Topic: Regulations — California and Federal


Regulations — California and Federal

In general, regulations are rules or laws designed to control or govern conduct. Specifically, water quality regulations under the federal and state Clean Water Act “protect the public health or welfare, enhance the quality of water and serve the purposes of the Act.”

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water transfers helped farmers survive this year. Now, all eyes are on the coming water year

Water transfers, trades and sales doubled this year as drought left San Joaquin Valley farmers scrambling for supplies. … [Sam Boland-Brien, program manager at the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights] said he’s seen about twice the amount of transfers this year compared to an average water year. 

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Drought on Mendocino Coast: State Water Board amends curtailment orders to expedite water deliveries

To expedite the delivery of much-needed drinking water to coastal Mendocino County residents whose wells have gone dry, the California State Water Resources Control Board has amended its previous curtailment orders to allow the city of Ukiah to draw water from the Russian River for emergency supplies. 

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Opinion: Adding needed homes won’t unduly burden water systems

The availability of potable water is not a reason to oppose development in drought-threatened California. The view that water should limit development is one of the false claims made by Not-In-My-Back-Yard organizations that want to stop the future. The NIMBY mantra that new development poses risks to the environment, that we will run out of water, is wrong. Less than 5 percent of annual water supply is used inside residences. There are many NIMBY organizations making these false claims, some with longstanding national stature.
-Written by Jim Larimer, a resident of Miramar.​

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

County’s fracking lawsuit also targets other oilfield regulatory actions

The lawsuit Kern County filed this week against Gov. Gavin Newsom is aimed at not only ending his de-facto ban on fracking but also at easing state regulatory constraints on at least two other oilfield techniques common locally. As part of its larger argument that the Newsom administration has overstepped its constitutional authority, Monday’s petition for a writ of mandate in Kern County Superior Court asserts Newsom had no right in 2019 to place a moratorium on high-pressure cyclic steaming or require extensive “area of review” analyses prior to approval of underground injections.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Assembly ends SB 559 hopes this year

The Valley’s best hope to renovate its water infrastructure has been put on the shelf for now. Senate Bill (SB) 559, the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021, was moved to the state Assembly’s “inactive file” on Sept. 8. … As written SB 559 offered a holisitic, statewide approach to help restore the conveyance capacity by created a fund to provide up to $785 million to repair key parts of the state’s water infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Utah’s water outlook slightly improved, but West remains in grip of long-term drought

Utah’s drought-induced water crisis has softened somewhat after a string of monsoons, but the state’s water supplies are far from safe, with reservoirs across the state falling below 40% full, state officials told lawmakers Tuesday. Only a massive snowpack this winter can assure adequate supplies going into next year, and even then, Utah’s water future remains uncertain in the face of long-term drought and climate change. In July the entire state was in extreme or exceptional drought and Utah’s two largest lakes hit their lowest levels ever.

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Aquafornia news City News Service

Nonprofit developing pilot to reduce daily water usage

A pair of environmental groups are developing a path for Los Angeles residents to conserve water with a goal of using just 13 gallons per day, down from the current California average of 86 gallons, officials said Tuesday. … the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles is partnering with the 50 Liter Home Coalition to develop a plan.

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Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Sierra Club threatens suit over ag land policy

A month after the Visalia City Council threw out a policy designed to prevent urban sprawl, the Sierra Club is threatening to sue the city over the change … requesting an injunction against implementation of the new policy, which does not include an ag mitigation policy (AMP). … The city attorney advised the General Plan could be “modified” due to changes in case law since 2014, such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which could affect the availability of water to some farmland within the city’s growth boundaries.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: New opportunities for trading surface water in the Sacramento Valley under SGMA

New groundwater agencies in the Sacramento Valley are currently finalizing plans to manage their groundwater basins for long-term balance, as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Successful stewardship demands good information not only about groundwater conditions, but also about surface water availability. To help build shared understanding of surface water for agriculture—the valley’s main water-using sector—we produced a new dataset showing how access to this vital resource varies across irrigated farmland in the Sacramento Valley and the Delta. 

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Marin County supes to vote on extending drought emergency declaration

As an ongoing water shortage that’s hurting ranchers and dairies in the North Bay, the Marin County Board of Supervisors will consider extending a local emergency declaration of drought conditions at its meeting Tuesday. Much of the state is facing parched conditions after two consecutive dry years and Marin County is no exception. The county’s two largest water suppliers, the Marin Municipal Water District and the North Marin Water District, have declared water shortage emergencies and put mandatory conservation measures in place.

Aquafornia news CBS Local San Francisco

Owner of Sonoma County quarry faces $4.5m fine for endangering salmon

Water quality regulators let a Sonoma County-based quarry know last week it could face a $4.5 million-fine for multiple alleged violations of the Clean Water Act that threaten the survival of endangered salmon populations in tributaries of the Russian River. The proposed fine from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is part of a legal proceeding known as an administrative civil liability that alleges the operator of Mark West Quarry, Dean Soiland, doing business as BoDean Co. Inc., discharged highly turbid stormwater from its quarry operations into Porter Creek from September 2018 through May 2019.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Weekly

Paiute tribe wins water rights victory; Truckee’s water overstretched

Pyramid Lake was a vital fishery for thousands of years, but the tribe had no legal rights to Truckee River water until 1908 when the U.S. Supreme Court determined that when the federal government established Indian reservations it implicitly reserved sufficient land and water to serve its purpose and that non-Indians could not interfere with a tribe’s reserved water. The precedent-setting decision also recognized prior appropriation rights for Western tribes.The court’s opinion gave the Paiute the most senior claims on Truckee River dating back to 1859 when land for the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation was first set aside.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Water begins flowing to the coast due to new county program

Water has begun trickling from Ukiah to Fort Bragg, and the county’s main task going forward is to scale up hauling to meet demand. The city of Fort Bragg announced Sept. 9 that it had received its first 5,000-gallon delivery of water from Ukiah and is expected to receive 10,000 gallons per day that will allow Fort Bragg to resume outside water sales after halting them in mid-July. The two certified water haulers on the coast can resume their water sales, too…

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

One Planet: CA Democrats fail to pass climate legislation as wells dry up

About 2,700 wells across the state are projected to go dry this year. If the drought continues, 1,000 more will go dry next year. In 2014, the California Legislature enacted a package of new laws that aimed to stop groundwater over-pumping, but as CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports seven years later, little has changed for Californians relying on drinking water wells. Depletion of their groundwater continues. Pumping is largely unrestricted, and there are few, if any, protections in place.

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Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: California budget — funding for fish, water, & people

The California Legislature released the final budget language late on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. CalTrout remains critical of the unnecessary delay in releasing critical budget items like emergency drought funding, wildfire relief, and climate resilience packages. As water curtailment orders go live throughout the state, the legislature is still waiting to officially approve these critical funding packages to combat the effects of climate during this year’s especially dry drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

A force beyond fire is still killing the forests – illicit black market grows

Four years after California created a legal, regulated marijuana industry that’s largely shepherded by contentious growers, its public lands continue to be decimated by criminal cultivators associated with Mexican drug cartels.  That much was clear as federal investigators ended several major probes over the summer, the incidents involving large-scale plant and wildlife destruction from the central to northern Sierra.

Aquafornia news Natural Gas Intelligence

News release: California’s request to burn natural gas OK’d by DOE as supply risks imminent

The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved a request by California’s electric grid operator to dispatch more than 200 MW of natural gas-fired generation capacity beyond currently permitted levels to compensate for projected shortfalls in power supply. … Due to the drought and abnormally high temperatures, CAISO “expects the wildfire season, which began early this year, to continue into November.” Wildfire threats “can cause sudden de-rates of transmission capability” and of generating facilities on the CAISO system …

Aquafornia news KUER - Salt Lake City

Federal agencies are ready to loosen protections on certain fish native to the Colorado River

The razorback sucker fish could be downlisted from an endangered species to threatened in the next year or so, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This week, environmental groups sent the agency a letter in opposition to the move. The letter argues the razorback sucker is still in trouble, despite recoveries it’s made in the last 30 years, which is when it was first listed as federally endangered. The fish is native to the Colorado River, which is facing historic shortages due to the west’s megadrought.

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Aquafornia news KNAU Arizona Public Radio

Deeper droughts possible in Southwest, scientists warn

The Colorado River Basin is enduring two decades of drought, and water shortages are on the horizon. But scientists say this isn’t the worst-case scenario. The region has undergone longer, deeper droughts in the past. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with paleoclimatologist Matt Lachniet of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas about how knowing the past can help us plan for a warmer, drier future.

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Aquafornia news NPR

Tensions over use of Klamath River basin’s water were magnified by drought

Many rely on the Klamath River Basin on the California border, especially with the historic drought in the West. Things got heated this summer between the area’s tribes and ranchers. … Over the past week, our colleagues over at The Indicator have been reporting on the historic drought in the West. They spent some time with ranchers on the front lines, including the Klamath River Basin. Sally Herships and Ashley Ahearn report.

Aquafornia news CA Water Boards

News release: State Water Board approves emergency curtailment regulation for Scott and Shasta Rivers

With climate change-induced drought causing critical low flows in the Scott and Shasta Rivers and threatening the survival of multiple fish species, the State Water Resources Control Board today approved an emergency curtailment regulation that includes measures to help maintain minimum flows to protect fish, ensure supplies for human health and livestock needs, and encourage voluntary efforts that may be used in lieu of curtailments.

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Aquafornia news Patch, Livermore

Livermore: Rebate increases for drought-resistant landscaping

The rebate for Livermore Municipal Water customers who install drought-resistant landscaping has increased. Owners of single-family homes are eligible to receive up to $2,000 for the conversion, according to the city. Owners of multi-family and commercial properties are eligible to get up to $6,000 back. The rebate will cover up to 50 percent of the cost.

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Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton council approves water rate hikes for PFAS treatment funding plan

Pleasanton water ratepayers can expect a bigger water bill in the future after the Pleasanton City Council unanimously approved a funding plan for final design of the city’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and wells rehabilitation project on Tuesday. … City officials are currently proceeding with the estimated $46 million project’s final design to address the detection of PFAS — synthetic chemicals found in common household items like paint and known to be harmful to humans — in the city’s wells. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Drought: Marin water utility weighs new fees for excessive use

The Marin Municipal Water District is considering whether to charge new penalties for high water users during the drought.  The proposal discussed by the district’s board this week would set varying caps on water use during the “summer” and “winter” billing periods. Ratepayers would be charged a fee for every 748 gallons used above that cap. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California groundwater pumping project can proceed, for now

Environmental groups failed to justify blocking the federal government from funding groundwater pumping in the Sacramento River Valley pending a preliminary injunction hearing, a federal court in California ruled. There’s no evidence that pumping will immediately occur without injunctive relief, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. And even if it did happen, there’s no evidence irreparable harm would occur between that time and the preliminary injunction hearing, Judge William B. Shubb said Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news Riverbank News

Irrigation districts join in State Water Board lawsuit

The Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have joined in a lawsuit challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority to prevent the two water agencies from diverting and storing Stanislaus River runoff in Donnells, Beardsley, New Melones and Tulloch Reservoirs. The state water board, in an emergency drought order issued Aug. 20, declared that OID, SSJID and 4,500 other water rights holders in California must immediately stop diverting water due to unprecedented drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

‘Eyes in the sky’ help police California water use

Michael George is not a spy — but he does use some of the same equipment. George, a gregarious talker, is a lawyer by trade, and in his current role as Delta watermaster he oversees the use of water in one of the country’s most contested waterways. The Delta in this case is the Sacramento-San Joaquin, a jumble of fertile land, diked islands, tidal flows, and meandering sloughs that is the heart of California’s engineered water system.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

After a dry year, water flows to Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge

For over a century, the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge has been crucial habitat for birds on their grueling annual migrations between destinations as distant as Alaska and Mexico. … For years, the refuge has been last in line for scarce water, after farmers and endangered fish. As the drought deepened and wetlands dried out, the lack of water led to massive outbreaks of avian botulism, killing tens of thousands of ducks, geese swans and other migratory water birds. … Last week, that water started flowing into the refuge.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Sen. John Laird joins Coastal Conservancy board

State Sen. John Laird, the former Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, has been appointed to a state agency charged with protecting and improving natural coastal lands. Laird will serve as one of six non-voting representatives of the state legislature to the Coastal Conservancy, after his appointment Wednesday by Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins. … Looming threats to the environment such as climate change-driven sea-level rise, an increasingly threatening drought cycle and other coastal access issues mean “it is time to get to work,” Laird is quoted in a release from his office.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Amid California drought, Santa Clara County’s water conservation isn’t going well

One of the largest water districts in the San Francisco Bay Area is falling dramatically short of water conservation goals amid extreme drought conditions across California. Santa Clara Valley Water declared a water shortage emergency in June with its reservoirs reaching historically low levels, requiring customers to reduce water use by 15% compared with 2019 levels. In July, the district fell short of the goal with residents only reducing water use levels by 6% compared to 2019 levels, according to newly available data first shared by the San Jose Mercury News.

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Aquafornia news El Paso Matters

Western rivers and the binational climate challenge

Both the Rio Grande and Colorado rivers shrunk in 2021, another bad water year in a two-decade megadrought brought on by a warming Western United States.  Demands on the rivers — from growing cities, agriculture, wildlife and international treaties — are hitting the reality of a reduced supply of water in both rivers. In August, federal officials declared the first-ever shortage on the Colorado River lower basin, triggering a plan to reduce water usage in several states and Mexico.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face mounting stress amid hard times

California farmers and ranchers have no shortages of stress this year. They face drought and water supply cuts, devastating wildfires and pandemic impacts. There are also labor shortages and financial pressures from fluctuating commodity prices or trade disruptions. These impacts inspire serious discussions in agricultural communities about looking after farmers’ mental health.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

State’s curtailment orders draw lawsuits from Modesto-area water users and San Francisco

The state’s curtailment of river diversions has drawn lawsuits from eight irrigation districts in and near Stanislaus County, along with San Francisco.  The three filings claim that the State Water Resources Control Board exceeded its authority with the Aug. 20 orders. The plaintiffs also said they did not get enough chance beforehand to make their cases for continued diversions.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State seeks public comments on draft groundwater management principles and strategies related to drinking water well impacts

The Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board have developed draft groundwater management principles and strategies to better anticipate and minimize the impacts of drought on drinking water wells. Developed in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s April Executive Drought Proclamation, the principles and strategies provide a framework for State actions to proactively address impacts on groundwater-dependent communities as droughts become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change. 

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Aquafornia news American Society of Civil Engineers

Blog: Desalination offers great promise, requires further research, panelists say

With much of California and other western U.S. states experiencing significant drought, the need to pursue further advancements in desalination has never been greater. This was a central theme of an Aug. 11 webinar, titled “Discussion on Desalination — Treatments, Research, and the Future,” conducted by the WateReuse Association. Historically, desalination has been viewed as a separate component within the water sector, but that perception is changing, said Peter Fiske, Ph.D., the executive director for the National Alliance for Water Innovation and one of three presenters featured during the webinar. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

California drought: Santa Clara County residents failing to meet water conservation goals

On June 9, as California’s historic drought deepened, the largest water agency in Santa Clara County declared a drought emergency and asked the county’s 2 million residents to cut water use by 15% from 2019 levels to preserve dwindling supplies. … But three months later, the public isn’t heeding the call. New water use numbers show that overall, Santa Clara County residents reduced water use by just 6% in July, compared with July 2019 — well short of the 15% target.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Growers hope groundwater markets provide flexibility

Some San Joaquin Valley farmers could someday have a new “crop” to sell —  their groundwater. In the face of looming groundwater pumping restrictions, some groundwater agencies are looking at internal markets to give growers a way to save water and still earn a profit.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Whitewater rafting and California water policy

Ironic how a whitewater rafting trip can be a great analogy for water policy work. Collaborating on water policy and water solution implementations in California is a productive pathway forward. Be it in a coalition, at your local farm, in your community, in the Legislature, in the Governor’s office, or when barreling towards rapids in a raft. Without collaboration, particularly in a dry year like 2021, we all may fail for fish, farmers, fowl, floodplains, and for safe drinking water.    

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Notice of funding opportunity for Central Valley Project Improvement Act fisheries habitat and facilities improvement now available

The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity for projects that enhance Chinook salmon and steelhead trout production and associated habitats in the Central Valley, consistent with the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Reclamation and the Service plan to award up to $40 million (subject to appropriations) in fiscal year 2022 through multiple grants or cooperative agreements to projects prioritized by the CVPIA Near-Term Restoration Strategy.

Aquafornia news KTLA

Toxic algae bloom reaches danger level at Merced County’s San Luis Reservoir

A bloom of toxic blue-green algae in a Central California reservoir has reached the danger level, the state Department of Water Resource said Tuesday. Lab results from this week’s tests showed an increase in toxin levels at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County, the department said. Boating is allowed but people and pets should avoid physical contact with the water and algal scum. Fish and shellfish from the lake should also be avoided.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Judge blocks California county water truck ban to Asian pot farmers

A federal judge has blocked a Northern California county’s ban on trucks delivering water to Hmong cannabis farmers, saying it raises “serious questions” about racial discrimination and leaves the growers without a source of water for basic sanitation, vegetable gardens and livestock. On Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller issued a temporary injunction against Siskiyou County’s prohibition on trucked-in water deliveries to Hmong farmers growing marijuana in the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision in the Big Springs area north of Weed.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Water arrives to Lower Klamath Refuge

The Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from the Klamath River to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge on Friday afternoon. Advocates hope it will improve wetland habitat on the refuge for migrating birds this fall.  Last week, California Waterfowl Association officially purchased approximately 3,750 acre-feet of water from Agency Ranch in the Wood River Valley, above Upper Klamath Lake, having announced the purchase and fundraising effort this spring. 

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Initiative would allocate two percent of state budget to water

There have been all kinds of efforts and money allocated to trying to solve California’s water woes. Now an organization states it has the solution — the 2 percent solution. In what it’s calling the 2 percent solution More Water Now is working to place an initiative on the November 2022 ballot that would require 2 percent of the state budget to be allocated to the state’s water resources. If placed on the ballot and approved the water abundance ballot initiative would set aside 2 percent of the state budget to water.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How drought, climate change impact California almond agriculture

First came the asparagus field. Then came the melons. And now Joe Del Bosque is considering the unthinkable: tearing out a sprawling almond orchard bursting with healthy, nut-producing trees. … Two decades of almost unrelenting growth vaulted almonds into the upper ranks of California agriculture. Now, though, the state’s $6 billion-a-year industry is being humbled by a devastating drought. Farmers have slowed the pace of new orchard plantings and, in a few cases, have plowed up trees still capable of bearing almonds.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Commission backs water district proposal

A proposed water district in northwestern Butte County won a split-vote endorsement from the Butte County Water Commission, after a lengthy public hearing. The commission voted 6-3 to recommend the Board of Supervisors support formation of the Tuscan Water District. Even though the vote was just advisory, there were two hours of public comment. When the supervisors take up the matter Sept. 14, their action will also just be advisory, as the Local Agency Formation Commission is the entity that will determine whether the district is formed.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Opinion: A test for California’s groundwater regulations in the megadrought

Record dry conditions once again in the West have led the federal and state governments to declare water supply shortages. California’s governor has declared that 50 counties, in which approximately 41% of the state’s population exists, are now under a drought state of emergency. This prompted the adoption of emergency regulations ordering water rights holders to curtail their water diversions on numerous northern California rivers.

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Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Calfornia North Coast illegal cannabis farms siphoning water amid drought

A bust of an illegal cannabis grow site within Sonoma Coast State Park has weeded out an even bigger problem for the North Bay suffering from a drought year — water theft. “Cannabis plants require so much water to grow,” California State Parks Cannabis Watershed Protection Program Assistant Chief Jeremy Stinson told the Business Journal, following his team uncovering the illegal grow site in Bodega Bay that netted two arrests, 1,500 plants, 1,000 pounds of trash, pollutants and water diversion lines. 

Aquafornia news Cupertino Today

Friday Top of the Scroll: San Jose submits plans for mandatory household water rationing

Earlier this summer, the Santa Clara Valley Water District declared a water shortage emergency and told its 13 retailers, including their largest retailer the San Jose Water Company, to cut water use 15% from 2019 levels, the most recent non-drought year…. The [San Jose Water] company has since submitted a plan to the California Public Utilities Commission that would require each of its residential customers to officially cut monthly water use by 15% from their 2019 levels, or face fines of $7.13 in surcharges for every additional unit of water used. The move could make San Jose the first major California city with water allotments and drought penalties.

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Aquafornia news Nossaman LLP

Blog: Navigable waters protection rule vacated

On August 30, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona vacated the April 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule in which the Trump Administration revised the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). The court is still weighing whether (a) to restore the Obama-era WOTUS rule, which more broadly defines jurisdictional areas; or (b) simply to undo the Trump rollback, which would result in a return to pre-Obama WOTUS regulations. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Repeal of county law prohibiting private operation of desal plants set for Sept. 21 discussion

Monterey County is the only county is California with a law that prohibits private companies from operating new desalination plants. That law, passed in 1989, will be up for a potential repeal when the county’s supervisors meet on Sept. 21. The law has been thrust into the spotlight as Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp., a publicly traded, $11 billion Canada-based company, has proposed construction of what could be a massive regional desalination plant in Moss Landing.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Weekly

Reclamation Act transforms water rights for Lake Tahoe, Truckee River

In January 1900, Nevada Congressman Francis Newlands sponsored a measure for the federal government to provide water for irrigation in arid regions throughout the western United States. The bill ran into resistance from politicians concerned about giving up state control of water to the federal government, but ultimately the most contentious issues were resolved and the law passed. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water suppliers cast 1st challenge to strict drought rules

Freshly cut off from their chief water supply, a group of California water agencies in one of the state’s most fertile farming areas sued on Wednesday to freeze the latest round of emergency drought rules. In a lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, the suppliers argue they were denied due process when state regulators ordered thousands of landowners last month to cease diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta due to drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Mesa University

New research: New report on interstate water compact lessons for Colorado

As a headwaters state, Colorado has many interstate compacts that set rules for how the state must share the rivers that originate within its borders with downstream states. On several of these rivers, water users have had to modify their water use to meet compact requirements. That day may be coming for the Colorado River.  A new report explores what Colorado River water users can learn from experiences with compact administration on other rivers.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

How Biden’s team rushed to dump a Trump-era PFAS assessment

Trump-era EPA appointees engaged in “considerable political level interference” on an assessment for a controversial “forever chemical,” documents obtained by E&E News indicate. But the Biden administration wasted no time in yanking that document, moving to scrub the assessment of alterations made by political appointees and restore language advocated by EPA career scientists shortly after the president’s inauguration. At issue is a toxicity assessment for PFBS, part of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances family.

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Aquafornia news Chamber Business News

Colorado River water users enter new phase of stewardship in face of long-anticipated cuts

For the first time in history, the federal government has declared a water shortage on the Colorado River, which serves as a lifeline to more than 40 million people in western states like Arizona and California.  States that are used to receiving substantial amounts of water from the river are going to be receiving considerable cuts in water availability. The river has served as a source of affordable hydraulic power and provides water for irrigation systems to countless farms in the region.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: City of Ukiah preparing to send water to the Mendocino coast

After the Ukiah City Council held a special meeting Monday, City of Ukiah officials announced Tuesday that they are preparing to deliver water to coastal communities such as the village of Mendocino. In a press release, Deputy City Manger said that the city staff are “working out planning, contracts and logistics to begin delivering water supplies by truck to coastal areas of Mendocino County.”

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Aquafornia news Daily News

Valley activists, residents head to Sacramento to demand cleanup of contaminated Santa Susana Field Lab

Environmental justice groups gathered Monday, Aug. 30, in front of the California EPA building in Sacramento, demanding cleanup of contaminated sites around the state … Organizers of the demonstration said the California Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Toxic Substances Control, the regulatory agency overseeing the investigation and cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at the SSFL, failed to hold polluters accountable, allowing them to walk away from cleaning contaminated sites often located in low-income and working-class communities.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Exasperated by drought, farmers could be critical in Newsom recall fight

Like many farmers across California, Zack Andrade’s business is being choked by an extraordinary two-year drought. Water cuts could soon erase about a quarter of the irrigation he depends on to grow leafy greens, carrots and beets on his family’s farm in the rolling hills south of Silicon Valley, near Morgan Hill. Andrade said the crisis has been made worse by successive governors, including Gavin Newsom, who he says have punted on damming rivers and building new reservoirs to help California store more water during wet years.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Fact sheet: California’s water market

In California’s water market, buyers and sellers trade water through short- and long-term leases as well as permanent sales of their water rights. Trading enhances flexibility in water management.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Sierra National Forest closures – Hazards near CA death site

Sierra National Forest closed numerous hiking trails, picnic areas and campgrounds, citing “unknown hazards found in and near the Savage Lundy Trail,” where a Mariposa family was mysteriously found dead two weeks ago. The closures went into effect Sunday and extend through Sept. 26. … The Sheriff’s Office previously said known harmful algal blooms along the south fork of the Merced River are among the many possible causes of death being considered in the case with “no smoking gun” clues. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Priced out and shut off: Tackling water affordability

Right now, Congress is debating needed investments in our water system decades in the making. While the Senate’s compromise bill passed earlier this month includes billions for lead pipe replacement and helping communities prepare for future drought and floods, the bill falls short of ensuring all families can turn their tap on and access safe, affordable water. … Some utilities are stepping up to help (both San Francisco Public Utilities and East Bay Municipal Utilities District have customer assistance programs) …
-Written by Michael McAfee, president and CEO of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute focused on advancing racial and economic equity, and Susana De Anda, co-founder and executive director of the Community Water Center, a nonprofit environmental justice organization based in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news KSBY- San Luis Obispo

Drought-stricken communities find creative ways to conserve water

As unprecedented drought conditions plague much of the West, reservoirs are running dry. Communities reliant on these sources for drinking water are tightening restrictions to preserve adequate supplies. … Located in California’s Wine Country, the city [of Healdsburg] implemented water restrictions in June to maintain its drinking water supply through 2021. The mandate cut water use by 40 percent, limiting individuals to 74 gallons a day. It also banned the use of sprinklers and drip irrigation.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Rare California red fox population listed as endangered

In the midst of a climate crisis in California, another species has been added to the endangered species list: the Sierra Nevada red fox, a subspecies of red foxes found only in California. With an estimated population of about 18 to 39, California’s distinct red fox population is now in critical danger of extinction, joining a list that includes the California condor and salt-marsh harvest mouse.

Aquafornia news The Fort Morgan Times

Water anti-speculation report from working group comes up short, critics say

Expect legislation next winter in the Colorado General Assembly that would seek to curb potential speculation in Colorado water. But whether water speculation actually poses a problem remains hotly debated. A report released Aug. 13 by a state work group charged with studying how to strengthen Colorado anti-water-speculation law identifies eight concepts to thwart possible water hoarding that should be studied further. One would eliminate or reduce the agricultural tax benefit for lands from which water is removed following a water rights purchase and transfer. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District scraps monthly billing idea

The Marin Municipal Water District has decided against switching from bimonthly to monthly billing cycles as a way to promote water conservation. At a meeting on Thursday, the district’s board decided the nearly $1.2 million in added costs yearly that would result from the change would be better spent on a larger effort to install wireless meters for all of its customers. … The idea to switch to monthly billing is not new, having been proposed and rejected in 2017 because of the costs. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Opinion: Feds encroach on state water rights

The little-known federal Bureau of Reclamation just made history by ordering some state governments to cut back their usage of water on the Colorado River due to a historic drought affecting the river basin. As a proud Coloradan, I was alarmed to see this unprecedented announcement since it signals the start of a new era of increased heavy-handedness in the federal government’s management of state matters.
-Written by Laura Williamson, political writer and a contributor for Young Voices.  

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Editorial: Wake-up call – California’s water is running out

Mandatory limits on water use are likely to be imposed in the near future on California residents, businesses and farms. Get ready. You can’t change the weather, which has deprived the state of its necessary rain and snowfall. But you can change your response. After examining the state’s shockingly low reservoirs, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters recently that a statewide limit on water use may be needed to head off a supply crisis caused by California’s historic drought, which continues to worsen.

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Aquafornia news Patch, Campbell, CA

Santa Clara County limits water handouts for homeless residents

Some activists claim the county is no longer providing them water to take to homeless encampments—a service offered over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gail Osmer, an advocate for houseless communities, said throughout the pandemic she’s gotten multiple cases of water from the county Office of Supportive Housing to distribute. But earlier this month, she says the county refused to give her water, citing too many requests. In an email to Osmer, a county worker said water is only being given out during “inclement weather activations”—such as certain days with extremely hot temperatures.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Coalition calls for California to require only near-lead-free faucets for sale 

Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, partnered with a coalition of community health experts Thursday, Aug. 26 to garner support for a proposed law that would cut the legal limit of lead leaching from plumbing fixtures for sale by more than half. Lead is a highly toxic metal especially dangerous to kids and youth whose body and brains are still growing. Even low levels can stunt children’s physical, intellectual and behavioral development, according to Alice Kuo, a professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at UCLA. 

Aquafornia news City News Group, Inc.

‘Valley District’ lowers property tax rate for constituents

After twenty years at or above the current level, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District Board of Directors voted to lower its property tax rate. Valley District, a wholesale water provider and State Water Contractor, is required to set a property tax rate each fiscal year for the debt service fund on its State Water Contract.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: New proposals to improve permitting for ecosystem restoration work

Substantial work occurs in the Sacramento Valley every year on projects to develop and enhance habitat for the region’s terrestrial and aquatic species.  In-stream salmon recovery projects, Pacific Flyway habitat improvements, floodplain reactivation and many other types of habitat projects all require environmental permits to be implemented.  There is general recognition that the work necessary to acquire these permits greatly increases the time and cost to get the projects done.  

Aquafornia news EcoWatch

Blog: EPA takes action to protect Pacific salmon from pesticides

Extreme heat waves have made this a devastating summer for the endangered salmon species of the U.S. West Coast. In mid July, California wildlife officials warned that almost all of the young Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River would likely die because of lower water levels and higher water temperatures. … But, amidst all the catastrophic headlines was a cool spring of good news. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally acting to protect more than two dozen endangered West Coast salmon and steelhead species from pesticides.

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Aquafornia news Politico

‘This is a lose-lose’: Drought, wildfires complicate Biden’s California water plans

As climate-driven drought and wildfires rage in California, the Biden administration is struggling to navigate the hard politics that come with deciding who gets access to the state’s precious — and dwindling — water supplies. … Now the Biden administration is delaying action on the fundamental question at the heart of California’s long-running water wars: How much water should be reserved for species protections, at the expense of the state’s powerful agricultural industry?

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Aquafornia news NBC News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Western lawmakers call on Biden, FEMA to declare drought disaster

Congressional leaders are calling on President Joe Biden to declare a drought disaster in the West as record temperatures and historic wildfires batter multiple states. In letter, Reps. Joe Neguse of Colorado and Jared Huffman of California, Democrats whose districts have been ravaged by drought and wildfires, ask Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to release additional resources to aid Western communities faced with water cuts as supplies rapidly dwindle.

Aquafornia news Imperial Beach News

Three options to deal with border pollution presented at USMCA meeting

In 2020 the U.S. government through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) committed $300 million in The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement to identify infrastructure solutions to mitigate the transboundary pollution. Infrastructure solutions for transboundary flows from the Tijuana River have been studied for the past year. The Environmental Protection Agency, which has been tasked with creating solutions, originally proposed 10 possible projects. 

Aquafornia news KCRA

Sacramento City Council votes to declare Stage 2 ‘Water Alert’ amid ongoing drought

The Sacramento City Council voted on Tuesday to declare a Stage 2 ‘Water Alert’ meant to help reduce the pressure on the Folsom Reservoir and Lower American River amid the state’s ongoing drought. During a meeting Tuesday evening, city council also voted to support the Regional Water Authority’s resolution calling for a 15% voluntary water conservation from residents. The decision is in alignment with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request in July for residents and businesses to voluntarily curb water use as the state’s drought conditions worsen.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: Sierra County mine agrees with U.S. EPA to install wastewater treatment, protecting local waterways

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Sixteen to One Mine, one of California’s oldest operational gold mines, has agreed to an Administrative Order on Consent requiring the mine to install a new treatment system that will remove pollutants from mine drainage before entering local waters. The mine was found to be in violation of its permit under the U.S. Clean Water Act after consistently discharging mine-influenced water that exceeded limits on pollutants. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Delta curtailments update – California State Water Resources Control Board’s emergency regulations are adopted; curtailment orders issued to 4,500 delta water users

As discussed in our July 28, 2021, Policy Alert, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) recently adopted the Draft Emergency Reporting and Curtailment Regulation (Regulation), to authorize curtailments of water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta).  The Regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and became effective on August 19, 2021.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

Newsom recall could mean a seismic shift for conservation

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recall election in mid-September, should he lose, will very likely terminate the floundering politician’s career. A late-term gubernatorial replacement would also mean a potentially major shift in California environmental policies. … Budget spending … could be directed away from hundreds of conservation projects that are tentatively scheduled to begin, and directors of wildlife, water, and resource agencies who were appointed by Newsom would almost certainly be replaced.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Board balances farmers, fish in watershed action

A state drought curtailment regulation, adopted last week for the Klamath River watershed, calls for minimum instream flows but also incorporates potential voluntary actions to achieve water savings to help fish and keep farmers farming. Montague rancher Ryan Walker, president of the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, said the State Water Resources Control Board took a balanced approach in making its decision.

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Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Top 10 biggest environmental wins in California’s history

California is generally known as an environmental leader, but the state has also faced tremendous environmental degradation and destruction. I chronicled my “top 10” worst environmental decisions in the state’s history last year. But what about the good things state policy makers have done? Here is my list of the most significant environmental wins in California since the state’s founding. 

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency

News release: Groundwater agency encourages public to provide feedback on draft groundwater sustainability plan 

The Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency announced it will hold its final in-person workshop on Aug. 25 for residents to provide their input on a draft plan for long-term management of the local groundwater basin. The workshop is the last in-person opportunity for the public to ask questions and weigh in on issues and proposed projects and management actions designed to protect the basin from overuse.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pacific Grove passes ordinance not allowing new water hookups

In less than a month, a new Pacific Grove ordinance will prohibit any new water hookups despite having been granted earlier water entitlements by the state. The ordinance is set to take effect in mid-September. In 2017 Pacific Grove’s Local Water Project came online. It processes wastewater to irrigate the Pacific Grove Golf Links and the El Carmelo Cemetery. In November 2015 the state water board approved $2.3 million in grant funding and $5.4 million in low-interest loan financing for the project.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Corning council to consider drought declaration

The City Council Tuesday will discuss whether Corning needs to declare stage one drought conditions in the city, which would require asking residents to reduce their everyday water usage by 15 percent. The city’s staff is asking the council to implement the voluntary measure. The city will encourage residents to use native plants or water-conserving vegetation, use efficient landscaping systems, water during the evening and early morning to reduce evaporation and practice water-reducing methods in households.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: California water woes offer 3 big lessons for Arizona

Arizona has water issues. But they are not nearly as deep or widespread as those pummeling northern California. Some areas there are facing mandatory 40% cuts in use. In Redwood Valley, residents have been asked to live on 55 gallons a day – barely enough to take a bath and flush the toilet a few times. Meanwhile, thousands of farmers and others – even those with senior water rights – have been barred from diverting water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. As have irrigators along the Klamath River near the Oregon border, which also is seeing massive numbers of fish die.
-Written by Joanna Allhands, Arizona Republic columnist. 

Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Report: Management of the Colorado River: water allocations, drought, and the federal role

The Colorado River Basin covers more than 246,000 square miles in seven U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California) and Mexico. Pursuant to federal law, the Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) manages much of the basin’s water supplies. Colorado River water is used primarily for agricultural irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I) uses; it is also important for hydropower production, fish and wildlife, and recreational uses. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video - Advancing ecosystem restoration with smarter permitting

California’s ecosystems play an essential role in protecting the state’s water supply, minimizing unwanted flooding, and sequestering carbon—among many other benefits. But the unintended consequences of more than a century of water and land development—compounded by the impacts of a changing climate—are pushing many of these ecosystems to the breaking point. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Megadrought to pit fish lives against human needs in U.S. West

Water cuts aimed at farmers amid the West’s megadrought have set the stage for bitter legal and political fights over one of the most overlooked water uses—the right of water to remain in streams to sustain fish and endangered species, lawyers say. The drought is poised to call that right into question, pitting drinking water providers and food growers against conservationists who want to keep streams wet so that fish can survive. … The Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation this week announced a first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River Basin …

Aquafornia news Mercury News

How San Jose could become the first major California city with water budgets and drought penalties

Highlighting the deepening drought, San Jose could soon become the largest city in California where residents are given monthly allotments of water with financial penalties for exceeding them. San Jose Water Company, a private utility that provides water to 1 million people in and around San Jose, has filed a plan with state regulators that would require each of its residential customers to cut monthly water use by 15% from their 2019 levels and pay $7.13 in surcharges for every unit of water they use above that amount. The rules are a possible precursor for similar limits in other communities across the state, experts said.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: State orders 4,500 cities, farms to stop drawing river water, including San Francisco

California regulators began cracking down on water use in the sprawling Sacramento River and San Joaquin River watersheds on Friday, ordering 4,500 farmers, water districts and other landowners, including the city of San Francisco, to stop drawing water in the basins — or face penalties of up to $10,000 a day. The move comes as the state slides deeper into an extraordinary two-year drought. Lakes, streams and rivers no longer have enough water for everyone who is taking it, and dwindling supplies must be rationed, state regulators say.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Tension over new development rises amid water scarcity in Healdsburg

The way Brigette Mansell sees it, the drastic water conservation measures already required of those who live in Healdsburg make it obvious the city needs to stop and think about how much more it can grow. Development of luxury housing and hotels that cater to tony visitors and part-time residents — who may not be as invested in the community’s well-being — defies logic, she says. Mansell, a former Healdsburg councilwoman and mayor, and other like-minded residents support continued efforts to provide affordable housing in the town.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Biden moves to blunt Trump water permitting rule

EPA laid out a path for states and tribes to take more time to negotiate and tackle challenges before signing off on water permits — an attempt to defang a controversial Trump-era rule that allows only a year to approve or deny permits for utilities and oil and gas pipelines. Sources say the move is an attempt by the Biden administration to mitigate the adverse effects of the Trump water rule finalized last year that’s still on the books while showing sensitivity to advocates fighting the proliferation of fossil fuel projects.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘I don’t believe anyone is safe’: drought rules spark accusations of racism in California outpost

“I love the smell of diesel power in the afternoon. It smells like victory.” The line, a play on the quote from the Vietnam war movie Apocalypse Now, is the first uttered in a July video by Doug LaMalfa, the US congressman for Siskiyou county. In the background, bulldozers are destroying what appears to be a field with marijuana plants. LaMalfa’s video was a response to a call from the Siskiyou county sheriff, who had invited citizens in this remote region in northern California to help his department in the fight against illegal marijuana grows.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Editorial: Newsom must not play politics with his response to California’s water shortage

When it comes to water supplies in California and the U.S. Southwest, the news has been remarkably grim in recent weeks. One story detailed how inn owners in Mendocino County — which has no municipal water system — were begging guests not to use showers because their wells had dried up. Another noted that for the first time ever, the federal government had declared a Colorado River water shortage. The river’s large adjacent reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, provide water to 40 million residents of California and six other Western states. 

Aquafornia news Stockholm Environment Institute

New research: A new SEI tool sheds light on one of the world’s most complicated water systems

California policymakers are now able to model reported water use easily and quickly in any basin in the state thanks to a new SEI tool. The tool, developed for the California State Water Resources Control Board, captures data from the Electronic Water Rights Information Management System (eWRIMS). It then analyses the data to provide users with a monthly water use estimate for every water right in any given watershed. The tool, known as the eWRIMS Analyzer, also flags missing and erroneous data.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS – California farmers ordered to slash water use or face big fines

Water regulators on Friday formally ordered thousands of farmers across California to cut back their water use this summer or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. The State Water Resources Control Board began sending formal “curtailment notices” to the holders of 4,500 water rights permits that allow them to pull water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries.

Aquafornia news Crosscut

Fish struggle to survive as water issues worsen in Klamath Basin

Another dry year is the last thing the suckers need. Two species of the bottom-feeding sucker fish that inhabit the Upper Klamath Lake and nearby rivers are struggling to survive after a century of water management in the Klamath Basin has all but drained the wetlands ecosystem where these fish once thrived. … Now, the suckers are on the brink of extinction. During the past century, wetlands surrounding Upper Klamath Lake were converted to farmland, while waters from the basin were allocated to irrigators.

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Tour Nick Gray

Headwaters Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 9

Thirty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. 

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.

Aquafornia news NBC 7 San Diego

California drought could lead to mandatory water restrictions reinstated statewide

Even on an overcast, dewy day at the beach, drought conditions are of concern. In July, Governor Gavin Newsom urged everyone across the state to cut their water use by 15%, but some water experts say that may not be enough. …  According to NOAA’s Drought Monitor Map, most of California is under extreme drought. San Diego County is listed as moderate. For the first time ever, the federal government declared a water shortage in San Diego’s largest water source (66%) — the Colorado River — triggering mandatory water consumption cuts for states in the Southwest.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Are Southern California drought water restrictions coming?

Unlike other parts of the state, Southern California has avoided the worst of the drought-inspired water restrictions because of ample supplies. But that could be changing. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday issued a supply alert, calling on the region to conserve vital resources and prepare for continued drought. Here’s a breakdown of what this means and what the coming months could see…

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Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Opinion: It’s too bad Josh Harder isn’t in Sacramento instead of Congress

Not only does the Turlock-native Congressman refrain from partisan politics for the most part, although those who don’t understand why a Democrat would vote for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker as opposed to Kevin McCarthy will argue that point, but Harder knows a drought when he sees one. The second term 10th District congressman in late July noted that California is in dire straits. Harder pointed out the reservoirs we rely on are at a lower point now than they were at the depth of the last drought that ended in 2019.
-Written by Turlock Journal columnist Dennis Wyatt. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Rejuvenating our lands – Healthy soils in the Sacramento Valley

With an increasing focus on the multiple benefits of healthy soils, the Budget Act of 2021 recently appropriated $50 million in one-time funding from the General Fund to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for implementation of the Healthy Soils Program and $40 million for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) to reduce greenhouse gases and save water. The CDFA’s Healthy Soils Initiative promotes the development of innovative farm and land management practices that increase water retention and infiltration …

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom says mandatory statewide water restrictions for California may be on the way

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that he may put mandatory water restrictions in place in as soon as six weeks from now as the state’s historic drought continues to worsen. … Asked if he was going to require cities to meet mandatory water conservation targets, as former Gov. Jerry Brown did statewide during the last drought from 2012 to 2016, Newsom noted that he already called for 15% voluntary conservation, but that could change soon.

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Aquafornia news KLAS

I-Team: Top water users in the Las Vegas valley revealed

The I-Team has learned a federal water shortage declaration on the Colorado River is expected on Monday. That would trigger some mandatory cutbacks. Lake Mead, where we get 90% of our water, is at record low levels right now. Valley residents are urged to conserve water. Now, the I-Team is taking a look at residents who are considered to use the most.

Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

Law firms target Hyperion over foul smells, sewage release

Several law firms are moving to sue Los Angeles and the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant over the foul smells and water pollution caused by the emergency release of 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the ocean last month. The Bloom Law and Parris Law firms jointly filed a claim for damages — the first step toward a potential class-action lawsuit — in early August on behalf of at least a dozen residents. A second group of about 20 families, represented separately by attorney Abraham Sandoval, is expected to submit its claims within the next week.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Water regulators investigating illegal siphoning of Russian River

As farms and communities along the Russian River feel the brunt of the worsening drought, state regulators suspect that some people have been siphoning off water illegally. … It seems that some of the water released is not getting all the way down to Healdsburg, and state regulators think some people up river might be cheating.

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Conservation groups press Congress to restore migratory bird protections

Conservation groups are pushing for passage of a bill in Congress that would revive migratory bird protections dropped during the Trump administration. Last year, Trump’s Fish and Wildlife Service lifted a rule, which said companies that kill birds in the course of business, called an incidental take, would have to change their practices and/or pay for habitat restoration somewhere else. Jason Rylander, senior endangered species counsel for Defenders of Wildlife, said the Migratory Bird Protection Act of 2021 would reinstate those requirements, and not a moment too soon.

Aquafornia news Politico

Drought forces first water cuts on the Colorado River. They’re just the beginning

A two-decade-long megadrought along the Colorado River is pushing seven Western states and parts of Mexico into a formal shortage declaration, forcing water delivery cuts to the Southwest that are just the beginning of the pain climate change promises to bring to the region. Climate scientists and water managers have long seen this declaration coming, but what’s alarming them is the speed with which the hot and dry conditions over the past four years have shrunk the river’s two main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, to levels not seen since they were first filled.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald and News

California Water Board adopts minimum flow requirements for Scott, Shasta rivers

Relief may be soon be arriving to salmon imperiled by exceptionally low flows in the Scott and Shasta rivers this summer. The California State Water Resources Control Board adopted regulations Tuesday to limit irrigation diversions and groundwater pumping in both watersheds, which produce a significant proportion of the Klamath Basin’s salmon populations.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Advancing ecosystem restoration with smarter permitting: case studies from California

California’s ecosystems form the bedrock of the state’s wellbeing and prosperity. Yet many of these ecosystems—which are vitally important to the state’s water supply, agriculture, wildlife, and economy—are in dire health. Climate change and accelerating biodiversity loss threaten to further disrupt these natural systems and the benefits they provide. While the state urgently needs to speed the pace of ecosystem restoration, such projects often find themselves mired in regulations that were originally intended to prevent environmental destruction.

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: State Water Board issues emergency regulations for curtailments in Delta watershed

The State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) issued emergency regulations on August 3, 2021, authorizing Board staff to curtail diversions and require informational reporting from water users in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed (“Delta Emergency Regulations”). The regulations, which are expected to be finalized by the Office of Administrative Law in the coming days, set parameters for information gathering and determination of supply and demand in the watershed as well as the issuance of curtailment orders upon determination of water unavailability. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: To restore California’s ecosystems, we must adopt smarter permitting

California’s ecosystems underpin the state’s economy: They nurture and protect the state’s water supply, shorelines, agriculture, fisheries and wildlife. But many of these ecosystems are in dire health, and climate change is now accelerating the loss of biodiversity already underway. Ecosystem degradation is having ripple effects across the state. Severe problems with water supply dwindling populations of native wildlife, and the critical need to better manage and store carbon require urgent and large-scale action.
-Written by Letitia Grenier, program director at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow at the PPIC’s Water Policy Center. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: San Luis Reservoir algal bloom increases to warning level

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is urging the public to avoid contact with water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County until further notice due to blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). Boating is allowed, but swimming and other water-contact recreation and sporting activities are not considered safe due to potential adverse health effects. O’Neill Forebay remains at caution advisory. For more information on caution and warning level advisories, go to Harmful Algal Bloom website under Advisory Signs.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River shortage will bring water cuts for Arizona farmers

The federal government on Monday declared a first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, announcing mandatory cutbacks next year that will bring major challenges for Arizona farmers and reduce the water allotments of Nevada and Mexico. The declaration of a shortage by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been anticipated for months and was triggered by the spiraling decline of Lake Mead, which stores water used by Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California, Oregon have avoided another water rebellion

Anti-government activists seemed primed for a violent clash with federal authorities this summer in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border. The federal Bureau of Reclamation had shut off water for most of the region’s 1,400 farms, denying access to the same irrigation canal in Klamath Falls, Ore., where during a drought two decades earlier, activists tried to pry open its headgates and clashed with U.S. marshals. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: Why drought should have California’s almond, alfalfa farmers deeply worried

Like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — arid nations with limited water supplies — California should consider banning or limiting the cultivation of water-intensive crops. At a time of severe water shortages, it makes sense to end the cultivation for export of crops like almonds and alfalfa, a plant mostly used to feed cows. Where does the world get 80 percent of its almonds? The Golden State. Where does Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (and Japan and China) get much of their alfalfa? You guessed it. California.
-Written by San Diego U-T columnist Chris Reed.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

Climate change hits sushi supply chain amid California water war

If you’ve eaten sushi anywhere in the U.S., chances are the rice came from California’s Sacramento Valley. Fritz Durst, a sixth-generation farmer, has grown the grain and other crops there for more than four decades. But this year, amid a historic drought, Durst is planting only half as many acres of rice as usual. … Farmers like Durst would be having an even worse year if it weren’t for water siphoned from the Sacramento River to irrigate fields. Those diversions, though, have dire consequences for another part of the sushi supply chain: The salmon industry. 

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Delta water cutbacks weigh on farmers

Organic farmer Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood walks through rows of his aromatic stone fruit orchard, showing off sweet nectarines that thrive in the microclimate and rich soils in his corner of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Weighing on his mind is the drought  … Courchesne is among several thousand water rights holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta watershed who could have supplies shut off in response to drought emergency curtailment regulations adopted last week by the State Water Resources Control Board.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Salmon need greater share of river water to survive

Amid extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking for statewide conservation of 15%, farmers are facing cutbacks in water deliveries, and a mass die-off of salmon is expected. Drought affects us all, so our response must improve the natural systems that make our water, air and food — our existence — possible. The State Water Resources Control Board has taken the rare drastic step of adopting emergency regulations to curtail diversions of water rights holders when water is not available. 
-Written by Sandi Matsumoto, director of The Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program, and Julie Zimmerman, the lead freshwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy in California.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

First water cuts in US West supply to hammer Arizona farmers

A harvester rumbles through the fields in the early morning light, mowing down rows of corn and chopping up ears, husks and stalks into mulch for feed at a local dairy. The cows won’t get their salad next year, at least not from this farm. There won’t be enough water to plant the corn crop. Climate change, drought and high demand are expected to force the first-ever mandatory cuts to a water supply that 40 million people across the American West depend on — the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news IV Press

Opinion: Drought, border surge incompatible

Just as the National Weather Service predicts no relief in sight, neither do population analysts foresee a reduction of the numbers of new arrivals that will drink, cook with, bathe in, irrigate or flush with the increasingly scarce water normally available for everyday activities. … Whether California residents heed Newsom or whether visitors pay attention to their lodgings’ pleas to consume less water is beyond anyone’s control. But controlling the millions of future water consumers pouring across the Southwest border is well within the federal government’s power.
-Written by Joe Guzzardi, an analyst with Progressives for Immigration Reform. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Local group files papers in fight over Kern River

A new player has entered the legal fray over the Kern River — the public. Actually, it’s a consortium of Bakersfield and other nonprofit, public interest groups that hope to sway the state Water Resources Control Board to, ultimately, re-water the mostly dry Kern River through town. The Flowing Kern Coalition made its debut Tuesday when it filed a notice of intent to appear at an upcoming proceeding on the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Indian Wells water battle

Two motions to block the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s groundwater replenishment fee were shot down in court this week. Judge Kirk H. Nakamura of Orange County Superior Court granted motions filed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to dismiss two separate actions filed by Searles Valley Minerals and Mojave Pistachios. The actions were aimed at stopping the collection of the groundwater replenishment fee, which was imposed last January to fund the cost of securing rights to water to bring to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

State again exercises discretion to reject fracking permits in western Kern

For the second time, State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk has used his discretionary authority, as opposed to technical standards, to reject a series of permit applications to use the controversial oilfield technique known as fracking. Ntuk sent a letter Monday to Bakersfield-based oil producer Aera Energy LLC saying he has reviewed and denied applications filed by the company to hydraulically fracture 14 wells in the South Belridge oil field in western Kern County.

Aquafornia news jfleck at inkstain

Blog: Sources of controversy in the Law of the River – Larry MacDonnell

As we lumber toward a renegotiation of the operating rules on the Colorado River, one of the challenges folks in basin management face is the differing understandings of the Law of the River. There’s stuff we all know, or think we know, or stuff Lower Basin folks think they know that Upper Basin people may disagree with, and stuff Upper Basin folks think they know that Lower Basin people may disagree with.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Why is the Delta starving?

The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is one of the most-studied ecosystems in the world—and one of the most degraded. We spoke with PPIC Water Policy Center adjunct fellow and senior scientist emeritus James Cloern about his new study, which estimates just how much primary production (the largely photosynthesis-driven process that forms the base of the Delta’s food chain) has been lost—and how the state might restore some of it. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA water district accused of improper diversions from canals

An obscure farm-irrigation agency in the San Joaquin Valley, the Panoche Water District has been struggling with a monumental scandal the past three years, with top officials under criminal indictment for embezzling public funds and illegally dumping toxic waste. It turns out the district has also been allegedly taking water from the federal government. Earlier this year Panoche agreed to pay the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation nearly $7.5 million to compensate for “unauthorized diversion of water” from two federal canals, according to a settlement agreement obtained by The Bee. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Late nights, early mornings await Senate on infrastructure

Senators were laboring Sunday toward eventual passage of a  $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, resigned to stay as long as it takes to overcome Republican holdouts who want to drag out final votes on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities. The bill has won widespread support from senators across the aisle and promises to unleash billions of dollars to upgrade roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems undergirding the nation. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation and state of California announces negotiation with Central Valley Project Cross Valley contractors

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a public negotiation session with seven Cross Valley contractors on a long-term conveyance contract for delivery of federal Central Valley Project water through state-owned facilities. Reclamation, DWR, and the contractors have previously entered into successive, short-term interim renewal contracts pursuant to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which included both federal water service and state conveyance terms and conditions. 

Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: Biden Administration begins process of revising Waters of the U.S. rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced on Aug. 4, 2021, the start of a long anticipated rulemaking process to revise the regulatory definition of “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).1 The WOTUS Rule sets forth the geographic reach of the agencies’ authority to regulate streams, wetlands and other water bodies pursuant to the CWA.

Aquafornia news ABC News

Lawn renovations could play major role in conserving water in West, experts say

Lawmakers and water utilities in the West are urging residents to conserve water as reservoirs hit record lows amid climate change-driven megadrought. Among the calls to action is a reminder for residents to make choices that lessen use of municipal water when it comes to maintaining landscaping in desert surroundings. About 30% of water usage for the average American family is used for the outdoors, such as watering lawns and gardens, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

California curtails Russian River water rights as Lake Mendocino level drops

In the hopes of having at least 20,000 acre-feet of water remaining in Lake Mendocino by Oct. 1, the California State Water Resources Board this week ordered about 1,500 water rights holders to stop diverting water from the Russian River. However, if the current rate of outflow from the reservoir continues, the lake could reach 20,000 acre-feet by Aug. 23, said Elizabeth Salomone, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control & Water Conservation Improvement District.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: California drought – Santa Clara County residents falling far short of water conservation target

When it comes to California’s worsening drought, Santa Clara County residents are falling far short in conserving water. On June 9, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the county’s main wholesale water provider, declared a drought emergency and asked all 2 million county residents to cut water use by 15% from 2019 levels as local reservoirs dropped alarmingly and state and federal water agencies reduced water deliveries. But new numbers out Friday show that instead of hitting the 15% target, residents saved 0% in June — essentially using the same amount of water as they did in June 2019.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Young farmers lose hope as drought closes in: ‘It’s like a sad country song’
America’s water crisis

They are land rich and resource poor. Most have hundreds of acres of fertile soil, some thousands, but little money in the bank and – most importantly – no water. Now the young farmers of the Klamath Basin, an agricultural community on the border of Oregon and California, fear they might be the last generation of their kind. … The area has struggled with water scarcity for years – but this year has been unlike any other. Amid a historic drought, in May the federal government cut off all irrigation to farmers for the first time in more than a century…

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Point Reyes elk: Judge denies request for emergency food, water

A federal judge has denied a request by environmental groups to require the Biden administration to immediately provide food and water for the largest herd of tule elk in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The groups, represented by Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Clinic, allege the National Park Service failed to provide adequate resources at the Tomales Point Tule Elk Preserve, which lost 152 elk between the winters of 2019-2020 and 2020-21. The herd is now below 300 animals.

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

California salmon: ‘Witnessing the Collapse’

A deeply troubled group of high-ranking state officials, tribal leaders, environmentalists and fishermen met July 27 to discuss the triple whammy that is threatening some species of Pacific salmon with extinction — a combination of record-breaking heat, drought and disastrous federal water policies — particularly those of the Trump administration, which drained mountain reservoirs of cold water, sending it to the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

President Joe Biden’s agriculture secretary touched down in Fresno. Here’s what he saw

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stressed innovation and collaboration Thursday as he visited a Fresno County farm dealing with California’s drought. … Vilsack’s visit comes the same week the State Water Resources Control Board imposed an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Rare California water restrictions hit farmers amid dire shortages

Regulators on the water resources control board, which oversees the allocation of the state’s water, voted unanimously on Tuesday to stop diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a vast watershed sprawling from Fresno to the Oregon border. … But the timing of the order, which will take effect in two weeks, could spare many growers from hardship as the greatest agricultural demand on the watershed tends to fall in late spring and summer …The order, which could affect as many as 5,700 water rights holders, includes exceptions for uses such as drinking, sanitation and generating electricity. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Groups fail to block logging in California’s wine country

Gualala Redwood Timber LLC can proceed with its logging project in California, a federal court in the state ruled after agreeing with the company that one plaintiff already challenged the environmental impacts of the project in state courts. Friends of Gualala River and the Center for Biological Diversity argued the Dogwood Timber Harvesting Plan that authorized logging in a private forest on the border of Sonoma County threatened four protected species. The species include the California red-legged frog, northern spotted owl, the Northern California steelhead, and the California Central Coast Coho salmon. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

In a summer scarred by heat, drought and fire, adaptation becomes a necessity

In the vast tract of wilderness that is the Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota, kayakers still ply the glasslike surface. But they do so beneath a smoke-clogged sky, with no campfires to warm them on chilly summer nights. In California’s wine country, backyard gardeners still harvest lush tomatoes and nurture feathery lavender. But they must use water recycled from sinks and showers, risking hefty fines should they dare run the hose amid crushing drought.

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Aquafornia news Politico

Colorado River: A watershed moment

A “mega-drought” across the Southwest will force the federal government to declare a water shortage on the Colorado River this month. The decision would be historic for the watershed, which serves 40 million people in seven states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. The river system provides irrigation that turns desert into farmland and is an important source of drinking water and hydroelectric power.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Huichica Creek demonstration vineyard teaches growers to monitor, manage water use in irrigation

When Miguel Garcia was a child in small-town Mexico, he and those around him were constantly looking forward to escaping the farmland. But now, after earning his Masters degree and Ph.D., Garcia is right back in the fields teaching farmers how to preserve water while producing their grapes. And honestly, he isn’t mad about getting back to his roots. The conversation surrounding water use in California is certainly not a new one, but in recent years, the Napa County Resource Conservation District has been running a program geared specifically toward growers and their irrigation patterns …

Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

No more water to support water rights along the Russian River

Unprecedented drought conditions have forced state water regulators to take the drastic step of officially suspending water rights along the Russian River.   Sam Boland-Brien with the state water board said conditions have continued to worsen in the Russian River watershed and the orders formally direct those who have longtime permission to divert water from the Russian River to stop, because there is no longer enough water to support their water right.   

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Trinidad declares drought emergency, says water conservation is necessary and may become mandatory

The Water Committee of the City of Trinidad has announced a drought notice for its residents. Trinidad draws about 2 million gallons of surface water each month from Luffenholtz Creek and processes it for about 323 water customers. Surface water flow of the creek has been steadily decreasing since June. … If creek water flow were to decrease further, mandatory restrictions of water use would be enforced.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Public good achieved through agricultural regulations warrants public support

Many agricultural regulations are implemented as a safety mechanism to help provide some measure of protection to the environment. These efforts generally provide a public good to the community at large. However, farmers and ranchers are responsible for covering the cost of compliance with these types of regulations. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Lynn Hamilton suggests that more public support is warranted in helping producers cover these costs.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California farmers cut off from rivers in emergency drought order

California regulators cut off thousands of farmers from their main irrigation supplies Tuesday, banning them from pulling water from the state’s main rivers and streams as the drought worsens. The State Water Resources Control Board, following hours of debate and comment, voted 5-0 to impose an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley. It’s the most dramatic step taken to date by state regulators since the drought was officially declared in most of California’s counties — and surpasses any of the moves made during the previous drought. 

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Aquafornia news Reuters

19 AGs to EPA: Roll back Trump’s clean-water rule ASAP

A coalition of 19 attorneys general led by California, Washington and New York urged the Environmental Protection Agency in a letter to repeal a Trump-era rule that they say curtails their authority to deny permits for projects that could harm their waterways.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: EPA and Army announce next steps for crafting enduring definition of Waters of the United States

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army announced plans for upcoming community engagements to inform their efforts to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) to better ensure clean and safe water for all. EPA and Army are committed to developing a reasonable, effective, and durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries. 

Aquafornia news Western Farmer-Stockman

Stricter controls sought against ag-based water pollution

Greater buffer zones around bodies of water and more consistent enforcement of water protection regulations are needed to reduce agriculture-based pollution in the Western U.S., a recent review from Oregon State University found. Prior research has shown that agricultural pollution, both from croplands and rangelands, is the cause of 48% of water-quality impairment in U.S. surface waters, which in turn disrupts habitat for fish and insects and reduces biodiversity in aquatic environments.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ suspected at oil sites across California

At least 162 oil refineries and other petroleum-holding facilities in California have likely stored or used materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of synthetic chemicals that persist indefinitely in the environment and are linked to severe illnesses, according to state water regulators. The California State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to facility operators in March ordering them to submit work plans evaluating the presence of the toxic compounds at their facilities, including areas where PFAS are stored or disposed of and the potential ways the chemicals could have contaminated soil, surface water, storm water and groundwater …

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Is Utah using all the Colorado River water it’s entitled to? New state agency wants to find out

The future of Utah’s relationship with the Colorado River began to take shape in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, as the newly created Colorado River Authority of Utah held its first meeting. The organization, created by the Utah Legislature during the 2021 session, was formed “to protect, conserve, and develop Utah’s Colorado River system interests,” according to the agency’s website. The agency, which is officially under Gov. Spencer Cox’s office, consists of six appointed members representing water interests from around the state.

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Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Water agency releases draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan for public review

The San Benito County Water District, which manages groundwater around Hollister, has released for public review a draft plan that will set out ways to ensure healthy, equitable supplies of the local resource. District officials on July 29 made their draft of the North San Benito Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan available for a 90-day public review as required by state law. The periodically updated 357-page document assesses water levels and land use conditions. It proposes ways the district can manage water for long-term groundwater sustainability.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California toxics law: Few water cases, but millions for lawyers

Thirty-five years ago, California voters approved a landmark law meant to halt exposure to dangerous chemicals in drinking water and everyday products like food, flip-flops, and face shields. Decades later, the water cases are few and far between—while hundreds of product lawsuits bring in millions of dollars annually for plaintiffs’ attorneys, some of whom represent environmental groups focused only on this law. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California says federal ‘let it burn’ policy reckless as wildfires rage

Volunteer fire chief Kathy Catron wants answers about why the Sugar fire ever grew large enough to burn her town, why it wasn’t put out before it exploded and turned uncontrollable. “It never should have got here,” said Catron, a former school bus driver who runs a 16-person department in this Lassen County town staffed mostly by friends and family, including her kids. … Raging July fires are becoming the norm in California. So is the animus of Catron and others about how they are fought— especially on federal lands and in their early hours — and who makes those choices.

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: OEHHA issues highly anticipated draft public health goals for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water

Last week, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) released draft public health goals (PHGs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water. OEHHA’s announcement is several years in the making and is relevant for water purveyors and municipalities providing other related services such as wastewater treatment because PHGs are used to create enforceable drinking water standards and remediation goals for groundwater contamination. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The California water model – Resilience through failure

A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past mistakes.  California’s highly variable climate has made it a crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.  Similar water imperatives have led to advances in water management in other parts of the world.  A close look at California’s water model suggests that “far-sighted incrementalism” is a path to progress. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Biden rallies public-private sector to thwart infrastructure hacks

Confronting the rise of attacks on major American infrastructure and industry, the White House released an executive order Wednesday in which President Joe Biden will ask companies to layer on more cybersecurity protections. The order follows up on a series of cybersecurity directives prompted this year when the nation suffered a series of fuel shortages after Russian-tied cybercriminals launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Regulatory pressure on California production has a global impact

Regulatory pressures on California agriculture can have a global impact on consumers. North American Regional Head of RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness for RaboBank, Roland Fumasi explained that the agriculture industry ultimately exists to meet the global demand for food. Restrictive policies enacted that put added pressure on agricultural production can potentially have a negative impact on billions of consumers that rely on California ag products. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: California State Water Resources Control Board’s draft emergency regulations likely to lead to curtailment for Delta watershed water users

California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) is currently experiencing one of the driest years in recorded history.  The US Drought Monitor recently classified large portions of the Delta Watershed as being in a state of “Exceptional Drought,” while the remaining portions are in a state of “Extreme Drought.”  The California Nevada River Forecast Center also provides information that the to-date flows in nearly all streams in the watershed are between 20 and 40 percent of the annual average.  As a result, the water supplies for many users in the region are in jeopardy.

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Aquafornia news The Mendocino Beacon

MCCSD board reviews penalties

At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting the board discussed the ground water management ordinance penalty options for constituents who do not comply to the permitting and monitoring requirements. The board also continued to discuss options for drought mitigations. The Ground Water Extraction Permit Ordinance 2020-1 that passed in April of 2020 reiterated the district’s authority to compel any property owner within district boundaries to obtain a ground water extraction permit and install a meter, monitor their water usage and report it monthly to MCCSD.

Aquafornia news Food & Wine

California faces water theft amid drought conditions

It sounds like the plot of a post-apocalyptic movie: Water thieves roaming scorched terrain in search of nature’s most precious resource. But in California, water theft is a massive reality with numbers that are hard to comprehend — and as droughts increasingly afflict the state, so does the extent of this illegal activity. Over 12 billion gallons of water have likely been stolen in California since 2013, John Nores — the former head of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marijuana Enforcement Team — recently told CNN.

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Aquafornia news California Water Law Journal

Legal analysis on groundwater contamination: Punitives may come to those who wait

California’s courts routinely impose punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly release hazardous substances which contaminate groundwater. But California has been slow to follow the nationwide trend favoring punitive damages awards against polluters that knowingly fail to remediate their past hazardous releases before those releases spread and cause greater harm.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Illegal cannabis growers stealing water amid Calif. drought, officials say

California’s deepening drought is creating another big problem for authorities: water theft. Water thieves, many of them illegal marijuana growers, are tapping into fire hydrants and drilling unauthorized water wells, according to officials, threatening the water supply for residents. In a recent sting in Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County, federal, state and local law enforcement officers disrupted hundreds of allegedly illegal marijuana cultivations in the area. They arrested 131 people and seized 65 vehicles, including two water trucks. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Will Delta users sue again to stop California’s drought rules?

Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority. The emergency rules would be the first time state regulators have taken such wide-reaching action during a drought to prevent diversions from the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border.

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Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

House passes PFAS Action Act, but there’s one problem

Last week, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national drinking water standards for regulating harmful forever chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), that are linked to kidney, liver and other health problems. … The bill now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate. There’s just one problem, however, as the collective water sector opposes the bill.

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Opinion: Who’s bearing the water burden in Healdsburg?

How are we messaging to our summer guests about our Climate Emergency? About our town’s precious, empty Russian River watershed? Is this a teachable moment for these privileged travelers who come from places of Water Security? We should all be True Believers in Climate Change. Effective June 8, 2021, Healdsburg’s Stage Three mandatory conservation seeks a 40% reduction in water use citywide with additional, restrictive rules: 74 gallons per resident per day; No irrigation; Hand watering only; Planting is prohibited; $1,000 fine per day…the city means business! -Written by Brigette Mansell, former Healdsburg mayor. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Cost of regulatory compliance more than triples in six-year period

A study tracking regulatory compliance costs in California was recently released, with striking findings. Researchers looked at data from 22 different farms of various sizes in the San Joaquin Valley between 2012 and 2018. During that timeframe, regulatory costs increased by 265 percent. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and co-author of the report, Lynn Hamilton said several factors contributed to the significant increase. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Audio: Harsh reality of California drought shown in no water=no crops campaign

The drought in California isn’t quite fathomable to all. In efforts to showcase the harsh reality producers are experiencing, Western Growers has a new campaign called “No water= No Crops.” In a series of videos, the campaign focuses on a few California producers who are struggling with the water shortages. Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms is one of the farmers in the campaign. He started out his planting year thinking he’d have enough water but that quickly changed as the dry water year encroached.

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Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Court ruling finds FERC 401 waiver not justified – important implications for California hydropower project licenses

On July 2, 2021, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, overturning an Order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  FERC’s Order had found that the state of North Carolina had unlawfully “coordinated” with the license applicant to delay the state’s certification that a new FERC license for the Bynum hydroelectric project complied with state water quality laws.  FERC found that North Carolina’s participation in the delay meant that the state had “waived” its authority under Section 401 to issue the certification.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Magazine

Could Las Vegas’s grass removal policies alter the western US drought-scape?

Earlier this year, the Nevada legislature made turf removal a requirement in cases where grass exists for purely aesthetic purposes. The legislation, pushed by the water authority and signed by Governor Steve Sisolak, requires the removal of all decorative, or “nonfunctional,” turf in Las Vegas by 2026. Under this law, residents can keep their lawns, and parks can keep their fields. But that turf decorating medians and buildings must be converted to less water-intensive vegetation. Irrigating grass in the desert heat demands a lot of water. 

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Critics bid to overturn approval of Tahoe resort expansion

Environmental lawyers are urging a California appellate court to overturn a pair of district court rulings that handed significant victories to the Squaw Valley ski resort as it moves forward with expansion plans critics say will dramatically increase traffic in the area and harm Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality. Justice Vance W. Raye, chief of the Third District Court of Appeals, appeared sympathetic to their arguments this week that Placer County may have violated a public records law in approving part of an environmental analysis and mitigation plan at the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

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Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Hmong community protests outside Yreka courthouse over water restrictions

Members of Siskiyou County’s Hmong community rallied outside the county courthouse in Yreka on Tuesday over what they say is racist treatment by police and racist enforcement of water usage rights by the county. An ordinance passed in May aimed at curtailing illegal marijuana grows prohibits water trucks and other vehicles from carrying over 100 gallons of water on certain county roads. Rally organizers say the roads selected, primarily in the rural, unincorporated communities of Butte Valley and Big Springs, unfairly target the Hmong community who reside there.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Thousands of Central Valley farmers may lose access to surface water amid worsening drought

Forced to reckon with a worsening drought, California’s water regulators are preparing to forbid thousands of farmers from tapping into the state’s major rivers and streams. It’s an extraordinary step — and one that regulators didn’t take during the last drought, which was considered one of the worst on record. The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday released an “emergency curtailment” order that would cut thousands off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News

Lawsuit: San Diego excess water fees

A class action lawsuit was filed against San Diego and its public utilities department on Wednesday, alleging that residential and commercial customers were overcharged in fees to make up for shortfalls from industrial wastewater dischargers.

Aquafornia news KEYT Santa Barbara

As drought worsens, Central Coast cities rolling out new water conservation messaging, programs

As the drought tightens its grip on California, several Central Coast cities are rolling out new water conservation messaging and programs for its residents. … [Santa Maria Utilities Director Shad Springer] noted the city receives most of its water from a robust groundwater supply, supplemented by a small portion of State Water. He said that although supplies continue to remain strong, its vital the public conserve every drop.

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Aquafornia news KCRW - Santa Monica

Why Southern California has largely been spared by the state’s worst drought conditions

Los Angeles received less than half its average rainfall last year, most of the state is in a drought emergency, and Governor Gavin Newsom has asked all residents to reduce their water usage by 15%. But a stroll through any well-watered neighborhood in Southern California would suggest otherwise. … So far in Southern California, the golf courses are almost as green as they were when it rained a lot a couple years ago. Some Northern California communities have already issued mandates to cut back water use, and some homeowners have seen their wells run dry. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Three growing crises could affect Newsom recall

[C]urrent events – drought, wildfires and a flareup of COVID-19, particularly – are a political minefield for the governor. Newsom wants to continue bopping around the state, under the guise of official business, proclaiming that California is “roaring back” from the pandemic … [H]owever, Newsom is clearly shying away from assuming public command of the newest crises. For example, when Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, faced a lesser drought in 2015, he ordered a mandatory 25% cut in water usage, but Newsom has issued only a tepid call for a voluntary 15% reduction …
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist. 

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Independent Science Board: Bill to fix compensation passes Assembly

Senate Bill 821, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Delta Independent Science Board, was introduced by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in March to restore compensation for the Delta Independent Science Board members. The bill has been winding its way through the legislature. SB 821 was passed out of the Assembly on Thursday, July 15 with 70 ayes, 0 noes, and 9 not voting.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Lawmakers, Biden officials vow action on PFAS

Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly mobilizing behind efforts to crack down on so-called forever chemicals as pressure to find a solution swells to a fever pitch. At an inaugural conference pegged to issues around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed to “follow the science” on the chemicals and offer a strong federal partner to local governments. 

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Aquafornia news SLO Tribune

Opinion: Central Coast drought level changes due to rain, heat

I recently wrote about how the U.S. Drought Monitor increased the severity of the drought throughout the Central Coast from an Abnormally Dry (D0) classification in late February to an Extreme Drought (D3) level in June. On May 4, the entire Central Coast reached a D2 (Severe Drought) classification. I assumed that San Luis Obispo County would remain at this level through the summer since we had moved into our historically dry season of May through September.
-Written by John Lindsey, a meteorologist and a media relations representative for PG&E.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River water rights case gets hearing date

Whether the Kern River truly has spare water and, if so, how much, has been left up in the air for more than a decade. Now, 11 years after the State Water Resources Control Board ruled the Kern River was not fully appropriated, it will finally start the process of getting at those two key questions: Is water available? How much? A status conference hearing has been scheduled by the board’s Administrative Hearing Office for Aug. 17 at 9 a.m., the board announced on Monday.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Illegal marijuana growers steal California’s scarce water

One day last spring, water pressure in pipelines suddenly crashed In the Antelope Valley, setting off alarms. Demand had inexplicably spiked, swelling to three and half times normal. Water mains broke open, and storage tanks were drawn down to dangerous levels. … It took a while for officials to figure out where all that water was going: Water thieves — likely working for illicit marijuana operations — had pulled water from remote filling stations and tapped into fire hydrants, improperly shutting off valves and triggering a chain reaction that threatened the water supply of nearly 300 homes.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water hookup suspensions spur housing debate

Marin water managers’ strategy to suspend most new water service hookups during the historic drought is drawing criticism from some who say little water will be saved with a policy that comes at the expense of the county’s poorest residents. Such a tradeoff would impact everyone from service workers to businesses to the elderly on fixed incomes, critics say. … Proponents of the hookup moratoriums say the county must live within its means with regards to water supply especially given the uncertainty of how long this drought could last.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Court allows Trump Administration Waters of the U.S. rule to remain

A South Carolina federal judge issued an order late last week allowing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the Trump administration’s “waters of the United States” rule, to remain in place while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers work on rulemakings to revoke and replace it. The final rule was issued in April 2020, redefining “waters of the United States” and narrowing the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Feeling the California drought on my family farm

I can see my future: It’s dry, thirsty and bleak. On our farm, we live with drought daily, working with limited groundwater and learning to adjust and adapt, or to fail and abandon our fields. Water will determine a farmer’s survival. I farm organically outside Fresno, part of one of the world’s richest and most productive agricultural oases, providing, of course, that we have water. … A severe two-year drought is drying out the West and Southwest from Washington to California, Montana to Texas. Agriculture feels the impact with crops withering and production limited.
-Written by David Mas Masumoto, a farmer in Del Rey, California. 

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Water districts vs. Santa Barbara County

Local water districts are suing Santa Barbara County, claiming that they should not be subject to restrictions over certain water sales and purchases. The districts claim that the county doesn’t deliver or pay for any water and therefore shouldn’t be able to dictate terms to them. The districts argue that the county’s imposition of restrictions ultimately hurts consumers. In response, the county claims that the oversight is needed to maximize the entire water supply for all consumers. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Monday Top of the Scroll: Unpaid utility bills? California will pay $2 billion to stop shutoffs

Official estimates of unpaid water and energy bills accumulated during the pandemic verge on $2.7 billion, affecting a few million Californians — and those figures have been growing rapidly. The state has so far prioritized rent relief — keeping people housed — over utilities relief. [O]f the $158 million distributed as of July 16, less than $40,000 had gone to utilities relief. Utility debt makes up about 6% of all assistance requested so far. On July 11, lawmakers revealed a plan to use one-time federal relief money to address the debt. … But it doesn’t extend current shutoff moratoria past Sept. 30. 

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Aquafornia news KQED

Drought-stricken California hasn’t mandated statewide water restrictions. Here’s why

After two consecutive dry winters and a series of early summer heat waves, the vast majority of California is gripped by drought. Water levels in reservoirs like Lake Oroville, Shasta Lake and Lake Mendocino are dangerously low. Wells in parts of the San Joaquin Valley and along the Russian River are drying up, and local water officials have mandated water restrictions up to 40% in some areas. Already, more than 85% of California is experiencing extreme drought conditions … and experts forewarn a third year of drought could be on the horizon if the state doesn’t see significant winter rain storms.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Amid escalating drought, Bay Area residents slow to cut back on water use

With California descending deeper into drought, Santa Rosa is getting serious about water use. So are other communities that are increasingly urging residents to conserve, sometimes asking for water reductions, sometimes mandating them. Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the cause last week, issuing a statewide plea for voluntary savings. Still, amid the growing calls for conservation, the Bay Area’s initial response has been slow. Nearly a dozen of the region’s largest water suppliers that have sought cutbacks recently have come up short of their water-savings goals, according to water agency data reviewed by The Chronicle.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County approves emergency well resolution

The Tehama County Board of Supervisors approved an emergency resolution Tuesday that would allow residents with dry wells to purchase water directly from the county. Though not in the original agenda for the meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Bill Goodwin added the item as an addendum, which consisted of a presentation on why the resolution would be necessary. County administration has been looking at different wells within its jurisdiction to obtain the water from. Initially, the county looked toward the well at Ridgeway Park but discovered the water was non-potable and for irrigation only.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

AP Interview: EPA water chief on clean water protections

To finally determine a lasting definition of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new water director says everyone with a stake in the issue will need to be engaged. Radhika Fox recently spoke to The Associated Press about the Biden administration’s plan to rewrite the regulation, also called Waters of the United States. The contentious rule was scaled back by the Trump administration after being expanded under President Barack Obama.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Water and transit infrastructure key topics in Kate Gallego meeting with President Joe Biden

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said water infrastructure and transit investments in Arizona were two key items discussed during a meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday. Gallego was part of a bipartisan group of three governors and four other mayors who met with Biden at the White House to build support for a proposed $1.2 trillion infrastructure package under consideration in the U.S. Senate…. The group also talked about… the state’s long-term drought and its effects on the Colorado River…