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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.”
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?
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…”
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…
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…
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.