Topic: Legislation — California and Federal


Legislation — California and Federal

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

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Congress must push for a stronger regulatory framework for pipelines

If I’ve learned anything after a decade in Congress, it’s that Big Oil and its congressional allies never miss an opportunity to push the fossil fuel agenda.  So it’s no surprise that right now, fossil fuel advocates are trying to hitch a ride on the historic clean energy investment opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA). … A major new hazardous gas leak is reported to the federal government every 40 hours. The really big ones make headlines, such as when catastrophic explosions of natural gas pipelines and liquified natural gas (LNG) facilities kill people; or when projects like the Keystone Pipeline spring a leak and dump thousands of barrels of oil into vulnerable ecosystems and communities…
-Written by Congressman Jared Huffman, who represents the 2nd District of California and is a member of the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.​

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Salton Sea restoration projects get historic $72 million boost from feds

Officials gathered in a small metal hangar at the south end of the Salton Sea on Thursday to celebrate $72 million in funding for restoration efforts at the Salton Sea, marking the first major investment by the federal government in restoration efforts at the sea. The $72 million is part of a total of $250 million in funding for the Salton Sea approved as part of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022. … The historic announcement explicitly links cuts of Colorado River water supply to the rapidly dwindling Salton Sea, something IID officials have sought for years. … [California Natural Resources Secretary Wade] Crowfoot called the funding the first major federal investment at the Salton Sea, after years of state and local officials calling for more federal action on the sea. The federal government is one of the biggest landowners around the sea. 

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

US touts new era of collaboration with Native American tribes to manage public lands and water

The U.S. government is entering a new era of collaboration with Native American and Alaska Native leaders in managing public lands and other resources, with top federal officials saying that incorporating more Indigenous knowledge into decision-making can help spur conservation and combat climate change. … The agreements cover everything from fishery restoration projects in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to management of new national monuments in the Southwestern U.S., seed collection work in Montana and plant restoration in the Great Smoky Mountains. … Tribes in California and Oregon also were forced to seek disaster declarations earlier this year after severe storms resulted in flooding and mudslides.

Aquafornia news Arizona Department of Water Resources

News release: USBR announces a total of 18 Colorado River conservation agreements with Arizona entities

Representatives of major Arizona water users, including cities and tribes, gathered with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation and Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs at Phoenix City Hall on Nov. 3 to celebrate the execution of new Colorado River system conservation agreements in Arizona. At the Phoenix event, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton announced the execution of seven new system conservation agreements in Arizona, which will conserve up to 162,710-acre feet of water in Lake Mead through 2026. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: New progress in California water rights reform

Many have argued that California’s water rights laws are sorely in need of modernization. Some feel that the recently passed bill, SB 389, is taking a step in that direction. Two legal experts and PPIC Water Policy Center research network members, Jennifer Harder and Rick Frank, were part of a group convened by the Planning and Conservation League Foundation (PCLF) to make recommendations for improving the water rights system. We asked them to explain the bill’s implications.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Johansson urges support to sustain farms

California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson called on lawmakers to work to sustain agriculture into the future by securing water supplies and rejecting policies that merely ask farmers and ranchers to be resilient in the face of unaddressed challenges. Speaking before the 105th Annual Meeting of the California Farm Bureau in Reno, Nevada, this week, Johansson outlined “extraordinary events that have put all California farmers and ranchers at risk.” He pointed to impacts of a three-year drought that resulted in the fallowing of more than 1.2 million acres of productive farmland. … Johansson took issue with California’s failure to complete long-planned water infrastructure projects that could have stored water during wet years for use in dry ones and enhanced flood-control protections in years with heavy rains.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

24 ideas floated for saving water, protecting Colorado River

Colorado could spend millions more to replace water-hungry lawns, keep extra water in streams to protect fish and their habitats, and repair water-wasting farm and city delivery systems, according to a list of potential fixes from a state task force hoping to drought-proof the Colorado River. The 17-member panel finished its preliminary list of recommendations [last] Friday. It will finalize the list Thursday and hone it for a final report to lawmakers due Dec. 15. The task force’s job has been to identify new policies and tools to help save water and ensure neither Colorado water users nor the environment are adversely affected by any new federal Colorado River agreements designed to protect the drought-strapped river across the seven-state region where it flows.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release – Reclamation funding helps heal a river scarred by Gold Rush legacy

On Tuesday, the Department of Commerce and NOAA announced the availability of up to $106 million in funding through the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) for Pacific salmon and steelhead recovery and conservation projects. This funding — which includes funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — will support state and tribal salmon restoration projects and activities to protect, conserve and restore these fish populations and their habitats. … The PCSRF program funds projects and activities necessary for conservation of salmon and steelhead populations listed as threatened or endangered or identified by a state as at-risk to be listed; for maintaining populations necessary for exercise of tribal treaty fishing rights or native subsistence fishing; or for conservation of Pacific coastal salmon and steelhead habitat.

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Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: As atmospheric rivers become more frequent, California expands research to prepare

A new law expanding California’s atmospheric river research program goes into effect next year. It connects flood and reservoir control operations with new technologies and strategies that can help operators accurately predict the arrival of these storms.  California first established the program in 2015. It’s allowed officials to better understand — and respond to — the intense storms that are a regular part of wet years in the state.  In January [2015], a series of atmospheric rivers hit California hard, causing intense flooding, power outages and evacuations throughout the state. But although these storms can have devastating effects, they also crucially feed into California’s water supply.

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Aquafornia news US EPA

News release: Biden-Harris Administration announces $70 million WIFIA loan to advance drought resilience in Southern California

Today, at an event in San Bernardino, California, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $70 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. This WIFIA funding will support an innovative regional partnership to help secure a drought-resilient water supply while supporting the long-term ecological health of the Upper Santa Ana River. Since its creation, EPA’s WIFIA program has announced nearly $20 billion in financing to support over $43 billion in water infrastructure projects that are strengthening drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure while creating over 140,000 jobs.

Aquafornia news KJZZ/Fronteras

Why a deal to conserve Colorado River water may make future deals more difficult to come by

Money from the Inflation Reduction Act approved earlier this year sets aside more than $1 billion for programs aimed at conserving Colorado River water. But, new reporting from Politico finds that may make it more difficult to negotiate deals to save water down the road. Annie Snider covers water issues for Politico, and joined The Show to explain. … So what is this dynamic at work here where this money that is setting aside, basically for saving water on the Colorado river, may be making it harder to create these similar kinds of deals down the down the road in the future? ANNIE SNIDER: Yeah, so I think to understand what happened here, you have to kind of go back a year, where we were at a incredibly dire moment along the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: California water policy – What happened in 2023 and where are we going?

The year started with a bang, with a lot of new Members of the Legislature, and more seasoned Members, invigorated and motivated to tackle some major water policy and funding issues for California. While some significant water policy changes were passed by the Legislature this year (with much controversy), there is still much left to debate and discuss in the second year of the two-year session, which will begin on January 3, 2024. One of those major negotiations will include debate over a water bond to be placed on the November 2024 ballot for the voters of California.

Aquafornia news ABC7 - Los Angeles

Lead pipe rule changes in US: What does this mean for California?

For years, we’ve known about the harmful effects lead in drinking water can have on the public, especially children, but millions of lead pipes still exist throughout the country. Now, most U.S. cities would have to replace lead water pipes within 10 years under strict new rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency as the Biden administration moves to reduce lead in drinking water and prevent public health crises like the ones in Flint, Michigan and Washington, D.C.

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Colorado lawmakers expected to consider state permit program protecting wetlands

Colorado lawmakers are expected to consider legislation next session aimed at providing project permits while still protecting wetlands, which were left vulnerable after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act has protected the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) since 1972. But exactly which wetlands and water bodies fall under the definition of WOTUS has long been the subject of litigation and policy that changed with each presidential administration. In Sackett v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the definition of WOTUS did not include wetlands adjacent to streams. Only wetlands with a direct surface water connection to a stream or permanent body of water are now protected under the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic (Fairfield)

Yolo Bypass project gets federal infrastructure funds

A $2.5 million grant has been awarded to the state Department of Water Resources to design a berm removal project to create floodplain and tidal marsh habitat in the Yolo Bypass. It is part of $144 million in grants awarded toward 109 projects in 31 states through the National Coastal Resilience Fund by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The funding source is the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. … The Yolo Bypass project has the goals of improving flood conveyance, increasing groundwater recharge, promoting recreational opportunities and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, the foundation stated. This grant completes funding for project design “to restore 700 acres of floodplain and 250 acres of wetland through berm removal and site excavation, create 700 acres of floodwater storage, and increase groundwater recharge potential producing quality habitat for salmonids.”

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Aquafornia news KFF Health News

Blog: ‘Forever chemicals’ in thousands of private wells near military sites, study finds

Water tests show nearly 3,000 private wells located near 63 active and former U.S. military bases are contaminated with “forever chemicals” at levels higher than what federal regulators consider safe for drinking. … According to the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that analyzed Department of Defense testing data, 2,805 wells spread across 29 states were contaminated with at least one of two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, above 4 parts per trillion, a limit proposed earlier this year by the Environmental Protection Agency. That new drinking water standard is expected to take effect by the end of the year.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A better way to promote urban water conservation

Reducing per capita water use in cities and suburbs is key for helping communities get through droughts. And together with strategies to improve water supplies, it can also help build long-term water resilience in the face of our changing climate. In recent decades, Californians have been making great strides in long-term water conservation, and this latest drought showed once again that communities will go the extra mile to save water during droughts if needed. But while it’s often assumed that water conservation is inexpensive, it actually can be very costly. In response to 2018 legislation, the State Water Board is now considering new urban water use regulations whose statewide costs would far exceed their benefits. What’s more, these costs would significantly impact affordability, hitting inland, lower-income communities hardest.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

River district funds helped in tapping federal money for water projects

Four recently announced federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grants for water projects in the region all included one notable common denominator — they all got help in their application process through a special Colorado River District program made possible by a voter-approved tax measure in 2020. On Nov. 15 the Department of Interior announced $51 million in funding via the Bureau of Reclamation for 30 new environmental water resource projects in 11 states. The projects focus on water conservation, water management and restoration efforts that will result in significant benefits to ecosystem or watershed health, the Interior Department says. Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Brain visited Grand Junction at the time of the funding announcement to highlight recipients of funding in Colorado.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

New Colorado River model lets everyone test drought solutions

Everyone from policymakers to armchair warriors has a theory on the best way to solve the Colorado River crisis. Soon they’ll have a chance to test out their ideas. The Colorado River’s flow is dropping — it’s about 18% lower in the 21st century than it was in the 20th century — and that’s a big deal to the 40 million people who depend on it for water across the West. But solving the crisis gets complicated, quickly. That’s where a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, think they can help. They’ve developed a new way of looking at water-saving efforts across the enormous basin, and they’re turning it into an interactive map and dashboard that everyone can use.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Senate chief says he won’t try to change water-supply mandate

Arizona’s Senate president said he does not plan to introduce legislation to alter water supply requirements for new development despite his criticism of the historic 1980 law that created them. Sen. Warren Petersen said his comments, given last week to the Arizona Tax Research Association where he was asked to preview his legislative priorities, were meant to emphasize that the mandate to show an assured source of water will be available for 100 years was “arbitrary.’’ … He complained about the Arizona Department of Water Resources halting new construction in two areas on the edges of Phoenix earlier this year. He said that would not have happened if the standard here were something less, like California’s.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Without a statewide water supply target, California’s future is at risk.

If you don’t already know, it will surprise you to learn that for all the attention that our state’s water supply receives in California – for all the worry and effort it takes to make sure there’s enough for our 40 million residents, 24 million acres of farmland, countless acres of natural environment, and status as the world’s fifth-largest economy (of which its agriculture and environment are huge parts) – no statewide goal exists to ensure a sustainable water supply for California’s future. What big, bold vision has ever been achieved without first setting a goal? Without such a goal, we have no clear path forward, and we don’t know which direction and how far we need to go to achieve a reliable water supply. In a state always preoccupied with fears of drought and the impacts of climate change, we have not determined how much water will be needed in the short- and long-term to address these existential threats.
-Written by Heather Dyer, the General Manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District; and Graham Knaus, the CEO of the California Association of Counties.​

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Republican lawmaker seeks to undo Central Valley Project environmental protections

More than 30 years ago, a piece of federal legislation dropped like a bomb on California’s Central Valley farmers. Reverberations from that legislation continue through today. Just last month, a San Joaquin Valley congressman added language to an appropriations bill that would unwind a key portion of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA). … One of its cornerstones was that 800,000 acre feet of water per year would be carved out of supplies that had been sent to towns and farms and redirect it to the environment instead. Specifically, the legislation hoped to save salmon populations, which had been crashing. Thirty-one years later, salmon are still on the brink. Now, Republican lawmakers are trying to get rid of the environmental protections in the CVPIA for good.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Biden-Harris Administration announces $51 Million from Investing in America Agenda for water resources and ecosystem health

The Department of the Interior today announced $51 million from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for 30 new Environmental Water Resource Projects in 11 states through the Bureau of Reclamation. The collaborative projects focus on water conservation, water management and restoration efforts that will result in significant benefits to ecosystem or watershed health. … As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commemoration of the two-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain announced the selections during a visit to Grand Junction, Colorado, where eight of the selected projects are located.

Aquafornia news KBAK - Bakersfield

Where’s our water? A look at California’s storage problem

In 2014, California voters passed a proposition using $7.5 billion dollars in state funds to expand water storage capacity. Nearly 10 years later, people say not much has come from the vote. The main focus on their minds is the failure to expand Shasta Dam. Kern County Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) has authored legislation that makes it easier for Shasta to receive federal funding. … So what’s the problem with raising the dam? Jon Rosenfield, Science Director at San Francisco Baykeeper, says a whole lot. “Raising that dam is going to have negative impacts,” Rosenfield said.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Water agencies say funding for California’s biggest dam in decades is ‘pretty much lined up’

California water agencies say they have nearly secured $4.5 billion in funding needed to build the state’s largest reservoir in nearly a century, Sites Reservoir, as a state environmental review process for the project comes to a rapid close after decades of delay. … Approving it would mark a key procedural milestone and official green light for construction scheduled to begin in 2026.

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Aquafornia news The Nature Conservancy

News release: CA scientists to join UN’s plastic pollution treaty conference

Scientists based in and/or work on issues in California—from The Nature Conservancy and Ocean Conservancy—will be traveling to Nairobi, Kenya for the UN environment programme’s third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) from Nov 13-19. At this session, the following scientists will hold observer status on behalf of their organizations as nations come together for the goal of developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. 

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Bureau of Reclamation invests in reuse, desal projects

The Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the selection of 31 planning projects to receive more than $28 million in appropriated funding to support potential new water reuse and desalination projects. The 31 projects are in California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The projects also bring a cost-share contribution of $64.7 million, bringing the total investment of $93.7 million. Reclamation said the funding is aimed at creating new sources of water supply less vulnerable to drought and climate change. Recipients will use the funding to prepare feasibility studies and undertake other planning efforts like preliminary project design and environmental compliance activities.

Aquafornia news KUER - Salt Lake City

So far, Utah’s water banking is showing the path beyond ‘use it or lose it’

In a dry state like Utah, there’s not always enough water to go around. But when there is extra water, how exactly do you spread it around? Over the past three years, the state’s water banking program has been testing the processes for doing just that. The program provides avenues for a water rights holder with extra water to lease it to someone else in their area without losing the right to that water. It started with the Utah Water Banking Act, which the Legislature approved in 2020 to promote voluntary, temporary, local water transfers. The state is now starting to see positive results from the four pilot projects that put the idea into practice, as well as working out any bugs.

Aquafornia news FOX 5 - San Diego

Millions for border sewage treatment projects in California stuck in Congress

As you walk along the Tijuana River Valley, it’s hard not to smell the pungent smell of sewage, effluent flowing its way down the valley toward the Pacific Ocean. It’s been a problem for decades as Tijuana’s sewage infrastructure has failed to keep up with a city that seemingly grew to two million residents overnight. The system constantly spews untreated raw sewage that eventually makes its way north of the border. In 1999, the International Wastewater Treatment plant was built in the valley just north of the border to help control the problem.

Aquafornia news Water World

News release: Reclamation provides $28M for 31 water reuse, desalination projects

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that it would provide $28.97 million in financial aid for 31 potential new water reuse and desalination projects. The funding will help prepare feasibility studies and undertake planning efforts such as preliminary project design and environmental compliance activities. … The 31 projects are in California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. The projects also bring a cost-share contribution of $64.7 million, bringing the total investment of $93.7 million.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Measuring groundwater overdraft in the Sacramento Valley

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is now in its tenth year since passing in 2014, and we are beginning to see some real progress in coordination and implementation. Groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) have been formed and initial groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) submitted. Following submission, some plans have been approved, some are still under state review, and many have gone through some iteration to correct deficiencies. … The Department of Water Resources recently sent plans for five Sacramento Valley basins back for revisions, largely due to ongoing concerns around dry-year impacts of pumping on drinking water wells and land subsidence. 

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Aquafornia news National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Blog: New funding and coordinated action to help bring California salmon back from the brink

The Office of Habitat Conservation’s Restoration Center has awarded an unprecedented $27.8 million to its partners through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to bring Central California Coast coho salmon back to California rivers. NOAA designated CCC coho as a Species in the Spotlight due to its high risk of extinction. Trout Unlimited, the San Mateo and Gold Ridge Resource Conservation Districts, and The Nature Conservancy will implement or design more than 40 projects over the next 3 to 4 years with these funds. … When NOAA Fisheries Biologist Erin Seghesio was growing up, her grandfather told her how he could feed his whole family by fishing for coho salmon in California’s Russian River. Today, she is the Recovery Coordinator for the federally endangered CCC coho salmon.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom accelerates plans for California’s largest reservoir in nearly 50 years

Gov. Gavin Newsom exercised his new power under state law Monday to help get a giant reservoir planned for Northern California on the fast track for approval. The proposed $4.5 billion Sites Reservoir, envisioned 70 miles north of Sacramento, would be the first major reservoir built in California in nearly half a century. … Newsom pushed the infrastructure legislation, even threatening to veto the Legislature’s budget bills if it didn’t move forward, hoping to accelerate climate plans he worried could be hamstrung by state environmental rules. … Still, the project has faced criticism, namely because any additional water taken from the Sacramento River represents a loss for fish, wildlife and the natural landscapes nourished by the river.

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Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Colorado lawmakers move to ban nonfunctional turf planting

State lawmakers are advancing a bill that would prohibit the planting of new, nonfunctional turf. If the bill passes next year, it would prohibit local and state governments and unit owners associations from allowing the planting of nonfunctional turf or nonnative plants or installing artificial turf in commercial, institutional or industrial properties beginning in 2025. Although new bluegrass could still be planted around homes, homeowners associations and others would be prohibited from planting such grass for ornamental purposes in medians or areas fronting streets, sidewalks or driveways. The bill is not intended to be retroactive and would not affect already existing nonfunctional turf.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Truckee Canal revitalization project reaches major milestone, operations commence

The outage for Phase 1 construction of the Truckee Canal Public Safety Improvement Project is complete and water deliveries to the Truckee Division have commenced. This meets Reclamation’s goal of not exceeding a 13-month canal outage during construction. The project, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and implemented in collaboration with the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, includes lining approximately 3.5 miles of the earthen canal in the most vulnerable stretch in the City of Fernley. The project will significantly increase public safety and improve water supply reliability. Construction activities will continue on the project through the spring but should not affect canal operations.

Aquafornia news Summit Daily

Opinion: Water solutions are a priority

We all know that out here in western Colorado, water is life. It sustains our agriculture, powers our outdoor recreation economy and is the keystone of the beautiful environment we all cherish. All of us also know that our state’s water future faces immense challenges; from ongoing megadrought in the West, overuse of the Colorado River by California and Arizona, and much more. … That is why the state legislature, among other public and private entities, have been hard at work on a multifaceted approach to protect Colorado’s water future. The 2023 legislative session was one of the most productive and historic sessions for water in recent memory. As your state senator, I made sure that water was at the forefront of my colleagues’ minds and am proud to have led several successful water measures.
-Written by Dylan Roberts, State Senator for Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, and Summit counties​.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

House passes Valadao’s WATER Act

The House has recently passed a bill that will ensure residents of the Central Valley have continued access to a clean and reliable water supply. The House of Representatives approved the bill, H.R. 4394, on Oct. 26. Congressmember David Valadao, 22nd District, authored the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act, which – at Valadao’s insistence – was included in H.R. 4394. According to Valadao’s office, WATER guarantees that Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) water stakeholders, including Friant Water Authority, Westlands Water District, Kern County Water Agency, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority, will receive the water they contract and pay for. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Summit tackles water challenges facing California

Below-average precipitation and snowpack during 2020-22 and depleted surface and groundwater supplies pushed California into a drought emergency that brought curtailment orders and calls for modernizing water rights. At the Water Education Foundation annual water summit last week in Sacramento, Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director of the California State Water Resources Control Board, discussed what he described as the state’s “antiquated” water rights system. He spoke before some 150 water managers, government officials, farmers, environmentalists and others as part of the event where interests come together to collaborate on some of the state’s most challenging water issues.

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Aquafornia news KVPR - Bakersfield

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Congress makes urgent call for Central Valley water infrastructure repairs

A bipartisan congressional delegation led by California Democrat Senator Alex Padilla and Republican Representative Doug LaMalfa on Tuesday sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to prioritize “critical emergency repairs” to levees in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds. Months after wet winter storms drenched the Central Valley, blanketed the Sierra Nevada in record-breaking snowpack and strained dams and reservoirs, parts of Central California’s water infrastructure are still in need of repairs. The letter comes ahead of what is likely to be another wet winter.

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Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Blog: Despite veto threat, House passes spending bill terminating CVPIA environmental restoration program

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives just passed an odious spending bill, H.R. 4821, that terminates the environmental restoration provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) that made fish and wildlife a purpose of the Central Valley Project for the first time in history. … Buried in the 100-page bill are eight lines written by Representative David Valadao (R-CA-22) and co-sponsored by eleven other California Republicans, including Speaker Johnson’s  predecessor, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20), the Tribe reported. They order the Secretary of the Interior to “deem complete the fish, wildlife, and habitat mitigation and restoration actions” required by the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act (PL-102-575 Title XXXIV) signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. 

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Opinion: Tahoe Keys Weeds Test wraps up second year

You’ve heard it before: aquatic invasive species are the greatest ecological threat to Lake Tahoe’s water quality and clarity. They outcompete native species, affect nutrient cycling, and impact algal growth, which can turn Lake Tahoe’s beautiful blue water green. Nowhere is that threat more visible than in the warm, shallow lagoons of the Tahoe Keys, where invasive plants clog the water. Fragments of those plants regularly break off and float away – carried by currents, watercraft, and people – to other parts of the Lake, where they can resprout and start new infestations.
-Written by ​Jesse Patterson, Chief Strategy Officer, League to Save Lake Tahoe, Dennis Zabaglo, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Manager, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Commentary: San Joaquin Valley farmers owe some gratitude to Joe Biden

Food grows where water flows. So goes the saying on signs I have seen in farmlands in Fresno, Tulare, Merced and Kings counties since I moved to the San Joaquin Valley 10 years ago. The signs, and others like them, are protests against cuts to water deliveries to growers in those regions. More often than not, farmers were angry with whoever was California’s governor. Since the Republican party has been stuck in super minority status, California’s governors have been Democrats, namely Jerry Brown and now Gavin Newsom. Despite persistent droughts, they often get blamed for whatever water cuts are happening, along with Fresno congressman Jim Costa and his colleague from San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi. They also are Democrats.
-Written by Tad Weber, the Fresno Bee’s opinion editor.

Tour Nick Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

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

The Resource

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

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

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

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

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

Foundation Event

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Optional Groundwater Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Bundle Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

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

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

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

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

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

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

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

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

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

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

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


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

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

Water Conservation

Drought-tolerant landscaping reduces the amount of water used on traditional lawns

Water conservation has become a way of life throughout the West with a growing recognition that the supply of water is not unlimited.

Drought is the most common motivator of increased water conservation but the gradual drying of the West as a result of climate change means the amount of fresh water available for drinking, irrigation, industry and other uses must be used as efficiently as possible.

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Salton Sea

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

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Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

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

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

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

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

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

California Environmental Quality Act

The California Environmental Quality Act, commonly known as CEQA, is foundational to the state’s environmental protection efforts. The law requires proposed developments with the potential for “significant” impacts on the physical environment to undergo an environmental review. 

Since its passage in 1970, CEQA (based on the National Environmental Policy Act) has served as a model for similar legislation in other states.

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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


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

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


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

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


Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

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

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

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

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

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


Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2020

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


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

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

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


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to the Klamath River Basin
Published 2023

The Water Education Foundation’s second edition of the Layperson’s Guide to The Klamath River Basin is hot off the press and available for purchase.

Updated and redesigned, the easy-to-read overview covers the history of the region’s tribal, agricultural and environmental relationships with one of the West’s largest rivers — and a vast watershed that hosts one of the nation’s oldest and largest reclamation projects.


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

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

Publication California Groundwater Map

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

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


Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management
Updated 2009

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


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

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

Publication Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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

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Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Litigation

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

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

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National Environmental Policy Act

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

According to the Department of Energy, administrator of NEPA:

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Judge Wanger Rulings

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

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Groundwater Legislation

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

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

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Federal Reserved Rights

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

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Federal Endangered Species Act

Federal Endangered Species Act

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

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California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

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

Rivers are classified as:

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California Endangered Species Act

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

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Area-of-Origin and California Water

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

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

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

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

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

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

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Thirty Years of the Clean Water Act
Nov/Dec 2002

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

Western Water Excerpt Rita Schmidt Sudman

The Davis Administration and California Water
Mar/Apr 1999

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

Western Water Excerpt Rita Schmidt Sudman

CVP Improvement Act Update
May/Jun 1997

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