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 Western Farm Press

Study offers insights on nitrate contamination

With California enduring record-breaking rain and snow and Gov. Gavin Newsom recently easing restrictions on groundwater recharge, interest in “managed aquifer recharge” has never been higher. This process – by which floodwater is routed to sites such as farm fields so that it percolates into the aquifer – holds great promise as a tool to replenish depleted groundwater stores across the state. But one concern, in the agricultural context, is how recharge might push nitrates from fertilizer into the groundwater supply. Consumption of well water contaminated with nitrates has been linked to increased risk of cancers, birth defects and other health impacts.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Bay Area water agencies end water restrictions, drought surcharges

Nothing says the end of drought like ending water restrictions — and the pesky drought surcharges on utility bills. On the heels of California’s remarkably wet winter, the Bay Area’s biggest water agencies, including the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and East Bay Municipal Utility District, have either rescinded their drought policies or are about to do so. This means, in many places, no more fines for using too much water, no more limiting outdoor watering to certain days of the week and no more drought surcharges. The surcharges were commonly adopted by water agencies to fill gaps in revenue as water sales dropped amid rising conservation.

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Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Delta Independent Science Board names Dr. Inge Werner chair-elect

At its March 27, 2023, meeting, the Delta Independent Science Board voted Dr. Inge Werner from its existing membership as chair-elect. Dr. Werner’s chair-elect duties began immediately. She will assume chair duties in September 2024. Prior to joining the Delta ISB in November 2022, Dr. Werner was director of the Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology for nine years. In Switzerland, she worked closely with federal and local environmental agencies to improve monitoring programs and cooperated in research projects with academic institutions throughout Europe and the United States. Projects included assessments of advanced wastewater treatment technologies and environmental risks due to pesticides.

Aquafornia news KVPR - Fresno

For a San Joaquin Valley community, the largest grant in its history could mean reliable water

Tim Prado … lives in Lamont, a community nestled among the oil wells and almond orchards of eastern Kern County. This region has struggled with arsenic and other contaminants in its groundwater. But recently, a $25 million dollar grant from the state’s Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund gave Prado a tool in his fight for drinking water, since he is also the chair of Lamont Public Utility District. … Joaquin Esquivel is the chair of the State Water Resources Control Board and a son of immigrant farm workers himself. He was recently at a site where a water well will be built in Lamont. He spoke about the drinking water challenges facing rural California. … Esquivel says the agency is making strides in its quest to ensure water access for everyone.

Aquafornia news CBS News/Kaiser Health News

PFAS in clothing: Is what you wear dripping in “forever chemicals”?

There could be more than just fashion risks involved when buying a pair of leggings or a raincoat. Just how much risk is still not clear, but toxic chemicals have been found in hundreds of consumer products and clothing bought off the racks nationwide. Thousands of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, exist since the first ones were invented in the 1940s to prevent stains and sticking. PFAS chemicals are used in nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing and firefighting foam. Their manufacture and persistence in products have contaminated drinking water nationwide. Also known as “forever chemicals,” these substances do not break down in the environment and can accumulate in our bodies over time. Drinking water is widely considered the greatest source of potential exposure and harm.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Court sides with farmers in water cases

A California appeals court has upheld waste discharge requirements within the eastern San Joaquin River watershed that growers say are reasonable, rebuffing challenges from environmentalists. In its March 17 decision, the Third District Court of Appeal rejected all arguments brought by environmental groups and sided with the California State Water Resources Control Board, the California Farm Bureau and others related to the Central Valley’s Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program. The court addressed three cases brought by environmental plaintiffs against the water board.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Conservation agreement protects Walker Basin grazing land from development

The amount of grazing land being put off limits to development in the southern Sierra Nevada has expanded with a deal announced Wednesday adding 65 acres to a swath now 14 times that size that conservationists say will serve as a permanent corridor for local wildlife, among other key benefits. California Rangeland Trust announced the purchase of the property at Bufford Ranch, owned by Ernest Bufford, who with this latest addition has agreed to conserve 910 acres on the north side of Walker Basin. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Congress approves measure to reverse Biden’s water protections

Congress on Wednesday approved a resolution to overturn the Biden administration’s protections for the nation’s waterways that Republicans have criticized as a burden on business, advancing a measure that President Biden has promised to veto. Republicans have targeted the Biden administration’s protections for thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, labeling it an environmental overreach that harms businesses, developers and farmers. They used the Congressional Review Act that allows Congress to block recently enacted executive branch regulations. The Senate voted in favor 53 to 43 Wednesday to give final legislative approval to the measure. Four Democrats and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona joined Republicans to vote in favor of the resolution.

Aquafornia news Fox 40 - Sacramento

As California lifts water restrictions, what are the watering rules in Sacramento?

California is easing its drought restrictions after the state became soaked with several storms in recent months. During a visit in Yolo County on Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state is changing its drought restrictions and water conversation plans.  However, the governor said the state drought emergency proclamation won’t be lifted, although, half of the state is no longer in drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  One of the restrictions Newsom announced will be lifted is the state’s 15% voluntary reduction in water use.  With the statewide mandate ending, local water agencies and governments, such as cities and counties, can implement their own water restrictions.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increases water allocations for 2023

The Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday water allocations to the Central Valley Project will increase thanks to the incredible amount of rain and snow the state has received. The initial allocation issued Feb. 22 was conservative due to below-average precipitation in February, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. The increase is due to the persistent wet weather that dominated the end of February and almost all of March. The atmospheric river events have greatly boosted reservoir levels, including the two main reservoirs in the state north and south of the delta – Shasta and San Luis, respectively. … The latest allocations raised irrigation water service to 80% from 35% of their contract total, and municipal and industrial water service to 100% from 75% of their historic use.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

House panel hones in on Calif.’s lackluster water storage

Tuesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources discussed the increased need for water storage in California and the rest of the western United States given the highly above average precipitation after years of drought.  The Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries held a hearing on long-term drought and the water storage issues throughout the reasons to discuss the situation and possible solutions. … Bourdeau, the Vice Chair of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority … [and] a director for Westlands Water District … noted that farmers throughout the Central Valley have spent billions of dollars to put drip irrigation systems in place, among other water-saving measures, to go along with the conservation efforts from municipal water users. But without proper water storage solutions, the nation’s future could be imperil if the Valley’s food production wanes. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Saving precious water in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin

Kristiana Hansen is an associate professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wyoming. We spoke with her about an innovative pilot program that’s finding new ways to save water in a parched Colorado River basin. How is climate change putting pressure on the Colorado River basin states? So, we’re 20-plus years into a long-term drought in the Colorado River basin. Water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell are the lowest they’ve been since they were filled. Since 2007, there’s been a new framework to manage the reservoirs—and drought—given that there’s less water than expected. In addition to this new framework, the US Bureau of Reclamation also directed states to formulate drought contingency plans, which were finalized in 2019.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

It’s a bad year for California salmon. Here’s how it hurts the economy and environment

State officials were supposed to take a conservative approach to approving salmon fishing season this year — and they did. California’s fishing season had been scheduled to open April 1. Instead, as a result of low salmon projections, the season has been canceled. Salmon provides more to the state than meets the eye. … According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, salmon numbers are irregular during the three year life cycle. Data has shown that in years following wetter seasons fish stock has increased. Consequently there has been a decline in stock for years following drier seasons.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

U.N. puts focus on ‘deep trouble’ in water worldwide

For the first time in 46 years, the United Nations convened a global conference on water, creating new impetus for wide-ranging efforts to manage water more sustainably, adapt to worsening droughts and floods with climate change, and accelerate solutions for the estimated 2 billion people around the world who live without access to clean drinking water. The conference this week in New York brought together about 10,000 participants, including national leaders and scientists, with a focus on addressing the world’s many water problems and making progress toward a goal of ensuring clean drinking water and sanitation for all people.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Editorial: A mostly hidden problem wastes appalling amounts of water

When Americans turn on their faucets, they shouldn’t have to think about infrastructure. A well-run system for clean drinking water ought to be the bare minimum of what the government delivers. But virtually every part of the country is struggling with aging pipes, which are wasting billions of gallons of water every day. Some utilities are losing as much as half or more of their water supply to leaks. Worse, most states don’t know the scale of the problem and are doing little to find out, threatening their residents’ wallets and their health. This issue is mostly hidden — until there is a serious problem. Water main breaks, for example, can tear up roads and damage property. These occur somewhere in the country every two minutes, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: California must provide a global model for coastal resiliency

This winter’s atmospheric river storms, coastal flooding, erosion, sea level rise, saltwater intrusion into rivers, and sedimentation dumping thousands of tons of soil into the ocean were only the most recent of the state’s disasters. The year 2022 alone brought a massive red tide in San Francisco Bay, the continued die-off of 95% of northern California’s kelp forest between the Golden Gate and Cape Mendocino, and a spike of gray whale deaths along the entire coast. Climate impacts threaten communities, both human and wild, ranging from whales and their ice-dependent Arctic prey to the 26 million people living in the state’s 19 coastal counties that, as of 2021, generated around 85% of the state’s $3.3 trillion dollar GDP.
-Written by David Helvarg, author and executive director of Blue Frontier, an ocean conservation and policy group. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Farmers look forward to full water delivery

As the rain year continues to look promising, rice farmers are happy to expect most if not all of their water allocations will be delivered. This week the Department of Water Resources announced a 75% water allocation to the irrigation districts served by the State Water Project. Farmers on the east side of the valley served by Lake Oroville are expected to receive 100% of their water rights, according to Louis Espino, rice farming systems adviser and director at the University of California Butte County Cooperative Extension. Butte County Ag Commissioner Louie Mendoza said he expects 100% of the rice acreage to be planted — about 100,000 acres. Mendoza said in 2022, around 80-85% of rice acreage was planted.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa Water Forum looks at how nature, humans can both thrive

Ideas flowed at a recent forum on how to manage Napa Valley water, which is the lifeblood for local cities, world-famous wine country and the environment. Save Napa Valley Foundation — formerly Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture — and other groups put on the Napa Water Forum. It took place Friday, March 24 in the Native Sons of the Golden West building in downtown Napa. … [W]ater runs from local mountains in streams to the Napa River, giving life to fish and other aquatic life. The Napa River runs for about 50 miles from Mount St. Helena through the Napa Valley to San Pablo Bay. Some water is captured behind dams that form reservoirs for local cities. Some water seeps into the aquifer, becoming groundwater that feeds streams and the Napa River during the hot summers and provides well water for vineyards, wineries and homes.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Sacramento, CA, firefighters vandalized water tower, costing $65,000

In July 2019 a group of Sacramento firefighters spray painted the inside of a city water tank, causing “floating debris” and damage that cost taxpayers over $65,000. As punishment, two of them received a two-day unpaid suspension. The firefighters had just graduated from the academy, and spray painted their academy number on the inside of an East Sacramento water tank, according to a Dec. 21, 2021, disciplinary letter, obtained from a California Public Records Act request by The Sacramento Bee. … But this time the new firefighters, with help from two captains, spray painted the inside, causing “floating debris” to surface in the drinking water that serves nearby businesses and homes. The city did not discover the floating debris until a year and a half after the fire fighters spray painted it. Testing found no contamination, city spokesman Tim Swanson said.

Aquafornia news Decanter

California’s ban on pesticides by 2050 sees the state’s wineries embracing ‘slow wine’

While environmentally-conscious wine producers like Shannon are making a difference in California, so is the state which recently announced its long-range commitment to promoting ecosystem resilience. The sustainable pest management roadmap for California was released by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. It charts a course for California’s elimination of high-risk pesticides by 2050. Yet, wine producers like Sam Coturri of Enterprise Vineyards in Sonoma County, whose family oversees 35 estate vineyards, and produces their own label, Winery Sixteen 600, have been farming organically since 1979.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Camp Pendleton is latest California agency to find PFAS chemical in drinking water

Camp Pendleton leaders on Monday sent a public notice to thousands of service members and civilians who live and work on the base’s north end alerting them that recent testing revealed their drinking water contained a higher-than-desired level of PFAS, a potentially carcinogenic chemical that has been found in much of Southern California’s groundwater supply. PFAS, or per- and polyfluorinated substances, can be found in cleaning products, water-resistant fabrics, grease-resistant paper and non-stick cookware, as well as in products such as shampoo, dental floss and nail polish. The state only set requirements to test for the chemicals in the last few years and has lowered the threshold for when their detection needs to be reported to the public by water agencies. Water districts throughout Southern California have been struggling to get PFAS levels down.

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Aquafornia news Southern California News Group

Camp Pendleton is latest California agency to find PFAS chemical in drinking water

Camp Pendleton leaders on Monday sent a public notice to thousands of service members and civilians who live and work on the base’s north end alerting them that recent testing revealed their drinking water contained a higher-than-desired level of PFAS, a potentially carcinogenic chemical that has been found in much of Southern California’s groundwater supply. PFAS, or per- and polyfluorinated substances, can be found in cleaning products, water-resistant fabrics, grease-resistant paper and non-stick cookware, as well as in products such as shampoo, dental floss and nail polish. The state only set requirements to test for the chemicals in the last few years and has lowered the threshold for when their detection needs to be reported to the public by water agencies.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: ‘Nature gave us a lifeline’: Southern California refills largest reservoir after wet winter

Following a series of winter storms that eased drought conditions across the state, Southern Californians celebrated a sight nobody has seen for several punishing years: water rushing into Diamond Valley Lake. The massive reservoir — the largest in Southern California — was considerably drained during the state’s driest three years on record, with nearly half of the lake’s supply used to bolster minuscule allocations from state water providers. But an extraordinarily wet winter allowed officials from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to turn on the taps in Hemet once again. Water transported from Northern California roared out of huge concrete valves Monday and into the blue lake at 600 cubic feet per second — marking an incredible turnaround for a region that only months ago had barely enough supplies to meet the health and safety needs of 6 million people.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District seeks $200K grant for desalination study

Marin Municipal Water District is seeking a $200,000 federal grant to study the possibility of building a brackish water desalination plant on the Petaluma River. The district’s board voted 4-0 on Tuesday, with Jed Smith abstaining, to retroactively authorize an application to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the study. The district submitted the grant application in late February. While the district has studied a desalination plant on San Francisco Bay in the past, officials said a plant in brackish water on the Petaluma River is a newer concept that has not been examined.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Yuba City could get $682,500 from water sale, transfer

During a March 14 special meeting, the Yuba City City Council approved the sale and transfer of up to 3,999 acre feet of water to the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency, a decision which the city expects to result in as much as $682,500 in revenue. The water that was authorized for sale and transfer is considered “surplus carryover water,” the city said. … Yuba City Public Works and Development Services Director Ben Moody said during the March 14 meeting that “it’s been a team effort” to get the deal ready for approval. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

The cure for winter flooding might be in this swamp — if California actually funds it

In little pockets in the state, people like [Matt Kaminski, a biologist from Ducks Unlimited] are reworking the land yet again to bring back a version of California’s past, in service of the future. By allowing rivers to spread out, flows are diverted from downstream communities, replenishing groundwater and staving off unwanted floods. “These wetlands,” Kaminski likes to say, “act as a sponge.” And the state agreed. In September, the California Wildlife Conservation Board earmarked $40 million for the nonprofit River Partners to spend on similar projects in the San Joaquin Valley. But in the governor’s proposed budget released in January, that funding was axed.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Gov. Newsom relaxed water restrictions in drenched California. Why didn’t he end the drought emergency?

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday relaxed drought rules in California amid a winter season filled with atmospheric river storms, flooding and a massive Sierra Nevada snowpack — and officials signaled that an end to the declared drought emergency in the Bay Area and many other regions is coming soon. At an appearance at a groundwater recharge project in Yolo County, Newsom announced the end of state regulations he put in place last March that required cities and water agencies to impose water restrictions such as limits on the number of days a week residents could water lawns and landscaping. … Due to brimming reservoirs and the big snowpack, the state Department of Water Resources also announced Friday that it will increase water deliveries through the State Water Project, which serves 27 million people, from 35% of  requested amounts to 75%, a number that could still increase further in May and June.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

BREAKING NEWS: Newsom rolls back California drought restrictions after remarkably wet winter

On the heels of one of California’s wettest winters on record, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that he will roll back some of the state’s most severe drought restrictions and dramatically increase water supplies for agencies serving 27 million people.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As Tulare Lake reappears, floodwaters raise tensions in San Joaquin Valley

For the first time in decades, Tulare Lake is reappearing in the [San Joaquin] valley, reclaiming the lowlands at its historic heart. Once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, Tulare Lake was largely drained in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as the rivers that fed it were dammed and diverted for agriculture….Tulare Lake’s sudden reemergence has fueled conflict in one of California’s richest agricultural centers, as the spreading waters swallow fields and orchards and encroach on low-lying towns. In a region where the major agricultural landowners have a history of water disputes, the floods streaming into Tulare Lake Basin have reignited some long-standing tensions and brought accusations of foul play and mismanagement.

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Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Cottage cheese injections and electric shocks: Emeryville attempts to reclaim toxic soil

Emeryville is still digging itself out from under its industrial past. For years, the city has cleaned up vast swaths of land contaminated by the scores of commercial warehouses that used to dominate the East Bay shoreline community. By the early 2000s, Emeryville earned a reputation as “one of the foulest industrial wastelands in the Bay Area,” according to one news outlet, which said the soil was “so toxic that anyone treading it had to wear a moon suit.” ….This week, city officials kicked off the complex task of cleaning up roughly 78,000 square-feet of contaminated soil on another city-owned property just across the railroad tracks from the popular Bay Street Emeryville shopping center — which was also excavated before construction.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California appellate judge confirms state agency’s limits on perchlorate

An appeals court in Sacramento on Thursday upheld a California environmental agency’s standards for limiting the presence of the chemical perchlorate in the state’s drinking water. In the appeal brought by plaintiff California Manufacturers and Technology Association, Judge Elena Duarte ruled the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment properly considered iodide uptake inhibition and established its public health goal “at the level at which no known or anticipated adverse effects on health occur, with an adequate margin of safety.” Perchlorate, a chemical both manufactured and naturally occurring, is regarded as a potentially serious threat to human health … It can leach into the ground and groundwater, remaining there potentially for decades. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: CDFW launches immediate efforts to save Clear Lake hitch

Prompted by urgent calls for action from Tribal leaders and community members, a coalition of Tribal, local, state and federal entities is taking immediate steps to support the long-term survival of the Clear Lake hitch. A large minnow found only in northern California’s Clear Lake and its tributaries, the hitch, known as Chi to local Tribal members, migrates into the tributaries to spawn each spring before returning to the lake. Historically numbering in the millions, Clear Lake hitch now are facing a tough fight to avoid extinction. Today, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced a list of commitments designed to protect spawning and rearing areas, provide appropriate stream flows, remove barriers to migration and reduce predation. 

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Climate change is destabilizing insurance industry

The president of one of the world’s largest insurance brokers warned Wednesday that climate change is destabilizing the insurance industry, driving up prices and pushing insurers out of high-risk markets. Aon PLC President Eric Andersen told a Senate committee that climate change is injecting uncertainty into an industry built on risk prediction and has created “a crisis of confidence around the ability to predict loss.”

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Friday Top of the Scroll: Klamath dam removals, habitat restoration, begins

Crews have begun working on removing four dams on the Klamath River which tribes and other groups have lobbied to take down for decades. The early removal work involves upgrading bridges and constructing roads to allow greater access to the remote dams, which are expected to be fully down by the end of 2024. The dam removal on the 38-mile stretch of the river comes after an agreement between the last dam owner PacifiCorp, California, Oregon, the Yurok Tribe, the Karuk Tribe and a multitude of environmental organizations, with the goal of restoring salmon populations. The Klamath River Renewal Corporation held a news conference on Thursday giving an update on their work in dismantling the dams and restoring habitats.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save the date! Our annual Open House is on May 4th

Join us May 4 for an open house and reception at our office near the Sacramento River to meet our team and learn more about what we do to educate and foster understanding of California’s most precious natural resource — water. At the open house, you can enjoy refreshments and chat with our team about our tours, conferences, maps, publications and training programs for teachers and up-and-coming water industry professionals. You’ll also be able to learn more about how you can support our work – and you’ll have a chance to win prizes! The open house will be held in the late afternoon on May 4. More details and a sign-up are coming soon!

Aquafornia news Oregon Public Broadcasting

Federal researchers say two widely used pesticides harm many endangered fish species

Federal researchers have found that two widely used pesticides significantly harms endangered Northwest salmon and steelhead species. The opinion could lead to a change in where and how the pesticides can be used. The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a draft of its biological opinion Thursday concluding that continued use of insect-killing chemicals containing carbaryl or methomyl likely jeopardizes dozens of endangered fish species — including Chinook salmon, coho salmon, sockeye, and steelhead in the Columbia, Willamette, and Snake rivers. Carbaryl and methomyl are insecticides commonly used on field vegetables and orchard crops. Both are used on agricultural land across the Willamette Valley, the Columbia River Gorge, and southeastern Washington, according to federal data.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

What will U.S. Supreme Court decision mean for tribal water rights?

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on a case that focuses on water access for the Navajo Nation but could impact battles for the resource across the West.  For 20 years, the Navajo Nation’s fight for water has been circulating through lower courts. The foundation of the case reaches back more than 150 years, involving the treaties that established the reservation, decades of court decisions and the United States’ legal responsibilities to the Navajo Nation. The state of Colorado and other tribes, including those with reservation land in Colorado, are keeping a watchful eye on the outcome. … The average person on the Navajo reservation uses 7 gallons of water a day, Dvoretzky said. The U.S. average is 80 to 100 gallons. In New Mexico, the average is 81 gallons; Utah, 169; and Arizona, 146 … 

Aquafornia news Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom

News release: Governor Newsom announces appointments

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the following appointments: Samantha Arthur, of Sacramento, has been appointed Assistant Secretary for Salton Sea Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. Appointed to the Colorado River Board were Gloria Cordero, of Long Beach, Jordan D. Joaquin, of Fort Yuma, Quechan Indian Reservation, and Frank Ruiz, of Riverside. In addition, Sandra Matsumoto, of Davis, was reappointed to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, where she has served since 2018. 

Aquafornia news KVPR - Clovis

‘This is the community I grew up in.’ Lindsay mayor on managing floods in his city

The city of Linsday in eastern Tulare County is one of several in the region to experience extreme flooding during the recent storms this month. In the brief pause in rain, the city declared a state of emergency to prepare for a new storm this week. But for some residents, the damage is already done. In this interview, KVPR’s Esther Quintanilla spoke with Lindsay City Mayor Hipolito Cerros to hear how he’s leading his community through this time.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Tribal nations’ lasting victory in the Mojave Desert (A lasting victory)

The protest encampment was easily visible from Highway 40 going West from Needles, California — a cluster of olive-green Army tents that stood out from the low-lying creosote bushes and sagebrush that cover the expanse of Ward Valley. At its height, the camp held two kitchens (one vegetarian, one not), a security detail, bathroom facilities and a few hundred people — a coalition of five tribal nations, anti-nuclear activists, veterans, environmentalists and American Indian Movement supporters. They were there to resist a public-lands trade between the federal government and the state of California that would allow U.S. Ecology, a waste disposal company, to build a 1,000-acre, unlined nuclear waste dump that threatened both desert tortoises and groundwater.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Explore drought-to-deluge impacts & opportunities on Central Valley Tour

The feast or famine nature of California water has never been more apparent than now. After three years of punishing drought, the state has been slammed by a dozen atmospheric rivers. On our Central Valley Tour next month, you will see the ramifications of this nature in action. Focusing on the San Joaquin Valley, the tour will bring you up close to farmers, cities and disadvantaged communities as well as managers trying to capture flood waters to augment overpumped groundwater basins while also protecting communities from damaging flood impacts. Despite the recent rains, the San Joaquin Valley most years deals with little to no water deliveries for agricultural irrigation and wetland habitat management. 

Aquafornia news CNN Business

Wall Street investment firms are thirsty for the West’s vanishing water

Situated in the Sonoran Desert near the Arizona-California border is the tiny rural town of Cibola – home to roughly 300 people, depending on the season. Life here depends almost entirely on the Colorado River, which nourishes thirsty crops like cotton and alfalfa, sustains a nearby wildlife refuge and allows visitors to enjoy boating and other recreation. It’s a place few Americans are likely to have heard of, which made it all the more surprising when investment firm Greenstone Management Partners bought nearly 500 acres of land here. On its website, Greenstone says its “goal is to advance water transactions that benefit both the public good and private enterprise.”

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: Fighting forever chemicals – USEPA proposes the first enforceable nationwide primary drinking water standards for PFAS

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced a proposed rulemaking that would establish legally enforceable federal primary Maximum Contaminant Levels (“MCLs”) for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. In addition to creating enforceable drinking water standards, these MCLs, if adopted, could be used as a benchmark for establishing groundwater remediation goals or be used in other regulatory or litigation contexts. USEPA expects to finalize the rulemaking by the end of this calendar year. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: USDA announces new framework to help guide investments in projects addressing water supply, climate change in the West

In furtherance of its efforts to address the considerable challenges related to water scarcity in the West, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled the Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action (Framework) on February 13, 2023, a blueprint designed to help individuals and entities navigate the complexities of resource conservation and climate change resilience. Developed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Framework provides guidance and strategic support for programs that address impacts from drought and climate change, and defines clear goals and strategies that communities can use to respond to threats to agricultural productivity and environmental quality.

Aquafornia news KQED

Fewer than 10% of levees in the greater Bay Area have a federal flood risk rating

Atmospheric river-fueled storms have hammered the network of hundreds of levees in coastal counties near the San Francisco Bay — from the agricultural fields of Monterey County to urban places like San Leandro, Walnut Creek and Richmond to more rural parts of the North Bay. At least two major levees, in Salinas and Pajaro, have failed since New Year’s Eve. The levee breach along the Pajaro River, which divides Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, left the entire town of Pajaro in a deluge of water. More than 3,000 residents could be displaced for several weeks. The disastrous flood submerged a significant acreage of agricultural land there, and the mostly lower-income Latino community now faces overwhelming economic and housing uncertainty.

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Aquafornia news Business Insider

The Biden administration is offering to pay Colorado River farmers to let fields go dry during a devastating drought. They’re worried it’s just the first step in losing their way of life

Troy Waters is a fifth-generation farmer in Grand Valley, Colorado. With a new water conservation program funded by the Biden administration, he fears his way of life will turn to dust and blow away in the wind like dried-out topsoil. That’s because the federal government wants to conserve water in the drought-ravaged Colorado River by giving farmers and ranchers cash to let their fields lie fallow, but the interstate agency running the program isn’t offering these producers enough money to quit farming voluntarily, Waters said. … Water conservation is a major political issue in the American West. Climate change has made the Colorado River the driest it’s been in more than a thousand years. Chronic overuse has depleted the reservoirs that sprawling cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas depend on. 

Aquafornia news The Revelator

PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ are everywhere: Here’s what that means for wildlife

Images of starving polar bears staggering across the snow earned the species the dubious honor of being the “poster child” of climate change. But now another human-caused environmental danger threatens these apex predators: pollution from a class of 12,000 chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). And they’re not the only ones. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group analyzed hundreds of recent peer-reviewed scientific studies and found more than 120 different PFAS compounds in wildlife. Some 330 species were affected, spanning nearly every continent — and that’s just some of what scientists have identified so far.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘A living pantry’: How an urban food forest in Arizona became a model for climate action

Near downtown Tucson, Arizona, is Dunbar Spring, a neighborhood unlike any other in the city. The unpaved sidewalks are lined with native, food-bearing trees and shrubs fed by rainwater diverted from city streets. One single block has over 100 plant species, including native goji berries, desert ironwood with edamame-like seeds and chuparosa bushes with cucumber-flavored flowers. This urban food forest – which began almost 30 years ago – provides food for residents and roughage for livestock, and the tree canopy also provides relief to residents in the third-fastest warming city in the nation. … The plan, headed up by Lancaster, was to plant multi-use drought-tolerant shade trees in street-side basins that could capture rainwater and create “a more liveable community” …

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Is tap water safe to drink? Here’s what you really need to know.

Most U.S. residents don’t need to worry about the safety of their tap water, but millions of Americans are still exposed to contaminants every year.  It can take a water crisis to highlight where drinking water infrastructure is failing. One of the most devastating water crises in recent memory was the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water in 2014. As of January 2023, nine years after the initial contamination, residents are still dealing with the effects. And last year, a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi left many of the city’s 150,000 residents without potable water, a problem that persists today.  Here, drinking water experts from the EPA, academia, and advocacy groups weigh in on what you need to know about your tap. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court may keep Navajo Nation water rights claim alive

A divided Supreme Court confronted on Monday the question of whether the government must do more to provide water for the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. And the answer, by the narrowest majority, appeared to be yes. Most of the justices said they were wary of even considering plans to take more water from the mainstream of the drought-stricken Colorado River. But five of them, led by Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Elena Kagan, mostly agreed with a lawyer who said there was a 150-year history of broken promises to the Navajo Nation. A treaty signed in 1868 promised a “permanent home” where Navajo Nation residents could farm and raise animals.

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Aquafornia news Western Water

Testing at the source: California readies a groundbreaking hunt to check for microplastics in drinking water

Tiny pieces of plastic waste shed from food wrappers, grocery bags, clothing, cigarette butts, tires and paint are invading the environment and every facet of daily life. Researchers know the plastic particles have even made it into municipal water supplies, but very little data exists about the scope of microplastic contamination in drinking water.  After years of planning, California this year is embarking on a first-of-its-kind data-gathering mission to illuminate how prevalent microplastics are in the state’s largest drinking water sources and help regulators determine whether they are a public health threat.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Ugly deeds, politics and high drama swirl amid the waters of a re-emerging Tulare Lake

The drama was high on the Tulare Lake bed Saturday as flood waters pushed some landowners to resort to heavy handed and, in one instance, illegal tactics, to try and keep their farm ground dry — even at the expense of other farmers and some small communities. Someone illegally cut the banks of Deer Creek in the middle of the night causing water to rush toward the tiny town of Allensworth. The levee protecting Corcoran had its own protection as an armed guard patrolled the structure to keep it safe. At the south end of the old lake bed, the J.G. Boswell Company had workers drag a piece of heavy equipment onto the banks of its Homeland Canal to prevent any cuts that would drain Poso Creek water onto Boswell land.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Could the farm bill save parts of the West from turning into a Dust Bowl? Michael Bennet thinks so

Fine-tuning certain sections of the federal farm bill could help prevent the U.S. West from decaying into a Great Depression-era Dust Bowl, according to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).  The third-term senator is on a mission to ensure that the region’s agricultural sector can continue to thrive amid inhospitable climate conditions, as negotiations begin on the 2023 federal package of food and farm legislation.  “How do we advance the real challenges that producers and rural communities are facing in the context of a 1,200-year drought?” Bennet asked, in a recent interview with The Hill.  Bennet has been a prominent voice in shaping the farm bill, having contributed to the past two renditions. He’s now working on the upcoming version. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court to weigh Navajo Nation water rights in Arizona

The Supreme Court will hear a major water rights dispute from Arizona on Monday to decide whether the federal government has broken its promises to the Navajo Nation for more than 150 years. Nearly a third of the Navajo households do not have running water and must rely on water that is trucked in. The Navajo Nation blames the U.S. government for having breached its duty of trust that came with an 1868 treaty that established their reservation in what is now northeast Arizona and smaller portions of southeastern Utah and northeastern New Mexico. That treaty “promised both land and water sufficient for the Navajos to return to a permanent home in their ancestral territory,” attorneys for the Navajo Nation told the court. “Broken promises. The Nation is still waiting for the water it needs.”

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News

California seeks to store rain runoff amid Colorado River talks

After watching billions of gallons of rainwater wash away into the Pacific, California is taking advantage of extreme weather with a new approach: Let it settle back into the earth for use another day. As the latest batch of storms lashed the Golden State, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order this week to hasten projects that use rainwater to recharge aquifers, reversing decades of an emphasis on channeling it into drains and out to sea. … Even apart from the order, the state had already committed $8.6 billion to the effort. The order to allow water agencies to do a better job of capturing runoff came amid a storm season that has dramatically refilled reservoirs drawn down by a drought that produced the driest three years on record.

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Scientists work to limit human exposure to ‘forever chemicals’

A recent study revealed elevated levels of potentially toxic chemicals in some species of fish in two Northern California rivers. The study specifically identified the Feather River and San Joaquin River, along with hundreds of other waterways in the United States. The chemicals are scientifically known as PFAS – poly-and perfluoroalkyl substances – and there are thousands of different types that are used in manufacturing. PFAS are commonly used as part of waterproof materials. They can also be found in food packaging, clothing and certain floor coatings, as well as firefighting foams.

Aquafornia news The Hill

House lawmakers join senators in rallying around Colorado River

A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers are forming a “Congressional Colorado River Caucus,” with the goal of collaborating on ways to best address worsening drought conditions across the seven-state basin. … [Rep. Joe] Neguse, who serves as ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands, announced the creation of the caucus, which will include members from six of the seven Colorado River states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The lawmakers intend to discuss the critical issues affecting the Colorado River, which provides water for 40 million people across the West. Members of the caucus will work “together towards our shared goal to mitigate the impacts felt by record-breaking levels of drought,” according to Neguse.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

PFAS rule sets up sprawling legal war

EPA’s historic move to regulate “forever chemicals” in drinking water has set the stage for a multi-pronged courtroom slugfest among the agency, water utilities that must comply with the rule and multinational conglomerates that have flooded the environment with the toxicants linked to a long list of health problems, including cancer. Although lawsuits cannot be filed until EPA finalizes its PFAS proposal, interested parties will spend the coming months filling the regulatory docket with comments that will eventually inform the final rule or shape opponents’ future legal challenges against the agency — and one another. Case law on the topic is limited: EPA’s proposal marks the agency’s first enforceable standard of its kind for PFAS and its first effort to regulate a drinking water contaminant in over 25 years.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Newsom displays responsive approach to water crisis

Two recent watershed decisions in California exemplified how difficult it is to manage this precious resource. Last month, many water leaders applauded Gov. Gavin Newsom for taking quick action to suspend a 1999 environmental regulation and keep more water in reservoirs on a temporary basis. This was a commonsense and prudent move to allow California to adapt in the face of changed climate conditions and severe pressure on the state’s other main source of supply, the Colorado River. The thinking: Let’s hold on to this water now in case drier times are ahead. Then the weather forecast changed.
-Written by Charley Wilson is the executive director of the Southern California Water Coalition.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California pause of water rules violates tribal rights

There has been a lot of attention for Gov. Gavin Newson’s executive order encouraging California agencies to waive environmental laws to deliver more water to powerful agricultural interests. There have also been hearings about modernizing California’s outdated water rights system. Largely missing from this discussion is the fact that California still lets race decide who has access to its most precious resource – water.
-Written by Kasil Willie, staff attorney for Save California Salmon and a member of Walker River Paiute Tribe, and Regina Chichizola, executive director of Save California Salmon. She is based on Karuk land on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Roundup, the world’s favorite weed killer, linked to liver, metabolic diseases in kids

For Brenda Eskenazi, what once seemed merely a rich vein of epidemiological knowledge has turned out to be a mother lode. Eskenazi, who runs the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas study (known as CHAMACOS, Mexican Spanish slang for “little kids”), has tracked pairs of mothers and their children for more than 20 years. She’s collected hundreds of thousands of samples of blood, urine and saliva, along with exposure and health records. … So when Charles Limbach, a doctor at a Salinas health clinic, saw an explosion of fatty liver disease in his young patients and found a study linking the condition in adults to the weed killer glyphosate, he contacted Eskenazi.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

The price of San Diego’s ‘drought-proof’ water could spike a whopping 14 percent

San Diegans are facing a tidal wave of rate increases in coming years for so-called drought-proof water — driven in large part by new sewage recycling projects coupled with the rising cost of desalination and importing the Colorado River. While many residents already struggle to pay their utility bills, the situation now appears more dire than elected leaders may have anticipated. The San Diego County Water Authority recently announced that retail agencies should brace for a massive 14 percent spike on the cost of wholesale deliveries next year…. Officials on the wholesaler’s 36-member board are anxiously exploring ways to temper such double-digit price hikes, even contemplating the sale of costly desalinated water produced in Carlsbad.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Influential Little Hoover Commission launches its first-ever study of the California Environmental Quality Act

California’s bedrock environmental law has helped protect residents, wildlife and natural resources from pollution and other negative effects of development countless times since then-Gov. Ronald Reagan put it on the books more than half a century ago. But the California Environmental Quality Act, better known as CEQA, sometimes is weaponized by competing businesses, labor unions and anti-development neighbors who aren’t necessarily motivated by environmental concerns. … Supporters say the law has blocked or forced changes for hundreds of projects that would have worsened air, water and soil pollution…. Witnesses spelled out those competing realities during an all-day hearing Thursday before the Little Hoover Commission which, for the first time, is studying whether to recommend changes to the environmental law.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Cal Am says it intends to sign water purchase agreement

After more than a year of wrangling, California American Water Co. has agreed in principle to sign an agreement to purchase water from a major expansion of a Monterey Peninsula water recycling project that when completed will provide for thousands of acre-feet of additional water. Evan Jacobs, external affairs manager for Cal Am, confirmed Thursday that what was agreed upon was a filing made by the state Public Advocates Office that gave Cal Am a portion of what it wanted. The filing still must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, but it’s the first time all sides have agreed in principle since September of 2021. The Public Advocates Office helps to ensure Californians are represented at the CPUC by recommending solutions and alternatives in utility customers’ best interests.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: California salmon ocean fishing season cancelled to help fish recover

On March 10, officials in California made the difficult yet pragmatic decision to cancel … ocean salmon commercial or sport fishing off California’s coast until April 2024. In the Sacramento and Klamath rivers, Chinook salmon numbers have approached record lows due to recent drought conditions. … Right now, we believe that the commercial salmon fishing ban is what our salmon need to ensure population numbers do not dip to unrecoverable lows. As we look to future population resiliency, there are so many other things these fish need, and our teams are working hard to make them happen. CalTrout works from ridge top to river mouth to get salmon populations unassisted access to each link in the chain of habitats that each of their life stages depends on.

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Sport and commercial ocean salmon season closed statewide

The Pacific Fishery Management Council on March 10 provided three options for recreation and commercial salmon fishing from the California/Oregon border all the way south to the California/Mexico border. Unfortunately, but not surprising, all three options included the words “closed.” In an unprecedented decision, the PFMC was left with little choice but to close recreational and commercial salmon fishing this season statewide. Southern Oregon, which also impacts Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook, will also be closed from Cape Falcon south. The sport fishery had been scheduled to open off California in most areas on April 1. The closures were made to protect Sacramento River fall Chinook, which returned to the Central Valley in 2022 at near-record low numbers, and Klamath River fall Chinook, which had the second lowest abundance forecast since the current assessment method began in 1997.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Restore California’s floodplains to capture more stormwater

The southern Sierra Nevada is covered with the deepest snowpack in recorded history, and the rest of the range is not far behind. When all that snow melts, where will it go? You can read the answer in the landscape of the Central Valley. To the eye it is nearly flat, covered by layers of gravel, silt and clay washed from the mountains over the eons by rain and melting snow. … The solution is shockingly simple, relatively cheap — compared with the cost of cataclysmic floods — and surprisingly non-controversial. We just haven’t yet done it on the scale that’s needed. California needs to restore its floodplains. Not the whole valley floors, and not as they were in the pre-development era. But it needs to have many more acres of land reserved for floodwater.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Mandatory water restrictions lifted in Southern California

Mandatory water restrictions are being lifted for nearly 7 million people across Southern California following winter storms that have boosted reservoirs and eased the severe shortage that emerged during the state’s driest three-year period on record. Citing improvements in available supplies, the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has decided to end an emergency conservation mandate for agencies in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties that rely on water from the State Water Project. However, officials urged residents and businesses to continue conserving, and to prepare for expected cuts in supplies from the Colorado River. The announcement follows an onslaught of atmospheric rivers that have dumped near-record snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and pushed the state‘s flood infrastructure to its limits.

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Aquafornia news 12 News - Phoenix

Nestlé-backed bill may detrimentally change Arizona water law

A Nestlé plant in the Valley has an issue: it wants to produce a lot of “high-quality” creamer. But it might not have enough water to do so. The company’s solution could allow factories to drain Arizona’s groundwater and could threaten the quality of city tap water, according to water experts. The massive food and drink producer announced last year it would be building a nearly $700 million plant in Glendale, but has since run into issues with its water provider EPCOR. The amount of wastewater Nestlé projected to need turned out to be too much for the Canada-based utility.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Supreme Court case could reshape indigenous water rights in the Southwest

The U.S. government has yet to uphold its end of a deal struck over 60 years ago, in which the Navajo Nation traded some of its water rights to divert San Juan River water, a major tributary to the Colorado River, to the growing urban areas along the Rio Grande in exchange for irrigation infrastructure for NAPI. Sixty years later, and as water resources dwindle, the remaining 40,000 acres of irrigation originally promised to the farm remain undeveloped….later this month, the Supreme Court will hear a high-profile case in which the federal government has decided to push back on its responsibility to provide tribes with an adequate water supply. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

No California salmon: Fishery to be shut down this year

In response to crashing Chinook populations, a council of West Coast fishery managers plans to cancel this year’s salmon season in California, which will put hundreds of commercial fishermen and women out of work in Northern California and turn the summer into a bummer for thousands of recreational anglers. …The Pacific Fishery Management Council announced March 10 that it is choosing between three fishing season alternatives. Each would close the 2023 season, with the possibility of a reopening in 2024. The final decision will come during a session that begins April 1.

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Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: California court refuses to dismiss ESA challenge to Corps’ operation of Coyote Valley Dam on Russian River

Recently, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a concerned citizen against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) alleging Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations in connection with the Corps’ operation of the Coyote Valley Dam on the Russian River in Northern California. The court opined that federal defendants cannot avoid having to defend their prior actions simply by initiating the consultation process under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA, and the equities weighed against a stay of the litigation while the consultation process unfolds.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Nevada considers capping water use in Vegas amid Colorado River drought

Lawmakers in Nevada are considering new rules that would give water managers the authority to cap how much water residents could use in their homes, a step that reflects the dire conditions on the Colorado River after more than two decades of drought. Among the Western states that rely on the Colorado River for sustenance, Nevada has long been a leader in water conservation, establishing laws that limit the size of swimming pools and ban decorative grass. Residents now consume less water than they did 20 years ago.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California to store San Joaquin River floods as groundwater

Fresno County’s newest large-scale water storage project is happening below ground. With California inundated by rain and snow, state and federal water regulators hatched a plan to help replenish underground aquifers further depleted by heavy agriculture pumping during the recent drought. In an agreement announced last week, more than 600,000 acre-feet of floodwater from the San Joaquin River system will be diverted and allowed to soak back into the earth in areas with permeable soils and wildlife refuges. How much water is 600,000 acre-feet? Enough to overflow Millerton Lake, which stores 520,000 acre-feet at capacity. Or enough to meet the annual needs of more than 1 million average households.

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Aquafornia news Growing Produce

California’s blueprint for ag growth rooted in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

The atmospheric rivers that flowed over California in January dumped about a foot of rain — equal to an entire year’s average — in many parts of the state’s parched Central Valley, which encompasses only 1% of U.S. farmland but produces 40% of the nation’s table fruits, vegetables, and nuts. With February, ordinarily the second wettest month, still to be counted, talks of all the land that will have to fallowed as a result of the drought have quieted for now. But most Golden State growers have come to realize that droughts will simply be a part of farming going forward, and the safety net is gone. That safety net was groundwater pumping. For more than a half-century, farmers in the Central Valley, the multi-faceted state’s chief production area, have been pumping more water from aquifers than can be replenished, causing wells to be drilled deeper and deeper.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

EPA to limit toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed limiting the amount of harmful “forever chemicals” in drinking water to the lowest level that tests can detect, a long-awaited protection the agency said will save thousands of lives and prevent serious illnesses, including cancer. The plan marks the first time the EPA has proposed regulating a toxic group of compounds that are widespread, dangerous and expensive to remove from water. PFAS, or per- and polyfluorinated substances, don’t degrade in the environment and are linked to a broad range of health issues, including low birthweight babies and kidney cancer. The agency says drinking water is a significant source of PFAS exposure for people.

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Aquafornia news KTLA - Los Angeles

EPA looking to shut down cesspools at Southern California mobile home park

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint against the operator of a mobile home park in Acton, alleging that the park is using two large unlawful cesspools to collect untreated raw sewage. The complaint identifies Eric Hauck as the operator of Cactus Creek Mobile Home Park in Acton. He’s also identified as a trustee of Acton Holding Trust. The EPA alleges that Hauck has two illegal cesspools on the property, despite large capacity cesspools being banned by the environmental agency more than 15 years ago. Cesspools, according to the EPA, collect and discharge waterborne pollutants like untreated raw sewage into the ground. The practice of using cesspools can lead to disease-causing pathogens to be introduced to local water sources, including groundwater, lakes, streams and oceans.

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Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Low Sacramento River salmon forecast to close ocean salmon fishing

Federal officials have proposed closing commercial chinook salmon fishing off the coast of California over concerns for expected low numbers of fall-run chinook salmon returning to the Sacramento River this year. The Pacific Fishery Management Council announced its three alternatives for recreational and commercial fishing Friday. Ocean recreational fishing from the Oregon-California border to the U.S.-Mexico border will be closed in all three proposals, “given the low abundance forecasts for both Klamath and Sacramento River fall chinook.” the council said in a news release issued Friday. Commercial salmon fishing off the coast of California also will be closed, the council said. Ocean fishing restrictions were also announced for Oregon and Washington.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula water district loses key lawsuit

Legal challenges to a Monterey Peninsula water district’s ratepayer fee that dates back a least a decade reached fruition this week when a judge ruled against the district and ordered it to stop collecting the fee. The ruling could have a huge impact on district revenues at a time when the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District is partnering with Monterey One Water to invest in the Pure Water Monterey expansion project, which the district says could supply enough water to the Monterey Peninsula for the next few decades. At issue are two fees. The first is a “user fee” that was collected as a pass-through charge on California American Water Company’s bills. But state regulators in 2011 ordered a halt to it, so the district created another fee called a “water supply fee” that was collected through property taxes. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

State water agency rescinds controversial Delta order that put fish at risk

As storms swell California’s reservoirs, state water officials have rescinded a controversial order that allowed more water storage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while putting salmon and other endangered fish at risk. Ten environmental groups had petitioned the board to rescind its order, calling it “arbitrary and capricious, contrary to law, and…not supported by substantial evidence.”  The reason for the state’s reversal, according to the State Water Resources Control Board, is that conditions in the Delta have changed as storms boost the snowpack and runoff used to supply water to cities and farms.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A plan to ship oil alongside the Colorado River sees revived opposition amid national railway safety debate

Two Colorado Democrats this week are making a last ditch effort to block a proposed 88-mile railway in Utah that they say would drive up climate emissions and could lead to a catastrophic oil spill in the upper Colorado River, contaminating a vital water supply for nearly 40 million Americans that’s already critically threatened by deepening drought. The Uinta Basin Railway was approved by the Surface Transportation Board in 2021 and received provisional approval by the U.S. Forest Service last summer to travel through a 12-mile roadless area of the Ashley National Forest. It would connect the oil fields of Utah’s Uinta Basin to the national rail network and refineries on the Gulf Coast. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Suit seeks to block Forest Service use of fire retardant to combat wildfires

A Montana-based lawsuit against the United States Forest Service could bring sweeping changes to how forest fires are fought in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Such changes could result in worse wildfire seasons in the future as the lawsuit aims to prohibit the use of aerial fire retardants. The backstory: … Chemical retardants that are used by firefighting agencies such as the USFS are tested and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Missoula Technology and Development Center. The big picture: Per the lawsuit, the FSEEE is attempting to require the USFS to obtain a Clean Water Act permit to use fire retardant from airplanes. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Valadao’s take on Biden’s Valley water grab: Where’s the beef?

The Biden administration’s move to throw out the Trump-era biological opinions that govern California’s water flow is nothing more than a political move to Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford).  In an upcoming interview on Sunrise FM, Valadao discussed the history of the biological opinions and the Congressional investigation into the Biden administration’s decision.  The backstory: The latest biological opinions which govern the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project were signed by President Donald Trump in 2019, capping the process of formulating the new opinions that started under President Barack Obama.  When President Joe Biden took office two years ago, his administration quickly began the process of removing the 2019 biological opinions to revert back to the previous opinions issued in 2008 and 2009.  

Aquafornia news ABC 15 - Arizona

Arizona community worries energy company will hog water supply

Residents in one western Arizona community worry that a clean energy company, which plans to build nearby, could hog their groundwater supply. Brenda is a small town located a few miles north of Interstate 10 in La Paz County. Like nearby Quartzsite, it caters to RV visitors who are looking for sunshine and warmth during the winter months. At Buckaroo’s Sandwich Shop, manager Lisa Lathrop said she has lived in the area for 13 years because “it’s usually quiet out here and nobody knows about us.” That’s about to change. The addition of the Ten West Link, a high-voltage transmission line currently being built to connect Tonopah with Blythe, California, is expected to bring multiple solar power companies to the area. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Las Vegas water agency seeks power to limit residential use

Ornamental lawns are banned in Las Vegas, the size of new swimming pools is capped and much of the water used in homes is sent down a wash to be recycled, but Nevada is looking at another significant step to ensure the water supply for one of the driest major metropolitan areas in the U.S. State lawmakers on Monday are scheduled to discuss granting the power to limit what comes out of residents’ taps to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the agency managing the Colorado River supply to the city. If lawmakers approve the bill, Nevada would be the first state to give a water agency permanent jurisdiction over the amount of residential use. The sweeping omnibus bill is one of the most significant to go before lawmakers this year in Nevada, one of seven states that rely on the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Gavin Newsom waives permits to put California flood water underground

California’s severely depleted groundwater basins could get a boost this spring, after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order waiving permits to recharge them. State water leaders hope to encourage local agencies and agricultural districts to capture water from newly engorged rivers and spread it onto fields, letting it seep into aquifers after decades of heavy agricultural pumping. … To pull water from the state’s network of rivers and canals for groundwater recharge, state law requires a permit from the State Water Resources Control Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife. Many local agencies lacked the permitting during January storms, but this month’s atmospheric rivers and near record snowpack promises new opportunities to put water underground.

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Aquafornia news Boston Globe

The toxic myth of the Gold Rush

One doesn’t have to visit bucolic Gold Rush towns like Coloma, where you can give panning for gold a try, to see the truth. Before 1975, there was no state or federal law mandating cleanup of mining operations. Today, California’s Department of Conservation estimates that there are at least 47,000 abandoned mines dotted across almost every county in the state. … And about 5,000 of these mines, according to state estimates, are also likely contaminated — leaching out harmful heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury that were dug up from deep underground or added to the environment in a desperate attempt to extract every nugget of gold.

Aquafornia news Monterey Weekly

Judge rules against Monterey Peninsula Water Management District in lawsuit about surcharge

In the coming years, Cal Am ratepayers could see a surcharge on their property tax bills disappear. Or, maybe not.  On March 3, Monterey County Judge Carrie Panetta ruled that the continued collection of the surcharge—which is collected by California American Water and then paid to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District—violated the sunset clause in an ordinance MPWMD approved in 2012 to create that charge. Collectively, it costs Cal Am ratepayers about $3.4 million annually.  The reason that charge might not go away soon is that on March 20, MPWMD’s board will be meeting in closed session to decide, among other things, whether or not to appeal the ruling. If they do appeal, it could take a couple of years or more before the appeal is decided.

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Coalition issues intent to sue state water board over order to suspend water quality protections

A coalition of environmental groups – the California Water Impact Network, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and AquAlliance – have submitted a notice of intent to sue the State Water Resources Control Board unless it rescinds an order to suspend water quality and fish protections in California rivers and the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, according to a coalition press release. The Board’s order was issued following a decision by Governor Gavin Newsom to retain water in state reservoirs to ensure future deliveries for Central Valley agriculture. The order constituted an end-run around state and federal legal requirements to maintain adequate water quality and temperature conditions for salmon below dams.

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Aquafornia news Patch - San Diego

How San Diego climate action works and what it might cost

San Diego has a dozen years to cut almost 11 million metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions from its economy to meet climate goals set by Mayor Todd Gloria last year. That’s like removing 2.2 million gas-powered cars from the road. Jumpstarting those emissions cuts will cost the city $30 million per year through 2028, according to a new cost analysis produced by the city’s consultant, the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at University of San Diego Law School. And then, it’ll be up to the City Council to prioritize that spending.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Who gets harmed as the Colorado River changes?

National and regional media love a good fight, and lately a day doesn’t pass without a major news story or op-ed focused on Colorado River disagreements, particularly amongst the seven states of the Colorado River Basin (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming). Which state must bear the brunt of shortages needed as Colorado River flows decline? Which sector of water users takes the hit as climate change continues to diminish the river? Should urban water supplies be protected because that’s where all the people are? (Municipal water supply representatives will quickly remind us that if all urban uses of Colorado River water were cut off, there would still be a shortage). Should agricultural water supplies be protected because we all need to eat? 

Aquafornia news Patch - Berkeley

UC Berkeley researchers present plan for freshwater conservation

The 30×30 initiative is a global effort to set aside 30% of land and sea area for conservation by 2030, a move scientists hope will reverse biodiversity loss and mitigate the effects of climate change. Now adopted by state and national governments around the world, 30×30 creates an unprecedented opportunity to advance global conservation. When it comes to the water side of 30×30, most programs focus primarily on conservation of oceans, but a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley argues that freshwater ecosystems must not be neglected. Published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the paper urges policy makers to explicitly include freshwater ecosystems like rivers, lakes, and wetlands in 30×30 plans, and outlines how their conservation will be critical to achieving the initiative’s broader goals.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Colorado River doomsday averted? Some hopeful but top water official mum

The nation’s top Western water official visited the Coachella Valley on Thursday to highlight federal funding for infrastructure that carries Colorado River water to area farm fields. The visit comes during a break in heavy winter storms across the West that are buoying hopes among regional water officials for a temporary reprieve on potentially huge cuts to river supply. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton was mum on whether heavy snowpack in the Rockies and elsewhere could push back massive reductions she told Congress last spring were necessary to keep the river and its reservoirs afloat. But California officials are cautiously optimistic that major reductions could be averted this year. Noting that overall river flows this year are now forecast to be 113% of average thanks to “huge snowpack” in the Rockies and elsewhere …

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

EPA proposes stricter limits on coal plant water pollution

The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed tighter limits on wastewater pollution from coal-burning power plants that has contaminated streams, lakes and underground aquifers across the nation. Under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency sets pollution standards to limit wastewater discharge from the power industry and other businesses. The Trump administration rolled back pollution standards so utilities could use cheaper technologies and take longer to comply with guidelines for cleaning coal ash and toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and selenium from plant wastewater before dumping it into waterways. The Biden administration’s proposal for stricter standards at coal-burning plants also encourages the plants to retire or switch to other fuels such as natural gas by 2028.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: How storms will impact San Jose residents’ water bills

The recent series of storms that swept through the region wrought havoc in many ways, but they did improve water levels in California. Without minimizing widespread storm damage and attending hardship, it is nice to see the hills green again and hope the rainy trend continues. It’s also a great relief to note that statewide Sierra snowpack was registering at nearly 200% of normal levels at the beginning of February, and that preliminary reservoir gauge readings published for the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s 10 local reservoirs at the same time showed five of those reservoirs at or above 80% capacity. And as reported in The Mercury News on Jan. 12: “For the first time in more than two years, the majority of California is in moderate drought, not severe drought.”
-Written by Andy Gere, president and COO of San Jose Water. 

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Petition approved to capture flood flows, recharge groundwater

To capitalize on strong flows resulting from higher-than-average snowpack, the State Water Resources Control Board approved a petition by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to divert over 600,000 acre-feet of San Joaquin River flood waters for wildlife refuges, underground storage and recharge. With this approval, the State Water Board has authorized nearly 790,000 acre-feet in diversions for groundwater recharge and other purposes since late December 2022 – the amount of water used by at least 1.5 million households in a single year.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Helping the San Joaquin Valley find new uses for fallowed farmland

In Sarge Green’s 40-plus year career, he’s worn an astonishing number of hats. Now a water management specialist with California State University, Fresno, Sarge has worked on water quality issues at the regional water board, served as general manager of an irrigation district, and managed two resource conservation districts (RCDs). He’s also a director for the Tule Basin Land and Water Conservation Trust and the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District. He’s been a long-time partner with the PPIC Water Policy Center in our San Joaquin Valley work as a trusted member of our research network. Sarge remains deeply involved in efforts to help San Joaquin Valley farms and communities cope with the challenges of implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We spoke with him about a pressing issue in the valley: how to manage farmland that will be transitioning out of intensive irrigation.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Was California consulted in recent Colorado River negotiations?

States that use water from the Colorado River are caught in a standoff about how to share shrinking supplies, and their statements about recent negotiations send mixed messages. California officials say they were not consulted as other states in the region drew up a letter to the federal government with what they called a “consensus-based” set of recommendations for water conservation. Leaders in states that drafted the letter disagree with that characterization. The reality of what happened during negotiations may lie somewhere in between, as comments from state leaders hint at possible differences between their definitions of what counts as “consultation.” The squabble is a microcosm of larger tensions between states that use water from the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news The New Republic

Navajo Nation is taking on three states and the federal government for the right to Colorado River water

…. On March 20 … the entire Colorado River will be looming over the [Supreme Court] justices when they hear oral arguments in Arizona v. Navajo Nation. The case, which dwells at the intersection of Native treaty rights and water rights, will mark the court’s latest foray into the byzantine rules and regulations that govern limited supplies of water in one of the driest parts of the country. For the Navajo Nation, the court’s decision on its 19th-century treaty rights could have serious consequences for its future.

Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Opinion: Why the U.S. can’t afford to cut Yuma’s water

Yuma, Ariz. may be well known for its unforgiving summer heat, but did you know that 90% of North America’s leafy greens and vegetables available from November through April of each year comes from here? Yuma’s climate, its rich soil birthed from sediments deposited by the Colorado River for millennia, and over 300 cloudless days per year coalesce to create one of the best places in the world to grow such a diverse mix of crops. … At the crux of this production is water. The Colorado River ends its U.S. run at Morelos Dam, just a few hundred yards from the University of Arizona’s Extension research farm at Yuma. That water no longer makes it to the Sea of Cortez as Mexico consumes it for urban and agricultural uses.
-Written by Todd Fitchette, associate editor with Western Farm Press.

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Aquafornia news Rancho Santa Fe Review

RSF Association directors question SFID’s new water rate structure, pending rate increase

The Santa Fe Irrigation District continues its outreach on its proposed water rate increases, making a stop at the March 2 Rancho Santa Fe Association board meeting. “It’s a nice sales presentation but I don’t buy a bit of it,” commented Director Greg Gruzdowich. The RSF Association has long been in favor of a uniform rate structure as they believe Rancho Santa Fe homeowners are unfairly subsidizing smaller lots and users. … The Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID) board will vote on the proposed water rate increases at a public hearing on March 28. If approved, the new rates would go into effect on April 1 and impact bimonthly bills in June.

Aquafornia news CNN

Feds suspend measures that were meant to boost water levels at drought-stricken Lake Powell

Starting Tuesday, the US Bureau of Reclamation will suspend extra water releases from Utah’s Flaming Gorge reservoir – emergency measures that had served to help stabilize the plummeting water levels downstream at Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reservoir. Federal officials began releasing extra water from Flaming Gorge in 2021 to boost Lake Powell’s level and buy its surrounding communities more time to plan for the likelihood the reservoir will eventually drop too low for the Glen Canyon Dam to generate hydropower. Lake Powell in late February sank to its lowest water level since the reservoir was filled in the 1960s, and since 2000 has dropped more than 150 feet.

Aquafornia news Somach Law

Blog: California Court of Appeal holds that State Water Board was not required to investigate whether permitted wastewater discharges amounted to waste and unreasonable use

On February 27, 2023, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District (Court of Appeal) affirmed in part and reversed in part the Los Angeles Superior Court’s decision in Los Angeles Waterkeeper v. State Water Resources Control Board, et al., Case No. BS171009. Somach Simmons & Dunn filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Association of California Water Agencies, and WateReuse Association informing the Court of Appeal of the unintended consequences of the rule issued by the trial court, which found that California Constitution Article X, section 2 imposed a duty on the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to prevent the waste of permitted wastewater discharges.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Newsom budget would slash funds that protect coast

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget would cut funding for coastal resilience projects almost in half, eliminating more than half a billion dollars of state funds this year that would help protect the coast against rising seas and climate change. The cuts are part of Newsom’s proposed $6 billion in reductions to California’s climate change programs in response to a projected $22.5 billion statewide deficit. California’s coastal resilience programs provide funding for local governments to prepare coastal plans and pay for some projects that protect beaches, homes and infrastructure at risk from rising sea levels. Greenhouse gases are responsible for warming the planet, which melts ice and causes sea levels to rise.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Valley’s water managers celebrate winning key SGMA approval from Calif. regulators

In light of last week’s decisions regarding the groundwater sustainability plans, groundwater managers in Fresno County are celebrating.  The backstory: The California Department of Water Resources announced its decisions for the groundwater sustainability plans for 10 basins in the Central Valley, giving the green light to the Kings Subbasin and Westside Subbasin, both of which are anchored in Fresno County. Groundwater sustainability plans are required by 2014’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and govern how agencies in critically overdrafted areas achieve groundwater sustainability.  The big picture: The basins that received approval from the state will move forward to the implementation phase while those that were deemed inadequate will face direct oversight from the State Water Board.

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Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Editorial: Can the Colorado River be saved without cutting Calif.’s cord?

This winter will be one for the record-books in California. It looks like the winter I spent playing on 40-feet of snow in Mammoth Lakes in the mid-1990s will be topped by this year’s epic snowfall. So where will all that water go when it melts? Living in Bishop at the time, we had flooding in August as the runoff came off the mountains and made it to the Owens River – or as some might call it: the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Here’s my thought on this. Follow along. Los Angeles gets much of its water from the Sierra Nevada and runoff in various places in California. Yes, it gets water too from the State Water Project, but the mismanagement of that system tends to push more water out to sea than for human use.

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Aquafornia news Bay City News

Water districts aim to go greener by cutting out ornamental grass

Though recent snow and rainfall have certainly improved drought conditions, California water officials still want to make every drop of water count. That means cutting out the watering of decorative grass — also known as non-functional turf – frequently landscaped at traffic medians or office parking lots. Decorative grass is becoming a bigger problem for Western water agencies to address as policymakers look to cut back its water usage in statewide bans, proposed legislation and local ordinances. Right before last summer’s sweltering heat, the California Water Resources Control Board set a statewide ban on irrigating non-functional turf with potable water in commercial, institutional and industrial sectors, also known as CII sites. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: Newsom made the right call on delaying Delta water flows

Over the past 10 years, California has seen two of the most severe droughts in a millennium separated by two of the wettest years on record. This erratic weather, volatile even by California standards, shattered heat records, killed millions of trees, fueled explosive wildfires and caused significant flooding. As California’s changing climate pushes us deeper into uncharted climate waters, past records are becoming a less reliable tool for predicting current and future weather patterns. That’s why Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent decision to delay the release of 700,000 acre-feet of water, enough to supply nearly 7 million people for a year, from state reservoirs into the Sacramento-San Joaquin-River Delta was the right call. Snowpack from early storms can be lost to dry, hot weather later this spring.
-Written by Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. ​

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR and partners promote California’s hidden water resource during Groundwater Awareness Week 2023

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today kicked off National Groundwater Awareness Week 2023 with an engaging educational event held at the California Natural Resources Agency headquarters in Sacramento. The event featured an array of groundwater partners who provided presentations describing their work in groundwater and why groundwater is such an important water resource in California. After the presentations, the in-person audience visited educational stations where they engaged with the day’s speakers and other groundwater professionals.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ about to get their first US limits

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose restrictions on harmful “forever chemicals” in drinking water after finding they are dangerous in amounts so small as to be undetectable. But experts say removing them will cost billions, a burden that will fall hardest on small communities with few resources. Concerned about the chemicals’ ability to weaken children’s immune systems, the EPA said last year that PFAS could cause harm at levels “much lower than previously understood.”

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

EPA mandates states report on cyber threats to water systems

The Biden administration on Friday said it would require states to report on cybersecurity threats in their audits of public water systems, a day after it released a broader plan to protect critical infrastructure against cyberattacks. The Environmental Protection Agency said public water systems are increasingly at risk from cyberattacks that amount to a threat to public health. … Fox said the EPA would assist states and water systems in building out cybersecurity programs, adding that states could begin using EPA’s guidance in their audits right away. The agency did not respond immediately to questions about enforcement deadlines. EPA said it would help states and water systems with technical know-how. The announcement made no mention of new financial assistance.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Travis reports no ‘petroleum’ sheen on Union Creek since December

Travis Air Force Base officials reported the “petroleum” sheen that has appeared on Union Creek a number of times, usually after rain events, has not been seen since December. That includes after the most recent storm, Capt. Jasmine Jacobs, with the base Public Affairs Office, said in an email response to the Daily Republic. Jacobs led a site visit with the Daily Republic on Feb. 27. Leslie Pena, the civilian environmental element chief at Travis, was part of the tour. This week the base confirmed for the first time that testing has shown that aviation fuel, motor oil, gasoline and diesel have been present, but the source of the leak is still under investigation.

Aquafornia news Ag Info

California water allocations up

From the Ag Information Network, I’m Bob Larson with your Agribusiness Update. **California farmers are expected to see increased federal water allocations this year, as winter storms bolster the Sierra Nevada snowpack and water levels rise in reservoirs. The Bureau of Reclamation has announced an initial allocation of 35% of contracted water supplies for agricultural customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The February 22 announcement was welcome news after officials provided zero allocations for agriculture in both 2021 and 22. **The National Association of Conservation Districts released policy recommendations for the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

States struggle to find Colorado River cuts as Lake Mead shrinks

The last time the Colorado River Basin agreed to a set of reductions to address drought conditions and dropping levels at Lake Mead was in 2019. … Now, states are looking to cut far more water than the 2019 agreement yielded, and on a much shorter negotiation timeline. After the seven states that rely on the Colorado River to provide water to roughly 40 million Americans missed two deadlines from the federal government to work out a consensus plan, there are two proposals from the basin states on the table that offer different paths for how to meet the target. The two proposals arrive at a similar number of potential new cuts to water use across the basin, but draw a clear line in the sand between California’s desire to protect its senior water rights, much of which are tied up in the agriculture sector, and the desire of the other six states to have California, Nevada and Arizona share the cuts more equitably.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

In dry West, farmers balk at idling land to save water

Tom Brundy, an alfalfa grower in California’s Imperial Valley, thinks farmers reliant on the shrinking Colorado River can do more to save water and use it more efficiently. That’s why he’s installed water sensors and monitors to prevent waste on nearly two-thirds of his 3,000 acres. But one practice that’s off-limits for Brundy is fallowing — leaving fields unplanted to spare the water that would otherwise irrigate crops. It would save plenty of water, Brundy said, but threatens both farmers and rural communities economically. … Many Western farmers feel the same, even as a growing sense is emerging that some fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West, where the Colorado River serves 40 million people.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s antiquated water rights system faces new scrutiny

It’s an arcane system of water law that dates back to the birth of California — an era when 49ers used sluice boxes and water cannons to scour gold from Sierra Nevada foothills and when the state government promoted the extermination of Native people to make way for white settlers. Today, this antiquated system of water rights still governs the use of the state’s supplies, but it is now drawing scrutiny like never before. In the face of global warming and worsening cycles of drought, a growing number of water experts, lawmakers, environmental groups and tribes say the time has finally come for change. Some are pushing for a variety of reforms, while others are calling for the outright dismantling of California’s contentious water rights system.

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Blog: Strengthening the Species Status Assessment process: The longfin smelt SSA provides instructive insights

In its evolving effort to meet Congress’s directive that determinations under the federal Endangered Species Act should be informed by the “best available scientific and commercial data” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses Species Status Assessments “to deliver foundational science” to support its decisions.  While this process does not typically garner much attention beyond that of the agency, the recent proposal to list longfin smelt as endangered has highlighted the SSA’s importance and brought to light some assessment elements that can be improved.  By way of background, the Service intends the Assessments to provide “focused, repeatable, and rigorous scientific assessment” that results in “improved and more transparent and defensible decision making, and clearer and more concise documents.”

Aquafornia news Brentwood Press

Water in Brentwood declared non-toxic

Anyone looking for a sequel to the Oscar-nominated film ‘Erin Brockovich’ needed only to tune into the Feb. 28 meeting of the Brentwood City Council to watch the city’s presentation on chromium-6, a water contaminant that has been linked to cancer. The presentation, which said the city’s water meets state safety standards, was given by Miki Tsubota, the director of Public Works, for the city at the request of council members after citizens expressed their concern late last year. For scale, Tsubota said, one part per billion is the equivalent of a single drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The state is preparing to establish a maximum contaminant level of 10 parts per billion, which means Brentwood’s drinking water would more than meet state-level safety standards, according to Tsubota. The current state standard is 50 parts per billion.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Farm town residents block water rate hike but are still stuck with a massive water debt

The western Fresno County community, where nearly half the residents live in poverty, is already carrying a water debt of  $400,000. That debt has been incurred over the last few years as El Porvenir has had to buy surface water on the open market and pay for expensive treatment. The town, along with nearby Cantua Creek, was supposed to be getting water from two new groundwater wells by this time. But the well project, which began in 2018 and was supposed to be completed in 2021, was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  So, residents have had to continue relying on the expensive surface water.  Fresno County buys about 100 acre feet of water each year for the towns from Westlands Water District at $432 per acre foot.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

A chess game? Upper Colorado Basin states postpone release of water to Lake Powell

The decision by an interstate agency representing the Upper Basin states to press the federal government to postpone the release of a portion of 500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah to Lake Powell isn’t only about the better snowpack the West is getting this winter. It’s more of a game of chess between the upper states of the Colorado River and the Lower Basin states, particularly California, said Gage Zobell, a water law attorney at Dorsey & Whitney. Zobell said it’s about “sending a message that [the Upper Basin states] refuse to continue supplying Lower Basin’s limitless demands for water.” 

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Aquafornia news Provo River Delta

Blog: Provo River Delta Restoration Project

The Provo River Delta Restoration Project broke ground in June of 2020, and on March 2, 2023 we’ll reach a major milestone: the Provo River will run into the channels and ponds created over the past few years, connecting the river with a restored delta, and with Utah Lake. To mark this achievement, a brief celebration will be held onsite on Thursday, March 2 at 1:30 PM, as outlined in the event agenda. The celebration will be held just west of the Lakeshore Bridge Trailhead in Provo. Please refer to the map below for parking locations and walking routes to the event location. Given limited space and winter site conditions, people are encouraged to carpool, walk or ride to the event and to be prepared for potentially cold and wet weather.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: State rejects local plans for protecting San Joaquin Valley groundwater

State water officials on Thursday rejected six local groundwater plans for the San Joaquin Valley, where basins providing drinking and irrigation water are severely depleted from decades of intensive pumping by farms. The plans — submitted by local agencies tasked with the job of protecting underground supplies — outline strategies for complying with a state law requiring sustainable groundwater management. The Department of Water Resources deemed the plans inadequate … Groundwater depletion has hurt the San Joaquin Valley’s small, rural communities, home to many low-income Latino residents who have been forced to live on bottled water and drill deeper wells, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Declining salmon population could trigger ban on fishing

California Chinook salmon populations have fallen to their lowest levels in years, according to new estimates released by state and federal scientists — a decline that could trigger a shutdown of the commercial and recreational fishing season along the coast. … The department said scientists estimated that the number of 3-year-old fall-run Chinook likely to return to the Sacramento River this year to spawn would be fewer than 170,000, one of the lowest forecasts in 15 years. They also estimated that fewer than 104,000 are likely to return to the Klamath River, the second-lowest estimate since 1997. In its announcement Wednesday, the department said returning fall-run Chinook “fell well short of conservation objectives” in the Sacramento River last year, and may now be approaching a point of being declared overfished.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State Water Board selects Jay Ziegler as the new Delta Watermaster

The State Water Resources Control Board named Jay Ziegler, former external affairs and policy director for the California Office of The Nature Conservancy, as the new Delta Watermaster. He succeeds Michael George, who held the position for two four-year terms. The Watermaster administers water rights within the legal boundaries of the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta and Suisun Marsh and advises the State Water Board and the Delta Stewardship Council on related water rights, water quality and water operations involving the watershed. … A resident of Davis, Ziegler brings a wealth of experience to the position. During his 12 years at the conservancy, he led the agency’s policy engagements on water, climate and resilience strategies, biodiversity and environmental and funding initiatives. Previously, he served in multiple roles at state and federal natural resource agencies…

Aquafornia news Quartz

US coastal wetlands are disappearing. Here’s how to save them

As the effects of heat-trapping pollution continue to raise sea levels, wetlands dotting American coastlines could drown — or they could flourish. Their fate will depend upon rates of sea-level rise, how quickly the plants can grow, and whether there’s space inland into which they can migrate. Climate Central modeled how American coastal wetlands will respond to sea level rise in an array of potential scenarios. It found that conserving land for wetlands to migrate into is a decisive factor in whether wetlands will survive or drown. Wetlands and development have long been in conflict, with ecological values weighed against waterfront economic opportunities. As seas rise, benefits of conserving areas inland for wetland migration are creating new tensions. And as climate change intensifies storms and elevate high tides and storm surges, the economic values of wetlands are growing.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Aurora cuts lawn watering down to two days, adds outdoor surcharge

Aurora Water just issued an urgent reminder that a Westerner’s outlook can change dramatically just by jumping over into the next river basin.  Skiers can be reveling in ridiculous powder at Steamboat and feeling good about how much water the Yampa and White rivers will contribute to the dry Colorado River come spring.  At the same time, Aurora sits with half-empty reservoirs and a dwindling snowpack in one of its key resource basins, the Arkansas River watershed. Already fearing water levels for Colorado’s third-largest city may approach emergency conditions this summer, the city council voted Monday to cut one day from allowed lawn watering schedules and add a surcharge for outdoor use. 

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Proposed pause on reservoir releases prompts Lower Basin states to respond

The three states that comprise the Colorado River’s Lower Basin – Arizona, California and Nevada – are weighing in on a proposal to pause some water releases from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in an effort to prop up Lake Powell. Those states essentially agreed with the idea of suspending water releases, but said water managers should wait a few months to see the full effects of spring runoff, and leave the door open for additional releases if warranted. They also stressed the need for input from all of the states which use water from the Colorado River. On Monday, the four states that make up the Upper Basin – Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico – voted to ask the federal government to stop releasing additional water that would flow downstream as part of the 2019 Drought Response Operations Agreement.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Southern Nevada Water Authority seeks power to limit water use

While western states work to hash out a plan to save the crumbling Colorado River system, officials from Southern Nevada are preparing for the worst — including possible water restrictions in the state’s most populous county. The Nevada Legislature last week introduced Assembly Bill 220, an omnibus bill that comes from the minds of officials at the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Most significantly, the legislation gives the water authority the ability to impose hefty water restrictions on individual homes in Southern Nevada, where three-quarters of Nevada’s 3.2 million residents live and rely on the drought-stricken Colorado River for 90 percent of their water. … The bill, if approved and signed into law in its current form, would stand as another substantial step toward conserving Nevada’s water … 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Pollutants were released into Guadalupe River, Coyote Creek from construction firm, lawsuit claims

A well-known Bay Area construction materials firm has unleashed harmful pollutants into Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek, threatening sensitive species of fish, frogs and salamanders, a newly filed lawsuit alleges. The Santa Clara County District Attorney claims that Graniterock, an over-century-old Watsonville-based corporation, has discharged stormwater from two of its San Jose facilities that contain above-level pH values, cement, sand, concrete, chemical additives and other heavy metals. Those pollutants have endangered steelhead trout, the California Tiger Salamander and the California Red Legged frog — animals that live in and around the South Bay waterways, the suit alleges. The complaint does not specify when or how much of the pollutants were apparently found discharged into the waterways.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: How California’s Big Ag wants you to think about all this rain

Despite the continued heavy winter rain and snow throughout California, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently extended his executive orders from 2022 that declared a drought emergency statewide. He also asked the state water board to waive water flow regulations intended to protect salmon and other endangered fish species, as well as San Francisco Bay and Delta estuary overall. Some viewed these moves as pragmatic steps to avoid “wasting” the bounty of California’s rains out to sea. Others saw them as a declaration of war against the health of the bay.  In fact, a war against the bay has been going on for decades. Newsom’s order was merely the latest skirmish. The war’s primary aggressors are agricultural interests in the Central Valley.
-Written by Howard V. Hendrix, the author of six novels as well as many essays, poems and short stories. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California may bar commercial salmon fishing, first time since 2009

California commercial and sports fishers are bracing for the possibility of no salmon season this year after the fish population along the Pacific Coast dropped to its lowest point in 15 years. On Wednesday, wildlife officials announced a low forecast for the number of the wild adult Chinook (or “king”) salmon that will be in the ocean during the fishing season that typically starts in May. The final plan for the commercial and recreational salmon season will be announced in April. …Salmon are highly dependent on how much water is available in their native rivers and streams, especially when they are very young. Even though the state has gotten a lot of rain and snow this winter, the population that is now in the ocean was born in 2020, in the beginning of the state’s current record-breaking drought. … This year, there will be about 170,000 adult salmon in the ocean from the Sacramento River fall run Chinook population, the main group that is fished commercially in the state and the lowest number since 2008.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join groundwater awareness event Monday, read about aquifer recharge & learn about groundwater on Central Valley Tour

As we approach next week’s National Groundwater Awareness Week, we have several groundwater-related events, articles and tours to share with you. Groundwater Awareness Event: Monday, March 6 Join the California Department of Water Resources, the Water Education Foundation and others on Monday at a special event in Sacramento to kick off next week’s National Groundwater Awareness Week. The 9 a.m. to noon event will include presentations, informational stations and demonstrations. For those who are unable to attend in person at the California Natural Resources Building’s Main Auditorium, 715 P St., the presentations will be available to view remotely.

Aquafornia news Law360

Feds say new Trinity River flows support fish populations

A new winter water flow management project implemented in California’s Trinity River is best for the region’s fish populations, the U.S. Department of the Interior and its Bureau of Reclamation said … 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Capitol corner – Bills, budget, brick & mortar, and the busy year ahead

This year, CalTrout is thrilled to co-sponsor three bills. The team will be collaborating with the legislative authors and our co-sponsors as the bills move through the legislature in the 2023-24 cycle. The first bill, AB 809, will establish a dedicated fund to support the long-term monitoring of California’s native salmon and steelhead trout populations. Next, AB 460, will empower the State Water Resources Control Board to act swiftly to prevent harm to the environment, public health, and water resources caused by illegal water rights violations. AB 1272 will lay the groundwork for creating a more climate-resilient future for native fish and for water supplies in coastal California. Keep scrolling to the bottom of this page for a deeper dive into each of the three bills.

Aquafornia news CNN

Booming Utah metro wants to pipe in water from Lake Powell so it can keep growing

In a bright-red county in a state allergic to regulations, there is a ban on growing grass outside new businesses. Only 8% of a home’s landscaping can have a grass lawn in this booming corner of Utah, about a hundred miles northeast of Las Vegas. And if any developers want to add another country club to this golfing mecca, … Like lots of spots in the West, the combination of more people and less water makes for an uncertain future around St. George, Utah. While this winter’s generous snowpack could buy precious time, the entire Colorado River system remains in danger of crashing if water gets too low at Lakes Powell and Mead. But that reality hasn’t stopped St. George from booming into the fastest growing metro area in the US two years running, according to the US Census Bureau, and Renstrom says that unless Utah builds a long-promised pipeline to pump water 140 miles from Lake Powell, their growth will turn to pain.

Aquafornia news Somach Law

Blog: Ninth Circuit revives Clean Water Act rule from the Trump Administration era

On February 21, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) issued its decision in American Rivers v. American Petroleum Institute, Case No. 21-16958, reversing the federal district court’s order that vacated a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule after the district court had granted a voluntary remand of the rule requested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CWA allows states and tribes to exert significant oversight on the federal permitting process by blocking or delaying controversial energy and infrastructure projects for a multitude of reasons, including impacts on climate. States and tribes derive their authority to influence federal permitting from Section 401 of the Act.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom takes page out of Trump’s water playbook

Clean water is California’s most vital need. Our lives and the lives of future generations depend on it. Yet when it comes to protecting the state’s supply, Gov. Gavin Newsom is failing California. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta provides drinking water to 27 million Californians, or roughly 70% of the state’s residents. On Feb. 15, the governor signed an executive order allowing the State Water Resources Control Board to ignore the state requirement of how much water needs to flow through the Delta to protect its health. It’s an outrageous move right out of Donald Trump’s playbook. Big Ag and its wealthy landowners, including some of Newsom’s political financial backers, will reap the benefits while the Delta suffers.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California ducks demand to review local wastewater discharge permits

The California State Water Resources Control Board can’t be forced to evaluate the “reasonableness” of locally issued permits to discharge treated wastewater, a state appeals court ruled, because state law doesn’t impose this obligation on the agency. The Los Angeles-based Second Appellate District on Monday overturned a trial judge’s order for the agency to evaluate the reasonableness of the permits that were renewed in 2017 by its regional board in LA, allowing four treatment plants to discharge millions of gallons of treated wastewater in the LA River and the Pacific Ocean every day. LA Waterkeeper, an environmental watchdog, had challenged the permits arguing the regional board and the state board should have considered better uses of the water, such as recycling, rather than dumping it in the ocean.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Unfair plan to cut California’s Colorado River water use

The immediate question before the seven states that use rapidly vanishing Colorado River water is not how to renegotiate the century-old agreement and accompanying laws that divvy up the supply. California and other states will have to grapple with that problem soon enough, and it won’t be easy. Those accords were hammered out in an era when the Western U.S. was lightly populated, farmland was not yet fully developed and the climate — although few realized it at the time — was unusually wet. Now, when the thirst is greatest and still growing, the region is reverting to its former aridity, exacerbated by higher temperatures caused by global industrialization. But the deadline for that reckoning is still nearly four years off.

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Upper Basin states want to pause some releases from a major Colorado River reservoir

Four states that use water from the Colorado River are asking the federal government to pause some water releases from Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, which make up the river’s Upper Basin, voted to suspend additional releases starting March 1. Delegates from those states say the federal government should let heavy winter precipitation boost water levels in Flaming Gorge. The reservoir, which straddles the border of Wyoming and Utah, is the third largest in the Colorado River system, behind only Lake Mead and Lake Powell. The Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency which manages dams and reservoirs in the arid West, has turned to Flaming Gorge to help prop up Lake Powell, where record low levels are threatening hydropower production inside the Glen Canyon Dam.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Cal/OSHA appeals board decision in heat illness prevention case ensures that potable drinking water is as close as practicable to workers

The Department of Industrial Relations’ Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (OSHAB) has issued a precedential decision regarding the provision of water at outdoor worksites, affirming that it must be as close as practicable to the areas where employees are working to encourage frequent consumption. … Cal/OSHA opened a complaint-initiated safety inspection at the Rios Farming Co. vineyard in St. Helena on August 6, 2018. Inspectors found some workers had to climb through multiple grape trellises to access drinking water. On January 7, 2019, Cal/OSHA cited Rios Farming Co. for a repeat-serious violation for not having water as close as practicable for their employees. Rios Farming Co. appealed the citation and an administrative law judge affirmed the citation on October 12, 2022, with a modified penalty of $27,000.

Aquafornia news Rancho Santa Fe Review

Santa Fe Irrigation board to vote on water rate increases this month

This month the Santa Fe Irrigation District is preparing to increase water rate charges for the next three years. The rate structure approved by the board in late 2022 was for tiered rates with a meter overlay for residential properties, an option they believe is unique to accommodate the variations in the district from small Solana Beach city lots to larger properties in Rancho Santa Fe. The public is invited to attend the public hearing on March 28 at 8:30 a.m. at the district offices. In accordance with Prop 218, notices about the proposed rate structure were sent out in February giving customers an opportunity to protest the rate increases up until the March 28 hearing. If the district receives protest forms from a majority of its 6,500 customers, the rate plan will not go forward.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge extends plan to manage flows to California delta and protect endangered fish

A judge has extended a temporary settlement of a long-running dispute over California water rights and how the Central Valley Project and State Water Project manage the Sacramento River flows. … The opinions address how the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources’ plan for operating the Central Valley and State Water Projects affects fish species. The opinions make it possible to send more water to 20 million farms, businesses and homes in Southern and Central California via the massive federal and state water diversion projects, and eliminate requirements such as mandating extra flows to keep water temperatures from rising high enough to damage salmon eggs. … A federal judge approved plans to allow the biological opinions to remain in effect over the next three years with added safeguards. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

San Joaquin Valley projected to lose 20% of water by 2040

An updated report on the San Joaquin Valley’s water crisis shows the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is not enough and additional water trading measures will need to be taken in order to stabilize local agricultural economies. The Public Policy Institute of California put out a policy brief on the future of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. Its analysis of the next 20 years indicates that annual water supplies for the Valley could decline by 10 to 20%. The Valley has been long understood to be the breadbasket of the United States and is home to the nation’s top three agricultural counties. However, without more innovative solutions, the Valley will likely have to fallow 900,000 acres of farmland and and cost 50,000 jobs leading to a major loss in the local economies The report indicates that the loss of almost a million acres is unavoidable…

Aquafornia news CBS - San Francisco

Sonoma supes to hold special meeting over potential water rate hikes

Sonoma County will be hosting a special public meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Monday to discuss water infrastructure and climate change challenges as well as possible water rate hikes. The county says that its water, wastewater and flood protection systems are more than a half-century old and are therefore precarious in the face of a large earthquake, climate change and wear and tear.  Sonoma County Water Agency is the county’s wholesale supplier of water to communities in both Sonoma and Marin counties, serving more than 600,000 people, according to the county. Six water collector wells exist near the Russian River and three groundwater wells. Water pumped from these wells goes through 88 miles of aqueducts that are between 45 and 65 years old.

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Aquafornia news KNAU - Arizona

Federal officials propose plan to prevent invasive fish from spawning in Colorado River

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public input on a plan to prevent smallmouth bass from spawning downstream of Glen Canyon Dam. Officials say the historically low levels in Lake Powell result in warm water being released from the dam which creates ideal spawning conditions for the predatory invasive species. The bureau wants to prevent the bass from establishing in the Colorado River between the dam and the confluence of the Little Colorado River and could try to reduce the water temperature and change the flow velocity from the dam. Smallmouth bass are a major threat to native fish including the federally protected humpback chub that live at the confluence.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom cares more about almond growers than California’s salmon fishery

Gov. Gavin Newsom bills himself as a protector of wildlife, so you wouldn’t think he’d take water from baby salmon and give it to almonds. Or to pistachios, or cotton or alfalfa. Especially when California was just drenched with the wettest three-week series of storms on record and was headed into another powerful soaking of snow and rain. But Newsom and his water officials still contend we’re suffering a drought — apparently it’s a never-ending drought. So, they used that as a reason last week to drastically cut river flows needed by migrating little salmon in case the water is needed to irrigate San Joaquin Valley crops in summer.
-Written by columnist George Skelton. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Who shoulders Mother Nature’s cut of the Colorado River?

Alongside farmers, ranchers and sprawling urban cities, Mother Nature has long sipped her share of the Colorado River — draining away enough water through evaporation and seepage to support nearly 6 million families each year. But as decades of drought strain major reservoirs in the Mountain West, threatening future water supplies and hydropower, states are divided over who should be picking up nature’s tab for the huge amount of water lost on the 1,500-mile-long waterway. The Upper Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — already account for some 468,000 acre-feet of water that evaporates from its reservoirs each year. 

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District details drought surcharge proposal

Marin Municipal Water District officials are proposing rate increases during drought periods to prevent financial shortfalls, but say ratepayers shouldn’t expect their bills to spike if they meet their conservation targets. … In a presentation, Bret Uppendahl, the district finance director, said adding drought surcharges to water rates is a common practice by water agencies throughout the country, including the North Marin Water District. The surcharges are used to make up for revenue losses during droughts resulting from reduced water sales from conservation and mandatory water use restrictions. The district does not use these surcharges and instead sets aside its regular water sales revenue into a reserve fund that it taps when droughts occur.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif. Water Board pauses Delta rules, boosting water supplies for storage

After the first flush of the year saw as much as 95 percent of daily incoming water to the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta sent into the San Francisco Bay, a new decision by the state’s water board this week will reverse course and allow for more water to be stored throughout the state’s reservoirs.  The State Water Resources Control Board has temporarily waived rules that required a certain amount of water to be flushed out to the bay, a decision that comes after the heavy rains California experienced to start the year.  The backstory: On Feb. 13 the California Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation jointly filed a Temporary Urgency Change Petition.

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Aquafornia news Patch - Castro Valley

State, federal water deliveries increased again

State and federal water managers announced Wednesday increased deliveries for millions of Californians in response to hopeful hydrologic conditions that materialized over the past several weeks. After a series of powerful storms brought rain and snow to much of California in December and January, increased reservoir levels led the state’s Department of Water Resources to set its delivery forecast at 30 percent of requested water supplies for the 29 public water agencies that draw from the State Water Project to serve 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County man fined by EPA

An error in paperwork proved to be a costly mistake for Justin Jenson, who was fined around $30,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA, Jenson, in November 2021, conducted bank stabilization activities on his residence along the shoreline below the ordinary high water mark, impacting 90 linear feet of the Sacramento River without a CWA Section 404 permit. … [T]he Corps permit application was pending because the Corps was in consultation with relevant federal agencies regarding potential impacts to endangered or threatened species and their critical habitats. Those species included Sacramento River Winter-run Chinook Salmon, Central Valley Spring-run Chinook Salmon, California Central Valley Steelhead, and the Southern Distinct Population Segment of North American Green Sturgeon. 

Aquafornia news AP News

Vinyl chloride draft report didn’t omit info on cancer, children

CLAIM: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed information from its toxicological profile for vinyl chloride about how dangerous the gas is in regards to children, drinking water and cancer. AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. While a new toxicological profile released as a draft this month has been reformatted from the prior version, it does not omit such information nor downplay the dangers of vinyl chloride, a review of the documents by The Associated Press and independent experts shows. THE FACTS: In the weeks following the Feb. 3 freight train derailment in Ohio that prompted officials to intentionally release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from five rail cars, a variety of conspiratorial claims about a government document on the gas have spread on social media.

Aquafornia news Grist

Here’s why a California beach town just banned balloons

Celebrations in a beachside California city will soon have to take place without an iconic, single-use party favor: balloons. The city council of Laguna Beach, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, voted Tuesday to ban the sale and use of all types of balloons, citing their contribution to ocean litter as well as health and safety risks from potential fires when they hit power lines. Starting in 2024, people using balloons on public property or at city events could incur fines of up to $500 for each violation. … Balloons, especially those filled with helium, often become ocean pollution after just a few hours of use. Those made of latex — a kind of soft, synthetic or natural material that may take decades to break down — can be mistaken for food by marine animals and birds. When ingested, latex can conform to birds’ stomach cavities, causing nutrient deficiency or suffocation. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California invests in critical Central Valley water infrastructure projects

California’s water authorities will spend $15 million in three crucial water management zones within the drought-ravaged southern Central Valley.  The hub of agricultural production in the Golden State, the Central Valley has also faced the most dire impacts from another historic drought, as thousands of wells went dry last year and many communities faced a total lack of safe drinking water. The state’s authorities say they are releasing funds to begin projects to prevent such hardship in future droughts. The Department of Water Resources along with California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot came to the small city of Parlier on Thursday to announce three grants totaling $15 million to improve water infrastructure in the region.

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Aquafornia news WBUR

With everything on the line, Arizona and California farmers prepare for fight over Colorado River

With the Colorado River teetering on the brink of disaster, farmers who rely on its life-giving water are preparing to make significant cuts to their operations. Near the U.S.-Mexico border, fourth-generation farmer Amanda Brooks grows broccoli, lettuce, dates, citrus and alfalfa on 6,000 acres. Her family’s farm in Yuma, Arizona, nearly touches the banks of the troubled river. … Last year, a top government official warned Congress the river was running dangerously low. Speaking before a Senate committee, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton said the seven Colorado River Basin would need to make drastic cuts to their water use to keep the reservoirs stable.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Ninth Circuit restores Trump-era gut of Clean Water Act rule

A Ninth Circuit panel on Tuesday revived a Trump-era Clean Water Act regulation, finding the lower court lacked authority to vacate the rule without finding it unlawful. In 2021, U.S. District Judge William Alsup vacated a Trump administration revision of the “Clean Water Act 401 Certification Rule,” which narrows what issues state and tribal governments can consider when determining whether a project, particularly one discharging pollution into a waterway, complies with state water quality standards. The rule affected the permitting and relicensing process for thousands of industrial projects, including natural gas pipelines, hydroelectric plants, wastewater treatment facilities and construction sites near sensitive wetlands. Beginning September 2020, states could no longer consider a project’s effects on air emissions and road traffic congestion.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Opinion: California wants to keep (most) of the Colorado River for itself

If the Colorado River continues to dwindle from the same arid trend of the last two decades, it could take as little as two bad drought years to drive the reservoir here on the Arizona-Nevada border to “dead pool.” That’s the term for levels so low that water can barely flow out of Hoover Dam. Mead is already just 29 percent full, its lowest level since it began filling in the 1930s. But dead pool would be a true disaster for farms, towns and cities from San Diego to Denver that depend on water from Mead and other reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin. Lake Powell, upstream on the Arizona-Utah border, is 23 percent full, the lowest since it filled in the 1960s.
-Written by John Fleck, co-author of “Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River.”

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Aquafornia news Newsweek

Colorado River drainage basin explained

Life in the southwestern U.S. as we know it exists thanks to the water of the Colorado River, which flows for approximately 1,450 miles from the Rockies to the Gulf of California. The river gets its water from the Colorado River drainage basin, which spreads some 246,000 square miles. A drainage basin is an area where all precipitation flows to the same river, or set of streams. The Colorado River basin is made up of all of Arizona, parts of California, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming, and two Mexican states—Baja California and Sonora—although the final two states contribute little runoff to the river.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California farms, cities to get big jump in water from feds after storms

California farms and cities that get their water from the Central Valley Project are due to receive a large increase in water allocations this year after snowpack and reservoirs were replenished in winter storms, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday. Most recipients of the Central Valley Projects are irrigation districts that supply farms, and some are cities, including those served by the East Bay Municipal Utility District and Contra Costa Water District in the Bay Area. Farms that received zero initial water allocations last year, in the third year of the state’s historic drought, are due to receive 35% of their allocation this year, the most they’ve gotten since 2019. Others, including the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors, large shareholders with senior water rights, will receive 100% of their contracted water supply.

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Aquafornia news WBUR

Future of the Salton Sea is tied to fate of imperiled Colorado River

A shortage on the Colorado River has put tremendous pressure on the water supply that serves more than 40-million people in the Western United States. But a punishing drought and the over allocation of the river have also created an urgent problem for California’s Salton Sea. The 340-square-mile lake was formed in 1905 when a canal carrying river water to farmers in the Imperial Valley ruptured. The flood created a desert oasis that lured tourists and migratory birds to its shore. A century later, the Salton Sea — California’s largest lake — is spiraling into an ecological disaster. At 223 feet below sea level, Bombay Beach occupies a low spot on the map. Many of the shoreline community’s trailer homes are rusting into the earth and tagged with graffiti. Artists have created large pieces of public sculpture, including a vintage phone booth that stands on the shoreline as a tribute to a bygone era.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Water board waives Delta rules that protect salmon

California’s water board decided Tuesday to temporarily allow more storage in Central Valley reservoirs, waiving state rules that require water to be released to protect salmon and other endangered fish. The waiver means more water can be sent to the cities and growers that receive supplies from the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta through the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. The state aqueduct delivers water to 27 million people, mostly in Southern California, and 750,000 acres of farmland, while the Central Valley Project mostly serves farms. The flow rules will remain suspended until March 31. Environmentalists reacted with frustration and concern that the move will jeopardize chinook salmon and other native fish in the Delta that are already struggling to survive…. But water suppliers applauded the decision, saying the water is needed to help provide enough water to cities and farms. 

Aquafornia news KLCC

Water managers could withhold Klamath County drought permits this year

Not issuing the drought permits could have a significant impact on agriculture in the region if farmers don’t have access to irrigation water. …The department usually issues 40 to 50 drought permits per year. A spokesperson for the Klamath Water Users Association, which lobbies for the basin’s agriculture community, did not respond to an interview request. Groundwater levels in the Klamath Basin have declined significantly in recent years. OWRD said the water level dropped by 20 to 30 feet over the last three years alone, so additional access is unsustainable. Emergency drought declarations have been made in Klamath County in 16 of the past 31 years.

Aquafornia news Mono Lake Committee

Blog: DWP’s “new water war” even bigger than LA Times suggests

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times article, “LA’s new water war: Keeping supply from Mono Lake flowing as critics want it cut off,” on the State Water Board’s Mono Lake workshop left readers and workshop attendees, well … wondering. Print space and attention spans are always tight, but the article missed information key to understanding the issue at Mono Lake, the diversity of voices calling Mono Lake protection, and the water supply solutions that are right at hand for Los Angeles. The State Water Board’s five-hour workshop was attended by 365 people, and 49 of the 53 public commenters spoke in support of raising Mono Lake. 

Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Water quality, fish and wildlife protection – It’s all voluntary

The future is now. Governor Newsom’s February 13, 2023 Executive Order ordering the State Water Board  to consider modifying flow and storage requirements for the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP) is his blueprint for the Bay-Delta estuary and every river that feeds it.  When requirements to protect water quality, fish, and wildlife are inconvenient, water managers can ignore them. It’s all voluntary. For ten-odd years, California’s water managers have promised “Voluntary Agreements” to replace the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.  They could never figure out the details of what to propose.

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Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: PFAS update – state-by-state PFAS drinking water standards

In the absence of an enforceable federal drinking water standard for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”), many states have started regulating PFAS compounds in drinking water.  The result is a patchwork of regulations and standards of varying levels, which presents significant operational and compliance challenges to impacted industries.  This client alert surveys the maximum contaminant levels (“MCLs”), as well as guidance and notification levels, for PFAS compounds – typically perfluorooctane sulfonate (“PFOS”) and perfluorooctanoic acid (”PFOA”)  – in drinking water across the United States.

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Aquafornia news KVPR - Bakersfield

Breaking down the story of Mira Bella’s drinking water problems

You see them all over the San Joaquin Valley: Sparkling new housing developments promising luxury living outside the big cities. But a recent investigation from our non-profit reporting partners shows the risks of building communities in areas with unreliable access to drinking water. Back in the 1980s, county officials knew the risks of building homes in the Mira Bella development near Millerton Lake in the foothills of Fresno County, but they greenlit the project anyway—and now residents and taxpayers are paying the price. In this interview, KVPR’s Kerry Klein talks with the reporters who produced this story, Jesse Vad of SJV Water and Gregory Weaver of Fresnoland, about the lengths Mira Bella residents are going to to solve their water problems, and what it demonstrates about who does and does not have access to drinking water in California.

Aquafornia news Chemical and Engineering News

Podcast: California confronts monitoring challenges for microplastics in drinking water

Researchers reported finding microplastics in drinking water nearly 5 years ago, prompting California lawmakers to require monitoring of the state’s drinking water for the tiny particles. But in 2018, there were no standard methods for analyzing microplastics. So California regulators reached out to chemists and toxicologists from all sectors to develop those methods. They also sought assistance in developing a health-based limit to help consumers understand what the monitoring results mean for their health. In this episode of Stereo Chemistry, we will hear from some of the scientists leading those groundbreaking efforts.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tule River Tribal Rights bill reintroduced in Congress

An effort that has lasted more than 50 years to secure water rights for the Tule River Indian Reservation continues. And it’s hoped the passage of a bill that has been reintroduced can prevent litigation happening between the Tribe and the U.S. Government. U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein both of California have re-introduced legislation to formally recognize the Tule River Tribe’s reserved water rights to 5,828 acre-feet/year of surface water from the South Fork of the Tule River, the Tule River Water Rights Settlement Act. For decades, the Tule River Tribe has worked with the federal government and downstream water users to enact the settlement agreement. In introducing the bill, Padilla’s office stated the legislation would avoid costly and adversarial litigation for the tribe and the U.S. government.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield to take a deep dive on the Kern River – supplies, demands and rights

The Bakersfield City Council at its meeting Wednesday will likely approve a $288,350 contract to conduct a detailed study of the city’s water supplies and demands with a strong focus on Kern River operations. Though the proposed study, on the consent agenda, isn’t in direct response to a lawsuit filed last year against the city by Water Audit of California over the river, the study could answer some questions posed in the lawsuit. The Water Audit suit alleges the city has been derelict by not considering the public in how it operates the river. The lawsuit doesn’t demand money. Rather it seeks to stop water diversions from the river temporarily while the court orders the city to study how river operations have affected fisheries, the environment and recreational uses.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

‘Everything should be on the table’: Sen. John Hickenlooper on solving the Colorado River water crisis

From leaving some farmland fallow, to pressuring cities to conserve more water, Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says everything should be on the table to use Colorado River water more efficiently and help it sustain life in the southwestern U.S. for years to come.  Hickenlooper is helping convene a group of senators to try to broker a compromise to conserve Colorado River water. The Colorado River Compact was signed in 1922 and established how much water seven states, dozens of tribes, and Mexico can use. But between overuse and a mega drought that has lasted longer than 20 years, the southwest is dangerously close to not being able to get water where it needs to go.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Shrinking water supply will mean more fallow fields in the San Joaquin Valley

Downpours or drought, California’s farm belt will need to tighten up in the next two decades and grow fewer crops. There simply won’t be enough water to sustain present irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater is dangerously depleted. Wells are drying up and the land is sinking in many places, cracking canals. Surface water supplies have been cut back because of drought, and future deliveries are uncertain due to climate change and environmental regulations. … Agriculture is water intensive. And water is becoming increasingly worrisome in the West, particularly with overuse of the Colorado River. There’s plenty of water off our coast, but we’ve only begun to dip our toe into desalination.
-Written by columnist George Skelton.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Parched California misses a chance to store more rain underground

It sounds like an obvious fix for California’s whipsawing cycles of deluge and drought: Capture the water from downpours so it can be used during dry spells. Pump it out of flood-engorged rivers and spread it in fields or sandy basins, where it can seep into the ground and replenish the region’s huge, badly depleted aquifers. … Yet even this winter, when the skies delivered bounties of water not seen in half a decade, large amounts of it surged down rivers and out into the ocean. Water agencies and experts say California bureaucracy is increasingly to blame — the state tightly regulates who gets to take water from streams and creeks to protect the rights of people downriver, and its rules don’t adjust nimbly even when storms are delivering a torrent of new supply.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: As the Colorado River shrinks, federal officials consider overhauling Glen Canyon Dam

The desiccation of the Colorado River has left Lake Powell, the country’s second-largest reservoir, at just 23% of capacity, its lowest level since it was filled in the 1960s. With the reservoir now just 32 feet away from “minimum power pool” — the point at which Glen Canyon Dam would no longer generate power for six states — federal officials are studying the possibility of overhauling the dam so that it can continue to generate electricity and release water at critically low levels. A preliminary analysis of potential modifications to the dam emerged during a virtual meeting held by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which is also reviewing options for averting a collapse of the water supply along the river.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Gavin Newsom just declared war on San Francisco Bay

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order this week declaring war on California’s water scarcity takes a note from the Bush playbook. The decision to extend his drought emergency declaration — despite the recent record rains and flooding — gives carte blanche to state agencies to eviscerate essential water quality and environmental protections in perpetuity. Meanwhile, his administration continues to press for the same kinds of projects and management strategies that helped create the state’s water problems in the first place. The results will be catastrophic for the health of San Francisco Bay. The bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta form one of the planet’s great estuaries, where salt water and fresh mix, and the estuarine ecosystem is highly dependent on the amount of fresh water that flows into it from the watershed.
-Written by Gary Bobker, program director at the Bay Institute.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s new water war: Keeping supply from Mono Lake flowing as critics want it cut off

With its haunting rock spires and salt-crusted shores, Mono Lake is a Hollywood vision of the apocalypse. To the city of Los Angeles, however, this Eastern Sierra basin represents the very source of L.A.’s prosperity — the right to free water. For decades, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has relied on long-standing water rights to divert from the streams that feed this ancient lake as part of the city’s far-flung water empire. But in the face of global warming, drought and lawsuits from environmentalists, the DWP is now facing the previously unthinkable prospect of ending its diversions there. In the coming months, the State Water Resources Control Board will decide whether Mono Lake’s declining water level — and the associated ecological impacts — constitute an emergency that outweighs L.A.’s right to divert up to 16,000 acre-feet of supplies each year.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Are the feds risking endangered salmon for fries and potato chips?

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation … announced last week that it will cut flows on the [Klamath] river to historic lows, drying out the river and likely killing salmon farther downstream. … The basin has more than 200,000 acres of irrigated farmland, between 10,000 and 14,000 of which are dedicated to potatoes, an Indigenous food originally engineered from a toxic wild root by Andean horticulturists. Roughly three quarters of the basin’s potato yield go to companies like Frito Lay for potato chips, and In-N-Out Burger for fries, according to the Klamath Water Users Association.

Aquafornia news Kronick

Blog: Federal agencies redefine Clean Water Act’s reach over wetlands and other U.S. waters

A new definition of “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) will help drive the regulatory reach of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or Clean Water Act (“CWA”), starting March 20, 2023. The term WOTUS is used to determine the extent to which the CWA applies to different types of water bodies, such as rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and other water resources. Redefining WOTUS changes the scope of CWA programs imposing water quality standards, allocating total maximum daily loads of pollutants to impaired waters, certifying CWA Section 401 compliance, regulating the discharge of pollutants through National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, and regulating the discharge of dredged or fill material under CWA Section 404 permits.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Can Rio Verde Foothills live with a temporary, imperfect water deal?

Maybe cooler heads will prevail in Rio Verde Foothills, after all. For weeks, Arizona has taken a beating in the national press over about 500 homes in this unincorporated community that had lost access to hauled water from neighboring Scottsdale. Those headlines turned Rio Verde Foothills into a political football as elected officials publicly blamed each other for some residents’ dry taps. But behind the scenes, work was happening on middle ground to help these homeowners without tying up any of Scottsdale’s existing water resources.
-Written by columnist Joanna Allhands.

Aquafornia news LAist

Stormwater program has helped fight the drought, but there’s a long way to go

L.A. County voters passed Measure W back in 2018. Since then, the tax on impermeable pavement helps fund stormwater capture projects across the region. Now, more than four years later, a new report finds that the Safe Clean Water Program — which is made up of multiple committees that review and approve funding for projects — has helped significantly in: Clearing a backlog of city and county projects to improve local water quality and infrastructure Distributing more than $1 billion to primarily fund such projects The report is from environmental non-profit L.A. Waterkeeper.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Newsom seeks to waive environmental protections in delta

As January’s drenching storms have given way to an unseasonably dry February, Gov. Gavin Newsom is seeking to waive environmental rules in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in an effort to store more water in reservoirs — a move that is drawing heated criticism from environmental advocates who say the action will imperil struggling fish populations. …The agencies are requesting an easing of requirements that would otherwise mandate larger flows through the estuary. The aim is to hold back more water in Lake Oroville while also continuing to pump water to reservoirs south of the delta that supply farmlands as well as Southern California cities that are dealing with the ongoing shortage of supplies from the shrinking Colorado River.

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California Water Agencies Hoped A Deluge Would Recharge Their Aquifers. But When It Came, Some Couldn’t Use It
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: January storms jump-started recharge projects in badly overdrafted San Joaquin Valley, but hurdles with state permits and infrastructure hindered some efforts

An intentionally flooded almond orchard in Tulare CountyIt was exactly the sort of deluge California groundwater agencies have been counting on to replenish their overworked aquifers.

The start of 2023 brought a parade of torrential Pacific storms to bone dry California. Snow piled up across the Sierra Nevada at a near-record pace while runoff from the foothills gushed into the Central Valley, swelling rivers over their banks and filling seasonal creeks for the first time in half a decade.    

Suddenly, water managers and farmers toiling in one of the state’s most groundwater-depleted regions had an opportunity to capture stormwater and bank it underground. Enterprising agencies diverted water from rushing rivers and creeks into manmade recharge basins or intentionally flooded orchards and farmland. Others snagged temporary permits from the state to pull from streams they ordinarily couldn’t touch.

As New Deadline Looms, Groundwater Managers Rework ‘Incomplete’ Plans to Meet California’s Sustainability Goals
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: More than half of the most critically overdrawn basins, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, are racing against a July deadline to retool their plans and avoid state intervention

A field in Kern County is irrigated by sprinkler.Managers of California’s most overdrawn aquifers were given a monumental task under the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Craft viable, detailed plans on a 20-year timeline to bring their beleaguered basins into balance. It was a task that required more than 250 newly formed local groundwater agencies – many of them in the drought-stressed San Joaquin Valley – to set up shop, gather data, hear from the public and collaborate with neighbors on multiple complex plans, often covering just portions of a groundwater basin.

Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

This tour traveled along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720

New EPA Regional Administrator Tackles Water Needs with a Wealth of Experience and $1 Billion in Federal Funding
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Martha Guzman says surge of federal dollars offers 'greatest opportunity' to address longstanding water needs, including for tribes & disadvantaged communities in EPA Region 9

EPA Region 9 Administrator Martha Guzman.Martha Guzman recalls those awful days working on water and other issues as a deputy legislative secretary for then-Gov. Jerry Brown. California was mired in a recession and the state’s finances were deep in the red. Parks were cut, schools were cut, programs were cut to try to balance a troubled state budget in what she remembers as “that terrible time.”

She now finds herself in a strikingly different position: As administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9, she has a mandate to address water challenges across California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii and $1 billion to help pay for it. It is the kind of funding, she said, that is usually spread out over a decade. Guzman called it the “absolutely greatest opportunity.”

A Colorado River Veteran Takes on the Top Water & Science Post at Interior Department
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tanya Trujillo brings two decades of experience on Colorado River issues as she takes on the challenges of a river basin stressed by climate change

Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science For more than 20 years, Tanya Trujillo has been immersed in the many challenges of the Colorado River, the drought-stressed lifeline for 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles and the source of irrigation water for more than 5 million acres of winter lettuce, supermarket melons and other crops.

Trujillo has experience working in both the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River, basins that split the river’s water evenly but are sometimes at odds with each other. She was a lawyer for the state of New Mexico, one of four states in the Upper Colorado River Basin, when key operating guidelines for sharing shortages on the river were negotiated in 2007. She later worked as executive director for the Colorado River Board of California, exposing her to the different perspectives and challenges facing California and the other states in the river’s Lower Basin.

Pandemic Lockdown Exposes the Vulnerability Some Californians Face Keeping Up With Water Bills
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Growing mountain of water bills spotlights affordability and hurdles to implementing a statewide assistance program

Single-family residential customers who are behind on their water bills in San Diego County's Helix Water District can get a one-time credit on their bill through a rate assistance program funded with money from surplus land sales.As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt.

Water affordability concerns, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy. Jobs were lost and household finances were upended. Even with federal stimulus aid and unemployment checks, bills fell by the wayside.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

Explainer: The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: The Law, The Judge And The Enforcer

The Resource

A groundwater pump in the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater provides about 40 percent of the water in California for urban, rural and agricultural needs in typical years, and as much as 60 percent in dry years when surface water supplies are low. But in many areas of the state, groundwater is being extracted faster than it can be replenished through natural or artificial means.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Framework for Agreements to Aid Health of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a Starting Point With An Uncertain End
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Voluntary agreement discussions continue despite court fights, state-federal conflicts and skepticism among some water users and environmental groups

Aerial image of the Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaVoluntary agreements in California have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state regulators.

Foundation Event

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Virtual Workshop Occurred Afternoons of April 22-23

Our Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the workshop was held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Meet the Veteran Insider Who’s Shepherding Gov. Newsom’s Plan to Bring Climate Resilience to California Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Former journalist Nancy Vogel explains how the draft California Water Resilience Portfolio came together and why it’s expected to guide future state decisions

Nancy Vogel, director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, highlights key points in the draft Water Resilience Portfolio last month for the Water Education Foundation's 2020 Water Leaders class. Shortly after taking office in 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom called on state agencies to deliver a Water Resilience Portfolio to meet California’s urgent challenges — unsafe drinking water, flood and drought risks from a changing climate, severely depleted groundwater aquifers and native fish populations threatened with extinction.

Within days, he appointed Nancy Vogel, a former journalist and veteran water communicator, as director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program to help shepherd the monumental task of compiling all the information necessary for the portfolio. The three state agencies tasked with preparing the document delivered the draft Water Resilience Portfolio Jan. 3. The document, which Vogel said will help guide policy and investment decisions related to water resilience, is nearing the end of its comment period, which goes through Friday, Feb. 7.