Topic: Legislation — California and Federal

Overview

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 Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Decades-old project to raise Lake Mendocino dam gets a boost

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, got the Coyote Valley Dam project — in one 13-word sentence — on a list of feasibility studies for some 30 Corps projects from Alabama to Alaska to be expedited by the Secretary of the Army. Tucked into the 122-page Water Resources Development Act of 2018, the list was approved two weeks ago on a lopsided 408-2 vote in the House and was forwarded to the Senate.

Aquafornia news POLITICO

Poison pills banished from Senate spending bills

The Senate’s stack of finished bills includes one with a notorious track record for poison pill riders: The measure that funds the EPA. That Interior-Environment bill was tripped up by partisan riders during the entire span of former President Barack Obama’s tenure, and it hasn’t reached the Senate floor since 2009.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Senate GOP drops ‘poison pills’ from key spending bill

Tuesday’s move by Sen. Lisa Murkowski extends an olive branch to Democrats and could allow the first floor debate on a key spending bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency since former President Barack Obama’s first year in office. It’s all part of an effort to avoid a catchall “omnibus” spending bill.

Aquafornia news POLITICO

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Californians turn to US for money that environmental groups say doesn’t do enough

California is one step closer to getting a cut of $2.5 billion over the next decade for its water needs now that the House has passed a bill aimed at funding water research and infrastructure projects.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Federal bill would push water utility repairs without rate hikes

Recognizing that complying with federal requirements can cause water utilities to raise rates, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a bill this week aimed at helping low-income households pay their bills.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California drinking water tax dies in budget compromise

A proposed tax on California’s drinking water, designed to clean up contaminated water for thousands of Californians, was abandoned by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders Friday as part of the compromise on the state budget. Lawmakers and Brown’s office scrapped the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act,” which would have taxed residents 95 cents a month to raise millions for cleaning toxic wells.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard, San Jose Mercury News

Humboldt County, state water officials talk new laws that mandate water conservation

On Thursday, Brown signed two bills, SB 606 by Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and AB 1668 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), that require cities, water districts and large agricultural water districts to set strict annual water budgets …The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District — which serves approximately two-thirds of county residents across several municipalities and community services districts — initially opposed the legislation unless it was amended.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: House backs $3 billion bill to boost ports, dams, harbors

The House on Wednesday night approved a nearly $3 billion bill to improve the nation’s ports, dams and harbors, protect against floods, restore shorelines and support other water-related projects. … Lawmakers approved the bill [Water Resources Development Act] 408-2, sending it to the Senate, where a similar bill is under consideration.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Prop. 68 passes to inject $4.1 billion into CA water, land conservation projects

Proposition 68 was approved with 56 percent of the vote to authorize the state to borrow $4.1 billion for investments in outdoor recreation, land conservation and water projects, according to the latest results Wednesday morning.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

No, Californians, you won’t be fined $1,000 if you shower and do laundry the same day

Taking aim at two water-conservation laws signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, a conspiratorial far-right financial blog called Zero Hedge reported Sunday that Californians could be fined $1,000 a day if they bathe and wash their clothes on the same day.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Farm bill targets food stamps — but not well-off farmers who have been on the dole for decades

As more than a million Americans face losing food stamps under President Trump’s vision for reauthorizing the farm bill, his vow to wean families off dependence doesn’t apply to thousands of others who have been relying much of their adult lives on payments from the government’s sprawling agriculture program.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Why emergency drought assistance will be needed in California for years

With the help of emergency funding requested by Assembly member Joaquin Arambula (D-Kingsburg), whose largely rural district is in the [San Joaquin] valley, the emergency water supply program will likely continue another year at a cost of $3.5 million. Also included in the emergency relief efforts is $10 million to address failing domestic wells and septic tanks, and $10 million for the Drinking Water for Schools Program that funds treatment solutions for schools that struggle with contamination.

Aquafornia news Glendale News-Press

California will have water consumption limits for the first time after ‘landmark’ legislation passed

For the first time in the state’s history, California is setting permanent water-consumption goals to prepare for future droughts and climate change, with a local elected official involved in the historic move. Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced Assembly Bill 1668, one of the bills signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Drought or no drought: Governor sets permanent water conservation rules for Californians

Although he declared an end to California’s historic five-year drought last year, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed two new laws that will require cities and water districts across the state to set permanent water conservation rules, even in non-drought years. “In preparation for the next drought and our changing environment, we must use our precious resources wisely,” Brown said in a statement.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: 360,000 Californians have unsafe drinking water. Are you one of them?

An estimated 360,000 Californians are served by water systems with unsafe drinking water, according to a McClatchy analysis of data compiled by the State Water Resources Control Board. … Now, after years of half solutions, the state is considering its most comprehensive actions to date. Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the Legislature to enact a statewide tax on drinking water to fix wells and treatment systems in distressed communities. 

Aquafornia news Solano County Daily Republic

Delta derelict removal fund passes Assembly vote

Legislation that creates a fund to help remove derelict commercial vessels from the Delta passed the Assembly on Wednesday. It was one of two bills authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, to clear the Assembly and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Assemblyman Gallagher’s State Water Project bill rejected

Two bills proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher, one of which would have taken the State Water Project from the state Department of Water Resources and another which would have provided funding for school resource officers, failed on Friday to pass through the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Straws. Bottle caps. Polyester. These are the new targets of California’s environmental movement.

More than half a dozen bills aimed at plastic pollution were introduced in Sacramento this year alone — by both coastal legislators and more moderate inland colleagues who see the potential damage not just in oceans but also rivers, lakes and the state’s water supply. No one, they said, wants to drink a glass of water and wonder if they’re also downing a glass of plastic.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Commentary: Time for California to deliver on the human right to water

When my [Leo Heller] predecessor, Catarina de Albuquerque, visited California, what she found shocked her. Drinking water conditions were akin to those typically seen in a developing country: families without an acceptable level of safe drinking water or sanitation; exposed pipes running through irrigation ditches; crumbling or nonexistent infrastructure.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Congress learning to padlock courthouse door

The high-ranking lawmaker who wants to block judicial review of a massive California water tunnels project calls his maneuver something close to standard operating procedure. And, like it or not, he’s right. In the latest example of a controversial tactic, the chairman of a key House panel included language blocking judicial review of California’s WaterFix project in a fiscal 2019 Interior Department funding package.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Independent governance eyed for State Water Project

The Legislature created the Department of Water Resources in 1956 for the purpose of managing the State Water Project, then in its early stages of planning. … AB 3045 would create a new State Water Project Commission under the state’s Natural Resources Agency to run the project – the agency, whose secretary serves in the governor’s cabinet, has broad authority over DWR.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestlé bottled water controversy becomes campaign issue in California race

The controversy over Nestlé’s bottled water operation in the San Bernardino National Forest has prompted a review of the company’s federal permit, a lawsuit and an investigation by California regulators. Now, Nestlé’s continued piping of water out of the San Bernardino Mountains has become an issue in a congressional campaign.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Five things to know about water bonds on upcoming California ballots

Californians this year will vote on not one but two water bond measures totaling $13 billion. Given that the state still hasn’t spent all of the $7.5 billion from the Proposition 1 water bond passed in 2014, it raises a crucial question: Does California really need another $13 billion in water bonds?

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California moves closer to crafting specific water caps for urban districts

California cities and towns may find themselves on a water budget in the next decade under a pair of bills approved Thursday by the legislature. The measures follow Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to make water conservation a permanent way of life in a state long accustomed to jewel-green lawns and suburban tracts studded with swimming pools.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Your guide to the 5 propositions on California’s primary ballot

California voters are being asked to weigh in on new borrowing, new government restrictions and a drought-friendly tax break on the statewide primary ballots that will be counted June 5. There are five propositions in all, a small menu of proposed laws all written by the California Legislature.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Hemp legalization poised to transform agriculture in arid West

Amid all the excitement around marijuana legalization in America, another newly legal crop has received comparatively little attention: hemp. And yet hemp may prove to be even more transformative, especially in the West’s arid landscapes. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that is not psychoactive.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: A ban on Delta tunnels lawsuits slips into federal spending plan

On Tuesday, veteran Rep. Ken Calvert of Riverside County released a 142-page draft spending bill for fiscal year 2019 for the Interior Department and related agencies. Tucked into the bill, on page 141, is a brief provision that would prohibit state or federal lawsuits against “the Final Environmental Impact Report/Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan/California Water Fix … and any resulting agency decision, record of decision, or similar determination.”

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Legal Commentary: Administrative Hearing Office proposed for State Water Resources Control Board

With the release of California’s budget trailer bill came proposed new legislation on Friday that would add an Administrative Hearing Office within the State Water Resources Control Board. If passed, the newly formed Administrative Hearing Office would provide a neutral, fair and efficient forum for adjudications.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Is your drinking water clean in Merced County?

Advocates gathered in Merced, and similar demonstrations were held around the state, according to advocates, to get elected officials to support Senate Bill 623, which aims to provide a stable source of funding to implement California’s Human Rights to Water, Assembly Bill 685 from 2012.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego fighting alone for $400,000 to cover water testing for lead at schools

San Diego is the only city in California seeking state reimbursement for testing the toxic lead levels in water at local schools, which has cost the city’s water agency more than $400,000. … The requirement, which came in response to a national outcry over lead in drinking water at schools in Michigan, immediately prompted complaints from water agencies that it was an unfunded mandate by the state.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

‘The drought is not over’: Residents still getting water from temporary tanks fear cutoff

For Fresno County resident Anne Schmidtgall the California drought never ended. Two years ago, the well on her property east of Del Rey went dry when the casing caved in. … Two weeks ago, Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, testified before an Assembly budget subcommittee requesting $23.5 million be added to the state budget for water needs.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California considers charge on utility bills to create safe water fund

Gaps in funding for water treatment are a major problem in California. Water providers operate independently, relying virtually entirely on customer fees to cover costs. For agencies with scale, money and access to quality water sources, this model works well. But absent those resources, contamination persists for years without resolution.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: This one stretch of river could decide the future of Shasta Dam

The final stretch of the McCloud River before it empties into the state’s largest reservoir is a place of raw beauty. … This part of the McCloud is off limits to almost everyone except a few Native Americans and some well-heeled fly fishermen. Its gatekeeper is an unlikely one, an organization that also happens to be a hugely controversial player in California water politics.

Western Water Gary Pitzer 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.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Hemp, not food, pushing Senate to consider sweeping farm bill

The massive farm bill that helps determine what farmers grow and Americans eat is poised to get some major momentum thanks to a not-yet-legal crop: Hemp.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

US House moves to reverse order to aid salmon

The U.S. House approved a bill Wednesday that would reverse a federal judge’s order to spill more water from four Pacific Northwest dams to help migrating salmon reach the Pacific Ocean. The bill, approved 225-189, would prevent any changes in dam operations until 2022.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Oroville Dam without Department of Water Resources?

A bill proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher which would take the State Water Project out of the hands of the state Department of Water Resources passed unanimously on Tuesday through a legislative committee. Assembly Bill 3045 passed 15-0 through the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Assembly bill may take inspection authority away from Department of Water Resources

There are 34 storage facilities, 30 dams, 23 pumping plants and nine hydroelectric power generation plants that are part of the California State Water Project, and the Department of Water Resources is in charge of not only operating but also of inspecting all of them. Local Assemblyman James Gallagher says that’s a conflict of interest, and a bill he’s pushing looks to take some of that authority away from DWR.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

2018 elections: Voters eye deluge of water money

California voters may be asked this year to approve $13 billion in two separate water bonds that promise to pay for safe drinking water and improve flood protection. Proposition 68, the California Clean Water and Safe Parks Act, is a $4.1 billion measure and is already set for the June 5 ballot. The Water Supply and Water Quality Act is an $8.9 billion measure and could come up for a vote in November. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Congresswoman wants Navy to help fight Mexican sewage spills

[Rep. Susan] Davis, a San Diego Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, has grown concerned about untreated sewage leaking from Tijuana’s aging and overworked wastewater collection and treatment system, a problem exacerbated by surges of fecal contamination when Mexican pipes break, pumps fail and rain falls.

Aquafornia news Brookings

Commentary: Why the climate challenge needs congressional action

President Trump has aimed to undo much of the Obama administration’s policy on energy and climate. … One could argue that any of the leading candidates in the 2016 Republican primary would have taken similar actions in the climate and energy space. What is needed now, we argue, is momentum toward bipartisan climate legislation in Congress that could outlast the back-and-forth on regulations.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Earth Day 2018: Here are 6 California bills that aim to reduce plastic litter and pollution

State lawmakers got the memo in advance. The theme of Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) is “End Plastic Pollution,” but California legislators are already on the case. Four years ago, they made California the first state to ban single-use plastic grocery sacks — and 52 percent of voters agreed with the law in a 2016 referendum.

Aquafornia news Truckee Sun

Tahoe-Truckee area water agencies oppose California drinking water fee

The Tahoe-Truckee area’s water agencies say they oppose a budget trailer bill that is part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2018-19 budget. The bill, according to the Association of California Water Agencies, is essentially a modified form of State Bill 623, dubbed the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fee.”

Aquafornia news Visalia Times-Delta

Farm Bill 2018 met with mixed reviews

Every five years, a bipartisan farm bill is passed by Congress that impacts people nationwide and right here at home.  On Thursday, a draft of the legislation was released by the House Agriculture Committee. While the bill is welcomed by many, some called it a betrayal to rural families.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: White House, Congress side with California growers over raising Shasta Dam

Congress and the Trump administration are pushing ahead with a plan to raise a towering symbol of dam-building’s 20th century heyday to meet the water demands of 21st century California — a project backed by San Joaquin Valley growers but opposed by state officials, defenders of a protected river and an American Indian tribe whose sacred sites would be swamped.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

When it comes to California water, nothing is easy

First put forward as Senate Bill 623, then later slipped into the governor’s 2018-19 budget as a trailer bill, the [Safe and Affordable Drinking Water] fund’s purpose is to cover an estimated $140 million each year in improvements and ongoing maintenance in water systems that are out of compliance with water quality standards. The proposed Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund is fueling increased debate in California’s water community and in the Capitol.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Statewide water bond measures could have Californians doing a double-take in 2018

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.

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Bundle Gary Pitzer

Statewide Water Bond Measures Could Have Californians Doing a Double-Take in 2018
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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Spending bill rejects Trump effort to gut water cleanups

A $1.3 trillion spending package approved Thursday by the House and early Friday by the Senate includes nearly $448 million for Environmental Protection Agency programs benefiting regional waters degraded by pollution, overdevelopment and exotic species invasions. … Aside from the Great Lakes, those staying at their current levels include Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay …

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Budget deal includes wildfire disaster fund to end borrowing

[Idaho Rep. Mike] Simpson, who chairs an Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development, called the wildfire fund one of the most significant pieces of legislation he has worked on in Congress. The concept is simple, he said: Treat catastrophic wildfires like other natural disasters.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Senator’s bill would establish Oroville Dam citizens advisory commission

A bill introduced by Sen. Jim Nielsen that would create a citizens advisory commission for the Oroville Dam was amended in the Senate last week. This comes as the Oroville Dam Coalition has been lobbying over the past year for more community involvement, including through a citizens oversight committee, as a reaction to the spillway crisis in February 2017.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Democrats block GOP bid to speed Shasta Dam enlargement

Democrats in Congress have stalled an attempt to jump start an expansion of Shasta Dam, California’s largest reservoir and a major water source for the Central Valley. Their objections blocked a Republican gambit to allow the $1.3 billion project to move forward without full up-front funding and despite objections from Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California earthquake standard designed to save lives but not buildings. There’s a new push to do both

California’s seismic construction requirements are designed to protect the lives of those inside. But even with the most modern codes, building to the state’s minimum requirements would leave even new buildings severely damaged in a major earthquake — to the point of being a complete loss.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Why your water provider is fighting California’s ban on watering sidewalks

The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to impose permanent conservation rules – such as prohibiting hosing down driveways, watering lawns less than two days after it rains and washing a car without attaching a shut-off nozzle to the hose – ran into a cascade of opposition.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Heller introduces bill to reauthorize Colorado River program

Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to reauthorize the Colorado River System Conservation Program critical to water supplies for Southern Nevada.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Should some species be allowed to die out?

Under the rules of the Endangered Species Act, once a species is discovered to be at risk of extinction, government agencies are required by law to take steps to save it. For years, critics have challenged that mandate, arguing that it undercuts the ability to weigh a species’ value or to consider the economic impact of its preservation — for instance, the cost of prohibiting logging in a valuable tract of forest.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: New fees proposed to pay for California’s contaminated water problem

As part of his final budget proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown wants new fees on water to provide clean and affordable drinking water to the approximately 1 million Californians who are exposed to contaminated water in their homes and communities each year. … About 100 state residents who lack access to clean drinking water will head to the Capitol today and join with several lawmakers to support Brown’s proposal … 

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Most California schools OK for lead levels in drinking water; thousands yet to be tested

Less than 1 percent of recent drinking water samples at California’s public schools showed elevated lead levels. But thousands more campuses still need to be tested, state officials said last week. A new law, AB 746, took effect in January requiring those tests at public schools over the next 16 months.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Lead fishing weights targeted under California bill

A California lawmaker wants to ban most lead fishing weights, arguing they are harmful to wildlife. Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, introduced Assembly Bill 2787 on Feb. 16.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California governor signs dam-safety bill prompted by crisis

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday that seeks to beef up dam inspections following a near disaster that caused the evacuation of almost 200,000 people living downstream from the tallest one in the United States. The measure implements several recommendations from experts who reviewed the crisis at Oroville Dam last year.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Arrests may hold up feds’ deal to settle with water district over runoff disaster

The manager of a San Joaquin Valley water district seen as a model for how to manage toxic agricultural runoff was jailed last week in Fresno on charges of embezzlement and burying 86 drums of toxic waste on the water district’s property.

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
Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Commentary: The most important new water bills facing California lawmakers

Water scarcity seems likely to be a recurring part of our future. Legislators in Sacramento, therefore, would be remiss to delay the adoption of a group of bills that would place the state on a path to ensuring more sustainable water supplies.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Many of north valley’s dams deemed high-hazard

Everyone knows about the risk from Oroville Dam after the spillway crisis, but most of the dams in the north valley are considered to have a high-hazard potential. … New requirements for these high-risk dams, including annual inspections, will come into play if Gov. Jerry Brown signs the dam safety bill on his desk soon.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Trump budget would undo gains from conservation programs on farms and ranches

Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are starting to shape the 2018 farm bill – a comprehensive food and agriculture bill passed about every five years. Most observers associate the farm bill with food policy, but its conservation section is the single largest source of funding for soil, water and wildlife conservation on private land in the United States.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Oroville-inspired dam inspection bill heads to governor

On the anniversary of evacuations prompted by the near disaster at Oroville Dam, California lawmakers on Monday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a measure to tighten dam inspection standards.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California’s wildfire risk is rising. Congress missed a chance to help.

A bipartisan group of members of Congress from California and other Western states had been pushing a policy fix that would create a new funding stream to fight fires, leaving more money for the U.S. Park Service to manage forests and prevent fires. Under current law, firefighting is not funded out of the same natural disaster account used to respond to hurricanes or tornadoes.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Efforts to move top US land managers West gain a strong ally

From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Bureau of Land Management oversees some of the nation’s most prized natural resources: vast expanses of public lands rich in oil, gas, coal, grazing for livestock, habitat for wildlife, hunting ranges, fishing streams and hiking trails.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Nunes memo made this congressman a national name. But his California district cares about water, not Russia

Here [Tulare], some business owners and workers said they still believe [Congressman Devin] Nunes can deliver on jobs. Farmers and growers tend to know him for water, not Russia.

Aquafornia news Center for American Progress

Commentary: Using 2018 Farm Bill to grow investment in private lands conservation

In the United States, the largest single source of public conservation funding comes from an unexpected piece of legislation: the farm bill. Although the bulk of the farm bill focuses on commodity subsidies and nutrition assistance, the most recent version allocated more than $5 billion in annual funding for various conservation programs. The farm bill is also a venue to set policy and pilot new programs that grow conservation on working lands in order to balance production of crops, timber, and livestock with environmental quality.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California Water Board delays affordability report

Citing the need for more deliberation, California regulators delayed publication of a report that will outline their preferred plan to fund and manage a statewide program to help poor residents pay their water bills. As water rates increase in the United States, governments and utilities are exploring new forms of financial aid.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Rainwater capture would get boost under new California ballot measure

Worried about California’s dry winter? Interested in installing a rainwater capture system from your roof? A new state ballot measure written by an East Bay lawmaker and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown late Wednesday will put the issue before voters in four months.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Congress misses deadline to approve west-side water fix, but deal not unraveling yet

A key deadline has passed to solve the irrigation drainage problem that caused massive bird deaths and deformities at Kesterson wildlife refuge. But a Westlands Water District official said Congress is still on track to pass legislation benefiting both the district, which delivers water to farms over an area the size of Rhode Island, and the federal government.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How California lawmakers are preparing for more natural disasters

Dozens of Californians lost their lives in wildfires and other natural disasters in recent months. In response to the widespread emergencies, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators want to change insurance rules, emergency alert systems and debris removal policies and spend more money on fire protection.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

As California groundwater regulation unfolds, some feel left out

California’s sweeping effort to regulate groundwater extraction is still in its infancy. But many community groups are already concerned that too little is being done to involve low-income and disadvantaged residents in managing aquifers dominated by agriculture. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, adopted in 2014, was a Herculean achievement for California.

Aquafornia news The Livermore Independent

Legislation would impose state tax on water bills

Everyone in California would pay a monthly tax of 95 cents on their water bills, if SB 623 were to become law in its current form. The bill was introduced last year by Sen. William Monning of Carmel. It became a two-year bill available for passage in 2018.

Aquafornia news E&E News

2018 could be a busy year for lands, wildlife and energy bills

A full slate of bills related to public lands, energy development and wildlife management are teed up for action when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill in 2018, and some of those bills may get taken up early in the year.

Aquafornia news Oceans Deeply

Rare outbreak of bipartisanship on need to fight ocean pollution

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the United States Senate has unanimously passed the Save Our Seas Act of 2017, which would reauthorize the NOAA Marine Debris Program for five years and encourage international cooperation to prevent and clean up plastic pollution.

Aquafornia news Idaho Statesman

Commentary: Five ways Congress can make the Endangered Species Act better

The House Resources Committee has approved five different bills its members say will modernize the Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973. Critics accurately say the bills would gut the law, which hasn’t had a major rewrite since the 1980s. The law is a powerful statement in defense of creation that requires the federal government to protect all species, a message that goes all the way back to Noah’s Ark.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California Westlands water settlement is left in limbo

This year, the annual bill governing national defense policy almost settled a three-decades-old conflict in California over the drainage of toxic water from farm fields. Lawmakers finished resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the military bill, legislation that addresses troop numbers and overseas operations, on Nov. 8.

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018
Field Trip - November 7-8

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

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 Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Congress passes defense spending bill that includes perfluorinated chemicals health study

Recognizing widespread public concern over drinking water contamination, Congress approved a five-year, $7-million study of the human health consequences of perfluorinated compounds, a class of chemicals that came to national prominence in the last two years amid detection in the water of hundreds of communities, households, and military bases.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Commentary: Repairs should not be limited to Oroville Dam

Restoration and protection of forested source watersheds is a proven tool to reduce flood intensity, increase water supply and storage, improve timing and amount of water releases – especially for the hot summer months – and improve water quality. … In 2016, California enacted my [Assembly member Richard Bloom] bill, Assembly Bill 2480, which acknowledged the importance of these water banks as the essential complement to our built water system infrastructure.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Westlands water settlement in limbo

This year, the annual bill governing national defense policy almost settled a three-decades-old conflict in California over toxic water draining from farm fields. Lawmakers finished resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the military bill, legislation that addresses troop numbers and overseas operations, on Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Audubon California

Commentary: 25th anniversary of water reform law provides perspective on progress and challenges

California’s most important federal water reform law – the Central Valley Project Improvement Act – will celebrate its 25th anniversary on October 30. … The law was an historic effort to protect and restore California’s wetlands, rivers, migratory waterbirds, salmon and other fish species, and also to promote more sustainable water supplies for a drought prone state.  

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: House approves bill to expand hydropower

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, would define hydropower as a renewable energy source and streamline the way projects are licensed, with primary authority granted to a single federal agency. Lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday, 257-166.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Congressmen want additional Oroville Dam safety review

Reps. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, Monday introduced to a bill that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct an additional environmental review of the Oroville Dam. The congressmen would like to see a review done before the commission approves the relicensing of the dam under state Department of Water Resources’ management.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Water fight tied directly to Arizona’s growth

Gov. Doug Ducey’s office is pushing a series of controversial proposals to overhaul state water management. One reason is to assure investors that Arizona has enough water for future economic development.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

GOP targets environmental rules after wildfires

House Republicans are targeting environmental rules to allow faster approval for tree cutting in national forests in response to the deadly wildfires in California. … The GOP bill is one of at least three being considered in Congress to address wildfires.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Major water rights settlement for Arizona tribe goes to Congress

In what one economic development expert calls a “unique case” of a tribe’s water rights claims being backed by all players, Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake on September 7 filed a new bill to ratify the Hualapai Tribe’s water settlement, an agreement negotiated between the tribe, Arizona, the federal government and others. … The bill, if enacted, will provide the tribe with 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news The Riverside Press-Enterprise

‘Environmental justice’ is goal of legislation

Citing the health problems of people living near the Salton Sea and those toiling as farmworkers, an Inland congressman is sponsoring a bill to empower underprivileged communities beset by pollution.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Costly hurricanes raise questions about future of federal flood insurance

An unprecedented wave of destructive hurricanes has brought the long-struggling federal flood insurance program to the brink. Now Congress faces tough questions about whether to again bail out the nearly 50-year-old program and how to implement reforms to make it more sustainable, secure and cost-effective.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

New bills ease funding and improve accounting for water

This was a busy year for water policy in the California Legislature. Governor Jerry Brown signed more than a dozen bills affecting the way we manage water. The bills cover a wide range of issues, from funding water infrastructure to reporting on new groundwater wells in overdrafted basins.

Aquafornia news The Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Governor signs bill creating new water agency

The way water is acquired and distributed throughout the Santa Clarita Valley changed forever Sunday when Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill creating one new all-encompassing water district for the SCV.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: A plan for billions of dollars in parks and water improvements on California’s 2018 ballot

Voters will decide in June 2018 whether to borrow $4 billion to fund improvements to the California’s parks and water systems after Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 5 on Sunday.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

House passes big disaster aid bill but there’s political trouble ahead

Thursday’s package, which the Senate could take up when it returns next week, includes money for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s nearly empty Disaster Relief Fund and for the financially-struggling National Flood Insurance Program.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Governor vetoed 2016 bill aimed at power line, wildfire safety

Now, as a series of deadly fires rages in Wine Country, serious questions are once again being asked about the safety of overhead electrical wires in a state prone to drought and fierce winds. On Wednesday, Cal Fire said that investigators have started looking into whether toppled power wires and exploding transformers Sunday night may have ignited the simultaneous string of blazes.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Will wine country disaster push Congress to fix fire budget?

At the root of the problem is the fact that forest fires are not treated like other natural disasters. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can tap emergency funds for hurricane or tornado response, the U.S. Forest Service has to raid its other program budgets – including fire prevention – if it runs out of firefighting funds.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Effort to plug Tijuana sewage flows gets $2.1 million bump from state bill

The effort to prevent sewage from flowing from Tijuana into San Diego County got a small boost Monday when Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to provide about $2.1 million in funds for the effort.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Bill would require more disclosure before drilling new wells

If you want a new well in California, you might have to let your neighbors know how much water you plan to pump. That’s if it’s tapping a critically overused aquifer, and if a bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk survives calls for a veto.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Which California megaprojects get breaks from complying with environmental law?

Year after year, owners of professional sports teams and developers of proposed skyscrapers have pleaded with California lawmakers to grant relief for their projects from the state’s environmental regulations. They’ve found a largely receptive audience.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

How water bill was resurrected in Legislature’s final hours (with audio)

It was 11:59pm last Friday, and Assembly Bill 313 sat silently in the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it had slumbered untouched for weeks. … It’s a bill backed by water agencies and despised by environmentalists – and its passage was crucial to the fate of the four-billion-dollar parks and water bond.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers OK $4 billion for parks, water projects

Immigration and housing dominated the headlines from Sacramento this year. But with little fanfare, state lawmakers working with Gov. Jerry Brown also approved a sweeping measure to provide $4.1 billion in new funding for parks and water projects — everything from building Bay Area hiking trails to expanding Lake Tahoe beaches to constructing new inner city parks in Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Oroville-inspired dam inspection bill racing against legislative deadline

The north state assemblyman who represents Oroville, where the threat of a dam collapse in February forced 188,000 downstream residents to evacuate, is racing to tighten inspection standards before the end of the legislative session Friday night.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Will anti-water pumping legislation be brought back from the dead?

Late last week, we suggested watching this space for possible revival of Assembly Bill 1000, legislation to halt a controversial water-pumping project in the Mojave Desert that’s being pushed by the politically connected firm Cadiz, Inc.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: $200 million for Salton Sea in California bond measure

Earlier this month, a proposed bond measure in the California Legislature had included $280 million to pay for building thousands of acres of ponds, wetlands and other dust-control projects around the Salton Sea. This week, after negotiations among lawmakers, the amount earmarked for the Salton Sea was slashed to $200 million.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California could mandate new Salton Sea geothermal plants at 11th hour

As state lawmakers debate far-reaching bills that could reshape the energy landscape in California and across the West, some groups are urging the Legislature to require new geothermal power plants at the Salton Sea before a key deadline Tuesday* night — but those groups can’t agree on what the geothermal mandate should look like.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Capitol Roundup: Parks and Water Bond

Update at 12:59 p.m.: California legislative leaders have reached agreement on a bill that would place a $4 billion dollar parks and water bond on the June 2018 ballot.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Deep drought stirred action on California’s right to water

Though the nation’s first state law to assure the human right to safe water and sanitation was enacted in California in 2012, not much happened immediately afterward. The law existed in a dormant state, like a seed waiting for a storm. The storm eventually came, but, as it happened, it was a lack of rain that brought the seed to flower.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

California lawmakers leave some of the biggest bills for the final days

Key bills awaiting a final vote … Parks and water bond: Senate Bill 5 would place a nearly $4 billion bond measure for parks and water projects on the June 2018 primary ballot.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

California’s clean-water-for-all experiment begins to deliver

Hundreds of thousands of California residents, perhaps as many as one million of the 39 million people in the state, do not have safe drinking water or toilet facilities.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California passes bill to protect scientific data from federal censorship

Soon after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a page on climate change vanished from the White House website, sending a chill through the scientific community. Within weeks, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, proposed a bill to protect whistleblowers and safeguard data collected by scientists …

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Bill targeting Cadiz water transfer dies in Senate committee

A bill designed to block the transfer of groundwater from the remote San Bernardino County desert died in Sacramento on Friday after failing to advance beyond the Senate appropriations committee.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Flood insurance is a mess, and Harvey won’t make Congress any more likely to fix it

Hurricane Harvey is sure to add more crushing debt to the National Flood Insurance Program, which is already $25 billion in the red. So when Congress resumes on Tuesday, will it immediately act to fix this troubled program?

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Democrats seek $4 billion bond for water, flood control, parks

As torrential rains and dangerous flood waters pummel large swaths of Texas and parts of Louisiana, California lawmakers are eying legislation to prevent similar damage from from the state’s own disasters.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Federal flood insurance program in limbo on Capitol Hill as Harvey’s toll mounts

The devastation Hurricane Harvey has wrought in southeastern Texas has brought new focus to the National Flood Insurance Program — and to a pending Republican effort to restructure and partially privatize an industry that has been effectively subsidized with tens of billions of federal taxpayer dollars.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California drinking water could soon be taxed

For the first time Californians would pay a tax on drinking water — 95 cents per month — under legislation aimed at fixing hundreds of public water systems with unsafe tap water.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Trump team goes to bat for NRA-backed bill, deleting Park Service concerns

Under the bill, the National Park Service would be prevented from regulating the hunting of bears and wolves in Alaska wildlife preserves, including the practice of killing bear cubs in their dens. It also would be prevented from regulating commercial and recreational fishing within park boundaries and from commenting on development projects outside park boundaries that could affect the parks.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Billionaire helping to get funds for San Joaquin Valley clean water

Tom Steyer, the San Francisco billionaire and environmentalist, promised his support Tuesday for a proposed safe and affordable drinking water fund to help communities with contaminated water in the San Joaquin Valley. … Steyer met with about a dozen water advocates at the nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability in downtown Fresno who urged him to throw his clout behind Senate Bill 623. 

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: East Bay lawmaker touts water bill with recycling plant as backdrop

Though it may not stop the state’s Twin Tunnels project from diverting Delta water down south, Congressman Jerry McNerney hopes his new bill to invest in recycling projects will ensure water districts are frugal with the essential, but limited resource.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Parks and water bond linked to housing deal at California Capitol

As California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown work to hammer out an affordable housing deal that includes a multi-billion dollar bond measure, they’re also negotiating a parks and water bond that would advance at the same time.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California’s largest water supplier says federal water bill goes too far

The measure, called the “Gaining Responsibility on Water Act” or GROW Act, has already passed the US House, largely along party lines. Supporters, including many Central Valley Republicans and farmers, say it would cut the red tape that prevents dams and water storage projects from being built.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Local entities oppose funding sources for drinking water bill

A bill making its way through the state Legislature is seeking to improve quality and access to drinking water quality by creating a new state fund, but some local entities are opposing how the bill plans to raise money for this goal.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Legislation — From toilet water to drinking water

This legislation might be hard to swallow: Lawmakers are considering a bill that would clear the way for California communities to put highly treated wastewater directly into the drinking water supply. … Jennifer Bowles, executive director of the Water Education Foundation, said the California public is more open to the idea of recycling water these days because of the recent five-year drought.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

First step in implementing California groundwater law successful

California was one of the last states in the West to pass a law to manage groundwater. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act into law in 2014.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Legislature, don’t mess with California’s water umpire

As California water becomes an increasingly precious and contentious resource, the state needs an umpire with the power to enforce laws against illegal diversions and protect the rights of the public and others with enforceable claims to state water.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

House bill redirects river flows from fish to farms

Republican-backed federal legislation with strong support from agricultural communities in California aims to eradicate salmon from much of the San Joaquin River. It will nullify numerous laws protecting wetlands and waterways in order to provide farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with more northern California water.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma County supervisor to testify before US Senate panel about local water initiatives

Shirlee Zane, the chairwoman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, is set to appear before a Congressional panel in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the county’s efforts to better manage its water supply and respond to major storms. … Zane intends to tell senators about two initiatives led by the Sonoma County Water Agency, of which she is also a board member. 

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Unlikely allies push bill to solve California drinking water crisis

As the summer sun was warming up on a July morning, a crowd of nearly 100 people gathered on the north steps of the California Capitol, many having arrived stiff-legged after a four-hour bus ride. … Most were San Joaquin Valley residents, including children as young as 5, who woke up before dawn to travel to the state capital to voice their support for Senate Bill 623, the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Oroville Dam, other flood-safety projects would be fast-tracked under new bill

Work to strengthen Oroville Dam, shore up downstream levees and other types of flood-prevention projects would be eligible for fast-tracked state approval under new California legislation lawmakers will consider when they return from summer recess next month.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

The drought is over. Why are Republicans in Congress fighting for more water for farmers?

The drought may be over and Central Valley farmers are getting more water than they have in years, but that hasn’t stopped congressional Republicans from resurrecting a bill that would strip environmental protections for fish so more water can be funneled to agriculture. … Some version of [Rep. David] Valadao’s bill has been introduced off and on since 2011 without success. 

Aquafornia news PolitiFact California/Capital Public Radio

McCarthy ignores key facts in claim on California water storage

One of the biggest backers for building new dams and reservoirs in California is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. … As part of his push for the bill, H.R. 23, McCarthy made a claim about the dearth of water storage construction in the state in recent decades.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: GOP push to shift state water policy away from conservation

With a friend in the White House and their party in control of both chambers of Congress, House Republicans have embarked on their most ambitious effort yet to change the way water flows in California. Legislation that the House sent to the Senate last week outlines a bold effort to build big new dams and shift water from fish, birds and other wildlife to farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news E&E News

House panel to review Endangered Species Act bills

The Endangered Species Act will come in for a spanking and a possible face-lift Wednesday as the House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on five ESA-related bills. Authored by four Republicans and one rural Democrat, the individual measures pick away at several pieces of the 1973 law that’s outlasted many previous congressional forays.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Congressman McNerney presents bill as alternative to twin tunnels (with audio)

Congressman Jerry McNerney from Stockton presented a bill Monday as an alternative to the Twin Tunnels that will concentrate on ways to create new water.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Congressman McNerney outlines Delta tunnels alternative

[U.S. Rep. Jerry] McNerney’s bill comes at a crucial time, as various government agencies and water districts make a series of decisions this summer and fall about whether the $17 billion tunnels project should move forward.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Federal water legislation: ‘It’s going to be a fight’

Whatever the prognosticators say, the latest effort by south San Joaquin Valley Republicans to wring more water out of the Delta is undeniably ambitious. A bill that cleared the House of Representatives last week requires the Delta to be governed by 20-year-old water quality standards that scientists say are inadequate for the estuary’s freshwater ecosystem.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Flood insurance rates could rise for homeowners under proposal

Congress is considering sweeping changes to the debt-laden National Flood Insurance Program that could jack up flood insurance rates for hundreds of thousands of homeowners under a bill that a Florida real estate group called “devastating.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California water bill passes House, but Democrats vow to fight it in the Senate

Some of California’s decisions about how to use its water would be relegated to the federal government under a bill passed by the House on Wednesday.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Congress battles over water priorities in California

Fish or farms? The House this week will tackle the question, which for years has triggered a tug-of-war between growers and environmentalists.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Bill would curb Cadiz desert water project

The battle over plans by a Los Angeles company to sell water pumped from aquifers underneath Mojave Desert conservation areas heated up again this week when state legislation was amended to require a new round of state reviews.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Foam fight: As California balks at state ban, activists target local level

Foam burger boxes and ice cream cups could eventually go the way of the flimsy plastic shopping bag — banned throughout California. It’s not likely to happen this year.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Senate committee to hear conservation bills

Several recently amended bills on long-term conservation and drought planning are set for hearing July 11 in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Political Notes: Dam safety bill advances

A bill that requires two state agencies to re-evaluate dam inspection reports and sets new rules for the reports unanimously passed in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. 

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Bill by LaMalfa seeks to streamline outdoor visits

A bill in Congress aims to make recreation on federal lands more accessible although critics are wary the legislation would open the door to widespread fees for the use of public lands.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

That rotten egg smell is from a dying California lake

State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, says the state needs millions more to help protect the [Salton Sea's] sensitive ecosystem. A pair of measures advancing in the Legislature aim to speed up state restoration efforts, and ask voters next year to approve a $500 million general obligation bond to improve environmental and air quality conditions.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California faces its first big deadline for groundwater law

The SGMA [Sustainable Groundwater Management Act] is now kicking into gear as its first major deadline arrives: By June 30, counties and regional water managers must form “groundwater sustainability agencies,” or GSAs – the task forces that will eventually be responsible for developing their own sustainable groundwater use plans. Districts that fail or choose not to create a GSA will be subject to intervention by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

As wildfires rage out West, Congress fights over forest policy

With wildfire season raging in western states, Congress is embroiled in a battle over how best to fight the fires. … That’s why lawmakers are considering the “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017.”

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Rep. Chu bill would protect 31,000 acres of Angeles Forest as wilderness

About 31,069 acres of rugged, pristine mountain land, plus 25 miles of year-round waterways located within the Angeles National Forest would be granted federal protection as wilderness areas and scenic rivers, according to a bill introduced Friday in Congress.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Bill aims to help California save water for a not-so-rainy day

After years of drought, the state of California is bracing for water. Lots of it. … Congress is trying to help manage such drastic shifts in California’s water levels.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California hones drinking water affordability plan

Nearly five years ago, the California Legislature declared that the state’s residents have a right to “safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water.” Passage of the landmark law provoked a practical question that has always dogged the noble ideals of the right-to-water movement: how does a state government or municipal utility ensure clean and affordable water for all? … Staff members at the California Water Resources Control Board are now taking a full swing at the affordability component of the right-to-water legislation.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Environmental bills go down to defeat in California Senate

Despite all of the bills passed on to the Assembly from the Senate before last week’s deadline, the only three bills lawmakers rejected in the Senate were environmental ones.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Amid groundwater crisis, California bill would require well-drilling information

California farmers have long been able to get permits to drill new wells in areas where groundwater levels are falling without publicly saying how much water they intend to pump. That would change under a bill approved this week by the California Senate.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Assemblyman proposes bill to warn renters in flood zones

AB 646, which has passed two committees and could go to the Assembly floor next week, would require landlords throughout California to provide written notification to those renting in “a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding.”

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Most California farm-water suppliers are breaking this law. Why doesn’t the state act?

During California’s epic five-year drought, most of the state’s irrigation districts didn’t comply with a 2007 law that requires them to account for how much water they’re delivering directly to farmers, a Bee investigation has found. State regulators are largely powerless to stop them, but they don’t seem too bothered by it.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Feinstein bill would provide farmworkers path to citizenship

Lourdes Cardenas, who has picked grapes in Fresno County for 14 years, wants some assurance she won’t be separated from her family or continue to “live in fear” of deportation as a worker in the country without legal permission.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Congress budget deal protects water programs

The Trump administration’s talk of slashing environmental programs in fiscal year 2018 did not translate into big cuts in a 2017 spending agreement negotiated by Congress. President Trump signed a budget deal on May 5 that keeps the government operating through September 30. Notably, the agreement does not include huge cuts to water and environment programs — elimination of rural water grants, for instance, or a one-third cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — that the president targeted in his 2018 budget proposal. 

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Could management shift to states even if public lands remain federally owned?

State legislators across the West introduced bills this year encouraging Congress to revisit the idea of wholesale land transfers — ceding large parcels of land to the states, which could then sell the land for development and extraction, or manage it for the public. Those bills face an uphill battle.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Bills seek to provide $140 million to fishing fleets

The two bills written by [Congressman Jared] Huffman and [Congresswoman Jackie] Speier would provide nearly $22.5 million in relief funds to the Yurok Tribe to aid salmon fishing communities and salmon restoration and monitoring projects. The bills would also provide more than $117 million for California Dungeness crab and rock crab fishermen affected by the delayed 2015-16 season.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Effort to ban plastic water bottles in national parks would end under budget deal

At the behest of the International Bottled Water Association, Congress is preparing to approve a must-pass budget bill that includes language aimed at restoring the sale of water in disposable plastic bottles in all national parks. For nearly six years, national parks have had the option of banning bottled-water sales as a way to reduce plastic litter and waste management costs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Earthquake early warning system nets $10.2 million in Congress’ budget deal

The budget deal reached in Congress this week penciled in $10.2 million for an earthquake early warning system for California and the rest of the West Coast for the budget year that ends in September.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press/Eureka Times-Standard

No fishery disaster relief funds in Congress’ $1 trillion spending bill

Then-Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared a fisheries disasters for nine West Coast fisheries in January, including for the 2015-16 crab season in California and the 2016 salmon season for the Yurok Tribe. California 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) was one of 17 members of Congress who drafted a bipartisan letter to congressional party leaders in early April urging that they include the disaster funds in the new spending bill. 

Aquafornia news Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon

House Natural Resources Committee backs bill protecting transmission lines

A bill intended to prevent dying trees damaged by drought from falling onto utility lines on publicly owned federal land, sparking wildfires and electricity blackouts, passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

New bill would change CDFA’S relationship with farmers of color

A new bill unanimously approved by the Assembly Agricultural Committee Wednesday could significantly alter the way the California Department of Food and Agriculture works with farmers of color. 

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Yuba County pushes legislation on illegal diversion of river water for pot grows

In 2015, a Nevada County man believed to be running a marijuana cultivation site hauled a 500-gallon tank into Yuba County and filled it by diverting water from the Yuba River, which is not illegal under current law. Yuba County supervisors and the district attorney recently signed a letter of support for a bill that would amend the Water Code to address that type of situation.

Aquafornia news Associated Press/Eureka Times-Standard

Congress working to prevent government shutdown; fishery disaster funds up in the air

[California 2nd District Congressman Jared] Huffman and a bipartisan group of 16 other legislators are urging congressional appropriation committees to include fisheries disaster funding in the spending bill for fishing fleets in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, which includes the California crab fleet and the Yurok Tribe salmon fishing fleet.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Delta levee and ratepayer protection bills pass first hurdle

Two bills that would protect Delta levees and ratepayers were passed in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday. Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s two bills — AB 732 and AB 791 — passed through their first hurdle. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Yearly dam inspection bill proposed

State-maintained dams and reservoirs will be inspected every year if a new bill can make it through the California Legislature.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

California Democrats prepare to battle GOP over Endangered Species Act

California  Democrats are moving a bill through the Legislature that would require the state to have environmental laws that are equal to or tougher than regulations in the federal endangered species, clean air, and clean water acts. Those laws were signed by then-President Richard Nixon in the 1970s, ushering in a new era of environmental protections.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Delta could be designated state’s first national heritage area

Congress will yet again consider whether the Delta should be designated as California’s first “national heritage area.” But don’t get too excited. This is the fourth go-around.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Letter calls for approval of fishery disaster funds

A bipartisan group of congressional representatives sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Wednesday urging them to include disaster relief funds for nine West Coast crab and salmon fisheries in a government spending bill this month.

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Amid controversy, Nunes returning to Fresno to talk water

Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman from Tulare who’s been at the center of a political firestorm in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to address water issues at a meeting of agricultural lenders Friday in Fresno. … Nunes is one of 13 co-sponsors of H.R. 23, a water bill offered in January by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Bill would expand protections for California’s rivers (with audio)

A bill to expand protections for California’s wild and scenic rivers is working its way through the state legislature.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California bill aims to make it harder for megaprojects to sidestep state environmental law

Two years ago, the Los Angeles Rams did something unheard of in California development politics: In just six weeks, the team went from unveiling plans for an 80,000-seat stadium to earning final approval from the Inglewood City Council.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Six water bills to watch so far this spring in California’s Legislature

It’s early in the legislative season in California, but already a few bills are emerging that those following water issues in the state will want to watch.

Aquafornia news Western Water on Tap

Senators call for equity and competitiveness in new water bond allocation

The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee passed a proposed $3.5 billion water and parks bond measure Tuesday, with members calling for an assurance that if approved by California voters in 2018, the funds would be equitably distributed throughout the state. The bond, Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, includes $500 million for flood protection investments that were just added after the recent floods to address the state’s urgent needs.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California water bills are starting to trickle out on Capitol Hill

With a Republican in the White House and the GOP controlling Congress, Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., said Tuesday that he was hoping to build on last year’s legislation that was loved by farmers and loathed by environmentalists.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers vow to protect federal environmental laws (with audio)

California senate Democratic leaders announced proposed legislation aimed at strengthening environmental regulations that they say President Donald Trump could weaken.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

State Sen. McGuire pushes environmental protections for state

On Thursday, North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire was part of a group leading the way in state environmental protection measures it hopes will counter potential changes to federal law.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Lawmakers propose adopting federal environmental protections they fear President Trump will drop

Fearing a federal rollback of longstanding protections for air quality, clean water, endangered species and workers’ rights, California Democrats are pursuing legislation that would cement those environmental and labor regulations in state law.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Amid Oroville emergency, California Legislature moves to make flood-control fixes

As heavy winter storms continue to hammer California, the Legislature is launching a review of dam and levee safety and bracing for major investments necessary to shore up flood control throughout the state.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California farmers hope Congress and Trump team can deliver irrigation drain deal

The political terrain appears favorable for a mega-million-dollar irrigation drainage deal, with Congress still fully in Republican hands and California’s sprawling Westlands Water District with influential allies. But there are complications.

Other Event

WELL 2018 Annual Conference
Water, Weather and Warning! Is your community prepared for extreme weather events?

Water Education for Latino Leaders is convening a statewide educational water conference in Sacramento for California local elected officials.

Local elected officials can make a difference for all Californians by taking the necessary steps to understand the dynamic of California water to assure adequate clean water for our communities, protect our natural resources and our local economies. WELL’s hope is to facilitate understanding towards comprehensive long-term water policies that will sustain California’s economy and quality of life. 

The Water Education Foundation is an organizing partner.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Westlands’ irrigation drainage deal gets extended for one year so Congress can act

Westlands Water District and Justice Department officials have given themselves, and Congress, another year to finish a controversial irrigation drainage plan.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Governor’s funding plan for climate, drought

Governor Brown has released a proposed budget that reaffirms the state’s commitment to boosting drought resiliency and battling climate change. … Although state money represent only a fraction of California’s total water sector spending (13%—the rest is mostly locally funded), it is an important piece of the funding pie. 

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Democrats pave the way toward spending $1 trillion on roads, ports and other projects

A lot more money could fuel improvements to California’s highways, airports and rail lines under a 10-year, trillion-dollar infrastructure plan proposed by Senate Democrats on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A key reform of California’s landmark environmental law hasn’t kept its promises

Overhauling the environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act, is a perennial issue at the Capitol, and the measure benefiting the Warriors arena was one of the most high-profile CEQA reforms in recent years.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Some Californians can drink what astronauts drink: recycled wastewater (with audio)

A new law in January would allow districts to bottle 1000 gallons of purified recycled water a year. … The bottles won’t be on store shelves.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Obama signs bill securing $415 million for Lake Tahoe

With the stroke of a pen Friday President Barack Obama solidified $415 million in federal funding for projects in and around Lake Tahoe, along with providing funding for drought relief in California and other water projects.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Obama signs big California water and flood control bill

President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed and bequeathed to President-elect Donald Trump a massive infrastructure bill designed to control floods, fund dams and deliver more water to farmers in California’s Central Valley.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Fact check: Feinstein way off the mark when she said ‘tens of thousands’ of California farmers going bankrupt

Urging her fellow lawmakers to pass a bill that would send more of California’s water to the arid farm fields of the San Joaquin Valley, Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave an impassioned speech Friday about the threat facing family farmers.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Long-sought flood control projects eased passage of California water bill

Flood control concerns in the Sacramento area and Merced County helped drive a big water bill that won overwhelming congressional approval despite heated conflict over other California provisions.

Commands