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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
In March, newly-elected Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger)
proposed a $400 million windfall to finance repairs for the
canal under Senate Bill 559… But the bipartisan bill, much
like canal it was designed to fix, is sunk — for now. The bill
failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote before the Sept. 13
Facing fierce lobbying from well-financed water districts, the
bill’s author, Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego,
acknowledged Tuesday that the bill might get pulled from
consideration until next year.
Assemblyman Marc Levine’s bill to reform state energy
extraction regulation has been approved by the Legislature. The
legislation … would require state oil and gas extraction
regulators to put public health and the environment ahead of
increased industry development.
We cannot advance the fight for environmental quality by
declaring that all science stopped on a specific date. If it’s
dumb for the President to close his eyes to science, it’s
dumber for us to follow him down that rabbit hole.
We applaud Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts in leading discussions
with the United States Department of the Interior, public water
agencies and environmental groups to craft voluntary agreements
that will restore the ecological health of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta while providing California with clean, reliable
Senate Bill 1 has strong support from some of California’s most
influential environmental and labor organizations, including
some that helped get Gov. Gavin Newsom elected. But several of
California’s water suppliers and agricultural interests …
oppose the measure. This includes the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California, which has made SB 1 a top
Many Californians might ask, “Didn’t we already pay for that?”
The answer is that while California has indeed started to make
critical investments in these crucial areas,we’re still playing
catch-up after failing for decades to adequately invest in
The Friant-Kern Canal, which delivers water to farms and
communities on the east side of the Valley, is literally
sinking in some areas due to groundwater pumping. And with one
week to go before the California legislature wraps up its 2019
session, many hope the state will help fund the canal’s repair.
To end a labor dispute that’s halted work on one of the largest
and most important water projects in San Diego history,
Assemblyman Todd Gloria rolled out a bill Friday to require
union-friendly terms for work on the project.
Now, some are arguing that the bill should be stripped of its
longstanding provision applying the State’s own Endangered
Species Act to the operations of the federal Central Valley
Project. Here’s why that’s a terrible idea.
Senate Bill 1 is seen as a pre-emptive strike by California
lawmakers before the Trump administration ushers in new
biological opinions to alter water deliveries through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Environmental groups are raising concerns over a provision in
draft legislation they believe could exempt the Las Vegas
pipeline — a proposal to pump eastern Nevada groundwater about
300 miles to Southern Nevada — from further litigation and
federal environmental review.
Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced final
regulations that would gut the Endangered Species Act
nationwide, weakening protections for our most imperiled
wildlife. … SB 1 is intended to help fill these gap to ensure
no backsliding in protecting clean air, clean water, and
Earlier this year, Sacramento politicians introduced Senate
Bill 1 (SB1) which seeks to inject politics into California’s
environmental regulations. SB1 will restrict water deliveries
to the Central Valley and make California even more
unaffordable. SB1 puts our communities in danger.
According to a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association,
outdoor recreation generated $92 billion in consumer spending
in California and is directly responsible for 691,000 jobs in
the state. That’s why local residents and elected leaders have
sought additional safeguards to make sure that some of the more
extraordinary lands and rivers within the national forest and
monument receive permanent protection as wilderness and wild
and scenic rivers.
Tomorrow, the Golden State’s Democrat-run, veto-proof
legislature returns from its summer break and is expected to
quickly take up S.B. 1, the “California Environmental, Public
Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019.” It has been proposed
for one reason: Donald Trump is president.
Higher-priced bottled water won’t affect average Californians
much; either they can afford to not think about the price hike,
or they have access to safe tap water. It is our most
vulnerable—roughly a million residents who depend on bottled
water due to contaminated pipes—who will suffer. That’s one in
forty Californians, predominantly people of color, unable to
use their tap water to drink, cook or wash.
For years, bottled water has served as one of the only
dependable options for consumption and sanitary needs, serving
as a simple way for communities to access affordable and
available water. Yet, a proposed bill in the California state
legislature, Assembly Bill 792, has the potential to impose a
de facto tax on bottled water, leading to significant jump in
cost, and making it unaffordable for many disadvantaged
A flexible, reliable water supply is essential to California’s
economy and to the job creation and job security goals of
California’s working families. … Of all the projects vying
for California’s attention, the proposed Sites Reservoir in
Northern California offers the most tangible benefits.
Two Midwest Republican senators are pushing a bill to cement
changes made by the Trump administration to an Obama-era rule
designed to reduce water pollution, bringing a pet project of
the Trump administration to Congress. The Waters of the United
States (WOTUS) rule has long been controversial within the
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has joined with a Montana
Republican to craft a bill that would expedite logging and
other forest management projects near electrical transmission
lines and roads in an effort to head off catastrophic
wildfires. The bill is also aimed at slowing or stopping
lawsuits that block logging projects on federal land.
Los Angeles water developer Cadiz Inc. has entered into a joint
venture with a division of Long Beach-based California Cannabis
Enterprises Inc. to grow hemp on Cadiz land that sits atop a
Mojave Desert aquifer.
A bill signed Wednesday evening by Gov. Gavin Newsom will
require Cadiz Inc.’s Mojave Desert groundwater pumping
project to undergo further review to show it will not harm
the surrounding environment. … It requires the State Lands
Commission to determine that projects involving the transfer of
water from a groundwater basin won’t adversely impact the
Starting next year, California water systems must notify
residents if their water sources contain potentially toxic
levels of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS under a law Gov.
Gavin Newsom signed Wednesday. The new law, AB 756, will also
expand state regulators’ ability to test for per-and
polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Wednesday to decide on a bill that
would make California the first state in the nation to require
water suppliers who monitor a broad class of toxic “forever
chemicals” to notify customers if they’re present in drinking
I’m here with Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and president
emeritus of the Pacific Institute. Peter serves on the Circle
of Blue Board of Trustees from his base in California, where
Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a bill directing some $130
million to improve access to clean drinking water for many
More than halfway through his term, experts say, the president
has had almost no lasting impact on California’s major
environmental rules despite making broad promises and
appointing former industry officials into top jobs. The reason:
California, a quasi-country with 40 million people and the
world’s fifth-largest economy, has been aggressively passing
its own state laws, filing lawsuits against the federal
government and cutting deals with other states and countries to
go around the Trump White House.
Congress has reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act a few times over the years,
most recently in 2006. In the years since, efforts to revisit
the law have stalled out before netting any results. Now,
Congressmember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) plans to introduce
a bill to tackle the reauthorization within the next year.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed into law the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund bill in the tiny Fresno County
community of Tombstone Territory — where residents rely on
bottled water because their private wells are contaminated.
Starting next year, Senate Bill 200 will provide $130 million
annually to clean up drinking water in California communities
like Tombstone that lack access to safe water.
Gathering California water policy and decision-makers along
with groundwater stakeholders and users, the workshop gave
participants the opportunity to meet European Union (EU) water
specialists, exchange experiences and ideas, and compare
California and EU issues and solutions.
Water managers on the Colorado River are facing a unique
moment. With a temporary fix to the river’s scarcity problem
recently completed, talk has begun to turn toward future
agreements to manage the water source for 40 million people in
the southwestern U.S. … Some within the basin see a window of
opportunity to argue for big, bold actions to find balance in
The “Water Justice Act” would invest nearly $220 billion in
clean and safe drinking water programs, with priority given to
high-risk communities and schools. As part of that, Harris’
plan would declare a drinking water infrastructure emergency,
devoting $50 billion toward communities and schools where water
Today, Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51) along with Reps. Susan Davis
(CA-53), Scott Peters (CA-52), and Mike Levin (CA-49), hosted a
press conference to announce the introduction of their Tijuana
River Valley Pollution Solution bill package. The combined
legislation would further support mitigation efforts in the
The state drought plans move gingerly toward encouraging
transfers of water by using clever euphemisms that avoid any
mention of water marketing. … These euphemisms are tools that
usher in a new frontier in western water law that will increase
resilience in the face of droughts, floods and forest fires
fueled by climate change.
At the same time the snowpack is dwindling, droughts are
expected to become more severe. One example: scientists predict
a strong likelihood that the Colorado River Basin will
experience a megadrought of 20 to 50 years in duration during
When Gov. Gavin Newsom called for constructing and maintaining
delivery systems to get water to at-risk communities in his
State of the State address, he received widespread support. But
the fight over funding for the project got divisive – and fast.
Cities such as San Francisco want to buy assets from the
bankrupt electricity provider to control the power supply for
their communities. An amendment inserted late in the
legislative process makes those purchases more difficult by
subjecting them to the approval of state regulators.
Moving forward, we have an opportunity and an obligation to
build on this agreement by addressing the barriers that
confront small water systems that often have the most
difficulty delivering safe, clean water. As advocates and
organizers work to ensure that investments go to the
communities with greatest needs, the public health community
has the responsibility to step forward and align itself with
the struggle for water as a human right.
The $733 billion National Defense Authorization legislation
passed by the House last Friday included an amendment sponsored
by Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, requiring the Pentagon to share
information on possible contamination from the chemical known
as PFAS, widely used in firefighting foam at military bases.
Brokered in large part by rookie state senator for California’s
14 Senate District, Melissa Hurtado, the southern portion of
the Valley has gained tens of millions of dollars of investment
in drinking water, asthma mitigation, aging and disability
resource centers and Valley Fever research.
Assembly member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, authored AB 137, which
would prohibit people from altering the stability of levees or
bypasses, as well as prohibit people from living and camping on
the structures. The legislation would make it a misdemeanor
For years, the people of the Northern San Joaquin Valley have
been trying to get hydropower recognized for what it is: the
original source of clean electricity. Our efforts have been
stymied by people who feel entitled to decide what is, or
isn’t, green enough. That’s why I have begun the process of
modifying our state Constitution to recognize safe, abundant,
carbon-free hydropower as a reliable source of renewable energy
in our fight against climate change.
House Democrats are at odds with the White House, Senate
Republicans and each other over provisions in defense policy
legislation that aim to address toxic chemicals found in
drinking water. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as
PFAS … have been linked to thyroid issues, birth defects and
other health problems.
Proponents have said SB 1 will keep Trump from delivering more
water to farms, thereby harming endangered fish. That sentiment
is exactly what makes SB 1 so dangerous. It relies on the
worn-out trope that California’s water issues boil down to
“farms versus fish.”
A bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Martha McSally and Kyrsten
Sinema would put aside hundreds of millions of dollars for
water storage projects, water recycling, and desalination
plants. … The bill is also sponsored by California Democratic
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Colorado Republican Senator Cory
A project to pump billions of gallons of water out from under
the Mojave Desert and sell it to people in Southern California
could be slowed by a bill approved for the first time on
Thursday by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
People in Paradise lost their homes and most of their town, and
then came more shocking news: Paradise’s water is contaminated
with benzene, which is known to cause cancer. … Now there is
legislation that will likely cause an increase in the cost of
bottled water at precisely a time when these communities are
trying to rebuild.
One day after President Trump delivered a speech preaching of
his administration’s environmental achievements, he threatened
to veto a military spending bill in part due to provisions that
aim to clean up a toxic, cancer-linked chemical found near
New legislation authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier,
D-Discovery Bay, and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom,
calls for the development of a plan to deal with abandoned and
derelict commercial vessels in the Delta. A draft of that plan
is now available for review and public comment.
The state legislative process is designed to create laws that
protect and improve the life of all Californians. It is not
intended to punish a single business or project. Yet, our
Legislature is moving a bill, SB 307, that does just that under
the guise of desert protection.
The bill that will provide support for necessary repairs to the
Friant-Kern Canal is continuing to make forward progress in the
California legislature. Senate Bill 559 (SB-559) … was voted
through the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee in the
Assembly on July 2. The bill itself is seeking $400 million to
make important upgrades and repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal.
The California Senate on Monday sent legislation to Gov. Gavin
Newsom that will spend $130 million a year over the next decade
to improve drinking water for about a million people. …
Newsom had proposed a tax on most residential water bills to
address the problem. Instead, the Senate approved a bill that
would authorize spending up to $130 million each year on the
state’s distressed water districts, with most of it coming from
a fund aimed at fighting climate change.
The original treaty was implemented before the 1970 National
Environmental Policy Act, the 1973 Endangered Species Act and a
host of legal shifts that bolstered Indigenous rights… These
hallmarks of change emphasize the need to include environmental
protection and equity in an updated treaty.
As fires across the state grow larger and more damaging, water
agencies … are asking lawmakers to shield them from paying
for damages related to fires they didn’t start but weren’t able
to help put out.
Legislative leaders reached a compromise with Newsom to take
some money out of a fund used to improve air quality and use it
for drinking water. … The state Assembly approved the
proposal on Friday by a vote of 67-0. It now heads to the state
California’s political leaders have made the long-overdue
decision to clean up the Central Valley’s contaminated drinking
water, and help cash-strapped rural water districts. The catch:
rather than assess a fee on water users or tapping into the
state’s budget surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature
relied on cap-and-trade money to pay for a portion of the
A new bill is moving through the California Legislature that
may make it easier for veterans to get jobs within the state’s
water industry. Assemblymember Todd Gloria helped introduce AB
1588 to stem the phenomenon called the “silver tsunami”, in
which thousands of water workers are expected to retire from
the water industry in the coming years.
The Newsom Administration and the State Legislature approved a
commitment of $70 million in the 2019-2020 State Budget for a
comprehensive series of innovative fish and wildlife habitat
enhancement actions identified in the collaborative Bay-Delta
Voluntary Agreement proposals. This is a significant, early
investment in the success of the Voluntary Agreements.
We salute Rep. Jared Huffman and Sen. Kamala Harris for their
recent introduction of the Northwest California Wilderness,
Recreation and Working Forests Act, which would better protect
and restore lands and streams vital for water supply, salmon
and steelhead and the growing outdoor recreation economy in
Tribal leaders urged House lawmakers Wednesday to support a
handful of bills that would guarantee water to their tribes in
Arizona, Utah and New Mexico and fund the water treatment
plants and pipelines to deliver it.
Back in 1980, the Arizona Legislature launched urban Arizona
toward a secure water future by enacting the Groundwater
Management Act. Unfortunately, most of rural Arizona – that is,
outside the Phoenix-Tucson corridor – was largely ignored and
left to an uncertain future. That future has arrived. Water
shortages now threaten rural communities throughout the state.
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.),
Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
introduced the bipartisan Drought Resiliency and Water Supply
Infrastructure Act, a bill to improve the nation’s water supply
and drought resiliency.
Upper Colorado River Basin water users are the most vulnerable
on the Western Slope in the event of a call required by an
interstate compact to curtail use, with much of that
vulnerability resting with entities that divert water from that
basin to the Front Range, new analysis shows.
The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, divided into plans
for the river’s upper and lower basins, is the product of years
of interstate negotiations, business transactions and political
dealings. What, though, does it mean for Nevada and other
Western states as a whole?
Over 10 years, it would funnel $1.4 billion to the fund for
clean water solutions. The budget has been approved by the
California Legislature, but still needs Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
signature to pass. It also still needs trailer bills that
authorize some of the spending – including the drinking water
Most of the seven states that get water from the Colorado River
have signed off on plans to keep the waterway from crashing
amid a prolonged drought, climate change and increased demands.
But California and Arizona have not, missing deadlines from the
State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) announced Monday she
has secured a $15 million one-time investment of General Funds
for the southern Central Valley. The funds will address failing
water systems that deliver safe clean drinking water to
California’s most vulnerable communities.
The states that share the river completed a drought plan
earlier this year that brings them closer to living within
currently available supplies, and a new round of negotiations
on long-term management of the river is due to begin next year.
However, a new report warns that planning for gradually
declining water supplies, as difficult as that is, may not be
enough to adequately prepare for the future.
In order to address the impacts of climate change on the
state’s water resources, the Department of Water Resources
(DWR) has been developing its own comprehensive Climate Action
Plan to guide how DWR is and will continue to address climate
change for programs, projects, and activities over which it has
By the State Water Resources Control Board’s estimates, more
than a million Californians don’t have safe drinking water
flowing through the pipes into their homes. … As Gov. Gavin
Newsom prepares to send his revised $213 billion budget to the
legislature for approval, a trailer bill proposes that the
legislature appropriate $150 million a year to a Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund.
Of all the issues that have crossed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk
during his first 100 days in office, water might very well be
the most complex. … I am an almond grower from Merced County,
and we in the California almond community are all rooting for
the governor, his fellow policymakers and regulators to succeed
in finding viable solutions and common ground.
In my 40 years at the California Department of Water Resources,
I have seen changes in climate that have convinced me that the
full picture is changing and our extrapolation methods are
losing value rapidly. This is especially true in extreme years,
wet or dry – such as 2015, when the statistics are just not
going to be accurate enough to meet our growing water
While wildfire lawsuits have typically targeted electric
utilities and their downed powerlines that ignite the blaze,
some recent lawsuits have also focused on the water systems
that are supposed to provide the water for firefighters to put
out the flames. The group, known as the Coalition for Fire
Protection and Accountability, wants to be included in
legislative efforts to reduce utilities’ liability, a prime
topic of discussion this year following Pacific Gas & Electric