mind, the statutes were intended to protect local areas against export of water.

In particular, counties in Northern California had concerns about the state tapping their water to develop California’s supply.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

It would be a vast understatement to say the package of water bills approved by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last November was anything but a significant achievement. During a time of fierce partisan battles and the state’s long-standing political gridlock with virtually all water policy, pundits at the beginning of 2009 would have given little chance to lawmakers being able to reach com­promise on water legislation.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Thirty Years of the Clean Water Act
Nov/Dec 2002

This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant environmental laws in American history, the Clean Water Act (CWA). The law that emerged from the consensus and compromise that characterizes the legislative process has had remarkable success, reversing years of neglect and outright abuse of the nation’s waters.

Western Water Excerpt Rita Schmidt Sudman

The Davis Administration and California Water
Mar/Apr 1999

In January, Mary Nichols joined the cabinet of the new Davis administration. With her appointment by Gov. Gray Davis as Secretary for Resources, Ms. Nichols, 53, took on the role of overseeing the state of California’s activities for the management, preservation and enhancement of its natural resources, including land, wildlife, water and minerals. As head of the Resources Agency, she directs the activities of 19 departments, conservancies, boards and commissions, serving as the governor’s representative on these boards and commissions.

Western Water Excerpt Rita Schmidt Sudman

CVP Improvement Act Update
May/Jun 1997

Two days before our annual Executive Briefing, I picked up my phone to hear “The White House calling… .” Vice President Al Gore had accepted the foundation’s invitation to speak at our March 13 briefing on California water issues. That was the start of a new experience for us. For in addition to conducting a briefing for about 250 people, we were now dealing with Secret Service agents, bomb sniffing dogs and government sharpshooters, speech writers, print and TV reporters, school children and public relations people.