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.
US Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced the US Army Corps
of Engineers will receive $172.5 million in federal funding to
help move forward critical water infrastructure projects in
California. This funding comes from the Bipartisan
Infrastructure Law and the 2022 Disaster Relief
Supplemental Appropriations Act…. Highlights of California
projects receiving funding include: $28 million to restore
and revitalize the Los Angeles River. … $35 million for
the San Joaquin River Basin to help reduce flood risk to
the city of Stockton….$1.5 million for a Salton Sea
feasibility study to facilitate the development of
long-term solutions for public health and environmental impacts
of the Salton Sea.
The Union Sanitary District will receive a $250 million federal
infrastructure loan to upgrade its aging waste treatment
facility. The cash infusion will help support the district’s
roughly $510 million plan to significantly upgrade its 33-acre
wastewater treatment facility in Union City, the largest
improvement project it has ever undertaken. The project will
take an estimated seven to 10 years to complete, officials
The delivery of safe, affordable and reliable drinking water is
a key responsibility of utilities and governments everywhere.
In the U.S. there is growing evidence that access to safe and
affordable drinking water is distributed unevenly. Low-income
and minority communities are more likely to experience drinking
water contamination, face higher water bills, and have less
reliable access to drinking water. The importance of drinking
water services are clear and gaining policy attention.
Acknowledging that the U.S. Forest Service has fallen short
when it comes to preventing wildfires, the Biden administration
this week said it would spend nearly $3 billion to reduce risk
across the most fire-prone areas of the United States, largely
in the American West. The impact could be significant in
California, where the federal government is the largest
landowner, responsible for nearly half of all land area in the
state, including 20 million acres of federal forests vexed by
an enduring wildfire crisis.
Supporters of the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022 put
a call out for donations Friday to help get the measure on the
California ballot. In a “last call” for major donors,
supporters of the ballot measure wrote, “the campaign finds
itself in the inexplicable position of having a solution
everyone wants, but unable so far to raise funds to qualify it
for the ballot.
The More Water Now campaign was formed to qualify
the Water Infrastructure Funding Act to appear as a
state ballot initiative in November. Nearly every expert in
California agrees that more water infrastructure is necessary;
that conservation alone will not protect Californians from the
impact of climate change. Projects to capture storm runoff and
recycle urban wastewater are urgently needed, and this
initiative provides the funding to get it done. -Written by Edward Ring, lead proponent of the Water
Infrastructure Funding Act, a proposed state ballot
For the second year in a row, California has been blessed with
a massive budget surplus, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is again
seeking to spend billions of those dollars responding to
climate change. The $22 billion Newsom proposed last week is
the largest investment in climate change in state history.
Combined with funds from last year’s state climate spending
package, it would provide California with a total of $37
billion for climate-related initiatives over a six-year period.
… There is money to clean the electric grid, prevent
wildfires, respond to the drought and protect coastal areas
from rising sea levels…
A $286.4 billion budget plan for the state of
California was introduced this week by Governor Gavin Newsom.
This budget will make investments to target the greatest
threats to the state. Those threats include fighting COVID
19, keeping the streets safe, confronting homelessness and
combating the climate crisis with an emphasis
on drought response. Last year’s budget
included an allocation of $5.2 billion over a 3-year period to
tackle water issues. In this 2022 budget proposal, an
additional $750 million will go directly to the general fund to
support drought resilience and response.
Last week, Rep. Jim Costa continued to advocate
for key California infrastructure priorities as funding from
the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
(IIJA) begins to roll out. In a letter to U.S.
Dept. of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton,
Costa provided recommendations on how
the Biden administration can prioritize the
distribution of IIJA funding to help
improve water infrastructure in the San Joaquin
Some of the details will likely change over the next few months
as the governor’s office negotiates with the Legislature, which
must approve the budget. But here are nine things you should
know about how Newsom would tackle the climate crisis.
… It also adds $750 million to last year’s $5.2 billion
for drought response, including $180 million for water
suppliers to plug leaks, tear out grass and improve efficiency;
$145 million in emergency assistance for communities at
risk of going dry; $75 million to protect fish and
wildlife; and $30 million for replenishing groundwater.
A new report conveys significant progress made in the past 18
months to implement the Water Resilience Portfolio, the Newsom
Administration’s water policy blueprint to build climate
resilience in the face of more extreme cycles of wet and dry.
… Recent progress includes assisting tens of thousands
of Californians who depend on small water systems or domestic
wells that have drinking water supply problems, dedicating
hundreds of millions of dollars to improve streamflow for
salmon and other native fish species, advancing the removal of
four obsolete dams that block salmon passage on the Klamath
River, providing extensive financial and technical assistance
to local sustainable groundwater management agencies, restoring
streams and floodplains, and steadily improving the state’s
ability to manage flood and drought.
Roughly 10% of California’s public drinking water systems are
currently out of compliance with state drinking water quality
standards, and an estimated 6 million Californians are served
by systems that have been in violation at some point since
2012. A disproportionate number of water quality violations in
the state occur in smaller drinking water systems that serve
rural, low-income communities, where degraded infrastructure
and a lack of resources make it challenging to meet regulatory
standards. Communities served by water systems with
elevated contaminant levels are disproportionately poor and
Latinx, raising environmental justice concerns.
[Arizona] Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday proposed spending $1
billion from the state’s general fund over three years to help
“secure Arizona’s water future for the next 100 years.” In his
final State of the State address, the governor said the
budget he sends to lawmakers will prioritize water
infrastructure including desalination. … Long discussed as an
idea to deliver some of Mexico’s share of the Colorado River
without drawing down Lake Mead, seawater desalination on the
Sea of Cortez would pump treated water to Morelos Dam near Yuma
for distribution in Mexico. The U.S. parties paying into the
program would then take some of Mexico’s river water as
Buoyed by another massive surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday
unveiled a wide-ranging $286 billion spending proposal for
2022-23, prioritizing more money to fight COVID-19 and tackle
climate change, homelessness, the rising cost of living and
other issues that plague the Golden State. … The budget
also aims to address more long-standing problems, including
climate-related issues such as wildfires and drought. It calls
for an additional $1.2 billion to boost forest management and
$750 million to round out last year’s $5.2 billion water
package to help residents, farmers and wildlife respond to the
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday will propose spending billions of
additional dollars on drought response, wildfire suppression
and rural workforce development programs, according to budget
documents reviewed by The Sacramento Bee. The governor’s plan
includes $750 million in one-time money to help communities
affected by the drought, including for water conservation,
water efficiency, replenishing groundwater supplies and helping
Just before the California Department Fish and Wildlife
released a New Year’s Eve letter revealing that only 2.6
percent of juvenile Chinook salmon had
survived lethally warm water conditions on the
Sacramento River, a petition sponsored by Save California
Salmon in opposition to the Sites Reservoir reached 50,000
signatures. … Sites Reservoir is opposed by California Tribal
representatives, environmental justice groups, conservation
organizations and fishing groups …
The Senate’s nine Republicans are calling on the Democrats
controlling the Legislature and governor’s office to use the
anticipated $31 billion surplus to provide economic and drought
relief to Californians. The tax revenue has been so large this
year that policy analysts expect it will trigger a rarely
deployed policy known as the Gann limit. That means the state
must return a portion of the funds directly to taxpayers or
spend it on certain priorities, such as education and
Major water projects have always been financed by the people
who use the water — farmers, homeowners, industrialists —
through monthly bills. The one exception is for so-called
public benefits, such as fish protection and recreation.
Everybody pays for that. Now, Republicans are proposing that
the state general fund pony up with money collected from all
taxpayers from Crescent City to Calexico. This previously
seemed like a bad idea to me. Why should taxpayers in Orange
County pay to irrigate excessive almond orchards in the arid
San Joaquin Valley, especially when much of the crop is
exported to Asia? -Written by LA Times columnist George Skelton.
Sen. Bill Dodd introduced a new remote water monitoring bill
this week aimed at encouraging more efficient use of water.
With California experiencing longer and more frequent droughts,
the new legislation that was authorized on Wednesday will allow
for the remote sensing of water diversions and create a more
accurate measurement of available resources, according to a
press release from Dodd’s office. … This latest proposal,
Senate Bill 832, would authorize the California Department of
Water Resources to allow remote sensing technology to measure
diversions from major water users including agriculture and
municipal water districts.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox [R] unveiled his $25 billion budget
proposal last month near what was once the shore of the Great
Salt Lake. But instead of waves lapping behind him, the
waterline was barely visible in the distance. One of the
longest periods of prolonged drought in modern memory has
shrunk the lake by more than 10 feet in recent decades, just
one barometer in parched Western states that are feeling the
increasingly dire effects of a changing climate that is sapping
reservoirs, contributing to extreme fires and reducing snowpack
and river flow.
In November this year, San Francisco declared a water shortage
emergency and called for reducing usage by 10%, impacting
nearly three million city customers. In March, Utah also
declared a state of emergency as 90% of the state was in
extreme drought conditions. These are just 2 of the 17 states
that experienced water shortages in the past year. State and
local governments are now motivated to protect their
communities going into 2022 and beyond, with little consensus
on water sources that are shared by so many, like the Colorado
The Bureau of Reclamation has initiated the first application
period for Extraordinary Maintenance (XM) projects that will
address aging water and power infrastructure across the West.
Newly enacted funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
will be applied to the program following the new application
period requirements set out in the separate Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260) which became law
in December of 2020.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday decided to take no action
on a proposal from the County Administrative Office to consider
once again splitting the Water Resources Department off from
the Department of Public Works. County Administrative Officer
Carol Huchingson said she agendized the discussion because the
county is anticipating a “considerable amount of infrastructure
funding” in the next year or two thanks to the federal
The Bureau of Reclamation released the spending plan for the
$210 million provided in the Extending Government Funding and
Delivery Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 117-43). The
legislation provides Reclamation with $200 million to address
drought conditions throughout the West, as well as $10 million
for fire remediation and suppression emergency assistance
related to wildfires.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating a major
restoration project on the shore of Upper Klamath Lake that
could benefit species both above and below the water’s surface.
If carried out, it would be the largest wetland restoration
effort ever attempted for Upper Klamath Lake …
[and] would reconnect and restore more than 14,000 acres
of historic fringe wetlands back to the lake.
Niel Fischer’s company sits on an enormous stack of kindling —
a staggering backlog of dead and dying trees that could catch
fire again. Collins Pine Co. was left with 30,000 acres of
blackened pines and firs after the Dixie Fire ripped through
the company’s private forest in Plumas County this past summer.
… California’s wildfire crisis is being fed by a host of
problems, notably climate change and drought. The dilemma at
Collins illustrates another contributing factor: a shortage of
places for the state to process wood.
A proposed ballot measure that would dedicate $100 billion to
bolster California’s water supply is drawing a sharp rebuke,
not only for the amount of spending but also for the dramatic
sidesteps it would allow in the environmental review process.
For example, the proposal would make the controversial plan for
a Huntington Beach desalination plant eligible for a huge
taxpayer subsidy — even though the private, for-profit Poseidon
Water company currently intends to pay for the $1.4 billion in
State water officials have asked local groundwater agencies to
better prevent land subsidence. Simultaneously, the state is
also working to fix the damage caused by sinking land.
… The sinking of land is slowly impairing the complex
system of canals that deliver water throughout the state.
According to a 2017 report by the Department of Water Resources
(DWR), the sinking and buckling of portions of the California
Aqueduct, which runs 444 miles from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to the Tehachapi Mountains, has reduced its flow
capacity and its ability to store water in overflow pools.
Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.)
today called on the Interior Department to prioritize $8.3
billion in Western water infrastructure funding for California
projects that will promote preparedness and resiliency to
Many California Indians survived the genocide of
colonial settlement in California but have nonetheless been
deprived of their traditional way of life by being dispossessed
of their lands and culture. Californians now have an
opportunity to begin to repair these historic wrongs through
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s initiative known as 30×30.
… Rivers are an intrinsic part of California’s Native
American culture. Many Northern
California tribes define themselves by their
relationship to rivers. The name of the Yurok Tribe, for
example, means the “downriver” people, … Similarly,
the Winnemem Wintu Tribe’s name means the
“middle water” people … -Written by Morning Star Gali, a member of the
Ajumawi band of the Pit River Tribe in Northeastern California;
and Kate Poole, a senior director on the nature team
at Natural Resources Defense Council.
The Sites Project Authority received criticism Thursday as it
conducted a public hearing and presentation on the history and
variations of the Sites Reservoir project planned for Colusa
County. … Once public questions and input began, almost all
of the speakers shared criticism for the project with many
asking that the group not go forward with the project in any
capacity. Two representatives from two different tribes
with land that would be used for the project spoke out against
The Oregon legislature passed $100-million in drought relief
funding for the state. Of that, around $20 million is headed to
Klamath County for ongoing drought relief and wildfires.
There’s a sigh of relief for many in the Klamath Basin coming.
The Klamath Water Users Association says the funding will
benefit thousands in Klamath County. Desperately needed funding
is headed to Klamath County for drought assistance, from the
Our country faces a flood crisis. More people and places are at
risk, with climate-induced flooding threatening widespread
social, environmental and economic impacts. We need a holistic
approach to reduce flood risk now. The U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers has focused on building levees, spillways and
hardened infrastructure to address episodic storm events. But,
by focusing solely on storm surge, they leave millions exposed
to chronic flooding from sea level rise, tides and extreme
rainfall. … Coastal areas experience flooding from
rising seas, storm surge, rainfall, and swelling rivers and
-Written by Natalie Snider, associate vice
president of Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds at
Environmental Defense Fund; and David
Lewis, executive director of Save The Bay.
To cope with worsening droughts, over the past few decades
Californians have made impressive gains in water efficiency.
Total water diversions in California for agriculture and cities
– roughly 30 million acre feet per year for agriculture and 8
million acre feet per year for cities – have not increased even
while California’s population has grown and irrigated farm
acreage has increased. But conservation alone cannot guarantee
Californians have an adequate supply of water. -Written by Edward Ring, a senior fellow with the
California Policy Center, which he co-founded in
Almost immediately after Joe Biden’s U.S. EPA administrator
appointee Michael Regan took office, it was made clear that the
agency intends to repeal and replace the Trump administration’s
version of the Waters Of The United States (WOTUS) rule. This
rule seeks to determine which source water bodies receive
federal protection under the Clean Water Act. Trump’s version
of the rule was itself a replacement of an Obama era version,
and now it appears that Biden’s team is close to bringing it
back to its definition from before either of those eras.
Amid a historic drought, water is never far from Bay Area
residents’ minds. Marin County is suffering from water
shortages like its peers, but unlike other parts of the Bay
Area has no backup ways to get water when it runs dry. Though
the county gets 25% of its water from neighboring Sonoma, the
drought is forcing cutbacks in that supply as well.
… The bill has an entire section for Western water
infrastructure, including $1.15 billion for water storage and
conveyance projects like the one Marin is undertaking. Bay Area
water districts could use such money to expand reservoirs, as
Want to understand water speculation in Colorado? Let’s
say you’re in line at a pizza shop. Hear us out. There’s
a big sign at the pizza counter saying, “Limited quantities due
to climate change. Buy only what you can eat.” But the
guy in front of you buys five pizzas for $20 each. He starts
reselling them by the slice for $5 a piece. The store owner
says, “You can’t do that here.” The pizza glutton walks
away, saying, “Fine. I’ll put them in the freezer and I’ll eat
it all later.” … [S]peculation on water purely for
profit is supposed to be illegal already in Colorado. But under
current law, there’s no way of telling what’s in the water
With President Biden last month signing a historic $1 trillion
infrastructure bill into law to fortify roads, bridges and
waterways, among other things, Western states stand to gain
major water infrastructure investments. On Sunday, U.S.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland joined Nevada Democratic
Reps. Susie Lee and Dina Titus in Las Vegas to tout the Biden
administration’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs
Act that includes more than $50 billion for water
As Arizona tribal leaders prepare to take a greater role in a
regional forum on Colorado River issues, a new bill to
allow at least one tribe to lease water is making its way
through Congress, while another tribe tries to forestall
further cuts to water delivery. The tribes are increasingly
concerned that a persistent drought, worsened
by a 20-year-long period of hotter and drier
conditions in the Southwest, has already led to the federal
government’s first-ever shortage declaration for Arizona
water users. One tribe is worried that it may be asked to
reduce its own water deliveries.
State lawmakers want to use a projected $31 billion surplus to
fuel an infrastructure boom, a tactic that could reduce the
amount Californians might see in any rebate checks this year –
if they happen at all. The state expects to have so much money
it risks exceeding a state spending threshold called the Gann
Limit…. [Assemblyman Phil Ting, who runs the Assembly Budget
Committee] said he wants lawmakers to use the state
surplus for drought resilience projects and broadband expansion
to communities without reliable internet access.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Spurred 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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when
the Colorado River broke
through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years,
creating California’s largest inland body of water. The
Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130
miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe.
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
According to the EPA, there are more than 160,000 public water
systems in the United States.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water
Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the principles of IRWM,
its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water
The 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.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to
Flood Management explains the physical flood control system,
including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the
1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and
development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and
outlines ongoing flood control projects.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to
California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of
water development and use in California. It includes sections on
flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery
systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water
quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as
water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of
the guide is a section on the human need for water.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
explores the history and development of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery
system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes
the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP
brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
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.
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
According to the Department of Energy, administrator of NEPA:
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.
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].
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.