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.
Late last week, we suggested watching this space for possible
revival of Assembly Bill 1000, legislation to halt a
controversial water-pumping project in the Mojave Desert that’s
being pushed by the politically connected firm Cadiz, Inc.
Earlier this month, a proposed bond measure in the California
Legislature had included $280 million to pay for building
thousands of acres of ponds, wetlands and other dust-control
projects around the Salton Sea. This week, after negotiations
among lawmakers, the amount earmarked for the Salton Sea was
slashed to $200 million.
As state lawmakers debate far-reaching bills that could reshape
the energy landscape in California and across the West,
some groups are urging the Legislature to require new
geothermal power plants at the Salton Sea before a key deadline
Tuesday* night — but those groups can’t agree on what the
geothermal mandate should look like.
Though the nation’s first state law to assure the human right
to safe water and sanitation was enacted in California in 2012,
not much happened immediately afterward. The law existed in a
dormant state, like a seed waiting for a storm. The storm
eventually came, but, as it happened, it was a lack of rain
that brought the seed to flower.
Soon after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a page on
climate change vanished from the White House website, sending a
chill through the scientific community. Within weeks, state
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, proposed a bill to
protect whistleblowers and safeguard data collected by
Hurricane Harvey is sure to add more crushing debt to the
National Flood Insurance Program, which is already $25 billion
in the red. So when Congress resumes on Tuesday, will it
immediately act to fix this troubled program?
As torrential rains and dangerous flood waters pummel large
swaths of Texas and parts of Louisiana, California lawmakers
are eying legislation to prevent similar damage from from the
state’s own disasters.
The devastation Hurricane Harvey has wrought in southeastern
Texas has brought new focus to the National Flood Insurance
Program — and to a pending Republican effort to restructure and
partially privatize an industry that has been effectively
subsidized with tens of billions of federal taxpayer dollars.
Under the bill, the National Park Service would be prevented
from regulating the hunting of bears and wolves in Alaska
wildlife preserves, including the practice of killing bear cubs
in their dens. It also would be prevented from regulating
commercial and recreational fishing within park boundaries and
from commenting on development projects outside park boundaries
that could affect the parks.
Tom Steyer, the San Francisco billionaire and environmentalist,
promised his support Tuesday for a proposed safe and affordable
drinking water fund to help communities with contaminated water
in the San Joaquin Valley. … Steyer met with about a dozen
water advocates at the nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice
and Accountability in downtown Fresno who urged him to throw
his clout behind Senate Bill 623.
Though it may not stop the state’s Twin Tunnels project from
diverting Delta water down south, Congressman Jerry McNerney
hopes his new bill to invest in recycling projects will ensure
water districts are frugal with the essential, but limited
As California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown work to hammer out
an affordable housing deal that includes a multi-billion dollar
bond measure, they’re also negotiating a parks and water bond
that would advance at the same time.
The measure, called the “Gaining Responsibility on Water Act”
or GROW Act, has already passed the US House, largely along
party lines. Supporters, including many Central Valley
Republicans and farmers, say it would cut the red tape that
prevents dams and water storage projects from being built.
A bill making its way through the state Legislature is seeking
to improve quality and access to drinking water quality by
creating a new state fund, but some local entities are opposing
how the bill plans to raise money for this goal.
This legislation might be hard to swallow: Lawmakers are
considering a bill that would clear the way for California
communities to put highly treated wastewater directly into the
drinking water supply. … Jennifer Bowles, executive
director of the Water Education Foundation, said the California
public is more open to the idea of recycling water these days
because of the recent five-year drought.
As California water becomes an increasingly precious and
contentious resource, the state needs an umpire with the power
to enforce laws against illegal diversions and protect the
rights of the public and others with enforceable claims to
Republican-backed federal legislation with strong support from
agricultural communities in California aims to eradicate salmon
from much of the San Joaquin River. It will nullify numerous
laws protecting wetlands and waterways in order to provide
farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with more
northern California water.
Shirlee Zane, the chairwoman of the Sonoma County Board of
Supervisors, is set to appear before a Congressional panel in
Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the county’s efforts to
better manage its water supply and respond to major storms.
… Zane intends to tell senators about two initiatives
led by the Sonoma County Water Agency, of which she is also a
As the summer sun was warming up on a July morning, a crowd of
nearly 100 people gathered on the north steps of the California
Capitol, many having arrived stiff-legged after a four-hour
bus ride. … Most were San Joaquin Valley residents,
including children as young as 5, who woke up before dawn to
travel to the state capital to voice their support
for Senate Bill 623, the Safe and Affordable Drinking
Work to strengthen Oroville Dam, shore up downstream levees and
other types of flood-prevention projects would be eligible for
fast-tracked state approval under new California legislation
lawmakers will consider when they return from summer recess
The drought may be over and Central Valley farmers are getting
more water than they have in years, but that hasn’t stopped
congressional Republicans from resurrecting a bill that would
strip environmental protections for fish so more water can be
funneled to agriculture. … Some version of [Rep. David]
Valadao’s bill has been introduced off and on since 2011
One of the biggest backers for building new dams and reservoirs
in California is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of
Bakersfield. … As part of his push for the bill, H.R. 23,
McCarthy made a claim about the dearth of water storage
construction in the state in recent decades.
With a friend in the White House and their party in control of
both chambers of Congress, House Republicans have embarked on
their most ambitious effort yet to change the way water flows
in California. Legislation that the House sent to the Senate
last week outlines a bold effort to build big new dams and
shift water from fish, birds and other wildlife to farms in the
San Joaquin Valley.
The Endangered Species Act will come in for a spanking and a
possible face-lift Wednesday as the House Natural Resources
Committee holds a hearing on five ESA-related bills. Authored
by four Republicans and one rural Democrat, the individual
measures pick away at several pieces of the 1973 law that’s
outlasted many previous congressional forays.
[U.S. Rep. Jerry] McNerney’s bill comes at a crucial time, as
various government agencies and water districts make a series
of decisions this summer and fall about whether the $17 billion
tunnels project should move forward.
Whatever the prognosticators say, the latest effort by south
San Joaquin Valley Republicans to wring more water out of the
Delta is undeniably ambitious. A bill that cleared the House of
Representatives last week requires the Delta to be governed by
20-year-old water quality standards that scientists say are
inadequate for the estuary’s freshwater ecosystem.
Congress is considering sweeping changes to the debt-laden
National Flood Insurance Program that could jack up flood
insurance rates for hundreds of thousands of homeowners under a
bill that a Florida real estate group called “devastating.”
The battle over plans by a Los Angeles company to sell water
pumped from aquifers underneath Mojave Desert conservation
areas heated up again this week when state legislation was
amended to require a new round of state reviews.
State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, says the state needs
millions more to help protect the [Salton Sea's] sensitive
ecosystem. A pair of measures advancing in the Legislature aim
to speed up state restoration efforts, and ask voters next year
to approve a $500 million general obligation bond to improve
environmental and air quality conditions.
The SGMA [Sustainable Groundwater Management Act] is now
kicking into gear as its first major deadline arrives: By June
30, counties and regional water managers must form “groundwater
sustainability agencies,” or GSAs – the task forces that will
eventually be responsible for developing their own sustainable
groundwater use plans. Districts that fail or choose not to
create a GSA will be subject to intervention by the State Water
Resources Control Board.
About 31,069 acres of rugged, pristine mountain land, plus 25
miles of year-round waterways located within the Angeles
National Forest would be granted federal protection as
wilderness areas and scenic rivers, according to a bill
introduced Friday in Congress.
Nearly five years ago, the California Legislature declared that
the state’s residents have a right to “safe, clean, affordable,
and accessible water.” Passage of the landmark law provoked a
practical question that has always dogged the noble ideals of
the right-to-water movement: how does a state government or
municipal utility ensure clean and affordable water for all?
… Staff members at the California Water Resources Control
Board are now taking a full swing at the affordability
component of the right-to-water legislation.
California farmers have long been able to get permits to drill
new wells in areas where groundwater levels are falling without
publicly saying how much water they intend to pump. That would
change under a bill approved this week by the California
AB 646, which has passed two committees and could go to the
Assembly floor next week, would require landlords throughout
California to provide written notification to those renting in
“a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding.”
During California’s epic five-year drought, most of the state’s
irrigation districts didn’t comply with a 2007 law that
requires them to account for how much water they’re delivering
directly to farmers, a Bee investigation has found. State
regulators are largely powerless to stop them, but they don’t
seem too bothered by it.
Lourdes Cardenas, who has picked grapes in Fresno County for 14
years, wants some assurance she won’t be separated from her
family or continue to “live in fear” of deportation as a worker
in the country without legal permission.
The Trump administration’s talk of slashing environmental
programs in fiscal year 2018 did not translate into big cuts in
a 2017 spending agreement negotiated by Congress. President
Trump signed a budget deal on May 5 that keeps the government
operating through September 30. Notably, the agreement does not
include huge cuts to water and environment programs —
elimination of rural water grants, for instance, or a one-third
cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — that the
president targeted in his 2018 budget proposal.
State legislators across the West introduced bills this year
encouraging Congress to revisit the idea of wholesale land
transfers — ceding large parcels of land to the states, which
could then sell the land for development and extraction, or
manage it for the public. Those bills face an uphill battle.
The two bills written by [Congressman Jared] Huffman and
[Congresswoman Jackie] Speier would provide nearly $22.5
million in relief funds to the Yurok Tribe to aid salmon
fishing communities and salmon restoration and monitoring
projects. The bills would also provide more than $117 million
for California Dungeness crab and rock crab fishermen affected
by the delayed 2015-16 season.
At the behest of the International Bottled Water Association,
Congress is preparing to approve a must-pass budget bill that
includes language aimed at restoring the sale of water in
disposable plastic bottles in all national parks. For nearly
six years, national parks have had the option of banning
bottled-water sales as a way to reduce plastic litter and waste
Then-Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared a fisheries
disasters for nine West Coast fisheries in January, including
for the 2015-16 crab season in California and the 2016 salmon
season for the Yurok Tribe. California 2nd District Congressman
Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) was one of 17 members of Congress
who drafted a bipartisan letter to congressional party leaders
in early April urging that they include the disaster funds in
the new spending bill.
A bill intended to prevent dying trees damaged by drought
from falling onto utility lines on publicly owned
federal land, sparking wildfires and electricity blackouts,
passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on
In 2015, a Nevada County man believed to be running a marijuana
cultivation site hauled a 500-gallon tank into Yuba County and
filled it by diverting water from the Yuba River, which is not
illegal under current law. Yuba County supervisors and the
district attorney recently signed a letter of support for a
bill that would amend the Water Code to address that type of
[California 2nd District Congressman Jared] Huffman and a
bipartisan group of 16 other legislators are urging
congressional appropriation committees to include fisheries
disaster funding in the spending bill for fishing fleets in
Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, which includes the
California crab fleet and the Yurok Tribe salmon fishing fleet.
Two bills that would protect Delta levees and ratepayers were
passed in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on
Tuesday. Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s two bills — AB 732 and AB
791 — passed through their first hurdle.
California Democrats are moving a bill through the
Legislature that would require the state to have environmental
laws that are equal to or tougher than regulations in the
federal endangered species, clean air, and clean water acts.
Those laws were signed by then-President Richard Nixon in the
1970s, ushering in a new era of environmental protections.
A bipartisan group of congressional representatives sent a
letter to House and Senate leaders Wednesday urging them to
include disaster relief funds for nine West Coast crab and
salmon fisheries in a government spending bill this month.
Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman from Tulare who’s
been at the center of a political firestorm in Washington,
D.C., is scheduled to address water issues at a meeting of
agricultural lenders Friday in Fresno. … Nunes is one of
13 co-sponsors of H.R. 23, a water bill offered in
January by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.
Two years ago, the Los Angeles Rams did something unheard of in
California development politics: In just six weeks, the team
went from unveiling plans for an 80,000-seat stadium to earning
final approval from the Inglewood City Council.
The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee passed a
proposed $3.5 billion water and parks bond measure Tuesday,
with members calling for an assurance that if approved by
California voters in 2018, the funds would be equitably
distributed throughout the state. The bond, Senate Bill 5 by
Sen. Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, includes $500
million for flood protection investments that were just added
after the recent floods to address the state’s urgent needs.
With a Republican in the White House and the GOP controlling
Congress, Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., said Tuesday that he
was hoping to build on last year’s legislation that was loved
by farmers and loathed by environmentalists.
Fearing a federal rollback of longstanding protections for air
quality, clean water, endangered species and workers’ rights,
California Democrats are pursuing legislation that would cement
those environmental and labor regulations in state law.
As heavy winter storms continue to hammer California, the
Legislature is launching a review of dam and levee safety and
bracing for major investments necessary to shore up flood
control throughout the state.
The political terrain appears favorable for a
mega-million-dollar irrigation drainage deal, with Congress
still fully in Republican hands and California’s sprawling
Westlands Water District with influential allies. But there are
Water Education for Latino Leaders is convening a statewide
educational water conference in Sacramento for California local
Local elected officials can make a difference for all
Californians by taking the necessary steps to understand the
dynamic of California water to assure adequate clean water for
our communities, protect our natural resources and our local
economies. WELL’s hope is to facilitate understanding towards
comprehensive long-term water policies that will sustain
California’s economy and quality of life.
The Water Education Foundation is an organizing partner.
Governor Brown has released a proposed budget that reaffirms
the state’s commitment to boosting drought resiliency and
battling climate change. … Although state money represent
only a fraction of California’s total water sector spending
(13%—the rest is mostly locally funded), it is an important
piece of the funding pie.
Overhauling the environmental law, the California Environmental
Quality Act, is a perennial issue at the Capitol, and the
measure benefiting the Warriors arena was one of the most
high-profile CEQA reforms in recent years.
With the stroke of a pen Friday President Barack Obama
solidified $415 million in federal funding for projects in and
around Lake Tahoe, along with providing funding for drought
relief in California and other water projects.
President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed and bequeathed
to President-elect Donald Trump a massive infrastructure bill
designed to control floods, fund dams and deliver more water to
farmers in California’s Central Valley.
Urging her fellow lawmakers to pass a bill that would send more
of California’s water to the arid farm fields of the San
Joaquin Valley, Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave an impassioned
speech Friday about the threat facing family farmers.
California farmers and Southern California cities were aghast
last winter when much of the heavy rainfall that fell in
Northern California washed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta and out to sea.
Both California senators took to the floor Friday to take
opposite sides in a debate over provisions of a national water
resources bill that allows more water to be pumped south to
Central Valley agriculture at the expense of the salmon
The California water bill now ready for the president’s
signature dramatically shifts 25 years of federal policy and
culminates a long and fractious campaign born in the
drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley.
Few people expected a California water fight in the final days
of a lame-duck Congress, and fewer still expected landmark
water legislation to pit the state’s U.S. senators against each
other in the last moments of their 24-year partnership.
Senate Democrats introduced a $13 billion package of measures
that would provide money for street and bridge repair,
urban parks, transit systems, trade corridors, water
infrastructure and affordable housing.
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the biggest
federal reset of California water use in a generation, setting
the stage for easier dam-building, more recycling and
potentially happier Central Valley farmers.
The water policy measure overwhelmingly passed by the
House of Representatives on Thursday to build long-term water
infrastructure across the Golden State is headed for a showdown
with outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who plans to mount a
filibuster in the Senate on Friday as one of her final acts in
Newly passed bills in California are helping turn attention to
green infrastructure projects that can help cities take
advantage of stormwater to replenish groundwater, increase
water supply and decrease water pollution.
A controversial California water bill that’s sparked years of
fighting has been added to a fast-moving measure, boosting the
chance the water measures will pass Congress but sharply
dividing the state’s U.S. senators.
House Republican leaders and California’s senior senator
announced Monday a new attempt to pass legislation that
would increase water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley
agribusiness and Southern California.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, teamed up Monday to slip a
legislative rider into a giant end-of-year water infrastructure
bill that would override endangered species protections for
native California fish for the purpose of sending water to San
Joaquin Valley farmers.
A key House committee on Wednesday approved a big irrigation
drainage deal with California’s politically potent Westlands
Water District, opening another front in the state’s ongoing
conflict over water, money and power.
Next year, a new California law will revolutionize how the
state manages its groundwater. … There is an entirely
different category of California groundwater, however, that is
exempt from SGMA [Sustainable Groundwater Management Act].
These are the “adjudicated” groundwater basins, so-called
because the rules for managing them has been decided in a court
Prompted by a 2015 state law, the State Water Resources Control
Board has begun designing a program to provide state aid to
individuals and families who need help paying their water
bills. Due to the Legislature by February 1, 2018, California
is determined to be the first to use state funds to subsidize
water service for poor residents, water rate experts say.
If you live in an apartment in California, you don’t pay for
the water you use – not directly, anyway. … On September
26, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 7, a law drafted by
Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. It requires new apartment buildings
constructed after January 1, 2018, to include submeters for
every rental unit and to bill of tenants accordingly.
The end of September meant both the end of the 2016 water year
and a deadline for signing new legislation. In the past few
weeks California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bevy of new
bills into law, many of them addressing drought or water issues
in the state.
The AB 935 water projects bill by Assemblyman Rudy Salas,
D-Bakersfield, authorizes $7 million in state money to build
pumps to move water north to about Terra Bella via reverse flow
pump-back facilities still to be built.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed Senate Bill 1262 into law,
representing an initial attempt to incorporate groundwater
management requirements under the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act into two of California’s water supply planning
laws. … SGMA was adopted in 2014 and, for the first time in
California, establishes statewide requirements for establishing
sustainable groundwater management in all basins designated by
the California Department of Water Resources as medium- or
California’s goal of ensuring universal access to safe drinking
water, as mandated in the 2012 Human Right to Water Bill, will
come a step closer to being met if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a new
measure into law that halts the creation of new small,
unsustainable – and in many cases dangerous – water districts
in the state.
Two reform bills aimed at the Central Basin Municipal Water
District — introduced after a state audit slammed the district
for political corruption last year — were signed into law by
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.
California’s Salton Sea and state-straddling Lake Tahoe would
receive funding for environmental restoration under a bill set
for Senate approval Thursday. More controversial water-related
efforts remain stuck in Capitol Hill limbo, however.
With senators in a standoff over annual spending bills, the
chamber is expected as soon as Wednesday to take up a
bipartisan, $9 billion measure that would authorize spending on
the nation’s water infrastructure.
Locked in a multi-year drought, California’s urban water
suppliers have, for the most part, happily enforced rules that
prohibit specific wasteful water practices, such as hosing
down driveways and over-watering lawns.
The real action, and probably the last chance for myriad
California proposals, will come in a post-election session set
to start Nov. 14, when the expiring Congress will consider a
sprawling omnibus funding package.
A law signed late Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown requires retail
urban water suppliers with more than 3,000 customers to put in
place rules that define “excessive water use” and impose them
during drought emergencies.
A measure to expand public disclosure of commercial, industrial
and other institutional water uses in California fell far short
of passage in the state Senate on Friday. … Another bill
this year also sought more disclosure as part of a
“drought-shaming” campaign to discourage excessive water use.
[New York Democratic Sen. Chuck] Schumer’s frustration has
sparked an unusual alliance with Idaho Republican Sen. Mike
Crapo and Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who for years have
sponsored a bill to get Congress to treat wildfires as national
The study, sponsored by Oakland-based Rose Foundation for
Communities and the Environment, found there’s no evidence that
the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, has a
retarding effect on the state’s economic prospertity.
If a Water Resources Development Act of 2016 is passed by
Congress this year, it will be accompanied by sighs of relief
at seeing the infrastructure legislation successfully get back
on a two-year schedule.
Whether the temperature management of the runoff of Northern
California water reservoirs, including Shasta Dam, results in
improved survivability of endangered fish or uncertainty for
human water users was debated at a House Natural Resources
subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
Framed by a hearing Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House of
Representatives will vote this week on whether to retain
farmer-friendly California water provisions in an Interior
Department funding bill for the fiscal year that begins in
Within less than a year, as many as 50,000 marijuana growers in
California could be required to obtain state permits for the
irrigation water they consume. … This new ability to regulate
water for marijuana growing is a result of SB 837, a state law
signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 27.
California water will retake the Capitol Hill stage in coming
days, with compromise nowhere in sight. … Underscoring
the many complications entangling California water, the San
Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the Westlands Water
District on Friday sued the federal Bureau of Reclamation over
measures intended to protect endangered species.
A bill passed by U.S. House of Representatives seeks to limit
predator fish, such as striped bass, in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta to aid struggling salmon populations. But
scientists say the strategy won’t work.
Assembly member Eduardo Garcia’s $3.1 billion bond proposal
includes $25 million for air quality mitigation and the
creation of wildlife habitat at the Salton Sea. The California
Natural Resources Agency, thanks to a previous bill carried by
Garcia, includes a list of shovel-ready projects on the
California took a needed and much overdue step in 2014
when it passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA) to regulate groundwater. The law will take decades to
implement, but the first steps of the process are already
Our [Stanford University] new study published this week in
the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences concludes
that the Central Valley has almost three times more fresh water
underground than the state estimates. … Assembly Bill
1755, scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the Senate Committee on
Natural Resources and Water, establishes a shared water
database for surface and groundwater and water diversions.
Some forest fires should be considered natural disasters and
their damage paid for like hurricanes and tornadoes, according
to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who laments that 56
percent of his budget is going to suppressing fires. … A
bill pending in the House would allow for supplemental
appropriations, like those made for natural disasters like
hurricanes, as needed.
Promised state funding for the increasingly costly Interlake
Tunnel project in legislation backed by Assemblyman Luis Alejo,
D-Watsonville, has been cut by 60 percent to $10 million,
potentially risking long-term project financing.
In the past 30 years, perhaps no legislative effort to bolster
the state’s water policy has received as much attention as the
management of groundwater. This effort lead to the
expansion of water district powers, the creation of special act
districts with unique powers, the authorization of voluntary
plans and finally culminated in the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA) and its trailing legislation.
Farms and golf courses rank among the biggest water users in
the Coachella Valley, but detailed information about how much
water each of those businesses use is kept secret by the area’s
largest water agency. That would change under a bill now before
the California Legislature.
California’s drought has revealed that when it comes to water,
not every community is equal. … Now, a bill by a Bay
Area state lawmaker aims to slow the spread of little “mom and
pop” water providers by making it very difficult to create new
By this time next year a lot of work needs to be done on a
regional groundwater sustainability plan. … Every big task
needs to start somewhere, and this week the public is being
asked to join the conversation.
Drought-stressed Capitol Park will get $1.7 million for a
reclaimed water project in the new state budget, even though
the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst concluded that the
project won’t pencil out for more than a century and a half.
At the first hearing on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s controversial
drought legislation, it emerges that the Obama administration
supports the bill. But a deeper look shows that many concerns
remain, leaving consensus still in doubt.
The directors of the Central Basin Municipal Water District,
who in a scathing state audit in December were blasted for
mismanagement and violating state law, are criticizing two
bills in the Legislature that would bring additional reforms to
A bill that would put in place efforts to restore the North
Coast’s disappearing oak woodlands made it through the state
Assembly unanimously Wednesday and now faces the gauntlet of
the state Senate floor and various committees before reaching
Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
In an election year, despite the usual suspects rallying
against anything that would help Valley agriculture, the House
of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources has taken an
important step to advance bipartisan legislation codifying a
settlement between the federal government and the Westlands
A proposal to solve a long-running San Joaquin Valley
irrigation drainage dispute between the Westlands Water
District and the federal government is roiling a Congress
already hung up on other California water fights.
House Republicans are making another push for a bill addressing
California’s drought, adding the text of a measure by Rep.
David Valadao (R-Hanford) to two pieces of legislation headed
to the Senate. … Here are some highlights from Tuesday’s back
and forth among some California lawmakers.
Long considered an ally of Delta advocates, U.S. Rep. John
Garamendi introduced legislation this week that appears likely
to test that reputation. … The Feinstein-Garamendi bills are
pitched as a more moderate alternative to a bill by U.S. Rep.
David Valadao, R-Hanford, that already has passed the House.
Five years into California’s latest drought, a major water bill
compromise can seem as far away as ever. The perennial
conflict, often summed up as fish vs. farms, subtly surfaced
again Tuesday at a key Senate hearing.
A new era of groundwater management
began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies
to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management
plans with the state as the backstop.
SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the
“management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be
maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without
causing undesirable results.”
California’s tireless water warriors have something fresh to
fight over, with the introduction of a bill to resolve an
irrigation drainage dispute that affects three modest-sized San
Joaquin Valley water districts, as well as the much bigger
Westlands Water District.
Federal burdens dampen California’s hydroelectric power
potential, PG&E and Turlock Irrigation District officials
told lawmakers Tuesday. … In 2013, President Barack
Obama signed into law two bills intended to streamline the
approval process for small hydroelectric projects.
A major water resources bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate
would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to partner with
local governments and other agencies – not just California
officials – on projects to address the problems of the
shrinking Salton Sea.
A still-controversial 1992 law intended to boost California’s
striped-bass population can be scaled back, the Obama
administration now believes. … Another bill, by Rep. Doris
Matsui, D-Sacramento, to revise a water-recycling grant program
established in the 1992 law likewise secured administration
Deep in Gov. Brown’s 2016-17 budget was a big surprise for Lake
Tahoe – the lake was cut out of its expected share of a $475
million environmental pie. Two years ago, California voters
approved Proposition 1, a complex, $7.12 billion water bond
Politicians in Washington could have passed laws four years ago
that would be yielding benefits today. These would be things
like assistance with groundwater recharge, water conservation
on farms, stormwater capture and wastewater recycling. I
[Matt Weiser] call these non-nuclear options, because they
don’t peg the Geiger counter in many lobbying offices in the
Surface water supplies have returned to normal for most rice
growers in the Sacramento Valley. … However, now that farmers
are ready to fire up their tractors to plant rice, commodity
prices have taken a nose-dive.
Legislation to protect California’s aquifers and groundwater
resources from permanent damage due to over-pumping has been
approved by the state Senate Committee on Natural Resources and
Water on a 6-2 vote.
Building on last year’s declaration of the Berryessa Snow
Mountain Region as a National Monument by President Obama, the
California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water
voted 6-2 Tuesday to approve a bill that establishes a state
conservancy to protect, preserve and restore the Northern Inner
The politics of California water is becoming three-dimensional
chess in Congress as lawmakers balance competing anti-drought
ideas with a proposed San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage
settlement that’s going to get bigger.
Arizona and California are arguing over Colorado River water
again — this time over whether it should be inscribed in law
that California can’t take Arizona’s share of river water
that’s left in Lake Mead to prop up lake levels.
Congress is about to try again to help ease California’s
drought. … Discerning the helpful proposals from the
hyperbole can be difficult. So as a guide to the process, Water
Deeply offers the following four themes to watch as the bills
Congress is about to try again to help ease California’s
drought. A handful of bills — some new, some held over from
last year — will come up for debate in the weeks ahead. The
subject is as partisan as the presidential race, and a lot more