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.
In a letter to President-elect Joe Biden last week, the
American Water Works Association urged the incoming
administration to prioritize COVID-19 relief for water
utilities and investment for the overall water infrastructure
HR 8775, the Salton Sea Public Health and Environmental
Protection Act, would create an interagency working group
called the Salton Sea Management Council to coordinate projects
around the lake’s receding shoreline.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic turbulence forced
the state legislature and Governor Newsom to make tough
decisions this year about which issues to prioritize and which
to sideline. … Despite the challenging circumstances, several
high-priority bills covering safe drinking water and wildfire
risk reduction were enacted.
The Fresno lawmaker, who easily won a ninth term, put his hat
in the ring Thursday after the defeat of long-time chairman
Collin Peterson, D-Minn. The House is expected to remain under
President Trump’s signature on a bill expanding the fight
against a large, vexatious rodent called the nutria is an
instructive victory for a newly reelected Democrat from a swing
district in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Klamath Basin irrigators in Oregon and California will be able
to access up to $10 million in federal emergency drought relief
funds under a bill supported by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)
that became law on Oct. 30 with the president’s signature.
The pesky 3-foot-long, buck-toothed nutria is getting the
better of California. The large rodent is chewing up rivers and
wetlands and threatening to mow down farmland and
infrastructure, and the state is struggling to contain
it. Relief may be on the way.
The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546) would
protect and restore over one million acres of public lands and
well over 500 miles of rivers throughout the state, including
in Northwest California’s wild lands and along the Central
The desire for crystal clean water is one that the president
repeats frequently, even dating to his 2016 presidential
campaign. Immaculate water, he has also said. Clear water.
Beautiful water. But the focus on appearances is superficial,
according to a number of water advocates and analysts.
Revisions to environmental rules that the administration has
pursued during the first term of the Trump presidency will be
detrimental to the nation’s waters, they said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 974 to streamline the
permitting process for low-income communities to deliver clean
drinking water for residents. The law … offers low-income
communities relief for the expensive and exhaustive permit
process for small, disadvantaged community water systems with
water contaminants beyond the state standard or failing wells.
As Congress debates recovery strategies and stimulus efforts,
water should be a bigger part of the conversation. Water can
serve as a lever to achieve greater economic equity and access,
environmental resilience, and technological innovation, among
other benefits. Now is the time for Washington to elevate water
as a core issue to drive a lasting recovery.
House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Rob Bishop
wants the House to fast-track legislation that would pave the
way for hundreds of millions of dollars for water and
sanitation development across Indian Country.
Congress has given final approval to a bill that would take on
nutria, a giant rodent threatening waterways in the Central
Valley and beyond. … The measure, HR 3399, would provide $12
million to California and several other affected states for
nutria control, research and related efforts.
House lawmakers passed the bill Oct. 1, allowing irrigators to
access up to $10 million for emergency drought relief in the
basin straddling Southern Oregon and Northern California. The
bill passed the Senate in July, and now heads to President
Trump to be signed into law.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have
provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern
Canal. SB 559 would have required the Department of Water
Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on
federal funding for the Friant Water Authority or any other
government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern
Canal. The bill would also have required DWR to include a
proposal for the state to pay up to 35 percent of the cost of
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday added his signature to a new law
that orders the formation of a commission to study the
feasibility of lithium extraction around the Salton Sea. Local
politicians hope the commission will lead to the creation of a
green economy around the state’s largest lake, which is a
geothermal hotspot. It was one of several bills focused on
California’s environment that Newsom dealt with this week.
Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) secured Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
signature on legislation that will speed the permit process for
low-income Central Valley communities to deliver clean drinking
water for residents. Senate Bill 974 exempts new water projects
that serve small, rural communities from some provisions of the
California Environmental Quality Act…
This bipartisan legislation (H.R.8217) would amend the Water
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to
make public water projects like the off-stream Sites Reservoir
Project eligible for low-interest, longer-term federal loans
from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Rep. T.J. Cox, a Democrat who represents a portion of
Southwestern Tulare County, introduced the Western Water
Storage Infrastructure Act, an $800 million bill addressing
surface and groundwater storage and water delivery. … The
bill is designed to essentially replace funding authorized by
the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation, WIIN,
Act, which has been exhausted.
A bill that would have provided funding for the Friant-Kern
Canal was abandoned by the California State Legislature on
Sunday. It’s route to abandonment is a short, but confusing one
centering on California’s wildfires
The measure, put forward by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa
Monica), requires municipal fire departments, chemical plants
and oil refineries to gradually stop using the foam, replacing
it with alternatives that don’t contain perfluoroalkyl and
polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of chemicals commonly known
as PFAS…. a significant amount of drinking-water
contamination comes from their use in firefighting foam…
The California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction
Act ..would significantly reduce waste from single-use plastics
and plastic packaging. Manufacturers would be required to make
their packaging and certain products increasingly reusable,
recyclable or compostable by 2032.
As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous
legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on
fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared
down their legislative packages to focus on a response to
COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on
environmental justice and natural resources stalled.
On Thursday, the California State Senate Appropriations
Committee defeated a bill that would reduce the amount of lead
leached from faucets and fixtures to no more than 1 microgram
of lead – five times less lead than faucets are designed to
A new Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, has made
headway in Congress, most recently with House passage of a bill
authorizing about $9 billion for Army Corps of Engineers flood
and storm protection, environmental restoration and other
projects. But with time running short before Congress breaks
for the Nov. 3 elections, industry sources say water
infrastructure legislation may be put off until an expected
lame duck session.
In 2018, two laws were passed to aid California in making water
conservation a way of life: SB 606 and AB 1668. These two laws
highlight water efficiency and conservation and are meant to
outline certain roles and actions to be carried out by the
California Department of Water Resources, the State Water
Resource Control Board and water suppliers.
Water is the lifeblood of our region and there are immense
challenges to providing and maintaining a reliable and
resilient water supply for both farms and communities in the
Central Valley. As your congressional representatives, we’ve
been working together to bring resources back home to address
our collective needs.
A correct analysis of the state’s water supply is always
important, but especially during drought years. A new bill
introduced by Rep. Josh Harder and Sen. Dianne Feinstein on
Friday hopes to improve the state’s water management by
establishing an airborne snowpack observation program.
Supporters of an initiative to reduce plastic waste today
submitted more than 870,000 voter signatures to qualify the
Plastics Free California initiative for the ballot –
significantly more than the 623,212 signatures required.
The Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act allows
USDA Rural Development to provide affordable and sustainable
financial options for rural utilities impacted by COVID-19.
Assistance includes grants, zero percent loans, one percent
loans, principal and interest reduction, loan modifications and
direct operational assistance…
Funding for much needed repairs at least in the short-term for
the Friant-Kern Canal continues to move closer to becoming
reality. The House of Representatives last week passed H.R.
7617… Included in that minibus is $71 million for repairs to
the Friant-Kern Canal during the next fiscal year.
The act, which allocates $900 million a year to the Land and
Water Conservation Fund and provides up to $9.5 billion over
five years to begin clearing up a maintenance backlog at
national parks, was approved on a 310-to-107 vote in the House.
It was introduced last year by Representative John Lewis, the
Georgia Democrat and civil rights leader who passed away last
The state is peppered with failing small water systems, many
serving low-income communities without the resources to repair
them. … That’s where the new Safe and Affordable Funding for
Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program comes in.
Saving our planet will require unprecedented focus and
investment from every sector of our society and all levels of
government — especially the federal government. Yet when it
comes to the San Francisco Bay — a national treasure and the
lifeblood of our region, producing over $370 billion in goods
and services annually and supporting more than 4 million jobs —
the federal government has been complicit in its deterioration.
Four years after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upgraded the
flood risk for the Whittier Narrows Dam from high urgency to
very high urgency, the U,S. House of Representatives on Friday
approved a budget package that included nearly $385 million to
fix the dam.
The Environmental Justice for All Act would amend the Civil
Rights Act to … require federal agencies to consider health
effects that might compound over time when making permitting
decisions under the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Border
Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, a bill to reduce
pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water
quality of the Tijuana and New rivers.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator John Kennedy
(R-La.) to introduce legislation to amend the Nutria
Eradication and Control Act. The legislation would authorize an
additional $6 million a year to increase assistance for states
that implement initiatives to eradicate the invasive species.
Legislation authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to boost
the nation’s water infrastructure, protect waterways from
emerging contaminants, and bolster coastal shorelines sailed
through the House Wednesday. On a voice vote, the House used a
procedure reserved for mostly non-controversial legislation to
pass the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2020…
The House on Friday passed a minibus (H.R. 7608) that includes
$17 million overall for environmental justice programs at the
Environmental Protection Agency. That’s a significant boost
from the $9.55 million provided in the fiscal 2020 enacted
budget for environmental justice activities.
Congress passed perhaps one of the largest conservation bills
in the past 75 years last week. The Great American Outdoors
Act, if signed into law, would help prop up national parks and
repair deteriorating infrastructure.
Feinstein’s Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act would
authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical
canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from
overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for
In 2003, Congress passed The Nutria Eradication and Control
Act, which established a fund to help Maryland and Louisiana
battle the animals. Recently, the House of Representatives
passed bipartisan legislation that now allows California to
also receive support. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Central Valley neighborhoods are a step closer to new money to
fix broken water systems and access clean, safe drinking water
— if the White House and Congress agree on an infrastructure
package currently moving through the U.S. House of
If Assembly Bill AB 3030 becomes law, it would create a state
goal to keep at least 30% of California’s land and waterways
free from development and other human impacts, such as
overfishing and climate change, by the year 2030. It would also
help protect 30% of the nation’s oceans by that same year.
The legislation, H.R. 1957, would provide the Land and Water
Conservation Fund with $900 million annually — the first time
the program has ever been guaranteed full, yearly funding since
its creation in 1964. It also would establish a trust fund to
start winding down some of a $20 billion backlog of deferred
maintenance projects at national parks and on public lands.
House Democrats added several amendments aiming to regulate a
class of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS to a defense
spending bill Monday. The additions followed the failure of the
chamber to add a broader amendment that would tackle the
The House EPA bill for FY21 is in most respects a uniquely
strong package for water, aiming to address the nation’s clean
water investment need. … One alarming issue, however, is that
the House bill provides no new direct appropriations for the
Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
On July 6, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency
that oversees the canal, finalized a feasibility report for
Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project.
Under section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for
the Nation Act, the bureau’s report means up to 50% of the
total project costs can be requested from the U.S. Department
of the Interior and subsequently appropriated by Congress for
The Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill held back by a 240-foot
dam built in 1950 could be rebuilt following the State
Assembly’s passage of AB 3005 in June. … The project would
cost about $576 million but still needs to pass through the
“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite
construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem
restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater
flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local
A multibillion-dollar measure that would help build, repair,
and maintain a wide variety of water infrastructure projects
sailed through the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee Wednesday. Approved unanimously by voice vote, the
Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (H.R. 7575) would
authorize the Army Corps of Engineers every two years to carry
out specific projects and feasibility studies.
Nearly 300 national, state and local organizations sent a
letter to Senate leaders Monday calling for the rejection of a
controversial bill that would coerce struggling communities
into selling off vital public water resources.
This legislation will ensure the nation’s water supply is safe
and sustainable. The Water for Tomorrow Act will combine the
water sustainability measures from Sen. Harris’ Water Justice
Act with key measures from the FUTURE Drought Resiliency Act,
led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jared Huffman
Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32) and Linda T. Sánchez
(D-CA-38) announced that the FY2021 Energy and Water
Appropriations bill is providing $384,900,000 as part of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dam Safety and Seepage Program.
U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris is introducing the Water for
Tomorrow Act, which combines the water sustainability measures
from her Water Justice Act with key measures from the FUTURE
Drought Resiliency Act that were included in H.R. 2, the Moving
Forward Act. The Water for Tomorrow Act will make a nearly $3
South San Joaquin Valley farmers have a reason to celebrate
this week: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives
appropriated $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal. The
bill also includes funding to repair the Delta-Mendota Canal
and for two Northern California reservoirs.
Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to
suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save
costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional
wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead
to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet,
especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure
California Rep. Josh Harder needed a way to convince the U.S.
House of Representatives to pay attention to his speech about
invasive species during a meeting in February. So he brought in
a hefty rat carcass and laid it on the table next to him. The
taxidermied rat … convinced the House to unanimously
pass a bill that supports eradication efforts in states
infested with nutria, large rodents also known as swamp rats
that are native to South America.
The House passed a massive $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill
that would help the nation rebuild its crumbling roads and
bridges, combat climate change, and promote clean energy and
clean drinking water.
More federal funds may be flowing to fix the Friant-Kern Canal.
On June 22, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) sent a
letter to Congress requesting $134 million for water storage
projects be funded through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. More
than half of the funding, $71 million, was requested for
preconstruction and construction of the Friant-Kern Canal
Capacity Correction project.
Get ready… here comes the true California water cycle: It
begins with headlines and quotes warning of pending disaster
based on what could, might, maybe, or possibly happen over the
state’s water infrastructure.
The $202 billion budget signed by Governor Gavin Newsom Monday
evening includes the $7.3 million promised to the Paradise
Irrigation District to help sustain it following the
devastating Camp Fire. The funding is considered critical to
providing clean water to residents for rebuilding efforts. The
money was not included in the Governor’s May revise budget
proposal but was included in the final spending
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed into law key provisions of a
new state budget, a spending plan that seeks to erase a
historic deficit while preserving service levels for schools,
healthcare and social services. … Elsewhere, the budget adds
four more years of additional CalFresh benefits for those who
live in communities without reliable access to safe drinking
The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
has approved H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. The legislative
package would provide $1.5 trillion for the nation’s
infrastructure needs. Included in the bill is funding for
Central Valley water needs and Friant-Kern Canal repairs. The
package is expected to be passed by the U.S. House of
Representatives next week.
The coalition sent a second letter this week to California’s
congressional delegation urging support for provisions in the
HEROES Act, the relief bill now under consideration, that would
help ensure consumers have access to clean water as massive
unemployment has led to a spike in water bill delinquencies.
In California, especially in agriculture, water is often
portrayed as an instigator of division. But this ignores an
important lesson that COVID-19 has made even clearer — none of
us are as healthy or resilient as we could be until everyone
has safe and affordable water.
The Department of Interior has requested $71 million be spent
on improvements for the Friant-Kern Canal for the 2021 fiscal
year. The funding for the Friant-Kern Canal accounts for most
of the $108.7 of funding for water storage projects in
California the Department of Interior is requesting. Congress
will now consider approving the funding in the 2021 fiscal year
energy and water appropriations bill.
Earlier this week, a broad coalition of water agencies
delivered a letter to Congress advocating for more funding. The
letter, submitted Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other California
Congressional delegates, argues that billions of federal
dollars are still needed for water infrastructure maintenance
and assistance with water bills.
House Democrats attached a provision to the bill that would
look to introduce additional dam and hydropower safety
inspections and analysis to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission permitting process. … House Democrats included
various provisions that would boost drinking water protections
and infrastructure, harden water systems against the threat of
climate change, and provide a financial lifeline for tribal
water and wastewater systems.
House Democrats’ new economic rescue plan includes $1.5 billion
to help low-income households cover their water bills and a
moratorium on utility service shutoffs for any entity receiving
federal relief funds, but they omitted any measures to address
climate change or boost clean energy that had been sought by
In a rare display of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate has passed
a sweeping public lands package that both addresses the
ballooning maintenance backlog at national parks and provides
full, permanent funding for the popular Land and Water
Conservation Fund, a program established in 1964 to protect
natural areas and water resources.
The California legislature voted Monday to keep the Salton Sea
in its budget proposal sent to Governor Gavin Newsom.
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia said he’s pleased the legislature
found a way to allocate some funding for the Salton Sea despite
the fiscal challenges created by the pandemic.
On Monday, June 15, POLITICO held a virtual deep-dive panel
discussion on the policies and legislation needed at the state,
regional and federal levels to meet the water needs of Western
states and secure long-term solutions at a time when the
attention and resources of local and state leaders are consumed
by the pandemic crisis.
In an effort to move forward a $576 million Anderson Dam
Seismic Retrofit Project, the California State Assembly passed
AB 3005 on June 8, the Expedited Dam Safety for Silicon Valley
Act, facilitating the construction of the project. Assemblyman
Robert Rivas (D-Hollister, Calif.), who wrote the bill, says
the overwhelming vote of bipartisan support shows the
importance in fixing the dam.
PFAS chemicals have invaded the nation’s water supply, thanks
mostly to discharges from manufacturers and the use of
firefighting foam by the military. Utilities are concerned
about being stuck with major expenses if the compounds are
declared “hazardous” under the federal Superfund law. They have
also resisted efforts in Congress to push what they see as
overly broad enforcement limits on PFAS in drinking water.
New legislation was recently introduced that will address
several issues facing San Joaquin Valley canals. The
Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act was introduced by
Senator Dianne Feinstein as a means for repairing water
conveyance damaged by subsidence.
House Democrats will focus this summer on passing essential
legislation, including the Water Resources Development Act, a
highway reauthorization bill, and appropriations measures,
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday. … In early
May, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced
two major water infrastructure bills (S. 3591 and (S. 3590)
that are awaiting floor action.
Last week a diverse coalition of 59 broad-based organizations,
which collectively represents both California front-line
communities as well as more than 450 California water agencies
… urged the California congressional delegation to include
funding for urgent water infrastructure and water affordability
needs as part of the next federal stimulus package titled the
Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions
(HEROES) Act …
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the next step to
implement an important per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances
(PFAS) requirement of the National Defense Authorization Act
(NDAA). The NDAA added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals
required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory and
established a 100-pound reporting threshold for these
My colleagues and I worked with Assemblymember Rudy Salas
(D-Bakersfield), to craft AB 2642, which will create the
Multibenefit Land Conversion Incentive Program… This new
program will provide incentive payments to farmers and
landowners who voluntarily repurpose their agricultural land to
other less water-intensive uses for a minimum of 10 years.
The Senate’s environment panel pushed through two major water
infrastructure bills Wednesday, rejecting a GOP member’s
attempt to give Western states more authority over water
supplies but agreeing to direct the EPA to set drinking water
limits for “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works gathered
the last few comments on Friday on its plans to move two
mammoth water infrastructure packages this year. … At the
same time, the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee is gearing up to introduce its own big water bill,
which should come by month’s end and be marked up over the
summer, according to a committee aide.
The State Water Resources Control Board has executed an
agreement to provide approximately $5 million in grant funds
for testing and remediation of lead in drinking water at
licensed Child Care Centers in California.
A group of more than 80 members of Congress is pushing for the
inclusion of provisions to regulate a class of cancer-linked
chemicals in future stimulus legislation dealing with
infrastructure. The chemicals, known as PFAS, are also
sometimes called “forever chemicals” because of their
persistence in both the environment and the human body.
Under the drought contingency plan hammered out by Colorado
River Basin states last year, Arizona agreed to voluntarily
reduce its water use by 192,000 acre-feet, or about 7%, leaving
that water in Lake Mead to help reduce the likelihood of
greater cutbacks down the road. Tom Buschatzke, director of the
Arizona Department of Water Resources, says data from a new
Bureau of Reclamation report show that plan is working.
Legislation introduced in the House on Friday would offer
states and tribes $1.5 billion to aid low-income households
with their water bills. There is a catch. To receive aid,
states and tribes must agree not to turn off water to homes
during the coronavirus public health emergency. They must also
agree to reconnect water service to homes in which water was
previously turned off.
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders were urged
Tuesday to include at least $12.5 billion in stimulus funds to
help people struggling to pay their water and sewer bills.
Congress is preparing another stimulus package that will
include billions of dollars to improve the nation’s aging water
and sewer infrastructure.
Gathering signatures for two proposed Napa County ballot
measures – one on rural, commercial cannabis cultivation, the
other on watershed protections – is a daunting task amid
COVID-19 shutdown orders. Californians are to shelter-at-home
except when engaged in “essential” tasks such as buying food.
Yet each measure needs more than 7,000 signatures from
registered voters by May 8 to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot.
California’s homeless crisis is one of the state’s top issues,
but the least discussed aspect of this broad problem is the
damage these homeless encampments cause to our levees. …
Large trenches dug into the side of levees impact the integrity
and stability of our protective barriers that are engineered to
keep our homes and community from flooding.
The House Natural Resources Committee voted along party lines
Wednesday to approve bills offered by California Democrats to
reauthorize grant programs to provide reliable water supplies
through reuse and desalination projects. Committee Chairman
Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said he supported the water bills
because Western states have been hit hard by drought conditions
worsened by climate change.
One day after President Trump tweeted his support, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to take
steps today to bring to the floor legislation that would
permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and
address the national parks maintenance backlog, senators said.
… Trump’s tweet was an election-year about-face from his
latest budget proposal, which recommended virtually eliminating
the popular, bipartisan program.
On Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation delivered its own
salvo to the Newsom administration – it was pushing forward
pre-construction work on raising Shasta Dam. … A push to
raise the dam was made possible by the same law that delivered
new biological opinions – the Water Infrastructure Improvements
for the Nation (WIIN) Act, approved in the waning days of the
Two bills that would make it easier for state regulators and
county officials to limit well-drilling and groundwater pumping
have died in the Arizona Legislature despite support from
lawmakers and pleas from county officials who are asking for
help to protect their rapidly declining aquifers.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew
Wheeler appeared before lawmakers Thursday to defend a budget
that would bring the agency to its lowest funding level in
years. As with previous Trump administration budgets, lawmakers
are expected to ignore the proposed 26 percent cut to the
agency, one of the steepest in the budget.
Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA) brought someone special with him to
push his nutria eradication bill on the House floor: a stuffed
giant “swamp rat” he obtained from the USDA nicknamed Nellie.
When Nellie was alive, she lived in Annapolis, Maryland.
San Diego’s long-awaited Pure Water project, a sewage recycling
system that would boost the city’s water independence, is
facing legal challenges that could last longer and cost more
than city officials previously anticipated.
State senators heard impassioned pleas from supporters of
proposed legislation that would make it easier for Arizona
water regulators to limit well-drilling in farming areas where
groundwater levels are falling. But in the end, the bill was
set aside, its future uncertain.
While the Arizona Legislature considers how to respond to
problems of falling groundwater levels in rural areas, the
agriculture industry is pushing back against proposals that
would require owners of large wells across the state to measure
and report how much water they’re pumping.
Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled
to vote on a resolution granting Committee Chair Raul Grijalva
(D–Ariz.) wide-ranging subpoena power over the Interior
Department. One inquiry in the hopper: a closer look at the
process that yielded the Trump Administration’s
freshly-released biological opinions governing the
federally-operated Central Valley Project.
Both Republicans and Democrats are backing measures in the
Legislature that would enable Arizona to start measuring how
much groundwater is pumped in unregulated rural areas where
aquifers have been rapidly declining.
A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns
including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable
drinking water is facing opposition by Republican critics,
including GOP representatives from California. In December
2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal
to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated
Like last year, the White House wants to cut all non-defense
discretionary spending by 5%. Non-nuclear spending at the
Department of Energy would be cut 29%, EPA would be reduced by
27%, the Army Corps of Engineers would drop 22% and the
Interior Department would fall by 13%.
With the backing of an unusual mix of local Democrats,
Republicans, Border Patrol agents and environmental groups,
House Democrats leveraged their support for the trade bill —
one of Trump’s highest priorities — to secure the
administration’s rare backing for an environmental project.
Each group played a part.
In the waning moments of 2019, San Francisco’s Water Department
persuaded Congress to deny long-promised access to unreachable
areas of Yosemite National Park. This power play would ban
environmentally benign boating on Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The
move reverses the guarantees of improved access and recreation
which San Francisco made in 1913, when it pleaded with Congress
to pass the Raker Act and allow it to build the reservoir in
Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.
Lawmakers in Arizona have proposed a new bill that would
require toilets, faucets and other plumbing fixtures sold in
the state to work more efficiently in an effort to save water.
… If passed into law, HB 2737 would emulate rules in states
like Texas, Colorado, California, Oregon, and New York state
that all require WaterSense certified fixtures in all new
Congressional leaders unveiled a transformative vision of
moving America and the environment forward by investing in 21st
century infrastructure. The Moving Forward Framework outlines a
five-year plan for bold investment in transportation and water
Democratic congressman from Fresno introduced two pieces of
legislation that aim to repair aging canals and water
infrastructure in California that’s been damaged by sinking
ground levels – called subsidence, caused by groundwater
State Sen. Scott Wiener will unveil legislation today to let
the state of California seize control of the embattled utility
PG&E. Wiener’s bill … would use eminent domain to force
the company’s stockholders to sell their shares to the state of
California, which would then take over operations.
A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban
fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled
text. The legislation would immediately prevent federal
agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking,
new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export
terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.
A San Francisco Bay Program Office would be established at the
Environmental Protection Agency to make grants for estuary
conservation and other water-related initiatives under a
modified version of H.R. 1132. The bill would authorize $25
million annually for the office for fiscal 2021 through 2025.
Assemblyman Rob Bonta is proposing a far-reaching California
Green New Deal to address climate change while prioritizing
historically marginalized groups… The bill would extend the
rights of Californians to include things like access to clean
air and water; justice for institutional – including
environmental – racism; debt-free public education through
college, and affordable health care.
Congress began the process of providing relief to the San
Joaquin Valley when it comes to the Friant-Kern Canal and clean
drinking water in rural communities when a subcommittee held a
hearing on two bills sponsored by T.J. Cox.
Water issues are gaining new prominence in the Democratic
presidential race as candidates react to rising public concerns
about drinking water pollution, failing infrastructure, and the
perceived inability of state and federal governments to fix the
Assemblyman James Gallagher introduced new legislation Monday
that will help expedite construction of the Paradise Irrigation
District intertie project. PID said after the Camp Fire, a
rough estimate of customers lost was around 9,000, nearly its
entire customer base. The District is searching for new revenue
streams to sustain itself …
A company’s proposal to take water from farmland along the
Colorado River and sell it to a growing Phoenix suburb has
provoked a heated debate, and some Arizona legislators are
trying to block the deal with a bill that would prohibit the
Competing plans for “climate resiliency” bonds come from three
sides of state government: the Assembly, the Senate and Gov.
Gavin Newsom. … Resilience projects are aimed not so much at
preventing sea level rise, wildfires, droughts and extreme
heatwaves, but helping people and communities survive.
In a groundbreaking vote, California has allocated nearly $45
million toward boosting highly efficient electric heat pump
technology that can help avoid burning fossil fuels to heat our
water, as well as store California’s abundant pollution-free
solar energy to give us piping-hot showers when the sun isn’t
Palmdale Water District customers will have more protections
before their water service may be shut off for neglecting to
pay their bills on time, following policy changes approved
Monday. The changes reflect the requirements of Senate Bill
998, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2018.
House lawmakers passed a bill Friday for U.S. regulators to
designate chemicals found in cooking spray, cosmetics and other
grease-resistant products as health hazards. Known as
polyfluoroalkyl and perfluorooctanoic substances (PFAS and
PFOS), the chemicals have been found in groundwater sites
across the nation.
The White House announced Tuesday that President Trump would
likely veto legislation designed to manage a class of
cancer-linked chemicals leaching into the water supply. The
chemicals, known by the abbreviation PFAS, are used in a
variety of nonstick products such as raincoats, cookware and
packaging and have been found in nearly every state in the
Citing a lack of action by Congress and the Trump
administration, a group of California Democrats said it’s up to
the state to continue fighting the “existential” threat of
climate change by simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas
emissions and improving the standard of living for low-income
communities and people of color.
A duo of bills, at the state and federal level, will likely
determine the fate of the Friant-Kern Canal in a legislative
year that is shaping up to be pivotal for Central Valley
growers and ag communities.
Lawmakers in the Democratic-dominated state Legislature return
to work Monday for the second year of a two-year session. Their
to-do list includes a $4.2 billion climate bond, an ambitious
proposal to borrow money before they need it to prepare for the
types of natural disasters that have plagued the state.
A bill that would require the EPA to regulate PFAS, an emerging
family of chemicals contaminating U.S. municipal and private
water supplies, is slated to be the first major legislation
that the House will take up in 2020.
Legislation needs to be implemented to lessen pollution. And
all sectors — public and private — need to be educated about
the importance of saving water, as does society more broadly.
High on the list should be efforts to investigate the benefits
and risks of drinking reused water, including ways to make it
more acceptable to consumers.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday called for more federal
money and oversight to shore up the nation’s aging dams
following an Associated Press investigation that found scores
of potentially troubling dams located near homes and
communities across the country.
Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump
administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and
gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California. … The
final supplemental environmental report released recently said
the BLM found no adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing that
could not be alleviated. Several groups and state officials,
however, disagree and have called the
Passing the new North American free trade agreement would mean
millions of dollars to help upgrade sewage infrastructure on
the border, say the agreement’s backers. But an environmental
group and a local organization on the U.S.-Mexico border say
it’s not enough.
A provision tucked within the EPA’s proposal to overhaul the
way it regulates lead in drinking water—initially derided as
toothless—could have far-reaching consequences for public
health, municipal policies, and even real estate transactions,
water industry insiders now say. The proposal would require all
water utilities across the country to inventory the location of
all of their lead pipes and then make that information public.
The spending deal does not include a requirement for EPA to
regulate PFAS in drinking water, meaning lawmakers will leave
town this week without significant regulatory action on the
The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the House are
pushing for their own home-state projects in this year’s final
spending bills — a spectacular park overlooking San Francisco
Bay and a dam across the largest reservoir in California — but
without agreement from each other in the negotiations’ final
Congress has reached a deal on a spending bill that would
require the military to stop using firefighting foam containing
toxic chemicals linked to cancer, but would abandon efforts to
place stronger regulations on the chemicals.
It was welcome news for Kern County farmers, but word last week
that the process of fixing the Friant-Kern Canal has finally
begun may have obscured the fact that a great deal of work lies
ahead — including finding money to complete the job.
Cities like Huron, with a population of 6,926 and a $22,802
median household income, are often too small to expand water
access projects that could lower utility rates. While cities
like Delano are too big to qualify for rural development
projects from the federal government. But a new proposal could
soon alleviate those pains.
A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s
internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has
retaliated against their state for political reasons, including
by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple
California’s search for the source of “forever chemicals” in
drinking water is expanding to include military sites,
wastewater treatment plants, chrome-plating facilities, and
refineries. Surveys indicate an estimated 3.5 million
Californians use drinking water supplies with per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, above federal health
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee voted Tuesday
morning to permanently authorize and completely fund the
program, which was established in 1964 to help with outdoor
projects on public lands. The bill passed with bipartisan
support out of the committee and now faces a full floor vote.
Westlands Water District, Fresno-based agricultural water
district, is set to convert its temporary, renewable water
service agreements with the Federal government into a permanent
contract. And while Westlands is the first of its class to make
the switch, it certainly won’t be the last water agency to do
As Donald Trump’s administration pushes to expand oil
extraction in California, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom,
has signed bill after bill limiting the practice. … But since
taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy
management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas
drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor
Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018
Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring
October 14, 2019 “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in California. … I
thank the governor for the proclamation. However, last month –
on California Native American Day — the governor also vetoed
legislation, Senate Bill 1, that could have helped the state
protect our salmon from Trump’s environmental rollbacks. This
Based on DWR’s own documents, it appears that an aerial snow
observator is the most important science- and data-focused
program that needs to be expanded statewide, so that the
integral aquifer recharge program can play its role in Governor
Newsom’s Water Resiliency Portfolio.
The Oct. 28 meeting of the El Dorado Irrigation District Board
of Directors included an update on the effect of power outages
on the district and a legislative update with a focus on
protecting the area’s water rights.
Babbitt spoke at a conference of county supervisors from across
Arizona Tuesday, calling for new legislation that would give
county officials the authority to manage groundwater. He said
while the 1980 law has had “a lot of success” in managing
groundwater in urban areas from Phoenix to Tucson, its main
flaw has been leaving groundwater pumping unregulated in rural
parts of the state.
A bill that will extend the life of water pollutant regulatory
permits from five years to 10 years for local wastewater
treatment and water recycling infrastructure projects has
passed a key House of Representatives committee.
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. …
Nearly half of California’s stream gauges are dormant.
California is chock full of rivers and creeks, yet the state’s network of stream gauges has significant gaps that limit real-time tracking of how much water is flowing downstream, information that is vital for flood protection, forecasting water supplies and knowing what the future might bring.
That network of stream gauges got a big boost Sept. 30 with the signing of SB 19. Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the law requires the state to develop a stream gauge deployment plan, focusing on reactivating existing gauges that have been offline for lack of funding and other reasons. Nearly half of California’s stream gauges are dormant.
The Water Education Foundation’s Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offers 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
On Friday night the governor signed Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s
Assembly Bill 1413, which will support local referendums on
transit funding, and Assembly Bill 1290 by Gloria and Sen. Toni
Atkins that clears the way for the pioneering Pure Water
In an effort to reduce litter, wildfire risk, and ocean
pollution from cigarette butts, smoking will be banned on all
of California’s state beaches and in state parks under a new
law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Starting Jan. 1, it will be
illegal to smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes, vaping devices “or
any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended
for inhalation” on any state beach or in any state park in
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of Senate Bill 1 means the honeymoon
may be over with environmental groups who saw the bill as a
bulwark to protect California’s water quality and endangered
species from the Trump administration’s regulatory slashing.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday signed a law intended to counter
Trump administration plans to increase oil and gas production
on protected public land. The measure bars any California
leasing authority from allowing pipelines or other oil and gas
infrastructure to be built on state property. It makes it
difficult for drilling to occur because federally protected
areas are adjacent to state-owned land.
Agriculture is part of what makes our state’s economy strong
and helps provide for all our families, which is why it is
crucial that we do absolutely everything we can to protect our
state’s farms and allow them to operate without the fear of
major obstacles. California agriculture nearly faced such an
obstacle with Senate Bill 1, which would have placed harsh
regulations on water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
There should be no “acceptable” amount of risk we’re willing to
take when it comes to water quality or the health of our
children and families. From Los Angeles to Sacramento to
Washington, D.C. — in all the places I’ve worked — this belief
has fueled my desire to fight for clean and safe water in our
Russian River communities impacted by the 2019 flood may soon
see some help, as a budget trailer bill signed last week by
Gov. Gavin Newsom promises $1.5 million to the area that
suffered 100 landslides and slipouts and faces at least $155
million in damage.
We now have an opportunity to build on the successful Arizona
process that led to the DCP signing. Arizona is stronger
together. And that will serve us well as we work toward the
next step – maintaining a stable, healthy Colorado River system
as we face a hotter and drier future.
Gov. Gavin Newsom insisted he takes “a back seat to no one” on
environmental advocacy just before he vetoed the most
significant environmental-protection bill of the legislative
session. His rejection of Senate Bill 1 puts Newsom squarely at
odds with just about every major conservation group in the
state in fortifying defenses for endangered species against the
Trump administration’s efforts to weaken federal law.
Senate Bill No. 690 seeks to reduce exposure to dangerous
pathogens, limit beach closures and address water quality
issues in the Tijuana River Valley. The bill will also allow a
$15 million budget allocation for cleanup efforts as well as
prioritizing projects that will address water quality, flood
control, trash and sediment.
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Friday that would have
allowed California to preserve Obama-era endangered species
protections and water-pumping restrictions for the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should they be dismantled by the
Trump administration, a move scorned by environmental groups
that have been among the governor’s most important political
A rookie California lawmaker plans to haul a 20-pound rodent
carcass into Congress on Tuesday to press his colleagues for
money to fight an invasive species wreaking havoc on his
district. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, hopes a hearing on his
bill will convince his colleagues that funding to stop invasive
nutria in California’s Central Valley is sorely needed …
At least 85 different federal laws and regulations affecting
California have been weakened or undermined by the Trump
administration since January 2017. … That’s why I, along with
many proponents, believe that Senate Bill 1 would safeguard our
Two bills to ban smoking at all state beaches — with a $25 fine
for violators — have reached Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk and await
his signature. Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar bills
three times, saying people should be allowed to smoke outdoors
in parks. But this year there’s a new governor.
I’m writing to express our tribe’s dismay at Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s announcement that he plans to veto Senate Bill 1. …
Vetoing this bill will green-light President Trump’s plan to
divert even more water from our struggling rivers for
industrial agriculture. Many well-respected fish biologists and
environmentalists have concluded Trump’s attempt to ignore the
best science and rewrite the rules will essentially be an
“extinction plan” for Chinook salmon and other threatened fish.
Our beaches, bays and waterways are central to who we are as
San Diegans and to our unique way of life. But in a heavily
urbanized region clean water doesn’t just happen; it takes hard
work and stewardship.
Newsom has said he won’t approve Senate President Pro Tem Toni
Atkins’ bid for a legal backstop against environmental
rollbacks by the Trump administration. And Washington is poised
to reduce protections for endangered fish species in the
state’s largest watersheds. The result may be the heightened
regulatory uncertainty that opponents of the bill said they
hoped to avoid…
In 2019, at long last, justice was finally achieved; it was
secured through the combined power of the people and allies who
said it was finally time to bring safe water to all
Californians. On July 24, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation
that will make sure all Californians have access to safe,
affordable drinking water.
Whatever satisfaction might be gained by telling the president
to pound sand is nowhere near as important as protecting the
water supply of Modesto and thousands of farmers depending on
the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.
Last week, the Legislature acted to thwart President Donald
Trump on water matters by passing a bill to essentially
pre-empt the execution of federal environmental law. The
Metropolitan Water District opposed Senate Bill 1 because it
would have unleashed rounds of state-federal litigation, and
would have likely brought 13 years of effort to a halt. Gov.
Gavin Newsom has signaled he plans to veto the measure.
A concerted effort to put a $4 billion bond measure for safe
drinking water, drought preparation, wildfire prevention, and
climate resilience on the March 2020 ballot in California died
quietly in the state legislature last week. But the bond
measure proposal will rise again early in the new year…
Newsom saw SB 1 as a mortal threat to something he’s been
supporting since shortly before he took office: a tentative
truce in California’s longstanding water wars. The truce
revolves around the flow of water in and out of the Delta from
California’s most important river systems, the Sacramento and
The state’s moves open up more opportunities for extension of
drinking water service, operations and maintenance for domestic
wells, and even demands action for Salton Sea conservation. The
myriad issues east valley residents face are exacerbated by the
public health impacts of the receding Salton Sea.
Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to veto a bill passed by California
lawmakers that would have allowed the state to keep strict
Obama-era endangered species protections and water pumping
restrictions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Newsom’s
intentions … comes less than 24 hours after state lawmakers
passed the sweeping legislation.
The Trump administration, under Interior Secretary David
Bernhardt, is finalizing plans to rip up restrictions on
diverting Northern California water to its friends in the
agricultural industry in the dry western San Joaquin
Valley. However, some of the state’s biggest water
districts oppose SB 1, hoping Trump administration efforts will
translate into increased water diversions.
Senate Bill 513, authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado
(D-Sanger), is headed towards Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for
approval. The bill, which received bi-partisan support, will
provide relief for families without reliable access to water by
delivering a temporary alternative source of water supply.
Although its target was narrow — it was designed to undercut
the capacity of Cadiz, Inc. to pump annually upwards of 16
billion gallons of groundwater in eastern San Bernardino County
and sell it to ever-thirsty Southern California — the
legislation may prove to be far-reaching in its consequences.