Topic List: Agriculture

Overview

Agriculture

California has been the nation’s leading agricultural and dairy state for the past 50 years. The state’s 80,500 farms and ranches produce more than 400 different agricultural products. These products generated a record $44.7 billion in sales value in 2012, accounting for 11.3 percent of the US total.

Breaking down the state’s agricultural role in the country, California produces 21 percent of the nation’s milk supply, 23 percent of its cheese and 92 percent of all grapes. The state also produces half of all domestically-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, including some products, such as almonds, walnuts, artichokes, persimmons and pomegranates, of which 99 percent are grown in California.

Overall, about 3 percent of employment in the state is directly or indirectly related to agriculture.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

OID and SSJID cancel large water sale to thirsty West Side

The worsening drought has canceled a large water sale to West Side farmers by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts. They announced Wednesday that their own customers will need the water, which had been declared surplus in early March. A revised forecast of Stanislaus River runoff scuttled the sale, which could have brought up to $25 million to the sellers.

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

While high-profile surface-water initiatives like WaterFix and the Delta Conveyance Project grab most of the headlines pertaining to water management in the state, efforts to make significant changes to the way groundwater is utilized have been underway since 2014. Now, the state and the local water agencies are seeking public comment on documents related to the management of groundwater. In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a three-bill legislative package collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to better manage groundwater supplies over the long term.  

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Costa spearheads $800 million water infrastructure bill to restore key Valley canals

Congressman Jim Costa (D–Fresno) introduced a bill on Thursday that would provide over $800 million in funding to water projects in California. If the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act is enacted, $653 million in Federal funds will go to restore the capacity of three canals in the Central Valley, and $180 million will be used to restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. 

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath Project to receive historically low water allocation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation delivered a gut-punch to Klamath Project irrigators Wednesday, announcing a historically low water allocation as the basin struggles with extreme drought. Farms and ranches in the Project will receive an initial allocation of just 33,000 acre-feet — the lowest total since the shutdown of 2001 and barely 8% of historical demand. That is dramatically lower than the bureau’s original estimate of 130,000 acre-feet based on hydrological conditions at the beginning of March.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin water contamination prompts ranch inspections

The state plans to inspect three dairy ranches in the Point Reyes National Seashore after independent water quality tests conducted in nearby creeks and lagoons earlier this year found E. coli bacteria concentrations up to 40 times higher than state health standards. The San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board plans to inspect Kehoe Dairy, McClure Dairy and R&J McClelland Dairy, which are located near Kehoe Creek and waterways that flow into Abbotts Lagoon in the northern region of the national seashore. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Epic drought means water crisis on Oregon-California border

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes. Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is working with congressional delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Scores of tule elk died at Point Reyes seashore in 2020

Tule elk are treasured creatures in California, and for years, animal rights groups have butted heads with the Point Reyes National Seashore over its practice of keeping elk fenced away from nearby cattle ranches. Amid a dry 2020, the groups tried to bring water to the creatures but were rebuffed by the National Park Service. Now the federal agency has released a report indicating that more than one third of the 445 elk fenced in at Tomales Point died this past winter, bringing the population down to 293. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Water 101 workshop

There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know to understand California water. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news Northcoast Environmental Center

News release: NEC sues Humboldt County over Rolling Meadow Ranch cannabis project

CITIZENS for a SUSTAINABLE HUMBOLDT (CSH) and the NORTHCOAST ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER (NEC) have filed a lawsuit in the Humboldt County Superior Court, with claims under the California Environmental Quality, the State Planning and Zoning Law, and other laws, challenging the environmental review and permits approved by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

It’s that time of year, when we find out it’s that kind of year. We appear at the doorstep of a “critically dry year,” and most reservoir levels are significantly below average. Those conditions bring painfully to mind the awful drought years of 2014 and 2015, and threaten water supplies for California farms and cities, and for the protected fish species that must also get by in these lean years.
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources, and Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: California Pollinator Coalition hopes to solve key ag issue

Today at breakfast, you have most likely eaten something brought to you by two of America’s hardest workers – pollinators and California farmers. That apple juice, fresh cream cheese, sesame seed bagel or almond croissant came to you by way of a partnership nearly invisible to most folks. But that partnership stepped into the spotlight last week with the announcement of a profoundly important coalition formed to promote sustainability for native and managed pollinators as well as California farms and ranches.
-Written by Laurie Davies Adams, President and CEO of the Pollinator Partnership, and Josette Lewis, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer with the Almond Board of California.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Citing support for a grand bargain, Water Board member calls it quits

State Water Board Member Tam Doduc believes the board will approve a Bay-Delta Plan that includes voluntary agreements with agricultural water interests.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Can Newsom end California water wars now that Trump is gone?

Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water rushing through California’s major rivers and the critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and environmentalists. … [C]oming to an agreement as promised will require Newsom’s most artful negotiating skills. He’ll have to get past decades of fighting and maneuvering, at the same time California is continuing to recover from the worst wildfire season in modern state history and a pandemic that has since killed more than 42,000 state residents.

Aquafornia news Redheaded Blackbelt

Blog: Overturned fuel tank at cannabis grow leads to over $100,000 fine and more

Two out-of-state men were ordered by a judge to pay $117,373 in restitution for water pollution violations stemming from an overturned fuel tank that released an estimated 760 gallons of diesel into Rock Tree Creek, a tributary of the Eel River.

Aquafornia news Sonoma Index-Tribune

California to impose first statewide rules for winery wastewater, marking new era

Hundreds of California wineries will for the first time be governed by statewide wastewater processing rules, a change from the long-held, regional approach that could increase production costs for wineries and protections for waterways while providing consistency for vintners across the state. The move toward a statewide regulatory framework, a five-year effort championed by industry leaders, was finalized this week by the State Water Resources Control Board, which approved an order setting up guidelines for wastewater processing at most of the more than 3,600 bonded wineries in the state. 

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Aquafornia news The Pagosa Springs SUN

Opinion: When water dries up, it can be deadly

In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese that fill the sky during migration have moved south.  This summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence. The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on the Oregon-California border.
-Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

New Westlands Water District board member appointed

It took only 15 minutes before the Westlands Water District Board of Directors voted to unanimously appoint Ceil W. Howe III to fill a vacancy, bringing bringing the governing body back to full strength. Ceil W. Howe III takes his oath of office after being unanimously appointed to the Westlands Water District Board of Directors on Tuesday. The board could have opted to proceed with a special election to fill the vacancy, but opted for the appointment instead.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News Release: State Water Boards adopts new rule for winery wastewater processing and discharging

The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a general order for how wastewater is processed and discharged at winery locations in an ongoing effort to safeguard groundwater and surface water from wastewater discharges. The order protects groundwater and surface water quality while giving wineries the flexibility to select compliance methods that best fit their site-specific situation, including tiering the compliance requirements to the winery size and associated threat to water quality. 

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Is farming with reclaimed water the solution to a drier future?

Most California farmers get their water from the same sources as towns and cities—aquifers, rivers, reservoirs, and snowpack—putting population and food production in competition with each other. Wastewater reclamation could be a way to alleviate some of that pressure and is already common practice elsewhere in the state, mostly as a way to recharge aquifers in Orange County and prevent saltwater intrusion in coastal cities. 

Aquafornia news UC Davis

Blog: Can water saving traits help wine survive climate change?

Climate change is expected to make many grape-growing regions too hot and dry to produce high-quality wine from traditional varieties. But scientists at the University of California, Davis, have found that wine grape varieties from regions that are more prone to stress have traits that could help them cope with climate change.

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Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Crop reports reveal new, old trends in valley agriculture

While farm receipts from 2018 to 2019 show an almost unchanging total, beneath the surface, shifts in dominant crops have begun to occur as growers face labor shortages and higher water demand.Cumulatively, ag commissioners across Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties report gross values in 2019 equaling $19.41 billion, down from $19.45 billion in 2018.

Aquafornia news AgriPulse

Climate change calls for better breeding, conservation and water resilience, says soil scientist

A UC Davis soil scientist says the increasing scarcity of water under projected climate scenarios will require crops that are less water-intensive and for farmers to reduce the amount of irrigated acres and adopt innovative approaches to capturing runoff. Ranchers could incorporate forage crops with shorter growing seasons.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Restoring wetlands near farms would dramatically reduce water pollution

Runoff from fertilizer and manure application in agricultural regions has led to high levels of nitrate in groundwater, rivers, and coastal areas. These high nitrate levels can threaten drinking water safety and also lead to problems with algal blooms and degradation of aquatic ecosystems. Previous research has shown that wetlands improve water quality, but how much of an impact are wetlands having on nitrate removal now, and what improvements could wetland restoration deliver in the future?

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Growing the right tree in the right place with the right amount of water

Finding a tree that produces the right amount of tasty fruit or nuts under the unique growing conditions of a given orchard takes a lot of science and a little bit of art. It’s a mix and match process that involves finding a tree base, or rootstock, that is well-adapted to a particular place and also manages to get along well with the fruit or nut tree cultivar that is grafted to it.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Will water supply momentum pick back up with new administration?

At the beginning of 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced some framework for voluntary agreements on pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In February, the Trump administration signed their own water legislation for California that relaxed biological opinions providing additional water to flow through the Delta. California promptly sued the administration’s actions under the direction of Newsom which put a halt to the federal decision and paused the voluntary agreements momentum. Does all of that change now that a Democratic party is transitioning into leadership? 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

A California water fight pits pistachio growers against the U.S. Navy

A legal dispute over water rights in California’s Mojave desert has growers for The Wonderful Co. on one side and a town reliant on a sprawling naval base on the other. The case offers a glimpse of the coming water wars in California, as the state’s all-powerful agriculture interests increasingly square off against thirsty communities over a dwindling supply of fresh water.

Aquafornia news Montrose Press

Opinion: No more Band-Aids — river compact needs replacing

California has really demonstrated that it needs less Colorado River water. It’s taken a while, but it has been a really successful adaptation. And that is my point (or are my points). For Colorado to spend more money that we do not have in order to pay farmers to take crop land out of production, thereby degrading the economy of the ag sector in our state, is an exercise in utter foolishness.

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Opinion: California needs a new integrated approach to water planning

Water supply and effective water management have been crucial economic tools in California for centuries. Our state’s agricultural sector is an over $50 billion industry that can only thrive with reliable water. Farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley, food processing plants and distribution companies throughout the state, and more locally, the vineyards, farms, orchards and ranches in the Capital Region contribute to an agricultural economy that currently employs more than 1.1 million people throughout the state.
-Written by El Dorado County Supervisor Brian K. Veerkamp and Kenneth V. Payne, general manager of the El Dorado Water Agency.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New land trust focused on groundwater aims to give farmers options

Southern Tulare County farmers inching toward a cliff of groundwater restrictions that could dry up tens of thousands of acres have joined with conservationists to potentially soften their own landing and help improve wildlife habitat at the same time. At least that’s the goal of the newly formed Tule Basin and Water Conservation Trust.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Growers see initial allocation of 10% for 2021 water year

While deciding the final allocation for growers who gather their water from the Friant-Kern Canal is months away, things early on are not looking good. The California Department of Water Resources announced on Dec. 1 an initial state water project (SWP) allocation of 10% of requested supply for the 2021 water year. Initial allocations are based on conservative assumptions regarding hydrology and factors such as reservoir storage. 

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

California farmers work to create a climate change buffer for migratory water birds

In the Central Valley, where agricultural and urban development have claimed 95 percent of the region’s historic wetlands, flooded croplands provide food and habitat that help egrets, sandhill cranes and other iconic water birds get through the winter. But many farmers are moving toward wine grapes, olives and other “permanent crops” that don’t provide the same habitat benefits as row crops. And now these land use changes, combined with the uncertain effects of a warming world, have left scientists scrambling to safeguard critical habitat in one of most important wintering regions for water birds in North America. 

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

Cows get hot, too: A new way to cool dairy cattle in California’s increasing heat

California dairy farmers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year trying to keep their cattle cool, as increasingly high summer temperatures, driven by climate change, heat up the country’s biggest dairy state. Cows are especially sensitive to heat and produce less milk when they are overheated, so farmers in California try to keep them cool using shade, fans and sprinkler systems. But these cooling systems use huge amounts of water and electricity, adding costs and wasting resources in an already resource-stretched state. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Water Blueprint considering groundwater storage on fallowed land

A consortium of agricultural and water groups known as the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley is considering what to do with the thousands of acres of farmland to be fallowed due to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Researchers outlined a recent study showing the potential for strategically conserving that land to benefit wildlife, improve soil health and recharge aquifers. They hoped to work with the consortium on policies addressing this.

Aquafornia news Politico

The rancher trying to solve the West’s water crisis

The power politics of the Colorado River have long pitted families like Paul Bruchez’s against big cities. Under pressure from climate change, they might be finding a path out.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Groups bash Trump administration report on raising height of Shasta Dam

While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions of a “lame duck federal agency.”

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Aquafornia news Water Wrights

Blog: Milk Producers Council water update

Without an accessible and relatively clean water supply, dairy farming is not possible. Much of California enjoys a Mediterranean-style climate, where precipitation is not a year around expectation. And yet California is home to the largest dairy industry in the United States. So how are we doing?

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Environmentalists take aim at the Del Puerto Canyon dam project

The proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir [in western Stanislaus County] would store 82,000 acre-feet of water for downstream agricultural users. The coalition said the dam would flood an “important cultural and recreation site for the surrounding community and destroying valuable wildlife habitat.”

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Trials evaluate alfalfa fields for groundwater recharge

Alfalfa is proving in University of California studies to be remarkably resilient when flooded with large amounts of water early in the year to refill ground depleted by deficit irrigation, or to recharge groundwater drawn down by pumping.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Look up: Helicopter will dangle electromagnet array over valley this week

If you look up into [San Joaquin] Valley skies this week and see a large, oddly shaped device hanging from a helicopter, don’t be alarmed. It’s part of a research project to map underground water supplies. Beginning Monday, flyovers are expected in areas west and south of Fresno – including Fowler, Kingsburg, Lemon Cove, Orange Cove, Orosi, Parlier, Piedra, Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Woodlake.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Building a water-resilient California

What are key California water priorities for the coming year, in light of ongoing disruptions from the pandemic, the recession, lingering drought, and a record-breaking fire season? The PPIC Water Policy Center brought together three panels of experts to discuss possibilities at our annual water priorities conference.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Tom Birmingham: Why restoring tidal marsh is good for SJ Valley farmers

Why would a public water agency that exists primarily to serve irrigation water to farmers on the west side of Fresno and Kings counties undertake an ecosystem restoration project in the Delta?

Aquafornia news Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: Milestone Colorado River management plan mostly worked amid epic drought, review finds

Twenty years ago, the Colorado River’s hydrology began tumbling into a historically bad stretch. … So key players across seven states, including California, came together in 2005 to attack the problem. The result was a set of Interim Guidelines adopted in 2007… Stressing flexibility instead of rigidity, the guidelines stabilized water deliveries in a drought-stressed system and prevented a dreaded shortage declaration by the federal government that would have forced water supply cuts.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How to comment on sustainable groundwater plans in Madera

After decades of new and deeper wells, degraded water quality and groundwater level declines, residents in the [Madera] area have a chance to influence how local groundwater will be managed and used for decades to come — and the deadline to participate is quickly approaching.

Tour Nick Gray

Clone of Central Valley Tour 2020
A Virtual Journey - November 19

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

This virtual experience focuses on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gives participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.

Click to register!

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Trump administration finalizes Shasta Dam raise plan to increase water storage for Californians and the environment

The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

SLO County removes 37,000 acres from Paso groundwater pumping moratorium

Fewer properties over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin will be subject to severe water restrictions after the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted on Nov. 17 to revise the basin’s “area of severe decline,” eliminating roughly 37,000 acres.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Federal water rule expected to stay murky through Biden term

A Biden administration won’t be able to untangle the legal and regulatory “mess” under part of the Clean Water Act that determines which streams, wetlands and other waters get federal protection, legal scholars and litigators say.

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Aquafornia news Sites Reservoir Project

Blog: Reliable water supplies for reliable food

Millions of people across our nation, and countless millions throughout the world depend on California’s farms and ranches for the food they eat every single day. California leads the nation as the country’s largest agricultural producer and exporter and serves as a vital link in the world’s food supply chain.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands celebrates habitat restoration following third straight year of finding zero Delta Smelt

Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat. 

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Aquafornia news Arizona Public Radio

USGS report: Climate change will reduce groundwater in Lower Colorado River Basin

The lower Colorado River Basin, which is primarily in Arizona, is projected to have as much as sixteen percent less groundwater infiltration by midcentury compared to the historical record. That’s because warming temperatures will increase evaporation while rain- and snowfall are expected to remain the same or decrease slightly.

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Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Opinion: Sacramento fiddles while 31.7% of California is lacking in water supply

Two key projects that the bond measure was passed to help fund, Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir, have stalled. Without the public breathing down their neck in a severe drought, the state has managed to treat the reservoirs as back burner issues.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern farmers tapped for $14 million to study Delta tunnel

The Kern County Water Agency board of directors voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the Department of Water Resources to pay $14 million over 2021 and 2020 as its initial share of the early planning and design phase for what’s now being called the Delta Conveyance Facility.

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Aquafornia news UC Davis News

News release: Grazing and riparian restoration are compatible when you put in the work

Rangeland ecologists at the University of California, Davis, found that when ranchers invest even one week a year in practices that keep cows away from creeks — like herding, fencing and providing supplemental nutrition and water — they can improve riparian health by as much as 53 percent.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Groundwater agency discusses how to manage future of Ukiah Valley Basin

Plans to regulate groundwater for the first time ever in the Ukiah Valley Basin are moving forward. And though the details are wonky and a little esoteric, the results could affect water and ag policy for years to come. Last week, the Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency discussed how their mammoth project of sustainably managing the groundwater is coming along.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Why understanding snowpack could help the overworked Colorado River

The U.S. Geological Survey is in the beginning stages of learning more about this river via an expanded and more sophisticated monitoring system that aims to study details about the snowpack that feeds the river basin, droughts and flooding, and how streamflow supports groundwater, or vice versa.

Aquafornia news Fox 26 News

Comedian Paul Rodriguez leaving Hollywood to farm lemons in the Valley

Comedian Paul Rodriguez has been entertaining audiences since the 1980s. But the funny man who calls Fresno home has fallen on tough financial times. Thirteen years ago he carried the torch for Valley farmers. He was the leader of the California Latino Water Coalition in its fight for farm water.

Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Yuba Water files lawsuit against State Water Resources Control Board

The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s requirements to obtain what is called a water quality certification.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

What a Biden Administration could mean for Klamath water

The last three administrations have been active in Klamath Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought plaguing much of US

A report by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday revealed what anyone living in California or the Southwest already know: We need rain. Badly…Much of the worst aspects of dry conditions are centered on the Colorado River Basin of western Colorado, which bodes ill for the millions of homes and businesses downstream that rely on a robust flow of water from the river…Extreme drought is growing in Northern California, but only in the northern reaches of the state along the Sacramento River.  

Aquafornia news EOS.org

Blog: Reimagining the Colorado River by exploring extreme events

Intersecting events such as major floods, decades-long megadroughts, and economic or governance upheavals could have catastrophic effects on the water supply for the 40 million people who live in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Pricey tunnel sparks talk of water sales

Getting water through a tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would be pricey. So pricey, some Kern County water districts were looking for an “off-ramp” by potentially selling their main state water supply out of the county. The request was shot down on Nov. 6 by the Kern County Water Agency, which holds the contract for state water on behalf of 13 area water districts.

Aquafornia news City News Service

Hemp regulations approved in Riverside County

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a series of regulations on where and how hemp growers can operate in unincorporated areas of Riverside County, prohibiting grows where water availability is already a challenge.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Updated: Bureau finishes study on Friant-Kern Canal repair

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has signed a record of decision, finalizing an environmental impact statement that gives clearance for the Friant-Kern Canal project to proceed. The canal needs repairs as a result of land subsidence.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Seasonal wetlands ‘best success story’ of repurposing rice straw

Burning rice straw after harvest was a traditional and economical practice that was phased out in 2000. … The side effect is it has created millions of acres of seasonal wetlands in the rice-growing region of the state – and with a variety of conservation contracts, provided additional income for growers whose costs rose when straw burning was prohibited.

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Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

River managers turn eyes to new Powell-Mead deal

A 2007 deal creating guidelines governing how Lake Powell and Lake Mead are operated in coordination isn’t scheduled to expire until 2026. But water officials in Colorado River Basin states are already beginning to talk about the renegotiations that will be undertaken to decide what succeeds the 2007 criteria.

Aquafornia news Western Water

A Colorado River leader who brokered key pacts to aid West’s vital water artery assesses his legacy and the river’s future

Managing water resources in the Colorado River Basin is not for the timid or those unaccustomed to big challenges. … For more than 30 years, Terry Fulp, director of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Basin Region, has been in the thick of it, applying his knowledge, expertise and calm demeanor to inform and broker key decisions that have helped stabilize the Southwest’s major water artery.

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Aquafornia news Medford Mail Tribune

Opinion: The message is clear: We must manage our resources better

Why are our food producers, including many century-old family farms with 100-year-old water rights, facing a shortage of water? Because we drain Oregon’s largest lake to artificially increase water supply in California.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California Rep. Jim Costa to seek ag committee chairmanship

The Fresno lawmaker, who easily won a ninth term, put his hat in the ring Thursday after the defeat of long-time chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. The House is expected to remain under Democratic control.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Opinion: The view from Westlands: Voluntary agreements

Voluntary agreements have been proposed as a collaborative, modern and holistic alternative to the State Water Resources Control Board’s staff proposed update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. … Westlands and other public water agencies are eager to reengage in the process to finalize the voluntary agreements, as they offer the best path forward for California water.

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Blog: New issue of CDFW scientific journal reviews environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation

California Fish and Wildlife Journal features a series of scientific articles on the environmental impacts associated with legal and unpermitted commercial cannabis cultivation. Once primarily hidden deep in the forests of the Emerald Triangle, cannabis cultivation activities are now occurring all over California.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Science group issues valley-focused advice on climate change

The San Joaquin Valley has received a specially addressed message from the Union of Concerned Scientists about what it thinks people across the region should be doing about looming water shortages, worsening air quality and generally more volatile weather in the years ahead.

Aquafornia news University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Blog: Pilot system monitors tweets for drought early warning

Millions use Twitter to share their rapid-fire opinions, observations and connections to real-time events. And natural disasters are often major conversation starters. With that in mind, National Drought Mitigation Center assistant director Kelly Helm Smith wanted to see what tweets said about the impacts of drought, and whether tweets [including from California] could contribute to a drought early warning system.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Study: Drilling of deeper wells in United States is ‘unsustainable’

In areas where groundwater levels have fallen because of heavy pumping, people have often responded by drilling deeper wells. But exactly how much that has occurred on a nationwide scale wasn’t clear until water experts compiled nearly 12 million well-drilling records across the country. In a new study, [UC Santa Barbara] researchers found that Americans in many areas from coast to coast are drilling deeper for groundwater….The study confirmed that drilling deeper wells is common in California’s food-producing Central Valley…and household wells remain vulnerable to pumping by deeper agricultural wells. 

Aquafornia news Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Norwegian company secures financing for industrial-scale salmon farm in rural Nevada

Raising salmon in the desert seems like an unlikely mission, but that is exactly what Norwegian-based West Coast Salmon AS intends to do. The company announced in early October it had secured a first round of financing for a land-based Atlantic salmon farm facility south of Winnemucca near the Humboldt/Pershing County line.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Feds give green light to Friant-Kern Canal repairs

The federal government has approved plans to fix a sag in the Friant-Kern Canal. The Bureau of Reclamation gave its approval Tuesday – signing a Record of Decision giving environmental clearance for the project – following action from the Trump administration to invest about $5 million to study and begin pre-construction work on the canal.

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Aquafornia news AgNet West

Water board enforcement actions being taken on dairies

Dairy producers will need to be mindful of enforcement actions from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Paul Sousa of Western United Dairies said enforcement typically occurs during the rainy season. Enforcement actions have been taken on six California dairies.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: State must fulfill promise of Proposition 1 water bond

Storage projects partially funded by Proposition 1 should help the state balance the swings in precipitation that characterize the California climate… Yet, six years after the bond’s passage, the water storage projects that will benefit from Proposition 1 likely remain at least a decade away from becoming operational.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farms work on nitrate control requirements

Local leaders, farmers and others in the Central Valley report additional progress in addressing salinity in surface water, and salt and nitrates in groundwater, in compliance with a program adopted last fall by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Klamath Irrigation District court case continues

Recent legal testimonies assert that the Oregon Water Resources Department has not taken exclusive charge of stored water in Upper Klamath Lake, despite court orders requiring it do so.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

U.S., Mexico sign Rio Grande water agreement

Mexico is obligated under a 1944 treaty to deliver to the United States a set amount of water from the Rio Grande and its tributaries over a five-year period. … The last-minute agreement signed Oct. 21 settles the conflict. Mexico will transfer ownership of water stored in two border reservoirs to the United States to make up the deficit.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Rice fields provide crucial refuge for migrating birds

As a rice farmer in Yolo County, Kim Gallagher should be used to the sight of thousands of birds swarming her flooded fields this time of year—but when she sees a flock take off, scattering the sky with a confetti of fluttering wings, her enjoyment is clear.

Aquafornia news The Aggie

Opinion: Trump Administration is trying to raise Shasta Dam, again

The Bureau of Reclamation has once again proposed raising Shasta Dam, which is already the largest reservoir in California, after several proposals in the past decade. Each time, it has faced fierce public opposition from state government, environmentalists, locals and Native Americans.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Michael Abatti looks to take fight with IID to U.S. Supreme Court

Having been turned away by the California Supreme Court last week, farmer Michael Abatti looked to have lost his years-long fight with the Imperial Irrigation District over who owns valuable water rights on the Colorado River. But Abatti apparently isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Scientists share coping strategies for San Joaquin Valley households at risk of extreme climate impacts

“As temperatures rise, climate change compounds the already difficult circumstances of vulnerable communities, increasing inequities related to access to clean water, clean air and socioeconomic opportunities” said J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida, climate scientist at UCS and co-author of the guide.

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Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Collaboration between rice farmers and environmentalists working out nicely

When driving over the Yolo Bypass in the winter, one can’t help but notice the flooded fields. … Historically, the area used to be wetlands and floodplain habitat, but now, farmers grow rice there. After harvest, the fields are flooded to not only help decompose the leftover rice straw but also, as a surprise to many, recreate a surrogate habitat for many area wildlife, most notably birds.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: Water partnerships between cities and farms in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California each face growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some water supplies.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta watermaster breaks down water use in the Delta, addresses implementation of reduced reliance on the Delta

At the Oct. 22 meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Watermaster Michael George gave a detailed presentation on estimating water use in the Delta… He also discussed implementation of the state’s policy of reducing reliance on the Delta and provided updates on the preparations for the next drought…

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California Supreme Court refuses to review Abatti’s case against IID

The tumultuous, years-long legal fight between farmer Michael Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District — two of Southern California’s powerbrokers — is now finished. On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court declined Abatti’s petition for review, leaving in place an appellate court’s decision that declared IID the rightful owner of a massive allotment of Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Historic move: Fresno River rights to be decided

If all you’ve ever seen of the Fresno River is through Madera as you drive over it on Highway 99, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a weed-infested, shopping cart collector rather than a real river. But there’s a lot to this unobtrusive waterway, which just made history as the first river in 40 years about to go through a rights settlement under the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation and partners synchronize Sacramento River water diversions to benefit salmon

Reclamation, working with the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors and federal and state fish and wildlife agencies, are implementing fall water operations to benefit salmon populations in the Sacramento River.

Aquafornia news Brookings

Not dried up: US-Mexico water cooperation

For weeks, a water dispute between the Mexican government and Mexican farmers and between the United States and Mexico was brewing and escalating. October 24 was the deadline by which Mexico was supposed to have provided the United States with all of the water from the Rio Grande it owes the United States every five years. But this year’s expected water delivery set off months-long protests…

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Oilfield wastewater slowly gains value in agriculture

For decades it’s been done on a relatively small scale near Bakersfield, and recent studies confirm it doesn’t threaten crop safety. So why aren’t more local oil producers giving farmers the briny water that comes up from the ground along with oil? In a word, money.

Aquafornia news California State University San Marcos

Blog: Ask the expert: The scarcity of water

Kristine Diekman is a professor of art, media and design at Cal State San Marcos, where she teaches media theory and production, and sound studies. She’s also a media artist working in documentary and experimental film, new media and community-based media. Since 2014, Diekman has been working on a digital media project, “Run Dry,” which tells the story of the water crisis in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Institutional Investor

California’s complex water market faces new challenges

The supply and demand of California water are geographically and seasonally disconnected, a trend that could be exacerbated by climate change. Agriculture, urban and environmental use compete for limited supply in the state’s $1.1 billion water market.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Here’s the challenge of implementing historic groundwater law

I can see clearly the challenge ahead for implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Actcal act because I now have first-hand experience with the kinds of water disputes that can arise when the local parties involved are not given a chance to work things out collaboratively.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Influential California congressman opposes Sonoma County-backed plan to drain Lake Pillsbury

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi has filed an official objection to a plan backed by Sonoma County and his House Democratic colleague Jared Huffman to remove Scott Dam on the Eel River and drain Lake Pillsbury, a popular recreation spot for nearly a century.

Aquafornia news UC Rangelands

Blog: Riparian conservation in grazed landscapes

In the absence of appropriate management, excessive livestock damage can occur in sensitive habitats such as riparian areas that provide drinking water, forage, and microclimates sought by free-ranging livestock. … Fortunately, conservation-grazing management strategies can reduce the likelihood of livestock damage to riparian areas.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Friant-Kern Canal fix approved over concerns the plan isn’t fully baked

The Friant Water Authority on Thursday approved the final environmental review for a massive project to fix a 33-mile segment of the Friant-Kern Canal despite continued questions about funding and other concerns expressed by some Friant contractors.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday Top of the Scroll: California’s landmark groundwater law falls short, advocates say

Advocates and researchers warn that the way many local agencies have interpreted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act overlooks the needs of disadvantaged communities who rely on groundwater for their drinking water. Many are concerned that households and communities could see their wells go dry in the coming years, leaving them without access to safe and affordable drinking water.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Klamath residents, Yurok tribal members to participate in ‘day of action’ targeting Pacificorp over dam removal

Virtual rallies will be held Friday at the utility’s headquarters in Portland and in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Neb., according to a Save California Salmon news release. A rally will also be held in Seattle, home of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the top shareholder in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Berkshire Hathaway Energy is PacifiCorp’s parent company.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

New reservoir in Stanislaus County clears a hurdle

Del Puerto Water District directors approved a final environment study Wednesday on a 82,000 acre-foot reservoir near Patterson. … The reservoir is proposed to increase reliability of water deliveries to thirsty farms and improve management of groundwater. The project in a canyon just west of Patterson has stirred debate. It would inundate part of scenic Del Puerto Canyon and raises fears the dam near Interstate 5 could fail, flooding the city of 23,000.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Novato bayside levee project nears completion

Working over the last year, construction crews expect to complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres, or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had been diked and drained for agriculture and development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How water justice groups view groundwater sustainability planning

Over-pumping of groundwater has caused domestic wells to go dry in the San Joaquin Valley. Yet many of the first round of plans prepared to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) do not yet propose ways to address this problem. We explored groundwater planning with three members of the environmental justice community—Angela Islas of Self-Help Enterprises, Justine Massey of the Community Water Center, and Amanda Monaco of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Board could approve study on new dam in Stanislaus County

The Del Puerto Water District is set to vote Wednesday on approving a final environmental impact study on a much-disputed storage reservoir in western Stanislaus County. … According to proponents, the reservoir storing up to 82,000 acre-feet will provide more reliable water deliveries to farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… Water pumped from the nearby Delta-Mendota Canal would be stored behind the dam.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers look to plant more rice acreage in the Delta

Now in its second year, a long-term project intends to learn whether rice farming in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can succeed economically while helping to preserve the region’s uniquely carbon-rich peat soils.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Groundwater: The charge to recharge needs to be data driven

In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire county.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: An artist and educator captures deeply personal stories of life without clean water

Run Dry is a story of small, rural California communities and their struggle to remain connected to the most precious resource—water. This digital media project combines short documentary films, personal stories, photographs, and data visualizations about water scarcity and contamination in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Eastern Coachella Valley residents urge the state for action on the Salton Sea

On Sept. 30, we sent a letter to state officials requesting that restoration projects coming out of the Salton Sea Management Program consider impacts on nearby communities. We hope those officials will share in our vision of reforestation and green spaces around the Salton Sea, see the benefits of such projects in addressing the sea’s deteriorating environmental conditions, and act with the same urgency.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Rep. Garamendi comes out against Scott Dam removal

Congressman John Garamendi, who represents the northern half of Lake County, on Friday submitted a formal comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing removal of Scott Dam on the Eel River at Lake Pillsbury and demanding that Lake County have an equal seat at the table for determining the future of Potter Valley Project and the lake.

Aquafornia news NOAA Research News

Lawns provide surprising contribution to L.A. Basin’s carbon emissions

The Los Angeles Basin is often thought of as a dry, smoggy, overdeveloped landscape. But a new study led by NOAA and the University of Colorado, Boulder shows that the manicured lawns, emerald golf courses and trees of America’s second-largest city have a surprisingly large influence on the city’s carbon emissions…The green spaces within megacities provide numerous benefits, including improving air quality, capturing runoff, moderating temperatures and offering outdoor recreation.

Aquafornia news University of Nevada, Reno

News release: New lab opens in Reno to support agricultural research

Located at the Knudtsen Resource Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, the lab will provide agriculture-focused analytical services to support faculty- and student-led research at the University. The lab is also offering analytical services for a fee to the general public, including property owners and homeowners, who may need to have soil or water samples analyzed.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump makes water demand of farms priority for new office

President Donald Trump on Tuesday created what he called a “subcabinet” for federal water issues, with a mandate that includes water-use changes sought by corporate farm interests and oil and gas. … The first priority set out by the executive order is increasing dam storage and other water storage, long a demand of farmers and farm interests in the West in particular. That includes California’s Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water district.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Developing groundwater allocations: Findings and recommendations

At the 3rd annual Western Groundwater Congress in September, Dr. William Blomquist, professor of political science and more at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, gave a presentation of ongoing research with Dr. Christina Babbitt, California Groundwater Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund looking at how other groundwater basins have developed groundwater allocations.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Prospective Westlands water board members look past legal challenges to get water, focusing on innovation

Unbeknownst to many, some voters will pick five new members of the Board of Directors of the Westlands Water District. GV Wire had a chance to speak with two of those… Both offered insights into how Westlands can change its reputation, how farmers can change their approach, and what their biggest adversaries are in the fight for water.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles Liz McAllister

Bay-Delta Tour 2020: Encore Event
A Virtual Journey - November 10

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Concerns grow about herbicide use in wildfires’ wake

The Forest Service’s use of herbicides and pesticides has raised occasional alarm from environmental groups, which point to the chemical’s potential to harm wildlife or water supplies, or to have long-term effects on people who apply them. In some regions, they say, scarcely a tree-planting project occurs without the use of chemical herbicides.

Aquafornia news KVOA TV

University of Arizona researcher leading project to model the nation’s groundwater

A University of Arizona researcher is leading a National Science Foundation project that is integrating artificial intelligence to simulate the nation’s groundwater supply for the purpose of forecasting droughts and floods. [One aim, the researcher said, is to] “come up with better forecasts for floods and droughts in the upper Colorado River Basin…”

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: A Craigslist for water trading? Learn how this new water management platform works

To inform landowners about their water budgets, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District in Kern County partnered with EDF, Sitka Technology Group, WestWater Research and local landowners to co-develop a new online, open-source water accounting and trading platform. We asked general manager Eric Averett to answer a few questions about how the platform…

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Keeping food on the table when water is scarce is a balancing act. This new app will help

In the western United States, crops and natural landscapes consume the greatest portion of water supplies. However, tracking that consumption is surprisingly complex and expensive… A recently announced web application called OpenET aims to fill this gap for farmers and water managers to build more resilient water supplies…

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Happy New Water Year, where’d all that Colorado River water go?

Despite that reduction in flow, total storage behind Glen Canyon and Hoover dams has dropped only 2.6 million acre feet. That is far less than you’d expect from 12 years of 1.2 maf per year flow reductions alone. That kind of a flow reduction should have been enough to nearly empty the reservoirs. Why hasn’t that happened? Because we also have been using less water.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Serving multiple benefits along the Sacramento River: A look at fall operations

As we have transitioned from summer to fall in the Sacramento Valley, we are finishing the agronomic season and there is now a focus on fall and winter operations on the Sacramento River. Water resources managers and fish and wildlife agencies continue to work together in the Sacramento River watershed to serve water for multiple benefits, including two salmon runs and the essential time for birds (and other species) migrating along the Pacific Flyway.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Water accounting platform is working well in Kern County

A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District has worked with multiple stakeholder partners to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more accurately track water use.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In correcting misappropriation of water, Nevada must balance legal rights with existing use

In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater rights than there was water available. Today state officials say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which could mean cuts.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Groundwater regulation comes to Ukiah; local Groundwater Sustainability Agency introduced plan last week

Landowners with access to underground water have been able to pull as much water, at any rate, any time, and for any reason without worrying about protocols or following government rules. That is about to change. Last Tuesday, local officials and environmental engineers introduced an outline for how to sustainably manage and regulate groundwater in the region.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Raising Shasta Dam is an even worse idea than we knew

Reclamation has identified a significant seismic risk problem at Shasta Dam that may preclude the enlargement of Shasta Dam in a safe manner. … In addition … modeling disclosed by Reclamation to NRDC (see last page of this link) indicates that enlarging Shasta Dam would reduce the water supply for State Water Project contractors by an average of 14,000 acre feet per year.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Rural California communities struggle to provide clean drinking water

Mo Mohsin has been trying to bring clean drinking water to the residents of the Cobles Corner mobile home park ever since he bought the property back in 2003. The struggle, however, has been all uphill. The water system that serves the rural Stanislaus County community of 20 or so homes has violated state drinking water standards 25 times since 2012,

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada dam changes give rare trout new life 115 years later

U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34 million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a threatened trout species to return to some of its native spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century. Construction of the side channel with fish-friendly screens is a major step toward someday enabling Lahontan cutthroat trout to make the same 100-mile journey — from a desert lake northeast of Reno to Lake Tahoe atop the Sierra — that they did before the dam was built in 1905.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Lawmakers pass technical fix to aid drought-stricken Klamath Basin

House lawmakers passed the bill Oct. 1, allowing irrigators to access up to $10 million for emergency drought relief in the basin straddling Southern Oregon and Northern California. The bill passed the Senate in July, and now heads to President Trump to be signed into law.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

Opinion: An aqueduct to San Diego is worth studying

San Diego County Water Authority is looking into the possibility of building a pipeline (aqueduct, more accurately) to get its water directly from the Imperial Valley instead of indirectly through the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) in Los Angeles. SDCWA and MWD have a history of litigation about how much MWD can charge for transporting water from Lake Havasu through MWD’s Colorado River Aqueduct to reservoirs in northern San Diego County.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Mojave Pistachios, Searles Valley Minerals file lawsuits vs. Indian Wells groundwater agency

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority faces two lawsuits, from a major local farm operation and Searles Valley Minerals, over water rights filed this week in the aftermath of the passing of a controversial groundwater replenishment fee and a fallowing program.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Georgetown Divide water transfer completed

The Georgetown Divide Public Utility District reported Sept. 23 that its release of 2,000 acre-feet of water from Stumpy Meadows Reservoir to be transferred to the Westlands Water District has been successfully completed.

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Multimillion dollar tunnel to increase water reliability

The SSJID board has been pursuing a replacement tunnel after sorting through options to substantially increase the reliability of water flows as well as reducing costly annual maintenance work that puts crews at risk. … The 13,000-foot tunnel is now projected to cost more than $37 million. SSJID would cover 72 percent of the cost and Oakdale Irrigation District 28 percent…

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Friant-Kern Canal fix stalled again after Newsom vetoes bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom put the final nail in the bipartisan bill’s coffin on Wednesday when he vetoed the legislation, arguing that the bill was too focused on one canal project: The Friant-Kern.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Clean, reliable water: How to get a seat at the table for groundwater planning

Healthy communities need clean, reliable water supplies. That is why your thoughts, and ideas need to be shared with local water agencies as they create plans that map out how groundwater will be managed for the next 50 years.

Aquafornia news UC San Diego

News release: Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Crews to get water flowing from area ravaged by Creek Fire

Southern California Edison crews will be able to restart some releases from lakes in the San Joaquin River watershed after the Creek Fire overran much of the area through September. … Those releases, which flow into Millerton Lake, mean farmers from Fresno to Arvin will be able to continue irrigation.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Madness and arrogance” forced lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week. At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevada to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Farms over-pump Madera groundwater, private wells go dry

The land east of Madera has changed in the 25 years since Rochelle and Michael Noblett built their home… There are more houses, more irrigated agriculture and less grazing land. There’s also been a significant decline in water availability, as the level of groundwater drops below what some domestic wells can reach. That’s why the couple was shocked when the county allowed a new irrigation well and almond orchard … in the midst of the most recent drought, even as private wells were going dry…

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Culturally appropriate youth water education

Interview: Claudia Diaz Carrasco is a 4-H youth development advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Riverside and San Bernardino counties who has expertise in developing water programs for diverse youth communities.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Partnership celebrates restoration of Truckee River fish passage to historical spawning grounds

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Reclamation joined its partners, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Farmers Conservation Alliance, to celebrate the completion of the Derby Dam Fish Screen Project. The infrastructure modernization project at Derby Dam will provide Lahontan Cutthroat Trout access to natural spawning grounds for the first time since 1905.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom vetoes Friant-Kern Canal fix bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern Canal. SB 559 would have required the Department of Water Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on federal funding for the Friant Water Authority or any other government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal. The bill would also have required DWR to include a proposal for the state to pay up to 35 percent of the cost of the project.

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Aquafornia news KPBS

San Diego County Water Authority sets agricultural water discount in exchange for reliability

Participants will pay $1,295 per acre-foot for treated water, while municipal and industrial users will pay $1,769 per acre-foot. Farmers who participate will receive a lower level of water service during shortages or emergencies. That allows the water authority to reallocate those supplies to commercial and industrial customers who pay for full reliability benefits. In exchange, participating farmers are exempt from fixed water storage and supply reliability charges.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Conflict over U.S.-Mexico water treaty escalates as farmers take La Boquilla Dam

Tensions between Mexico and the United States over water intensified this month as hundreds of Mexican farmers seized control of La Boquilla dam in protest over mandatory water releases. The protesters came from parched Chihuahua state, nearly 100 square miles of land pressed against the U.S. border, where farmers are opposing the delivery of over 100 billion gallons of water to the United States by October 24.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Happy 50th “Kern Riversary!” 1970 vote brought river into public hands

Fifty years ago this week, the Bakersfield City Council committed an audaciously historic act. On Monday evening Sept. 28, 1970, council members decided to sue Tenneco West for a slice of the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

‘Make noise’: Yurok Tribe water analyst discusses PacifiCorp’s new stance on Klamath dam removal

The day after Congress passed a bill that included potential consequences to PacifiCorp if it reneged on an agreement to remove four Klamath River dams, the Yurok Tribe’s senior water policy analyst urged people to “make noise in anyway that you can.”

Aquafornia news Bay City News

York Creek dam removal sets stage for environmental restoration in Napa

After 27 years of starts and stops, a lawsuit brought by state regulators, a court order, a long-running federal fine and the threat of further legal action from environmentalists, the old earthen dam is finally being removed in order to restore a portion of the creek to a more natural state.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Creek Fire: Water deliveries from dams might be affected due to evacuations

Among the people forced to flee the Creek Fire were workers who keep the vast network of hydroelectric dams running. Eric Quinley, general manager of the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District, worried some of his table grape growers might not get enough water in the future to finish up the growing season.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: When it comes to droughts, the costs of climate change are too high for both birds and people

Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46% below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Locals gear up for fight to keep Kings River water

Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water grab.

Aquafornia news The Rolla Daily News

Research links sinking land to regions of high groundwater demand

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology … are using a form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning to map the sinking – called land subsidence – to help water policy officials make informed decisions. … To carry out their research, Smith and his Ph.D. student, Sayantan Majumdar, compiled hydrologic and subsidence data from satellites and ground-based GPS stations across the western U.S., including California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

What we know about a plan to settle the Ventura River litigation

Some of the largest users of the Ventura River recently released their proposal to settle litigation and potentially stave off a water-rights adjudication. The plan includes multiple habitat restoration projects intended to help endangered steelhead trout, but largely avoids any changes to water use. Before it goes to a judge, however, other parties likely will weigh in, including the state.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Water Board candidates differ on how to balance basin, protect ratepayers

Potentially the most important question popped up roughly halfway through the Indian Wells Valley Water District Board candidate forum Wednesday night. Hidden within a longer question was the key point: how do the candidates think the local water basin should be balanced and how do they plan to protect water district ratepayers while doing so?

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Students kayak the Salton Sea to raise awareness about lake’s plight

Three Coachella Valley high schoolers kayaked across the Salton Sea Saturday to raise awareness about the social and ecological crisis unfolding as California’s largest lake continues to shrink and toxic dust from its shores pollutes the air.

Related article:

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Dominos from the massive Creek Fire teetering over Central Valley farmers

When the Creek Fire erupted on Sept. 5 and chewed through the forest toward Southern California Edison’s Big Creek power system, little did anyone know how that might affect grape growers in Delano nearly a month later.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Walker Lake group to take water suit back to federal court

Lawyers representing Mineral County and the Walker Lake Working Group announced this week they intend to take a water rights case with broad implications back to federal appeals court to ask whether Nevada can adjust already allocated water rights to sustain rivers and lakes long-term.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

How worms and a parasite harm salmon on the Klamath River — and how a new data portal may help

The Klamath Basin used to be the third most important salmon-bearing watershed in the Pacific Northwest. Now, only a fraction of those runs remain. The multiple reasons for their decline are complex and interconnected, but they all have to do with how water moves through the system.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: California Democrats decry federal inaction in Congress’ first hearing on Salton Sea in 23 years

In a congressional hearing Thursday that starkly illuminated partisan divides, California Democrats called on the federal government to provide greater assistance in remedying environmental and public health crises at the Salton Sea. All but one GOP members were absent, and the one who did attend criticized the organizers for holding the hearing.

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Aquafornia news MarketWatch

Blog: Why we need water futures

Investors will be able to make wagers on the price of water later this year with the launch of futures contracts, which are expected to better balance supply and demand for the commodity and hedge price risks. … The index, itself, sets a weekly spot rate price of water rights in California, the majority of which are owned and managed by water districts that deliver water to individual farms…

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California filmmaker premieres new Salton Sea documentary

A new documentary — “Miracle in the Desert: The Rise and Fall of the Salton Sea” — takes a crack at the growing public health issue, drawing on archival footage to tell the tale of a lake that was largely forgotten by the government even before its shorelines began receding.

Aquafornia news E&E News

How the loss of Ginsburg will affect the term ahead

The absence of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court this coming term is unlikely to change the outcome of two looming battles over water rights and Endangered Species Act records, but legal experts say her death will have a lasting impact on environmental jurisprudence at the nation’s highest bench.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Collaboration on the Colorado River between Mexico and the US brings benefits for both countries

At the September meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Laura Lamdin, an associate engineer in water resource management, gave a presentation on how the United States and Mexico built a collaborative relationship, the many accomplishments that have come as a result, and a look at the work currently in progress.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

WIFIA improvement act looks to assist public water projects

The bipartisan legislation would make changes to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014. The amendments would make water projects eligible for low-interest federal loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Reservoir-release pilot project in Colorado begins this week

Beginning Wednesday, Front Range water providers will release water stored in Homestake Reservoir in an effort to test how they could get water downstream to the state line in the event of a Colorado River Compact call….A compact call could occur if the upper basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico) can’t deliver the 7.5 million acre-feet of water per year to the lower basin states (Arizona, California and Nevada), as required by a nearly century-old binding agreement.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Nursing salmon on flooded farms

In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next steps in managing floodplains for salmon.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Ranchers discuss managing land, herds in drought

Don’t be a victim: That’s the advice of Joe Fischer, a seedstock cattle producer near Auburn, talking of ranchers dealing with drought in California. His position: Be proactive and plan ahead.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Pandemic prompts update on water-project bond funds

Responding to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on public-agency resources, the California Water Commission has adopted an emergency regulation, allowing applicants that were conditionally awarded money for water projects from the Proposition 1 water bond to apply for early funding.

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Aquafornia news State Water Contractors

Blog: California water managers need more flexibility to move water when & where it’s needed most

For this reason, public water agencies and DWR have publicly negotiated amendments to their long-term water supply contracts in order to better plan the future of their local water supply portfolios. … The State Water Contractors applaud this coordinated and collaborative effort, which provides flexibility for single and multi-year non-permanent water transfers and exchanges.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How California became ground zero for climate disasters

California is one of America’s marvels. By moving vast quantities of water and suppressing wildfires for decades, the state has transformed its arid and mountainous landscape into the richest, most populous and bounteous place in the nation. But now, those same feats have given California a new and unwelcome category of superlatives.

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Aquafornia news SciTechDaily

OpenET: Transforming water management in the U.S. West with NASA data

California’s Delta Watermaster Michael George is responsible for administering water rights within the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies drinking water to more than 25 million Californians and helps irrigate 3 million acres of farmland. For him, the development of OpenET signals an exciting opportunity for the future of water in the West.

Aquafornia news NOAA Fisheries

Blog: New conservation plan benefits California steelhead—and irrigators, too

The Calaveras River Habitat Conservation Plan finalized this week includes commitments by the Stockton East Water District to improve conditions in the Calaveras River for steelhead. In turn, the Water District gets assurances that it can continue distributing water to irrigators and others without violating the Endangered Species Act….These changes will be implemented under the first plan of its kind in the Central Valley of California.

Aquafornia news Voice of America

Drought-hit Mexicans demand that water sharing with US ends

Protesters gathered on Sunday in drought-hit northern Mexico in an attempt to retain control of a dam key to government efforts to diffuse tensions over a water-sharing pact with the United States. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has been working to maintain a good relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, said on Friday that Mexico must comply with its obligations.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Three lessons for California’s water funding challenges in today’s recession

California’s water managers have had their hands full keeping our water systems safe and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. But their work on addressing the fiscal consequences of the deep economic recession is just beginning. Three lessons from the Great Recession of 2007-09 could guide more effective policy responses today.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Killing the Vegas pipeline — Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing

Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year 300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.

Aquafornia news Marketplace

Water enters futures market, allowing buyers to lock in prices

There is a new product allowing businesses in California — mostly farms and other agricultural businesses that rely on water — to lock in prices for water. But there are plenty of questions as to how this will actually work. To state the obvious, it’s just not that easy to transact in water. It’s not a block of gold, or even a barrel of oil.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better

President Trump dismissed evidence pointed to by California’s governor of climate change’s role in the state’s continuing wildfires during a Fox News interview on Sunday… The president went on during the interview to attack California over its water management policies, which he blamed on efforts to protect the Delta smelt…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: 20-mile replacement canal is preferred fix for the sagging Friant-Kern Canal

A rapid-fire review of potential fixes to the Friant-Kern Canal favors building a replacement canal for 20 miles alongside the existing canal where land subsidence has caused it to sag, severely restricting water flow, according to final environmental documents released Friday.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Friday Top of the Scroll: First water futures contract is coming with the West on fire

If the record heat and wildfires ravaging California weren’t a clear enough sign that the climate is changing, then consider this: Wall Street is about to start trading futures contracts on the state’s water supply. … They are intended to both allow California’s big water consumers—like almond farms and municipalities—to hedge against surging prices and can act as a benchmark that signals how acute water scarcity is becoming in the state and, more broadly, across the globe.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Almond growers are committed to finding water solutions that work for people, farms, and fish

Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in supporting salmon health.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

East Tule agency to charge farmers for pumping water

Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new groundwater management law will cost them next month. On Oct. 1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee…

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Conservation groups complete Chorro Creek restoration project, benefiting the Morro Bay watershed

For years, a stretch of Chorro Creek near Hollister Peak ran through active farmland, where its flow was diverted for irrigation and its banks were shored up by levees, blocking the water’s natural access to its floodplain. … After nearly two decades of planning and fundraising, the Estuary Program and its partners recently completed a major restoration of the site.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

University of Arizona researchers unveil new model for desert farming in warming world

A team of scientists, led by the University of Arizona, has developed a new blueprint for arid-land agriculture using wild, native crops and modern growing techniques. The 14 researchers from the Southwest and Mexico believe their model can produce a sustainable, local source of food that will improve the health and well-being of consumers and farmworkers alike.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Deep Creek Cemetery searches for water

The last few years have been dry for one of the oldest cemeteries in Tulare County. The well at the Deep Creek Cemetery has been parched since 2014 and now they are in talks with the Farmersville City Council to potentially connect to the city’s water system.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Imperial Irrigation District files opposition in state Supreme Court fight with Michael Abatti

The years-long fight between the Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti over control of Colorado River water could be nearing its grand finale in the California Supreme Court. After Abatti requested last month that the state’s highest judicial body take up his case, the water district filed its opposition on Monday.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Groundwater externalities and the agricultural response to water pricing

Dr. Ellen Bruno is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Ag and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. At a recent Silver Solutions webinar, she shared some of the preliminary results on a paper she is working on… The study considers the impacts of agricultural water pricing and the effect on water use and land use change.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Bilingual SGMA video series to foster better understanding

State and local agencies are continuing to work to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. With SGMA’s far-reaching implications, Ph.D. candidate at UC Merced, Vicky Espinoza has created a bilingual video series to help provide a better understanding of the impact of SGMA and generate more engagement.

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

In a dry state, farmers use oil wastewater to irrigate their fields, but is it safe?

For decades, farmers in California’s Kern County have turned to wastewater from oil production to help irrigate their crops during extended dry spells. … But the use of the recycled water, a byproduct of oil and natural gas extraction that is mixed with surface water for irrigation, has stirred controversy.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: A greater sense of urgency needed for crises at the Salton Sea

Responding to the lack of progress in 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered the California Natural Resources Agency to adopt a 10-year plan to implement projects to suppress the harmful dust and restore habitat. … But in the three years since the water board’s order, progress has been dismal, even though there is more than $350 million available to implement the plan.

Aquafornia news ASU Now

Blog: Arizona State University water policy expert addresses new concerns about state’s precious resource

The cuts are a plan to keep Lake Mead, a reservoir at the Arizona-Nevada boundary, functional. Water levels have precipitously dropped as a result of historic overallocation and a drought that started in 2000. … ASU Now checked in with Sarah Porter of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute on how these new developments will impact the Copper State and its residents.

Aquafornia news Audubon

A disease outbreak in California has killed an estimated 40,000 birds

As wildfires burn across California, temperatures hit record highs, and communities cope with the COVID-19 crisis, biologist Caroline Brady is helping respond to a different disaster: the worst avian botulism outbreak that anyone can remember at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Queen Creek water deal exposes Arizona’s most fundamental problems

Roughly a thousand acre-feet of water won’t make or break the Colorado River. But for many who live in counties that border the river, even losing a few drops of water to central Arizona poses a major threat to their way of life.