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.
There are many threats facing Lake Tahoe, and unless we take action, the pristine beauty [John] Muir described will soon be only a memory. We [Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.] joined our colleagues, Senators Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer, to introduce the bipartisan Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015, a bill to protect Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin for generations to come.
A California lawmaker has proposed a new label for food irrigated with what he calls “fracking water.” … Oil companies sell Central Valley farms millions of gallons of treated wastewater every day for irrigation.
Environmentalists are mobilizing in protest of a would-be bill backed by the local wine industry that would create an irrigation district intended to protect the water rights of about 1,000 grape growers in the Russian River region.
Lawmakers are seeking budget solutions amid a superheated political climate as the wildland fires now raging across California, Washington and other Western states burn through federal dollars as well as forests. A new report warns the funding problem will worsen.
Publicly and privately, California lawmakers are pushing to get a big water bill off its current glacial pace. But history cautions that California legislation this ambitious always takes time, and plenty of it.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein filed her long-awaited legislative response to California’s water crisis on Wednesday, hoping to broker a compromise that has eluded Congress through four years of fallow fields and brown lawns.
The drastic drop in acres burned in the past year is in large part because of an increase in the number of crews and aircrafts CalFire was able to obtain through the state declaring a drought emergency last year, officials say.
We face major environmental challenges at Tahoe, including the uncertainties of climate change. … This month, our bi-state delegation in the U.S. Senate introduced the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015.
The House of Representatives’ passage Thursday of an ambitious and controversial California water bill now starts a round of maneuvering that will show whether a divided Congress can get its act together and legislate.
Sponsored by U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-Nevada) along with Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), and Barbara Boxer (D-California), the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act would authorize up to $415 million in federal funding over 10 years to help continue critical environmental restoration work at Lake Tahoe.
While water consumers are pressed to save every drop in the continuing drought, water utilities keep poor track of how much of their supply is lost before it ever reaches faucets – and at least some are resisting a bill to make them report those loses more frequently.
In the end Senate Bill 4 regulating hydraulic fracturing pleased neither environmentalists nor the oil and gas industry, but supporters argue it imposes needed oversight by requiring well permits, disclosure of what chemicals are used, water testing and studies of fracking’s impact.
Northern California Rep. Jared Huffman came to Southern California to push his $1.4 billion drought bill and find some common ground in what he called the state’s water wars being waged in the halls of Sacramento and Washington.
House Republicans are swinging for the fences with an ambitious new, but familiar, California water bill introduced Thursday. … The legislation speeds studies for water storage projects, including proposals for raising Shasta Dam and building a new reservoir at Temperance Flat on the Upper San Joaquin River.
The California Legislature approved a budget bill that would grant the state authority to force water systems to consolidate to serve disadvantaged communities where a steady supply of clean drinking water is not available. Senate Bill 88 also would give public water suppliers the power to impose civil fines of up to $10,000 for violations of water conservation programs, impose new measuring and reporting requirements for water diversions, and suspend environmental review for certain drought-related projects.
A California budget bill that would allow the state to force consolidation of water systems, exempt certain water projects from environmental review and make other far-reaching changes in response to the drought cleared the Legislature on Friday over the angry objections of Republicans.
Late-emerging legislation designed to deal with the drought could be part of the budget package California lawmakers will vote on Friday. Part of the legislation would give state water regulators the ability to force local water agencies to consolidate.
Some drought-related groundwater and water recycling projects would gain exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act under late-emerging legislation at the Capitol. … The bill includes language related to the consolidation of water agencies, among other measures.
[David] Orth is general manager for the Kings River Conservation District, a California Water Commissioner, and a key participant in the negotiations leading up to the enactment of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.We spoke at a recent event in Fresno about the challenges facing the new groundwater law.
In response to the worst drought in our state’s long memory, our public institutions – with one unfortunate exception – are stepping up. … That’s why I [Rep. Jared Huffman] developed the kind of serious, comprehensive legislation this crisis demands.
The Brown administration is pushing late-emerging budget legislation to let state officials force the consolidation of troubled water systems with larger, better-funded agencies, with the goal of improving Californians’ access to safe drinking water after four years of drought.
California’s worst water-guzzling residents and businesses could get slapped with 300 percent taxes on their bills under drought-inspired legislation that was proposed Tuesday but faces a tough path before it could actually affect local water bills.
The governor’s obsession with building massive tunnels under the Delta could muck up what should be a simple issue: granting CEQA exemption requests for emergency drought projects. The request in the form of Trailer Bill 831 is part of the budget process for dealing with the drought.
As California struggles to respond to a heightening drought emergency, state lawmakers are promoting legislation that would potentially increase scientific knowledge about the state’s shrinking groundwater reserves. On June 1, the California Senate passed SB 20 by a vote of 21 to 15. The bill requires public access to the groundwater information that well drillers file with the Department of Water Resources after completing a well.
Members of the Klamath Tribes are speaking out against the Klamath water settlements and the new land base being written into them. … The land base transfer now being considered is part of SB 133, the Klamath Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act.
The tremendous challenge of upgrading our water infrastructure will require federal cooperation. That’s why I [Dianne Feinstein] plan to introduce drought legislation soon to lay out the federal role in this long-term effort.
The state’s splintered congressional delegation — despite its size and influence — has been stymied by fundamental disagreements over the causes of the drought and the role of the federal government in mitigating its consequences.
Despite opposition from agriculture groups, the state Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation Thursday that would make data on water wells available to the public like is done in all other Western states.
While state-mandated requirements of Colusa County’s groundwater are still years away, concerns about aquifer health among local farmers already exist. About 50 local residents and growers participated in a public informational meeting about groundwater at the Colusa County Fairgrounds on Tuesday night.
The state’s oil and gas agency has missed the deadline for reporting on the use of water by oil producers in California, saying that the large volume of information required could not be processed in time.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 creates an opportunity to establish standards for the way California accounts for its stores of groundwater, which provide up to 60 percent of the state’s water supply during droughts.
With dead almond trees propped on the Capitol steps and school children clutching signs that read “We need water. Build storage now!”, advocates for new dams and reservoirs in California offered a striking set of visuals in Sacramento last week.
The $35 billion bill includes money for the California status quo, ranging from Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta restoration to operations of the sprawling Central Valley Project. It also includes drought-related language, with directives to speed completion of water storage project studies.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, wants the federal government to transfer ownership of New Melones Lake east of Stockton to local water districts. That’s the aim of one of two bills introduced by Denham on Wednesday.
If you’re caught wasting water in California, the most you can be fined right now is $500 a day. Governor Jerry Brown wants to raise the maximum penalty 20 times that amount – to $10,000 per water violation.
[Gov. Jerry] Brown said he will empower communities to reach their target, with legislation that allows them to crack down harder on residents and business in violation of state and local water restrictions by imposing $10,000 penalties, while deputizing more people to hit the streets and issue fines.
Despite a rally that attracted hundreds of supporters to the state Capitol, a proposed bill that would have expedited the environmental review process for two large reservoir projects failed to pass through committee.
Alarmed that some cities have fined residents for allowing their lawns to turn brown during the drought, the state Assembly passed a bill Thursday that would prohibit penalties for failing to water grass.
California lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the installation of water meters in each unit of newly constructed apartments. Democratic Senator Lois Wolk is author of the proposed legislation.
Adam Gray on Wednesday was booted off the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, one day after an unlikely victory when the committee narrowly approved his legislation aimed at protecting communities near the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.
The $1 billion emergency drought aid package announced by Governor Jerry Brown last week has cleared the California Legislature. But a late addition to one of the measures has Republicans and farmers upset.
Not only will the $1-billion spending plan approved by lawmakers Thursday provide little immediate relief to drought-stricken Californians, state leaders are missing an opportunity to take more decisive action to restrict water use, conservation advocates said.
Senators approved Assembly bills 91 and 92 on votes of 35-1 and 24-14, respectively, after Republicans deliberated in a lengthy caucus meeting and then castigated the bill for broadening government powers over water. The Assembly expects to take up the measures Thursday, after which the package would go to Gov. Jerry Brown if passed.
Sen. Bob Hertzberg proposed a Water Seismic Safety (SB664) bill on Tuesday requiring local water agencies to evaluate their earthquake risks and suggest ways to keep the water flowing in the event of a disaster.
Sonoma County this week unveiled its first formal response to a wave of queries over the past six months about how California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which establishes the first rules for pumping groundwater in the Golden State, would affect property owners and agriculture.
State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas – author of two of three historic groundwater laws passed by the Legislature last year – has introduced a new bill to make well logs public. A hearing is scheduled for today.
At the close of another dry winter, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced a $1 billion package of bills Thursday to expedite money for people and cities hit hard by the drought and prepare the state for the flip side of extreme weather patterns — flooding.
Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers from both parties unveiled a plan that would invest more than $1 billion to improve the state’s water infrastructure, provide emergency assistance to struggling communities and protect wildlife.
With California entering its fourth year of drought, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders will propose more than $1 billion in emergency legislation Thursday for flood protection and water supply projects and to alleviate impacts of the drought.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released for public review and comment a draft strategic plan (Strategic Plan) describing its roles and responsibilities under the State’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The Strategic Plan documents DWR’s strategy to implement the SGMA and the efforts it will take to develop and share information with those affected by, or tasked with, implementation of the SGMA.
North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman on Friday reiterated his desire to see marijuana legalized nationally, saying it would help bring rational management to pot cultivation and thus reduce damage to the environment.
Frank Bigelow stood at the bottom of a gully that a few years ago was stocked with largemouth bass, and, more importantly, supplied water for a herd of cattle that numbered 600 head. … This year, eight of 17 bills he has introduced deal with water in one form or another.
Among the most intractable debates of California politics is what to do about the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, the 1970 law regulating the environmental impacts of development projects.
[Glen] Lewis, the open space ranger for the Muir Heritage Land Trust, wondered what John Muir would think if he could look out today at the panorama of modernity around Martinez, which, back in the famous naturalist’s day, consisted of fruit orchards almost as far as the eye could see.
Senate Bill 385, introduced by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, would extend the July 1 deadline for complying with the new chromium 6 standard until 2020 while requiring water suppliers to show progress toward implementation.
Just a few months ago the state announced that new local groundwater sustainability plans will be required throughout California. … About 85 people gathered in Orland Thursday night for the first of what will be many meetings on groundwater.
On Tuesday, California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer launched a third effort by introducing legislation in the Senate. U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, also introduced a bill in the House.
Initial efforts implementing the state’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act must focus on getting local and state agencies organized and able to communicate with each other. Having common expectations for the contents of the law’s required “Groundwater Sustainability Plans” will save the agencies and stakeholders considerable grief and confusion.
A new bill from Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia would hasten efforts to clean up the New River, which flows from Mexico into the Salton Sea and has long been known as one of America’s most polluted waterways.
California lawmakers led by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, and Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced legislation last week to double the amount of federal grants to restore the bay, the largest estuary on the West Coast, to $10 million a year.
Opponents of a ban on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores have qualified a referendum on the law, delaying its July 1 effective date until voters act on the measure in November 2016, the California secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.
Assembly Bill 434, introduced this week by state Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, would authorize point-of-use filtration systems as a way to help solve the elevated levels of arsenic in the Coachella Valley.
Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Nicolaus, introduced Assembly Bill 311 on Thursday to streamline the environmental review process for water storage projects funded through the 2014 Proposition 1 water bond.
Exactly six months ago, the Capitol’s politicians were hailing a new era of bipartisan comity and cooperation with the overwhelming passage of $7.5 billion in bonds to improve the state’s water supply.
This handbook provides crucial background information on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The handbook also includes a section on options for new governance.
State lawmakers are preparing a sweeping package of bills that would fulfill several of Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change objectives by increasing California’s reliance on renewable energy and alternative transportation fuels.
There’s money for restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, likely to survive congressional winnowing. Proposed upgrades at places like Yosemite National Park will probably find Capitol Hill favor, as well, along with funding for Central Valley flood control and dam improvements.
In his inaugural speech, Gov. Jerry Brown promised to be a national leader on environmental issues. If California wants to pass big environmental policies, legislators need to look to people of color to lead the way.
California took enormous steps to address our water future by passing a water bond and landmark groundwater laws last year, but there’s more to be done. Lawmakers should look to reform the California Environmental Quality Act to ensure we are using water efficiently and sustainably.
Deadlines for meeting a new state mandate to balance the overdrafted Salinas Valley groundwater basin are years away, but Monterey County water and agricultural industry leaders are calling for the local process to begin immediately.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, a self-described Brooklyn street fighter, took a swing Wednesday at House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield over water, saying she told the Republican, “Don’t threaten me.”
In his State of the State and inaugural address, Gov. Jerry Brown reflected on the “eerie resemblance” between the challenges his father faced and those we grapple with today. Gov. Pat Brown’s California responded to the water crisis of his day with a massive undertaking, building the State Water Project.
A number of conversations are occurring in the U.S. House of Representatives, and between the House and the U.S. Senate (particularly Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford, Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.)) to reintroduce a version of last year’s drought legislation (H.R. 5781).
A state scientific review of what’s known about fracking in California finds the controversial oil and gas production technique is used in nearly half of all new wells, particularly in four Kern county oil fields in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley.
California has shallow, vertical fracking wells that require about 140,000 gallons of water per well to extract oil. That’s millions of gallons less than other states. But the fluids contain more concentrated chemicals.
The saga of the California drought — possibly the most severe in 1,200 years — may not be enough on its own to cause the 114th Congress to fork over billions in federal dollars for new water projects that benefit the Golden State.
About 20 percent of California’s oil and natural-gas production uses hydraulic fracturing — with almost all of it happening in one corner of the San Joaquin Valley — according to the most authoritative survey yet released of fracking in the Golden State.
Hydraulic fracturing unlocked oil at about half of the new wells launched in California over the last decade, and the practice will likely expand in a chunk of the San Joaquin Valley, according to a new study required by the 2013 law to regulate the practice.
State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, noted at a Sacramento gathering of water policy experts and elected officials on Monday that water oversight begins with figuring out how much water is needed for cities, agriculture, industry and the environment.
In Solomon-like fashion, President Barack Obama split the heavily used Angeles National Forest in two, placing one half inside a brand-new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument while leaving out the other half.
Two months ago, in the grip of a historic drought, California voters overwhelmingly approved a $7.5 billion water bond to fund everything from new storage projects to modernizing drinking water treatment plants.
A staggering economic and environmental problem festering for three decades in the southern San Joaquin Valley would be addressed by a secret deal reached between the Obama administration and farmers — one that is sounding alarms for Bay Area lawmakers. … Details of the deal between Westlands and the federal Bureau of Reclamation have not been revealed to members of Congress, who would have to approve it.
Rampant speculation yesterday over who might replace I’m-not-retiring-I’m-just-not-running-again U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer momentarily threatened to overshadow all else in California politics. But the announcement that political observers have been waiting for since November is Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, which will finally drop at 10 a.m. in Room 1190 in the Capitol.
The first time Barbara Boxer’s name showed up in a Los Angeles Times editorial, it was May of 1984 and she was a first-term U.S. representative from the Bay Area pushing legislation that would force utilities – including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Metropolitan Water District – to pay market rates for power generated by the Hoover Dam.
California’s knack for spotting problems and producing answers on topics both grand and puny is on display in 930 laws taking effect this month. … Local water agencies will now have to account for groundwater pumping, an unregulated practice that is siphoning off last-ditch water supplies in a drought.
The heads of the 13 major [Senate] committees and Veterans’ Affairs are some of the most senior members of the Senate. … Only one new leader will be a woman; Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is in line to take over the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Forty-five years ago, in December 1969, President Richard Nixon signed a unique Bi-State Compact approving California and Nevada’s plan to create the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. It was the first such undertaking of its kind, uniting two states, six local jurisdictions, and the federal government in a shared mission to protect Lake Tahoe’s sensitive environment from overdevelopment.
During his tenure President Barack Obama has designated 13 national monuments, and the next one on his list should be California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain. Berryessa Snow Mountain is a national treasure — the region’s natural beauty, cultural history and economic significance place it among the most special places in the country — and it should be permanently protected.
Sen. Ricardo Lara has landed one of the most powerful committee chair assignments in the California Legislature, overseeing the Senate Appropriations Committee that decides the fate of hundreds of bills each year.
The Antelope Valley groundwater adjudication case is the current poster child for how painfully long and expensive groundwater adjudications can be. … On November 20, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water held an informational hearing on groundwater adjudications titled, “Resolving Disputes Regarding Groundwater Rights: Why Does It Take So Long and What Might Be Done to Accelerate the Process?” …
On November 20, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water held an informational hearing on groundwater adjudications titled, “Resolving Disputes Regarding Groundwater Rights: Why Does It Take So Long and What Might Be Done to Accelerate the Process?” … This hearing will be covered in three parts: In part 1, The Honorable Ronald B. Robie, Associate Justice with the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, begins with an overview of the groundwater adjudication process.
As the most severe winter storm in at least a half-decade bore down on California on Tuesday, 3,000 miles away in Washington, the House voted, largely along party lines, for a California drought relief bill.
For years, the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown squabbled over what should be in a multibillion-dollar water bond. Finally, this summer, they agreed on a $7.5 billion measure that won landslide approval in November. … Now Congress needs the same epiphany on water legislation meant to help California.
Just days after promising to bring highly controversial water legislation to the Senate through “regular order” in January, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., appears poised to ram through a bill in the last days of the session without public hearings and widespread debate.
California homeowner associations would be required to allow artificial turf in front yards under a bill recently proposed by the San Diego County Water Authority. … Citing the growing need to conserve water, the San Diego agency sponsored similar legislation in 2010 and 2011.
House Republicans who have scrambled all year to complete a California water bill throw a Hail Mary pass Tuesday, with legislation that’s drawn a presidential veto threat and resistance from the state’s two senators.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson will announce Monday a proposal to prohibit single-use plastic bags at stores in the city in the event that opponents of a newly adopted statewide ban are able to force a public vote on that legislation.
The draft Safe Drinking Water Plan for California acknowledges that contaminated water sources, the high costs of treatment, and the large numbers of small water systems “will continue to challenge progress in addressing the Human Right to Water.”
House Republicans intend to jam through a California drought-relief bill early next week that would suspend some state water rights and environmental law to maximize water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
This video clip comes to us from a late-night session of the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, a fascinating display of how one might try to explain the intricacies of California water law to an outsider, in this case panel chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.
When it comes to state politics, few issues are as contentious as water and parks. North Coast Assemblyman Marc Levine will be navigating those treacherous waters next year after he assumes the chair of the state Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.
Brown lawns might seem like an extreme form of water conservation, but now comes the first bill of the new legislative session — from an assembly member named Brown — that seeks to make brown lawns off-limits to local fines.
A last-ditch effort by Central Valley Republicans to push an overhaul of federal water policy through Congress during this session met with opposition Wednesday from at least one California senator, all but ensuring that the bill will die until next year.
The noticing requirements special districts must follow to terminate delinquent residential light, heat, water or power service accounts were substantially modified by the passage of omnibus bill AB 2747 by the state Legislature.
Still staggering under $24 billion in debt, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will increase flood-insurance rates up to 18 percent next year for those living in high-risk flood zones, including the Smith Canal area of Stockton.
More than two-thirds of California voters authorized the state to borrow more than $7 billion to improve a water system strained by more than three years of drought. Now the difficult job of smartly targeting problems and effectively implementing projects is beginning.
For California water managers, 2014 has been one for the record books. Reservoirs have dropped to near-record lows, surface water deliveries have been slashed and some communities are rationing water to keep supplies in reserve for next year. But amid these challenging conditions, California voters opened the door for long-term solutions when they passed Proposition 1 on Nov. 4.
When Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the deal he had helped broker between Japanese light-rail manufacturer Kinkisharyo International and the electrical workers union, it was a win for the economy in Los Angeles County. But for environmentalists?
Whether Prop. 1 delivers on its promise, however, depends on what happens next. One danger is that Prop. 1 will lull Californians into believing that we have solved our water troubles. We haven’t. Nothing that Prop. 1 can do will redress the current drought.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s abrupt decision to yank a water bill she had spent more than four months negotiating came just as the California Democrat and Central Valley Republicans appeared on the brink of a deal.
Late Thursday morning, while the Capitol Hill spotlight was pointed elsewhere, three Northern California congressmen paid a quiet call on the state’s junior Democratic senator, Barbara Boxer. They wanted to talk water.
With the continuation of California’s historic drought and the recent passage of Proposition 1, the potential value of additional water storage in the state is an area of vigorous discussion. In a new study released today, we look at the different roles of storage in California’s integrated water system and evaluate storage capacity expansion from what we call a “system analysis approach.”
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Thursday pulled the plug on secret, high-stakes negotiations over a water bill for her drought-plagued state, saying she and fellow lawmakers will try again next year.