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 Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Is SGMA compatible with farmland preservation?

As implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) gets underway, questions are emerging about what it will mean for lands protected under the Williamson Act, California’s chief farmland preservation policy. For nearly 60 years, the Williamson Act has helped protect 16 million acres—roughly half of the state’s crop- and rangelands—from development. But as SGMA’s limitations on groundwater extraction go into effect—and as warmer, more intense droughts begin to push land out of irrigation–the context within which the program operates is shifting. In July, we gathered a group of agriculture, solar, and county stakeholders to explore the interplay between the Williamson Act and SGMA in the San Joaquin Valley. Here is what we learned.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Pipeline leak prompts watering ban in parts of L.A. County

Drought-pummeled lawns across Los Angeles County will be a little bit thirstier for 15 days in September when officials suspend outdoor watering in several areas to repair a leaking pipeline, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced Monday. The emergency repair will shut down the 36-mile Upper Feeder pipeline — which delivers water from the Colorado River to Southern California — from Sept. 6 to 20, the MWD said. The leak was discovered this year, and the pipeline has been operating at reduced capacity under a temporary fix while officials designed a more permanent solution.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Video: Where does the water go? How the Kern River is divvied up

Where does the water go? The Kern River’s abrupt stop, practically mid-channel, can be jarring. The full river suddenly goes dry just outside Bakersfield leaving a dusty channel snaking through the heart of town. Why? Where does all that water go? Who owns it? How does it all work? Our video project, “Law of the River,” answers those questions and more as we look at the river’s history, how it operates, who owns the water and what the future may hold. This is the first in a series of videos that will look at each stop along the way for Kern River flows.

Aquafornia news 48 Hills

Opinion: Why CEQA matters

This year, 45 separate bills were introduced in the California State Legislature aimed at amending the California Environmental Quality Act. The sudden enthusiasm for changing CEQA appears to stem from the recent controversy related to UC Berkeley enrollment that erroneously blamed our state’s landmark environmental law for the university’s poor planning. … CEQA has also protected our region’s natural treasure, the San Francisco Bay itself, from being filled. In 2001, environmental review led the Board of Supervisors to reject a proposed runway expansion at SFO after analysis showed it would cause extensive harm to the Bay.
-Written by Aaron Peskin, San Francisco District 3 Supervisor and member of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The vortex of executive activity

The graphic below seems to apply to any bureaucracy, with larger bureaucracies showing this tendency more strongly.  In this vortex conception of management, one can often make more progress from the periphery than from the center of power. The center spins rapidly, always changing directions, but moving little in space. Those in the periphery can go a greater distance.  Being in the center is more exciting and prestigious, but not necessarily more productive. This analogy came to me while working in the Washington, DC area, where I encountered an abundance of very smart hard-working people, who seemed to accomplish little due to opposition from a high density of very smart hard-working people. Almost all innovations in water and water management come from the periphery.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Top California environment official leaving state government

Jared Blumenfeld, California’s top environmental regulator and a key climate adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom, will leave the administration at the end of the month, Newsom announced Friday. Newsom, a Democrat, appointed Blumenfeld as secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency on his first day in office in 2019. Blumenfeld will become president of the Waverley Street Foundation, a $3 billion climate initiative funded by Laurene Powell Jobs. As head of the state’s environmental agency, he was responsible for departments that regulate air pollution, water use, recycling, toxic substances, pesticides, environmental health hazards like extreme heat.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Los Angeles homeowners are removing lawns during drought

Erin Brockovich made her name decades ago as an environmental activist who exposed corporate wrongdoing that polluted drinking water. So she felt a bit defensive when a television reporter asked how her name landed on a list of water guzzlers during a dire California drought. At one point last year, she received a $1,700 bill for two months of water and fines. Ms. Brockovich ultimately decided she had to get rid of her lawn, a central part of the backyard oasis she had built over more than two decades living in Agoura Hills, a suburb of large homes with immaculate yards about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. She replaced 3,100 square feet of grass with high-tech artificial turf.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin officials weigh planning changes to spur housing density

Marin officials might amend the county’s general plan to permit denser housing in environmentally sensitive areas and areas lacking water and sewer service. The Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commissioners held a joint meeting Tuesday to discuss changes to the general plan to allow more housing. The county is under a state mandate to zone for 3,569 more residences in the unincorporated areas over eight years, beginning in 2023. The general plan allows development to occur only at the lowest end of the density range in the Ridge and Upland Greenbelt, the Baylands Corridor, areas with sensitive habitat and areas without water or sewer connections.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Appellate court rules Los Angeles did not violate CEQA when it reduced water allocations to agricultural lessees without environmental review

In an opinion published on July 27, 2022, the First District Court of Appeal considered the application of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to a public agency’s administration of annual water allocations pursuant to an established authority. The appellate court reviewed the grant of a writ petition filed by the County of Mono and the Sierra Club (collectively, “County”), who sought to require the City of Los Angeles (City) to comply with CEQA before reducing deliveries of irrigation water to certain lands leased by agricultural operators in Mono County. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clock ticks down on Colorado River cuts. What will feds do?

Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for their water supplies face a Tuesday deadline to tell the Bureau of Reclamation how they plan to cut back during the crushing drought that has shrunk the river. But as that date nears, the consequences for failure remain a key unknown. Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton announced in June that states in the Colorado River Basin need to propose how to conserve between 2 million and 4 million acre-feet of water before a mid-August deadline, when the agency releases its 24-month projections for water levels in lakes Powell and Mead…

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: With California expected to lose 10% of its water within 20 years, Newsom calls for urgent action

With California enduring historic drought amplified by global warming, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday released a new plan to adapt to the state’s hotter, drier future by capturing and storing more water, recycling more wastewater and desalinating seawater and salty groundwater. The governor’s new water-supply strategy, detailed in a 16-page document, lays out a series of actions aimed at preparing the state for an estimated 10% decrease in California’s water supply by 2040 because of higher temperatures and decreased runoff. The plan focuses on accelerating infrastructure projects, boosting conservation and upgrading the state’s water system to keep up with the increasing pace of climate change.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Registration now open for October 27 Water Summit in Sacramento

You can now register for the in-person return of the Foundation’s 38th annual Water Summit, a one-day conference highlighting the latest information and perspectives on water resources in California and the West. The event includes an evening reception along California’s largest and longest river, the Sacramento River, for an opportunity to network with speakers and other attendees from a variety of backgrounds. Find more details about our Water Summit along with our fall tours and Water Leaders Alum Reunion.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Almond orchards may be key to water storage

The next “big thing” in California water development may not be soaring 300-foot high dams. Instead, it may be intentionally diverting winter storm runoff to flood almond orchards northeast of Ripon and vineyards near Manteca and similar permanent cropland throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Proactive recharging of groundwater using California’s immense acreage of permanent crops such as almond orchards and grape vineyards could emerge as a pivotal and critical component of a plan to meet water demands as well as address hydrology patterns expected to be modified by climate change.

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Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Glenn Groundwater Authority encouraging water conservation

The Glenn Groundwater Authority (GGA) is encouraging residents to conserve water at home, work and on the farm to help the local groundwater basin. … The GGA is the Groundwater Sustainability Agency managing the Glenn County portion of the Colusa Subbasin, which covers the area generally south of Stony Creek, east of the coast ranges, west of the Sacramento River, and north of the Glenn-Colusa County line.

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Aquafornia news Civil Eats

As drought hits farms, investors lay claim to Colorado water

Michael Jones ducked under an idle sprinkler and strode across the sandy soil where he planned to plant drought-resistant crops, hoping to save water amid the driest period in more than 1,200 years. … A company known as Renewable Water Resources (RWR) aims to drill a series of deep wells on a nearby ranch it owns and pipe the water more than 200 miles north to a Denver suburb, where sprinklers rotate on manicured lawns. The firm recently sought $10 million from Douglas County to kickstart its project. … If the state engineer’s office, its water court, and federal regulators were to approve RWR’s plan, it would mark the first time that private investors could ship water from an aquifer in one part of the state to a community in another. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Tensions high at Cal Am community meeting

[At the California State University Monterey Bay’s student union] Chants of “No Cal Am, save our water,” could be heard from the parking lot, as around 50 people representing or supporting the grassroots organization, Citizens for Just Water, protested outside the building before the meeting started. Tensions were equally high inside, as residents shouted over Cal Am representatives, criticizing them and the proposed desalination project. But despite the agitation, Cal Am’s Manager of External Affairs Josh Stratton said the public’s vocal frustration was exactly what the organization was expecting when they decided to hold the forum.

Aquafornia news KGET - Bakersfield

Kern Congressmen seek documents from feds over drought

On Wednesday, Kern’s Congressmen Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and David Valadao (R-Hanford) sent a letter to the Interior Secretary requesting documents related to her review of the 2019 Biological Opinions. The opinions determined operations for the Central Valley Project and California State Water Project did not jeopardize endangered species. Valadao noted if the review ended with a reversal of the decision, it would be detrimental for our local economy and Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Republicans send letter expressing ‘grave concerns’ over reconsideration of water policy

On Monday, Republican members of Congress continued their fight when it comes to the biological opinions that help determine water deliveries from the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project, sending a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland expressing their “grave concerns” over the process to reconsider those biological opinions. The California Republican Congressional delegation said the reconsultation process of 2019 biological opinions developed by the Trump administration will decrease the amount of water delivered to the San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: L.A. achieved record 11% reduction in water use in July

In another promising sign that residents are taking calls for conservation to heart, Angelenos in July achieved an 11% reduction in water use — more than any other July on record, officials announced this week. The report from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power comes as drought continues to sap supplies across the region. But while July’s conservation surpassed the record 9% reduction achieved in L.A. in June, officials urged residents to keep going.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Snag may delay San Diego Pure Water sewage-recycling project

A major hiccup during the early construction stages of San Diego’s Pure Water sewage recycling system will cost the city at least $20 million — and potentially much more if it delays completion of the interdependent system’s other key components. Constant flooding of a site off Morena Boulevard where a contractor is trying to build a large sewage-pump station has forced the contractor to halt work while city officials make plans to build a large dam-like structure around the area being flooded. The need to build the dam not only will delay construction of the pump station and swell its cost from $110 million to $130 million. … The additional costs may be passed on to the city’s 275,000 sewer and water ratepayers 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Officers in this Northern California county stop Asian drivers at 12 times the rate of other drivers, lawsuit claims

Officers in rural Siskiyou County, fueled by racial prejudice and drug fear-mongering, are stopping the county’s small population of Asian American drivers at 12 times the rate of other drivers, according to a new lawsuit in federal court. County supervisors are also restricting Asian American residents’ access to water and illegally placing liens on their property, in a policy “designed to drive a disfavored racial minority from the county,” the suit said. It was filed Wednesday in Sacramento by the American Civil Liberties Union and Asian Americans Advancing Justice as a proposed class action on behalf of the county’s 1,200 Asian American residents.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Drought requires new strategies for managing cropland

The San Joaquin Valley is California’s largest agricultural region, but it’s facing an uncertain future. A combination of persistent drought and the rollout of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will increase regional water scarcity in the coming decades. Water scarcity will have a major effect on land use: At least half a million acres are projected to come out of irrigated production in the San Joaquin Valley by 2040. This raises a thorny question: What happens to all this newly fallowed land?
-Written by Andrew Ayres, a research fellow of the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center; and Caitlin Peterson, associate director of the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Poseidon failed to start wetlands restoration on time, says Coastal Commission

Poseidon Resources, the company that built and operates the Carlsbad seawater desalination plant, is in violation of its California Coastal Commission permit for the restoration of wetlands habitat at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge in South San Diego Bay. A permit the commission approved April 30, 2021, required Poseidon to start the restoration work by Oct. 30, 2021, according to a staff report prepared for next week’s Coastal Commission meeting. The work has not started, although it is on track to begin this fall. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Will Kings County be the first region sent to state’s groundwater “cop”?

The prospect of being sent to California’s “groundwater cop” strikes dread in the hearts of most water managers. But for John Vidovich, having the Tulare Lake subbasin come under the glare of the State Water Resources Control Board may be the only way to end an irrigation practice by the J.G. Boswell Company that he says is wasteful, abusive and contributing to the sinking of an entire town. Boswell, which has not responded to requests for comment, pumps large amounts of groundwater into massive shallow ponds for later irrigation, something Vidovich, who runs Sandridge Partners, has complained about for years.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

A century after the Colorado River was divided, tribes gain a voice

Tribal leaders stood proudly in front of a row of flags from the 10 Indigenous communities whose lands converge with the Colorado River. They spoke about their status as equal players in the future of the Colorado and the role they will play in the high-stakes negotiations to set new management protocols for the river that more than 40 million people depend upon for their lives and livelihoods. … They were part of tribal delegations from throughout the Colorado River Basin gathered in Las Vegas in December 2021 during the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association.

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Aquafornia news Law360

Calif. judge urged to keep nix of species rules in place

The federal government, multiple states and a slew of conservation groups are urging a California federal judge not to pause his ordering vacating Trump-era Endangered Species Act regulations … 

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

California’s water chief steps up to fight historic drought

As a native of the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs where it hardly ever rains, Joaquin Esquivel has always known that water is precious. His uncle often took him to the Salton Sea, and he had family served by a well. He carries that respect for the resource as chair of California’s State Water Resources Control Board. … At the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who declared a drought last year, the board has adopted emergency regulations requiring residents to cut back water use, such as turning off fountains and not watering decorative grass at commercial sites.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

No extra water for SoCal’s high-risk wildfire zones

State officials have denied a request by Southern California municipal water districts for more water to mitigate wildfire risk. The agencies had worked with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to ask the California Department of Water Resources to allocate 26,300 more acre-feet of water under the health-and-safety exception to drought rules, using the rationale that the exception should include supplies to reduce wildfire hazards by irrigating vegetation in high-risk areas. … Residents and officials should reduce risk by hardening structures with fire-resistant materials, creating defensible space and putting in place fuel management programs, the letter recommended.

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Aquafornia news

Tijuana sewage spill shutters Imperial Beach and Coronado shorelines, yet again

Adam Wraight pulled a blue sewage “warning” sign out of the sand near Imperial Beach Pier on Thursday morning, replacing it with the more ominous yellow and red placard telling beachgoers that waters were officially closed. … Shorelines from the border up through Coronado were closed to swimming Thursday as the result of a pipeline that ruptured in Tijuana near Smuggler’s Gulch over the weekend. Sewage has been spilling over the border into the river’s estuary for days, but it’s just now making its way to the ocean and floating up the coast on surging northward currents.

Aquafornia news Law360

9th Circ. says FERC got Calif. hydro project orders wrong

A California state agency didn’t waive its permitting authority over four hydroelectric projects when it allowed the project developers to withdraw water quality certification applications that didn’t comply with state law … 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

New Russian River curtailments imposed as Sonoma County officials warn of worsening drought

Several hundred ranchers, grape growers, tribes, landowners and community water suppliers, including the city of Healdsburg, were barred Friday from exercising some of their rights to water from the Russian River amid tightening supplies in an unrelenting drought officials say is likely to get worse. The third round of curtailments imposed by the State Water Resource Control Board was prompted by drastic reductions in Eel River water diversions, which are critical to boosting diminishing storage in Lake Mendocino, which in turn feeds the Russian River. The water board also formally suspended a new voluntary sharing arrangement that allowed some of those with older, “senior” water rights to share water with those whose rights have been curtailed.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

California water war: San Joaquin Valley landowners battle over scarce resource

Water is the lifeblood in the parched San Joaquin Valley, sustaining endless acres of trees, seeds and pastures that feed a hungry nation. But a controversial pipeline sits empty, as dry as dust, caught in an angry feud between two of California’s largest land barons, Silicon Valley developer and farmer John Vidovich and Pasadena-based longtime cotton king J.G. Boswell Company. Vidovich needs the pipe to move water. The Boswell Company wants it blocked, saying it threatens the company’s own water supplies, which run through a canal over the pipeline’s underground route. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Abandoned boat pulled from Sacramento River. More are in Delta.

The shell of the “All American,” an 85-foot boat that went up in flames in June, floated in an industrial area of the Sacramento River for the last six weeks with no one to claim it. On Wednesday morning, the ship finally left the river. A barge loaded with construction equipment moored beside the boat and began dismantling it, ripping off pieces of wood to be transported to a waste facility. Sacramento County leaders hope that extraction marks just the beginning of their new push to clear the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of dozens of abandoned boats cluttering up waterways … and are asking state lawmakers pass a bill that would set aside $25 million to seed the cleanup work.

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Aquafornia news Valley Voice

South Valley in water crisis as systems fail

Small Valley communities are drying up. The latest town to find itself waterless is Tooleville, east of Exeter on Highway 65. In the middle of July, with temperatures soaring and the intense Valley summer in full swing, residents of the town found the well they rely on was delivering just a dribble where it was working at all. With the aid of Self-Help Enterprises, the town is now dependent on a pair of water tanks and costly daily deliveries of trucked-in water.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

California quietly stored 500,000 pounds of contaminated soil in Jurupa Valley. Then residents found out.

For four years, thousands of soil samples and paint chips taken from homes, schools, parks and parkways near the former Exide battery facility have been stored inside shipping containers at a Superfund site. Without consulting local officials or residents, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control transported the samples to the Stringfellow facility, an Inland Empire quarry that once served as an industrial dumping ground — one that leaked toxic chemicals into groundwater and soil over several decades.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Opinion: The monsoon can’t save us

As I wrote this, news arrived that Sen. Joe Manchin — the coal-loving Democrat from West Virginia — finally agreed to support a climate bill that would potentially cut planet-warming emissions by some 40% by 2030. It will be a huge step forward (fossil fuel-friendly provisions aside) if it makes it through Congress, but it won’t do much to ease the West’s desiccation anytime soon. That gives the collective users of the region’s water no choice but to cut our consumption, and fast.
-Written by Jonathan Thompson, a contributing editor at High Country News and author of Sagebrush Empire: How a Remote Utah County Became the Battlefront of American Public Lands.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Arizona and California farmers, targets for Colorado River cuts, draft their conservation strategy

Knowing they are targets, farmers in southern Arizona and California who receive irrigation water from the Colorado River are discussing a plan that could go a long way toward meeting a federal conservation mandate in the drying basin. With key reservoirs Mead and Powell at record lows and despite the continued decline of the Salton Sea, federal officials are demanding historic cuts in water use next year, on the order of 2 million to 4 million acre-feet, or roughly one-third of the river’s recent annual flow.

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Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

LA residents reduce water use after restrictions

Los Angeles residents have continued to reduce water usage at a steady pace to offset a historic drought, and those efforts appear to be working, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said at a council committee meeting Thursday. Officials projected an 11% reduction in water use for the month of July compared to the previous two Julys. That topped a 9% reduction in the month of June, the lowest water use for any June in Los Angeles since 1970. The report updating water supply conditions and drought response actions was presented to the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River Committee on Thursday.

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Aquafornia news The Business Journal

How a Madera farmer fought a new groundwater fee — and (sort of) won

A proposed fee system to manage irrigated land in Madera County has sparked a successful protest, leaving one groundwater agency unfunded and at least one farmer claiming the process was done with minimal notice. … Three newly formed groundwater sustainable agencies — Chowchilla Subbasin, the Madera Subbasin and the Delta Mendota Subbasin — are left with no funding for four ongoing groundwater projects required under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. It’s the County of Madera that oversees the land, said Stephanie Anagnason, director of water and natural resources for Madera County.

Aquafornia news E&E News

EPA preps cyber rule for water sector

EPA is poised to announce a new rule that would require states to oversee more than 1,000 water utilities’ cybersecurity plans, according to a top White House official. Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, said at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security that EPA will be issuing a rule “shortly” to expand the regular reviews to include cybersecurity as threats at facilities mount across the country.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

California scrambles to avoid SGMA fallowing—and another Dust Bowl

The Public Policy Institute of California is sparking new conversations around innovative alternatives to keep farmland in production and avoid devastating environmental and health impacts from fallowing as much as a million acres of land under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. PPIC has embarked on the first major research endeavor to investigate options for keeping farmers farming and for the complex policymaking needed to finance and expedite a suite of farming practices and regulatory restructuring. The hope is it would build some flexibility into California’s highly specialized agricultural system.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Local residents among the most likely to drink harmful water

Rural residents in Tulare County are more likely to be exposed to harmful water than a third of the state’s population and the State Water Board has been slow to flow funds into areas to fix failing water systems. A report by the California State Auditor last month revealed Tulare County was among nine counties in the state that represented almost 90% of Californians vulnerable to water systems with poor water quality.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Farmland in transition—The San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley is California’s agricultural heartland and at the center of the state’s water challenges. As the region brings its groundwater basins into balance under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), over half a million acres of irrigated farmland may need to come out of production. At a virtual event last week, PPIC researchers and a panel of local experts moderated by Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, discussed how to manage this massive transition while reaping the greatest benefits from idled land and mitigating air quality concerns.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Desert groundwater agency to pay $8,500 per acre foot for valley water rights

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority in eastern Kern County has signed a “letter of intent” to buy the rights to 750 acre feet of state water for $6,396,000 from a State Water Project contractor in Kings County. The purchase is part of the authority’s plan to bring that overdrafted groundwater basin into balance. The seller is Utica J.L.J. LLC, which purchased the Jackson Ranch and is developing a truck stop and industrial center on 400 acres at Utica Avenue and Interstate 5, just south of Kettleman City.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California, U.S. environmental challenges can coexist

California counties can’t seek to unwind a state-federal settlement of a lawsuit over hydroelectric licensing at the US’s largest earthen dam, but they can challenge the adequacy of a report a state agency uses without running afoul of federal law preemption, a divided California Supreme Court ruled Monday. In so doing, the justices in part reversed an appellate ruling that the Federal Power Act preempts state court challenges to an environmental impact report conducted to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. … Concerns about the Oroville Dam’s stability were magnified following a spectacular failure of the dam’s spillway after heavy rains in 2017, which led to evacuations downstream. 

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

California spares coastal power plant owner from fines

The owner of an aging gas-fired power plant along California’s southern coast won’t be required to pay fines for some water pollution it causes through 2023, state water officials voted Tuesday. The Redondo Beach Generating Station is one of four coastal power plants that were set to close in 2020 but had their operating lives extended to 2023. The state is keeping them open in an effort to avoid power blackouts on hot summer days when there may not be enough renewable energy available as people crank up their air conditioners.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Public comment period opens for additional resubmitted groundwater sustainability plans with ‘incomplete’ determinations

On January 28, 2022, the Department released eight Incomplete determinations on groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). These basins were given 180 days to address deficiencies and resubmit their revised GSPs to the Department for review. The revised GSPs in response to the Incomplete determination have been resubmitted to the Department and are now posted on the DWR SGMA Portal. These plans are open to public comment for 60 days after the posted date.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lawn removal inspiration for fighting California’s drought

In case you missed the memo: Glossy green lawns fed by sprinklers arcing water into the sky just don’t work anymore in these days of lingering drought. … Water districts are offering rebates for removing lawns, but many won’t give you money for installing artificial turf (which keeps water from flowing into the ground, potentially killing trees and beneficial micro-organisms in the soil) or a bunch of rocks and a couple of cacti. Instead, you must include drought-tolerant plants and an efficient way to keep them watered, such as drip irrigation.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Opinion: Calif.’s great water experiments have failed. It’s time for real solutions.

As California’s prolonged drought continues, the State is at a crossroads. Recent headlines have been dominated by devastating wildfires and a growing number of the State’s poorest communities without water.  These catastrophic conditions demand answers and solutions from our leaders. … With the cost of living continuing to climb, the San Joaquin Valley’s most vibrant sector – agriculture – cannot continue to feed our communities, state, nation, or the world, if we do not have the most basic resource necessary to grow food, water. 
-Written by William Bourdeau, executive vice president of Harris Farms, director of the Westlands Water District, and chairman of the Valley Future Foundation.

Aquafornia news The Denver Post

Editorial: A water crisis is here, the West must act aggressively, collectively

A billboard in St. George urges residents to use less water — “Utah is in a drought.” … Lake Powell and Lake Mead (as well as crucial upstream feeder dams) have reached record lows. Our aquifers are simultaneously being depleted. Snowpack is, on average, lower than historic levels, and even in a good snow year, it is melting too fast. Less water is available than ever before, as documented by The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson’s Colorado River crisis story in July.

Aquafornia news Fox 40 - Sacramento

California cities introduce rules and fines on water use during the drought

As California enters yet another year of a continued drought, cities and counties across the state implemented water restrictions in the hopes of reducing strain on the states water sources. According to the state, banning the watering of non-functional lawns will save hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water a year. In April, Contra Costa Water District asked users to reduce water usage by 15%. The district proposed a temporary drought surcharge of up to 15% starting in July. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: State can seek environmental safeguards for Oroville Dam beyond federal regulations, California Supreme Court rules

The state Supreme Court allowed local governments and conservation groups Monday to ask the state for further safety measures and environmental safeguards at the Oroville Dam despite federal authority to license the facility, where a breach and spill forced 188,000 people to evacuate their homes in 2017. The ruling will not interrupt operations at the nation’s tallest dam, a 770-foot structure on the Feather River in Butte County…. Oroville Dam, which stores water for millions of Californians, is operated by the state under a federal license whose 50-year term expired in 2007, but it has remained open under annual licensing agreements since then.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Settlement blocks planned federal fracking leases in California

Leasing for new oil and gas drilling on federal land in central California is temporarily blocked under a settlement announced Monday between the state and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. … Fracking is the process of injecting a high-pressure mix of mostly water with some sand and chemical additives into rock to create or expand fractures that allow oil and gas to be extracted. It’s a controversial practice due to concerns about the injected chemicals contaminating groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Blade

Newsom rallies local water agencies to do more, preliminary water savings reach 7.5 percent for June

Governor Gavin Newsom convened local water leaders this past Friday, for the second time in recent months, to call for their continued action to drive down urban water use and help Californians make permanent changes to adapt to a hotter and drier future. Preliminary numbers that reflect 95 percent of the population show that Californians cut back on water use by 7.5 percent overall in June this year compared to June 2020. The increase in conservation comes a month after Governor Newsom directly called on local water leaders to step up their work to ensure all Californians are doing their part to save water.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Sonoma County vintner, his business and DA’s Office reach $925K environmental damage settlement

A Sonoma County wine executive and his business have reached a $925,000 settlement with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office following an environmental complaint that accused them of causing significant damage to streams and wetlands while constructing a vineyard in 2018 near Cloverdale, county District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced Friday. Deeply ripping apart the terrain, tearing down trees and pushing them down streams without permits under the county’s Vineyard & Orchard Site Development Ordinance, and lacking permits for grading roads and installing culverts were among acts that Hugh Reimers and Krasilsa Pacific Farms, LLC were accused of in August 2019. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Illegal marijuana grows threaten Antelope Valley’s way of life

Illegal marijuana grows in the once-quiet Antelope Valley are a threat to California’s environmental goals and the safety of Californians. These operations have caused an increase in human trafficking, assaults, and robberies and are responsible for the murders of at least five people living in our high desert community. … While the secluded forests of Northern California are still popular for these sites, more and more criminals see an opportunity in the sprawling desert–vast amounts of sparsely populated space, lots of sun, and the presence of law enforcement is not as prevalent. The only thing lacking is water, but determined growers simply steal what they need.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Can Newsom finally win long Delta water conflict?

Will the fifth time be the charm for California’s decades-long effort to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that more Northern California water can be transported to Southern California? Don’t count on it. Last week, the state Department of Water Resources released a draft environmental impact report on the latest iteration of the 57-year-long effort to change the Delta’s role in water supply, a 45-mile-long tunnel officially named the “Delta Conveyance.” The 3,000-page document immediately drew the responses that have accompanied past versions — big municipal and agricultural water agencies were in favor of it because it would, they hope, increase water deliveries south of the Delta, and environmentalists were against it, saying it would further damage the Delta’s already bruised ecosystem.
-Written by Dan Walters, columnist for CalMatters.

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Aquafornia news CNBC

Monday Top of the Scroll: Vice President Kamala Harris to announce $1 billion to states for floods, extreme heat

The White House is making more than $1 billion available to states to address flooding and extreme heat exacerbated by climate change. Vice President Kamala Harris is set to announce the grant programs Monday at an event in Miami with the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other officials. The competitive grants will help communities across the nation prepare for and respond to climate-related disasters. … she is expected to address extreme weather events across the country, including the flooding in Kentucky and Missouri and the wildfires in California.

Aquafornia news Redheaded Blackbelt

News release: Hoopa Valley Tribe settlement negotiations reach impasse in case against Trump Administration

Yesterday, Secretary Deb Haaland’s Chief of Staff killed off any hope of a negotiated settlement of pending claims against the Trump administration for financial misconduct, environmental depredation,  and violation of tribal sovereignty and fishing rights in California’s Trinity River. Even though the Trinity River has sustained the Hupa People since time immemorial. For over a year, the Hoopa Valley Tribal Council made repeated and urgent written requests to meet with the Secretary to settle litigation the Tribe filed in August 2020 against Secretary Haaland’s predecessor,  David Bernhardt. All requests went unanswered.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

‘Little point’ to restarting Trump water case, judge says

Democratic-led states, tribes, and conservation groups will not see a Trump-era water rule declared invalid before the Ninth Circuit decides the issue or the EPA issues a new rule, a federal judge in California ruled. The plaintiffs wanted the US District Court for the Northern District of California to resume their lawsuit over the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule issued in 2020 that they said unlawfully restricted states’ and tribes’ ability to reject water polluting projects. But Judge William Alsup questioned the point of moving forward when the Environmental Protection Agency said it would “eviscerate” the rule anyway. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Unsafe drinking water is a reality for nearly a million Californians, especially in Central Valley, new audit finds

Nearly a million Californians have unsafe drinking water and the agency charged with helping them is ill-equipped to do so.  That’s according to a new state audit of the California Water Resources Control Board, which says 920,000 residents are at increased risk of liver and kidney problems — and even cancer — because they get water from systems that fail to meet contaminant standards for safe drinking water. The auditor says more than 800 water systems in the state are in that “failing” category, a number that has more than doubled in the last year.

Aquafornia news Cal Coast News

SLO County sold water outside the county, residents foot the bill

San Luis Obispo County began selling water purchased by county residents to out of county water purveyors in 2008 and 2013, without returning the funds to local property owners as required by law, according to a recent SLO County Grand Jury report. … Promoted by then-Public Works Director Paavo Ogren and Supervisor Bruce Gibson, the Board of Supervisors approved the sale of excess county water in 2008 and 2013, to out of county purveyors. However, instead of returning the $6.3 million from the sale of the water to area taxpayers, Ogren placed the funds in the District Zone General Fund.

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

Fresno County residents can get up to $2k for overdue water bills

A new Fresno EOC program is offering as much as $2,000 to help low-income residents pay past-due water and sewer bills. But you need to act quickly to receive the one-time grants, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The program ends in August 2023. Fresno EOC officials say the grants are for households that are in danger of losing or have lost their water services. According to the State Water Resources Control Board, about half a million Californians have had water shutoffs since 2019 due to nonpayment.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

EPA adds $132M in funding to national estuary programs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued guidance July 26 for place-based projects using $132 million in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds being distributed via its National Estuary Program. The NEP, which started in 1987, funds water quality and ecological integrity recovery projects at 28 estuaries along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts, plus Puerto Rico, considered to be of “national significance.” … Local program directors detailed funding plans in a statement, including building defenses in California’s Santa Monica Bay area against sea level rise …

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Lawmakers call on Kern stakeholders to engage on water investment

Farmers and water managers may need to do more to engage with lawmakers from outside the Central Valley before the state Legislature can be persuaded to make important investments in water storage and other infrastructure projects, members of Kern’s Sacramento delegation told an audience Tuesday of the Water Association of Kern County. The three locally elected representatives — Assemblyman Vince Fong and state Sens. Shannon Grove and Melissa Hurtado — made the request in the context of their frustration with big-city, coastal lawmakers they said misunderstand how things work in not only the water world but in-state energy production as well.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

USDA partnership to buy California-farmed food amid inflation

The federal government will channel $43 million into efforts to purchase and distribute locally grown food from California’s underserved farmers and producers, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday in Woodland. …Vilsack also highlighted several initiatives that will provide relief to farmers over the coming years. Congress recently provided USDA with $10 billion to distribute to farmers struggling due to climate-related disasters — funds that could be especially useful in the Golden State, where wildfires burn for months every year.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California revives Delta tunnel project for water deliveries

Here we go again. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration revived the Delta tunnel project Wednesday, unveiling a downsized version of the controversial, multibillion-dollar plan to re-engineer the fragile estuary on Sacramento’s doorstep that serves as the hub of California’s over-stressed water-delivery network. After three years with little to no public activity, the state released an environmental blueprint for what’s now called the Delta Conveyance — a 45-mile tunnel that would divert water from the Sacramento River and route it under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that it can be shipped to farms and cities hundreds of miles away.

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Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

A mid-August deadline looms where the basin states drawing off the Colorado River must come to agreement on how they will conserve 4 million acre-feet of water

Local farmers may soon be forced to bite the bullet and find ways to use significantly less water in 2023 — potentially for a lot longer. This drastic measure may come as a result of an emergency water conservation effort to prevent further depletion of the Valley’s main source of water, the Colorado River. If less water flows down the Colorado River, the consequences could be catastrophic for the two reservoirs — lakes Mead and Powell — that feed into the so-called basin states. For example, if water levels in Lake Mead continue dropping, it could bring water and hydropower to a grinding halt, all due to a relentless drought over two decades.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Policies will ensure not having to choose between water and economic growth

Reading the headlines about water issues in Arizona can be disconcerting. Our state is now more than 20 years into an historic drought with conditions projected to worsen in the coming years. We can no longer rely on the water resources that once seemed abundant. Dwindling Colorado River supplies coupled with inadequate groundwater regulation in large parts of Arizona have put the entire state in a tough position. But this is not a reason to despair – or to panic. We don’t need to discourage growth or declare that Arizona is closed for business because of the water challenges we face.
Written by Jaime A. Molera, former Arizona state school superintendent, partner of Molera Alvarez, and the Arizona director for The Western Way, a nonprofit organization that builds support for market-driven solutions to environmental challenges.

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Aquafornia news KGET 17 - Bakersfield

The nation’s first environmental law resulted from destructive California mining operations

California’s Gold Rush is known for making many people rich and inflating the population of the then-young state, but it also resulted in the creation of the nation’s first environmental law. As gold mining went from individuals with gold pans raking the bottom of creek beds to industries using the latest technologies to strip precious ores from California’s hillsides, the impact on the surrounding environment became more severe. Hydraulic mining was a growing form of industrial mining, in which high-pressure water would blast out of water cannons, known as monitors, into hillsides to wash away dirt and rocks to uncover the gold beneath.

Aquafornia news New York Times

Yosemite wildfire plan calls for cutting trees to protect park

The towering trees of Yosemite National Park have long held a treasured place in the American psyche, whether the ancient and majestic sequoias, the Ponderosa pines with their snake-patterned bark, or the acorn-laden black oaks, the lifeblood of many Native American cultures. … With more than 140 million trees killed in California by drought and plagues of beetles over the past decade — 2.4 million of them in Yosemite alone — forestry experts describe the state’s forests as wounded and extremely vulnerable. Now, as the state suffers another severe drought, Yosemite seems perennially under siege by fire and smoke.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Climate disinformation leaves lasting mark as world heats

In 1998, as nations around the world agreed to cut carbon emissions through the Kyoto Protocol, America’s fossil fuel companies plotted their response, including an aggressive strategy to inject doubt into the public debate…. Nearly 25 years later, the reality of a changing climate is now clear to most Americans, as heatwaves and wildfires, rising sea levels and extreme storms become more common…. [Yet] Even as surveys show the public generally has become more concerned about climate change, a sizeable number of Americans have become even more distrustful of the scientific consensus. 

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County supervisors accept final drought plan

The Butte County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the finalized drought plan Tuesday with the stipulation that it would be a living document that develops as conditions change. Water and Resource Conservation Director Kammie Loeser was joined by Assistant Director Christina Buck to deliver a series of presentations on water with the first focus surrounding a major analysis project that has occurred over the past six months. In December, the county hired an outside consulting firm to do a large-scale analysis of drought conditions in Butte County. The board received its initial presentation from the group in April and the draft study was released in May. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

SF Bay Area campground closes for summer due to drought

A favorite San Francisco Bay Area spot for sleeping under towering redwood trees is temporarily shutting down its campground again this summer because of California’s historic drought. Portola Redwoods State Park said Tuesday that its campground facilities with 55 sites and four group sites will be closing Aug. 5 and not reopening for the remainder of the season because of low flows on its main water source, Peters Creek. (The campground closes every winter, from Nov. 1 to April 1.) … Portola Redwoods had similar closures in 2014, 2015 and 2021 due to drought conditions, McKenna said.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Feds double water supply for Valley farms, cities

More water will flow into farms and cities on the Valley’s east side after a decision by the federal government to increase the supply streaming down canals. On July 20, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) announced it will increase the water supply delivered to contractors along the eastern side of the Valley to 30%, doubling the original allocation of 15% announced in February. The amount of Class 1 water, for contractors with first rights for water deliveries, was confirmed by Friant Water Authority, which operates the Friant-Kern Canal, in a July 22 update on its website.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: CA water agency blasted over lags in fixing unsafe drinking water

California’s state auditor blasted the agency responsible for helping poor communities fix their tainted water systems Tuesday, saying the it has tied up the process in red tape and forced nearly 1 million residents to wait months or years for help. Acting State Auditor Michael Tilden said the State Water Resources Control Board takes an average of 33 months to approve grants and loans requested by these communities to clean up water systems contaminated by excess amounts of nitrate, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals. … Nitrate, the result of farm fertilizer seeping into the water supply, can cause numerous health issues for infants. Excessive levels of arsenic can cause problems with skin and circulatory systems, and elevate the risk of cancer.

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Aquafornia news WSJ

California’s worst drought on record spells trouble for classic green lawns

This wealthy Los Angeles suburb is famed for its celebrity residents and meticulously landscaped homes. After a crackdown on water use, it is now gaining renown for having some of the brownest lawns in America. “My kids are asking me, what is going wrong with this grass?” said Siran Galstian, whose once verdant lawn is dying. “I have tears in my eyes, because I love the grass and they like playing in it.”

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Latest blow in Boswell-Vidovich water war could bring state control over region’s groundwater

The latest blow in an ongoing water war between two Kings County agricultural titans may put control of the entire region’s groundwater into state hands. The J.G. Boswell Farming Company and Sandridge Partners, controlled by John Vidovich, have been scuffling over water in court, on ditch banks and even in the air with accusations on both sides of various types of water skulduggery. On July 22, the Southwest Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency, controlled by Vidovich, voted to approve the region’s groundwater plan subject to an addendum that state representatives warned — during the meeting – could nullify the plan and lead to state control over groundwater.

Aquafornia news AP News

US could require steps for dams to save last Atlantic salmon

The federal government is conducting a review of four dams on a Maine river that could result in a lifeline for the last wild Atlantic salmon in the U.S. The last of the wild salmon live in a group of rivers in Maine and have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 2000. One of the rivers is the Kennebec River, where Brookfield Renewable U.S. owns dams. … The review comes as the Biden administration is also eyeing changes to dams in other parts of the country. The administration released reports earlier this month that said removing dams on the lower Snake River in eastern Washington may be needed to adequately restore salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest.

Aquafornia news Tehachapi News

Two water board directors respond to criticism from city, Golden Hills

Contentious comments by representatives of the city of Tehachapi and Golden Hills Community Services District have been made at meetings of the local water board for a number of months. Generally, board members don’t respond. But at the July 20 meeting of the Board of Directors of Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District, some directors didn’t hold back. … In June, Golden Hills and the city told directors they believe 75 percent of all water imported from the State Water Project by the local water district should be allocated on a first priority basis to M&I use, presumably leaving 25 percent of the water for agriculture.

Aquafornia news KYMA

California to tax lithium extraction beginning in 2023

A new tax on lithium extraction in California will go into effect next year, charging companies for each metric ton of lithium mined out of the Salton Sea. This tax will charge companies anywhere from $400 to $800 dollars per metric ton of extracted lithium. 80% of the money will go to the county the lithium was mined in and 20% will go toward Salton Sea renovation projects. Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia says the tax is about making sure the citizens of Imperial get their fair share.

Aquafornia news jfleck at inkstain

Blog: Does the Upper Colorado River basin routinely take shortages in dry years?

As stakeholders negotiate the current crisis on the Colorado River, we believe the representatives of the states of the Upper Basin – our states – are making a dangerous argument. Their premise is simple. With deep cutbacks needed, the Upper Basin states argue that their part of the watershed already routinely suffers water supply shortages in dry years. … Our review of those data suggests that, on average, overall Upper Basin use is slightly greater in dry years, and less in wet years.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: South valley groundwater managers to use $10 million to protect community water and look for ways to retire up to 100,000 acres of farmland

Three San Joaquin Valley water agencies are gearing up to spend $10 million each in grant funding from the state Department of Conservation to retire or repurpose farmland. Valley agencies that have received grants so far include the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Pixley Irrigation District Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and Madera County. … Estimates are that 100,000 acres of farmland will need to be taken out of production if the subbasin is to comply with state law and reach groundwater sustainability, said Reyn Akiona, watershed coordinator for the Tule subbasin.

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Aquafornia news KCBX - San Luis Obispo

Hearst Castle under water restrictions as severe drought continues to hit the Central Coast

One of the most famous attractions at Hearst Castle in San Simeon is the marble-framed outdoor Neptune pool. While severe drought is causing California State Parks to implement water restrictions at the castle, they say the iconic pool will remain full, even as most irrigation stops and portable toilets replace bathrooms. California State Parks, which operates and preserves the Hearst estate, turned off much of the water at there earlier this month amid the statewide drought.

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Aquafornia news Food and Water Watch

Blog: Futures trading – Another threat to our right to water

In late 2020, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launched the first water futures market, called the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index Futures. This market allows financial speculators to literally gamble on the price of water. But how does that actually work? And what are the consequences? … In California, as in other western states, rights holders can sell or lease the rights to use the water to others.  The index that Nasdaq Veles created is a single number that estimates the prevailing price of water in California. This number changes as water prices change. It’s based on an algorithm and a supposedly representative list of transactions — both of which Nasdaq Veles keeps confidential.  

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Follow the water!

People often have strange ideas about how water works.  Even simple water systems can be confusing.  When water systems become large complex socio-physical-ecological systems serving many users and uses, opportunities for confusion become extreme, surpassing comprehension by our ancient Homo sapien brains. When confused by conflicting rhetoric, using numbers to “follow the water” can be helpful.  The California Water Plan has developed some such numbers.  This essay presents their net water use numbers for 2018, by California’s agricultural, urban, and environmental uses by hydrologic region. 

Aquafornia news Fox News

Las Vegas ‘water cops’ patrol for water wasters amid unprecedented drought

The drought in the west has gotten so bad that bodies, World War II boats and other artifacts have resurfaced at Lake Mead, about 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. As the water dries up, so-called “water cops” are going after anybody who’s wasting it. Water waste investigators with the Las Vegas Valley Water District patrol the roads and neighborhoods every day to hunt for violations like broken sprinklers and excess watering.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento xeriscaping: What is it, how it affects drought

Sacramentans can get paid up to $3,000 for saving water in the form of replacing their grassy yards with drought-tolerant landscaping. Summer weather in Sacramento exacerbates ongoing drought conditions in the region, and the city has been promoting a program that incentivizes residents to switch to a “drought-tolerant landscape” in their yards. But what exactly is xeriscaping and what can it look like in California?

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Land Management

News release: BLM seeking public comment on wild and scenic river suitability in northwest California

The Bureau of Land Management is welcoming public comments on a Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Report, which identifies segments of northwest California rivers and streams that might be eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The BLM will use the eligibility report in developing the Northwest California Integrated Resource Management Plan (NCIP), a land use plan that will guide management of BLM public lands in northwest California for the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Opinion: A bad bill undermines cooperation on groundwater

The ink is barely dry on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and here comes more legislation to redo what has been the most significant change in California water law in over 100 years. The California Department of Water Resources has not finished evaluating Groundwater Sustainability Plans submitted by local agencies under SGMA, which established a cooperative framework to protect California’s groundwater resources. But already legislation—Assembly Bill 2201 by Steve Bennett, D-Ventura—seeks to change SGMA in ways that would bring unnecessary confusion and disruption into the process. 
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources for the California Farm Bureau; and Jack Gualco, president of The Gualco Group Inc.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Mono Lake was supposed to have been saved from going dry. Now, the ‘white stuff’ forces a reckoning

[T]he alkali flats that are emerging from [Mono] lake’s surface, ghost white, aren’t just another nod to the uniqueness of this ancient place. They’re a sign of trouble. Amid a third year of drought, the sprawling lake on the remote east side of the Sierra Nevada is sharply receding, and the small towns and wildlife so closely tied to the water are feeling the pinch. … The drought bearing down on Mono Lake and the rest of California picks up on a two-decade run of extreme warming and drying. It’s a product of the changing climate that has begun to profoundly reshape the landscape of the West and how people live within it.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County supervisors to get latest water updates

As the California drought continues to impact agriculture as well as the lives of residents, local government bodies have requested regular updates on water resources. Once again, the Butte County Board of Supervisors will hear the latest updates regarding the drought, groundwater and water-related activities within the county. In December, the board contracted Luhdorff and Scalmanini Consulting Engineers to create an analysis of drought impacts on the county in 2021.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Deepening drought prompts readoption of curtailment regulation for the Delta

With three consecutive years of drought reducing state and federal water project reservoirs to historic lows, the State Water Resources Control Board on Wednesday readopted measures for the Delta to protect drinking water supplies, prevent salinity intrusion and minimize impacts to fish and the environment. The State Water Board decision updating an emergency curtailment and reporting regulation authorizes staff to determine the amount of water available to certain right holders during the drought, preserving drinking water for 27 million Californians and the irrigation supply for more than three million acres of farmland.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Taking a big leap to solve California water problems: How uncommon partners are finding common ground on the water

There we were, 19 of us on the stony shore of the Tuolumne River, feeling a bit stranded like the crew of Gilligan’s Island. Our “Finding Common Water” rafting excursion was planned around “no water Wednesday,” when river releases are held back for water conservation and infrastructure maintenance. The trip’s goal: Get off our desk chairs and onto rafts, out of the ordinary and into an extraordinary setting — a hot, highly regulated, wild and scenic river —  to push us out of our comfort zone and get to work on addressing real water problems.

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Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Opinion: Reducing consumptive water use must be our main focus to safeguard Southern Nevada’s economic stability

I have lived in Las Vegas and have worked in the development industry for 30 years. Since day one, water has been an important issue. The current volume of Lake Mead compared to years prior is clear evidence there is a serious water issue. Residents, businesses and all those who depend on the Colorado River should be paying close attention to the facts and focusing on conservation policies that will help ensure we utilize our water in the most responsible way possible to preserve our future.
-Written by Nat Hodgson, CEO of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Exeter ends nitrate drinking water warning

Exeter officially put an end to their drinking water warning after swapping well 6’s production that included high nitrate levels with well 9 that was recently rehabilitated. The drinking water warning due to high levels of nitrates from well 6 in Exeter has been lifted. Women who are pregnant and infants could safely drink the city’s water as of July 14, ending the two month warning period. The warning was lifted after the city’s alternative well – well 9 – became fully operational. It had been undergoing rehabilitation work to prepare for high demand in the summer months. While well 9 was offline, all other wells had to remain online in order to meet peak hour water pressure demands. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: Land transitions and dust in the San Joaquin Valley

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires groundwater users to bring their basins into balance over the next two decades. In the San Joaquin Valley, this will mean taking more than 500,000 acres of agricultural land out of intensive irrigated production. Among other issues, this could potentially lead to air quality impacts if the lands become new sources of dust, especially windblown dust, which can have numerous negative short- and long-term health and environmental impacts. In addition, the changing climate may exacerbate risks as warmer temperatures can dry out soils and increase dust emissions.

Aquafornia news Bay City News

Sunol sand-mining company Mission Valley Rock agrees to pay Water Resources Control Board fine

A company operating a sand-mining facility in Alameda County will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle charges that it discharged untreated wastewater into Alameda Creek last year, officials with the state Water Resources Control Board (WRCB) said Thursday. Mission Valley Rock must pay nearly the statutory limit after it allegedly discharged 41,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from its Sunol facility in March. The total settlement is $368,940. According to the WRCB, Mission Valley Rock failed to properly decommission a pipeline, which then ruptured, depositing several inches of sediment in the creek bed and along the bank. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

News release: Bipartisan infrastructure law funds Lake Tahoe aquatic invasive species projects

The Biden-Harris administration today announced that the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded $3.4 million in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for cooperative agreements with the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to combat the spread of aquatic invasive species in Lake Tahoe. The funding represents a historic effort dedicated to restoring the Lake Tahoe Basin ecosystem and emphasizes the Administration’s commitment to inclusive engagement with Tribes, partners and stakeholders. 

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: The Delta in April-June 2022 under TUCP

A lot has been said about the drought’s effect on water supplies for cities and farms, but little is said about how Delta fish are faring.  Freshwater inflow to the Delta was about half of normal in April through June 2022 because of the State Water Board Order approving the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Bureau of Reclamation’s Temporary Urgency Change Petition  (TUCP) for Delta operations.  With some of this limited Delta inflow going to water users during April, May and June, little was going to the fish. The State Water Board granted the TUCP because Central Valley reservoir storage was so low at the end of winter in this third year of drought.  

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

California policies choking off water from Valley hasn’t been savior for fish, report finds

A new policy brief from the Public Policy Institute of California is recommending cost-effective water storage investments as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is seeing less inflow. It also offers a damning picture of the thirty-year shift in how the Golden State divvied up water, largely pitting fish species against millions of its residents. The institute – a nonpartisan think tank – initially published the brief in early spring, focuses on the Delta that supplies water to about 30 million residents and over six million acres of farmland. 

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

‘Keep Our Waters Clean’ campaign kicks off to protect rivers

Boaters and river users are being asked to help keep our area waterways clean during these hot months. The city of Sacramento is kicking off its annual “Keep Our Waters Clean” campaign to help protect the Sacramento and American Rivers. The two rivers are the primary drinking water source for the region. The department is asking boaters to keep engine oil and fuel out of the water and keep boat bilges clean of contamination as well. Anyone on or along the river is also asked to use restrooms and pick up after pets to keep human and animal waste out of the water.

Aquafornia news NPR

California’s water restrictions aren’t impacting people equally

Cities across California are tightening water restrictions as the drought drags on. But those restrictions are not hitting people equally. While some neighborhoods are turning brown and dusty, others are as lush as they’ve ever been. Caleigh Wells from member station KCRW reports.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

California poised to restrict bee-killing pesticides

Widely used insecticides that harm bees and songbirds would face far-reaching restrictions in California under regulations proposed by the state’s pesticide agency. The new limits would be among the nation’s most extensive for agricultural use of neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides used to kill plant-damaging pests like aphids. The highly potent pesticides have been shown to harm bees, birds and other creatures. Aimed at protecting bees that pollinate crops, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s proposed rules would restrict four closely-related neonicotinoid chemicals: imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and dinotefuran. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Drought drives Las Vegas to cap size of home swimming pools

Limiting the size of new swimming pools in and around Las Vegas might save a drop in the proverbial bucket amid historic drought and climate change in the West. Officials are taking the plunge anyway, capping the size of new swimming pools at single-family residential homes to about the size of a three-car garage. Citing worries about dwindling drinking water allocations from the drying-up Lake Mead reservoir on the depleted Colorado River, officials in Clark County voted this week to limit the size of new swimming pools to 600 square feet (56 square meters) of surface area.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Going, going….water at some of Bakersfield’s most popular parks is almost gone

The lake at the Park at River Walk is fast disappearing, as are the Truxtun Lakes and some other city-owned water features. Blame the drought. The City of Bakersfield Water Resources Department has cut off flows to city-owned recreation and water recharge facilities to hold on to what little surface water it’s receiving from the dwindling Kern River for drinking water, according to Daniel Maldonado, a water planner with the department. … Local resident Calletano Guiterrez understood the city has to contend with the drought but hoped at least some water could be set aside for what he said he and his family have come to love about Bakersfield.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

As West evaporates, experts plot ways to help businesses save water

As models predict another La Niña for the coming winter, which could lead to another dry year, leaders of water agencies and other groups from across California and the western United States met Tuesday to discuss how best to get commerce and industry to use less water. While residential water use has declined, commercial and industrial users need retrofits, new equipment and new ways of doing business when it comes how much liquid “gold” they consume. One thing meeting attendees agree on is that it will take more than financial incentives to push enterprises to make the switch. They will need to be convinced that shifting to new systems will increase efficiency, production and more.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Yes, Utah got ‘lackadaisical’ about water, Gov. Spencer Cox concedes. Here’s why he remains hopeful.

Utahns’ water consumption habits have drawn national scrutiny in recent weeks, sometimes to an embarrassing degree. The Great Salt Lake sank to a record low for the second time in less than a year, with its plight grabbing the attention of The New York Times and CBS. HBO’s John Oliver famously took Utah to task this summer for its dwindling water resources and a video of Gov. Spencer Cox calling on people to “pray for rain.” Cox has been quick to defend his home state amid all the negative press, pointing out in a Twitter thread earlier this month the major steps taken to save the Great Salt Lake from further decline. 

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun 

Las Vegas water district OKs proposal for pool-size limits 

The Clark County Commission approved a new measure to mitigate the falling water level of Lake Mead on Tuesday, limiting residential pool sizes in the Las Vegas area. The commission Tuesday unanimously approved a new ordinance prohibiting the Las Vegas Valley Water District from serving residents with pools with a total surface area of over 600 square feet. The new code will only apply to single-family residential customers who received a pool permit for their “pool(s), spa(s), and/or water feature(s)” after Sept. 1, 2022.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State Water Board delivers $3.3 billion to California communities to boost drought resilience and increase water supplies

Seizing a generational opportunity to leverage unprecedented state funding to combat drought and climate change, the State Water Resources Control Board provided an historic $3.3 billion in financial assistance during the past fiscal year (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022) to water systems and communities for projects that bolster water resilience, respond to drought emergencies and expand access to safe drinking water. The State Water Board’s funding to communities this past fiscal year doubled compared to 2020-21, and it is four times the amount of assistance provided just two years ago. The marked increase also comes as a result of last year’s $5.2 billion three-year investment in drought response and water resilience …

Aquafornia news KCRW - Santa Monica

Flouting drought rules? You can’t hide from this science teacher’s map

Satellite imagery can show which households in Southern California are likely following watering rules during the drought — and which ones are failing to comply. Data from the Sentinel-2 satellite isn’t coming from a local water agency, but from a hobbyist. Ben Kuo likes using high-tech tools to understand natural disasters. … The free, publicly available data allows users to zoom in to view a specific house and see how wet the yard is. A dry lawn might show up orange on the satellite data. A household that’s flouting drought restrictions with lots of damp grass will show up blue.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Despite more stored water than in 2021, California will keep closing spigots

As drought conditions persist and with the potential for another dry winter due to La Niña, some good news: the California State Water Resources Control Board learned Wednesday reservoirs in the northern and central parts of the state have more water than at this time last year. State Water Project reservoirs across Northern and Central California remain below historical averages after three consecutive years of drought. But with a combination of people cutting water use, curtailments, farmers fallowing fields and a focus on storage, the reservoirs in the State Water Project are either above or near where they were last year. 

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Aquafornia news Sonoma Index-Tribune

New rules for well permits in Sonoma County proposed

The Board of Supervisors will consider new standards for well permits at their meeting Aug. 9 in response to California case law to protect rivers and other “public trust resources,” according to a July 11 press release. The county will hold a public hearing on the proposed amendment to the county’s well ordinance, which would create new guidelines for Permit Sonoma’s evaluation of environmental impact to drill new or replacement groundwater wells. The ordinance may effect approximately one-third of well permit applications sent to Permit Sonoma and new wells may be subject to hundreds of dollars in fees and new equipment based on the proposal.

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Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: Hexavalent chromium/RCRA – Federal appellate court reconsiders public water system liability

A citizen suit action was filed by an environmental organization alleging the public water system was potentially subject to the RCRA “imminent and substantial endangerment provisions” because the groundwater it utilized contained hexavalent chromium. The hexavalent chromium in the groundwater likely originated from a release at a wood treating facility known as the Wickes site. The environmental organization California River Watch (“CRW”) concluded that the hexavalent chromium from the Wickes site migrated through groundwater to the Elmira Well Field (“Well Field”). The City of Vacaville (“City”) allegedly drew a significant amount of its water from the Well Field.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Exploring the potential for water-limited agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley

The rollout of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is altering the state’s agricultural landscape. As groundwater sustainability measures are implemented and water scarcity increases, at least half a million acres are projected to come out of irrigated production in the San Joaquin Valley, the state’s agricultural heartland. Rather than widespread land idling—which comes with unintended consequences such as dust, weeds, pests, and soil degradation—a switch from summer irrigated crops to winter crops produced with limited water (including winter cereals and forage crops, among others) might keep some of this land in production.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Five questions: Jon Rosenfield, Senior Scientist at the Baykeeper and longtime Delta scientist

After completing degrees from Cornell University, University of Michigan, and the University of New Mexico, Dr. Jon Rosenfield returned to the Bay Area in 2002, where he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Moyle.  He researches and is a tireless advocate for the Central Valley’s native salmon, steelhead, and smelt species. Dr. Rosenfield went on to The Bay Institute where he worked for over ten years to protect fisheries, becoming one of the region’s leading experts on the importance of freshwater flows from the Delta for the sustainability of the Bay’s ecosystem and fish populations.  

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Our experts weigh in on the drought

The water news in California has been grim. As PPIC Water Policy Center senior fellow Jeff Mount says, “we’re in year three of a miserable drought”—with “miserable” being the operative word. We sat down with Mount, senior fellow Alvar Escriva-Bou, and center director Ellen Hanak to discuss recent water news. We’re in year three of a serious drought. How different is it from last year? Jeff Mount: One difference is that the State Water Board has been very proactive. They announced curtailments earlier and they are moving much more quickly than last year. They have the right authorities to deal with the drought.

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: On the Colorado River the feds carry a big stick. Will the states get hit?

The seven Colorado River basin states have until mid-August to come up with a plan to drastically cut their water use. Federal officials say the cuts are necessary to keep the river’s giant reservoirs from declining to levels where water cannot be released through their dams and hydropower production ceases. If state leaders fail to devise a plan, they could face a federal crackdown. 

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

East Bay city increases water rates

Pittsburg water customers will soon see a 5% increase in their water rates for each of the next five years as a result of council action this week. Paul Rodrigues, city finance director, cited increases in the cost of energy and raw water, and the need to make capital improvements – at a $76.5 million price tag – in the water treatment plant as reasons for the increases. Both commercial and residential customers will be affected, but seniors will pay less, seeing only a 2% increase each year. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

East Bay MUD to pay $816,000 penalty for releasing 16 million gallons of partially treated sewage into San Francisco Bay

The heavy storms that soaked the Bay Area last October ended fire season and brought hope — dashed during dry winter months later — that the state’s drought might be ending. But while millions of people were celebrating the downpour the week before Halloween, the rains also caused an environmental headache in the East Bay, overwhelming a wastewater treatment plant and sending 16.5 million gallons of partially treated sewage into San Francisco Bay. On Monday, state regulators and the East Bay Municipal Utility District, a government agency that operates the plant at Point Isabel in Richmond, agreed to settle the case in a deal that requires the district to pay $816,000 for violations of clean water rules.

Aquafornia news Law360

Northrup Gets Claims Clipped In Contamination Class Suit

A California federal judge on Monday dismissed strict liability claims from a proposed class action alleging Northrop Grumman Corp. discharged dangerous chemicals into a California community, but gave the plaintiffs the opportunity to file an amended complaint. In the order, U. S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin said the court was skeptical that the proposed class, led by Jed Behar, sufficiently alleges that Northrup was engaged in “ultrahazardous activity” in its use and disposal of the chemicals. Judge Olguin, however, declined to dismiss Behar’s bid for punitive damages and restitution, saying that punitive damages are a remedy, and not a claim that …

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Times

Solvang water customers must cut back usage by 20% or face steep penalties

Solvang commercial, industrial and institutional water system customers will face steep financial penalties if they don’t immediately cut back their water usage at least 20%. City Council members on July 11 unanimously adopted a drought ordinance update that clarifies rate tier penalties in relation to declared drought stages. The city has been in a Stage 2 drought stage since August 2021. 

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Aquafornia news Reuters

Water battle in drought-plagued wildlife refuges ends in draw

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a 15-year plan for several drought-stricken wildlife refuges along the Oregon and California border against challenges by agribusiness and conservation groups alike. The three decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals mark a stalemate in a century-old water war in the Klamath Basin, where a federal irrigation project to support farming began in 1906 and the nation’s first wildlife refuge was established in 1908. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 Comprehensive Conservation Plan drew fire from agribusiness for regulating farming practices in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, while conservationists argued the restrictions did not go far enough.

Aquafornia news Vallejo Sun

American Canyon sues Vallejo over water dispute

The city of American Canyon has filed a lawsuit asking a court to force the city of Vallejo to provide drinking water to certain areas of American Canyon under a 1996 service agreement that Vallejo has sought to limit because of severe drought. American Canyon filed its lawsuit last week in Napa County Superior Court, which alleges that Vallejo breached the water service agreement between the two cities by failing to provide water to the Canyon Estates development, a new water delivery location for Vallejo that American Canyon said was “designed and constructed with Vallejo’s oversight and approval.”

Aquafornia news On the Public Record

Blog: On your watch.

Yesterday Max Gomberg had his last day at the State Water Resources Control Board. He sent this on his last day, and cc’ed me. With his permission: Hello everyone:  I am sharing my parting thoughts because I believe in facing hard truths and difficult decisions. These are dark and uncertain times, both because fascists are regaining power and because climate change is rapidly decreasing the habitability of many places. Sadly, this state is not on a path towards steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions reductions, massive construction to alleviate the housing crisis, quickly and permanently reducing agriculture to manage the loss of water to aridification, and reducing law enforcement and carceral budgets and reallocating resources to programs that actually increase public health and safety.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water district vets desalination, recycled water cost

The Marin Municipal Water District took a deeper look at some of the more complex and expensive options on the table for new supply: desalination plants and recycled water. The district board and consultants with the Jacobs Engineering firm held discussion Tuesday on the preliminary cost estimates, water yields and challenges of building desalination plants and expanding the district’s recycled water system.

Aquafornia news Ag Info

Delta smelt: CA wants to “step away” from single-species management

A small fish called the Delta Smelt has been a big topic for farmers in California, as the state cites its 2016 Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy for limiting the amount of water from the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta, earmarked for agriculture. Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary, spoke during the Western Food and Ag Issues Summit hosted by Agri-Pulse. He says although the state of California is bound by the federal Endangered Species Act to protect the fish, the agency is working towards a more encompassing solution.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Monday Top of the Scroll: California’s idle cropland may double as water crisis deepens

California’s historic drought may leave the state with the largest amount of empty farmland in recent memory as farmers face unprecedented cuts to crucial water supplies. The size of fields intended for almonds, rice, wine grapes and other crops left unworked could be around 800,000 acres, double the size of last year and the most in at least several decades, said Josue Medellin-Azuara, an associate professor at University of California Merced.

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: Ninth Circuit reverses previous decision on RCRA liability for water supplier

On July 1, 2022 a panel of the Ninth Circuit issued a superseding opinion in California River Watch v. City of Vacaville, Appeal No. 20-16605, withdrawing its previous opinion in the same case and reaching the opposite result. The case is a rare example of a court reversing itself, and has important implications for water suppliers in California and nationwide. In California River Watch, the plaintiff sought to impose RCRA liability on a water supplier based on the presence of hexavalent chromium in the water it supplied to customers, despite the fact that the water complied with the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for chromium established under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

Aquafornia news

‘Water police’ patrol drought-hit Los Angeles streets

Damon Ayala patrols the streets of drought-stricken Los Angeles every day, inspecting the sidewalks. Each time he sees a puddle, he stops. He is part of the city’s Department of Water and Power team, which looks into hundreds of community complaints filed by neighbors each week about water waste. … Ayala’s patrol comes as California and the western United States are in the grip of a severe, years-long drought. … With reservoirs and rivers at historic lows, Los Angeles authorities have brought in water restrictions, such as limiting lawn irrigation to as little as eight minutes, twice per week.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Ban new gas stations? There are better ways for L.A. to ditch fossil fuels

To be clear, there are good reasons to end construction of new gas stations, which, beyond fueling climate change, also have a tendency to become costly environmental cleanup sites themselves. The underground storage tanks they use can contaminate soil and groundwater and pose risks to drinking water supplies for years after they close. A statewide 2021 assessment by the State Water Resources Control Board found 136 improperly abandoned underground fuel storage tank facilities, many of them old gas stations, including a dozen in disadvantaged communities and within 1,000 feet of a municipal water supply well.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: One year later, DWR has provided nearly half a billion in drought relief to communities

A year after receiving funding from the Budget Act of 2021, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has successfully awarded more than $440 million to date in drought relief assistance to small and urban communities to address water supply challenges and help build local resilience. The Budget Act of 2021 allocated $500 million in total drought-relief funds to DWR following extreme dry conditions and Governor Newsom’s statewide drought emergency declaration.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Vulnerable domestic wells will be focus of $10 million farmland retirement grant in Madera County

Three San Joaquin Valley water agencies are gearing up to spend $10 million each in grant funding from the state Department of Conservation to retire or repurpose farmland. Valley agencies that received grants so far include the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Pixley Irrigation District Groundwater Sustainbility Agency (GSA) and Madera County. SJV Water will look at how each agency plans to use its $10 million in separate articles.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Climate goals face major headwinds, two reports say

More than 70 countries have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, while President Biden has vowed to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. But two big reports released Thursday underscore the steep challenges facing Biden and other world leaders as they seek to slash planet-warming emissions in the crucial coming decades. The first study, conducted by the independent research firm Rhodium Group, finds that the United States is on track to reduce emissions 24 percent to 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 — significantly short of Biden’s target — absent additional policy action.

Aquafornia news Dana Point Times

Orange County Grand Jury says county needs consolidated approach to water

Orange County needs a unified approach to water conservation and drought as California faces the driest 22-year period in over a thousand years, the Orange County Grand Jury recommended in a new report published late last month. The June 22 Grand Jury report stated that Orange County water providers need to “consolidate their resources and establish a unified voice to lead the County more efficiently in its water policies and planning.” Orange County has two water supply agencies: Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) and Orange County Water District (OCWD).

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Groups file suit over Los Angeles River Master Plan

Two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, accusing officials of violating state environmental laws when they approved the Los Angeles River Master Plan last month. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, seeks to bar the county from developing any new river project without first conducting a review of “all foreseeable significant impacts to the environment that the master plan will authorize.” The suit was filed by LA Waterkeeper and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Aquafornia news Produce Blue Book

Agriculture minus three basic things

American agriculture is going to have to do without three things that it has long taken for granted, according to a recent article by Chloe Sorvino, who leads food and agriculture coverage for Forbes. Those things are cheap energy, free water, and a reliable climate…. Permanent crops are obviously more vulnerable than annual ones. If the latter are plowed under or the land for them is fallowed, there is always next year. But trees and vines take a certain number of years to mature and produce. To say that water in California is free is simply not true.

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Aquafornia news Mendocino Voice

Mendocino County BOS looks to regulate private extraction, sale of groundwater

After a long back-and-forth on Tuesday afternoon, all but one Mendocino County supervisor approved a draft of a water hauling ordinance created by concerned community members.  The ordinance draft will move on to the planning commission for review, despite lingering questions around how to fund it. Board Chair Ted Williams voted against the ordinance because of those concerns. The ordinance’s purpose is to protect the county’s groundwater resources by regulating the sale and transport of groundwater from private wells. 

Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: Is momentum building to change the way we manage plastic?

There has been a reasonable amount of recent activity related to management (or lack thereof) of plastic waste.  Two more developments this month have me wondering whether we might be near the proverbial tipping point in our approach to managing plastics. First, California enacted a fairly sweeping statute, S.B. 54, that will impose extended producer responsibility requirements on producers of plastics. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Porta potties and dirty buses: Hearst Castle cuts down water use in response to drought

Visitors to Hearst Castle can expect to see some changes as California combats its worst drought in years. California State Parks is implementing stage 3 of its drought contingency plan in an effort to cut back on water use at the former San Simeon estate of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It’s the highest stage in State Parks’ drought contingency plan for the Castle. The agency’s efforts mirror how the entire state of California has worked to reduce water consumption during the driest megadrought in the West in 1,200 years.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Weekly

Blog: We need more water in order to build more housing. But sometimes, the lack of water is a convenient excuse not to build.

David Schmalz here, thinking about the Seaside Basin, which, along with the Carmel River and recycled water from Pure Water Monterey, is one of three major water sources serving residents in the Monterey Peninsula.  Water is a highly complex topic on the Peninsula and in the county at large, and what follows is no exception. Still, it’s important: water facilitates life, and its availability, or lack thereof, changes the world we live in. It’s one fundamental reason we can, or cannot, build much-needed housing.  I’m thinking about the Seaside Basin for this reason: recent decisions made by the Seaside City Council, as it relates to that water supply, will have an impact on housing in the city in a major way. 

Aquafornia news

Bay Area water agencies set to discuss severe drought conditions

The Bay Area’s largest water agencies on Tuesday were expected to assess their current drought situations and possibly discuss further restrictions on water use. Valley Water in the South Bay, which supplies water for thousands in the Santa Clara Valley, will report that between June 2021 and May 2022, customers used 3% less water compared to 2019. That’s far short of the 15% reduction goal set by the district’s board.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: L.A. water use plunges a record 9% as unprecedented water restrictions bring savings

Damon Ayala … is a member of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s water conservation response unit, and he spends his days patrolling the streets of L.A. looking for homes and businesses in violation of the new drought rules. The restrictions went into effect June 1 and include the city’s strictest-ever outdoor watering limitations…. During a board meeting Tuesday, DWP officials announced that demand for water from city residents plummeted 9% in June compared with the same month last year. It was the lowest water use for any June on record.

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Aquafornia news East County Magazine

AWP proceeds with effort to take San Diego’s pump station

The agency managing the East County Advanced Water Purification (AWP) program took another step toward legally confiscating a sewage pumping station that now belongs to the city of San Diego. Earlier this month, the Joint Powers Authority for AWP filed a complaint in San Diego Superior Court asking the court to grant the JPA eminent domain rights for the station, located at the western border of Santee, on Mission Gorge Road next to the west-bound ramp for SR 52. 

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Sunol: Sand mining outfit fined for releasing untreated wastewater into Alameda Creek

A company operating a sand mining facility in Alameda County must pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle allegations it discharged untreated wastewater into Alameda Creek last year, officials with the State Water Resources Control Board said Thursday. Mission Valley Rock Company must pay nearly the statutory limit after it allegedly discharged 41,000 gallons of untreated wastewater from its Sunol facility in March 2021.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: “A new zone of uncertainty” – What West Virginia v. EPA means for water and environment

In a 6-3 decision last week, the Supreme Court restricted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb climate pollution from power plants. … The decision leaves intact the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and even allows it to regulate power plants on a case-by-case basis. The greater significance of the case, rather, may be the new inroad it creates for challenges to environment and water protections…. Hesitancy on the part of federal agencies could be damaging for U.S. water issues, many of which cut across state boundaries. James Eklund, an environmental lawyer and architect of the Colorado Water Plan, said that ambitious action by the Bureau of Reclamation has been central to averting the worst water shortages in the American West.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Removing her Southern California lawn was therapy

Even here, in the scorching summer heat of Altadena, Seriina Covarrubias’ front yard feels cool and inviting under the dappled shade of a magnificent elm tree. … More than thirsty birds have flocked to her garden since she tore out her lawn and replaced it with mostly drought-tolerant plants native to Southern California. Other wildlife has returned, including lizards, ladybugs, praying mantises, bees and caterpillars. … Two years before the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California declared a water shortage emergency and ordered outdoor watering limited to two days a week, the couple knew they wanted to install plants that could endure the heat with little watering.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Lower Colorado River farmers fear economic calamity from water cuts

Farmers along the Lower Colorado River in Southern Arizona and Southern California are bracing for severe reductions next year in their river water supplies — cuts they say could lead to widespread crop production cutbacks, major economic dislocation and, possibly, food shortages. “Mass fallowing” is a prime concern among representatives of several big irrigation districts along the river. The concern is growing as farm, city, state and federal officials seek to negotiate a compromise solution to carry out cuts in water use across the entire Colorado River Basin that were ordered last month by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

Aquafornia news Lodi News

Water agencies once at odds collaborating on ‘Dream’ project

Historically, the relationship between the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District and the East Bay Municipal Utilities District has been tense at times, hindering the opportunity to collaborate on regional projects. The tension, NSJWCD attorney Jennifer Spaletta said, was over EBMUD building the Camanche and Pardee reservoirs and ending up with senior water rights along the Mokelumne River. But over the last two decades, the two agencies have worked to resolve their issues, and ultimately came to the mutual understanding that they needed to work together in order to solve future water supply challenges.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

FWA announces allocation increase to 20 percent

Ask and ye shall receive — at least partially. And the Friant Water Authority is hopeful there’s more to come. FWA announced on Friday the Bureau of Reclamation has increased its 2022 water allocation for Friant Division Class 1 contractors from 15 to 20 percent. FWA added as in the past two years, Friant Division Class 2 contractors continued to received 0 percent, “which continues to reflect the hydrology for the 2022 water year is very dry.”

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Recent drop in Lake Powell’s storage shows how much space sediment is taking up

The Bureau of Reclamation last week revised its data on the amount of water stored in Lake Powell, with a new, lower tally taking into account a 4% drop in the reservoir’s total available capacity between 1986 and 2018 due to sedimentation. Bureau data on the reservoir’s water-storage volume showed a loss of 443,000 acre-feet between June 30 and July 1 — a 6% drop in storage from 6.87 million acre-feet (which is 28.28% of live storage based on 1986 data) to 6.43 million (26.46% of full).   

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: California urban water use shrank in May as drought wears on

Californians are starting to save water, but not enough to meet Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for conservation in the face of one of the worst droughts in recorded history. Urban water use fell 3.1% in May compared to the 2020 baseline set by the governor, according to figures released Friday by the State Water Resources Control Board. While that’s well short of the 15% call issued by Newsom last July, it does show that Californians are beginning to heed the governor’s call for reduced consumption. Water use actually rose in March and April … preliminary results for June show that water usage fell by nearly 8% compared with two years ago.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Proposed law allows extra regulation of wells

The governor of our state and the state legislature are getting into the act of exercising never-before-seen public control of privately owned groundwater wells. Assemblyman Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) and representatives from Community Water Center (CWC) are sponsoring legislation that would change the way new and expanded water wells are approved in California, and focusing on areas that are experiencing rapid decline in groundwater reserves. … Bennett’s bill, AB 2201, took a step forward last week as it survived a fight in a California state Senate committee.
-Written by Jim Shields, editor and publisher of the Mendocino County Observer and district manager of the Laytonville County Water District.

Aquafornia news CNN

Megadrought: As the West runs out of water, property owners and officials find ways around century-old laws

With a megadrought draining water reserves in the West, states are looking for alternatives to handle water rights, many of which were set more than 100 years ago when water supplies were far more abundant. Back then, just posting a sign next to a water diversion was enough to be considered a right, one which could still be honored now. But the climate crisis is now straining those rights. There just isn’t enough water in California to satisfy what’s been allotted on paper.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Moderate water shortage declared in Red Bluff; residents asked to cut back

With the City Council passing an ordinance declaring a stage II moderate water shortage Tuesday night, Red Bluff residents will be asked to cut back on their water usage. City water customers must refrain from landscape watering except between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., equip any hose with a shutoff nozzle and promptly repair all leaks in plumbing fixtures, water lines and sprinkler systems. Residents will be prohibited from hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes, washing vehicles with hoses not equipped with a shutoff nozzle …

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses RCRA citizen suit decision affecting drinking water supply agencies in California River Watch v. City of Vacaville

In a significant course-correction, a Ninth Circuit panel recently revisited its prior opinion in California River Watch v. City of Vacaville, (14 F.4th 1076 (9th Cir. 2021) (“Vacaville I”)), where the Court previously held the City of Vacaville (“City”) could be liable for transporting a solid waste (hexavalent chromium) in its drinking water supply simply due to that contaminant being present in groundwater withdrawn for water supply purposes. On a denial of a rehearing en banc, the same three-judge panel who issued the Vacaville I opinion issued a new order and opinion withdrawing and superseding the former opinion, now affirming summary judgment in favor of the City.

Aquafornia news Western Water

A Colorado River tribal leader seeks a voice in the river’s future–and freedom to profit from its surplus water

As water interests in the Colorado River Basin prepare to negotiate a new set of operating guidelines for the drought-stressed river, Amelia Flores wants her Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) to be involved in the discussion. And she wants CRIT seated at the negotiating table with something invaluable to offer on a river facing steep cuts in use: its surplus water. CRIT, whose reservation lands in California and Arizona are bisected by the Colorado River, has some of the most senior water rights on the river. But a federal law enacted in the late 1700s, decades before any southwestern state was established, prevents most tribes from sending any of its water off its reservation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. wins water battle with Mono County amid worsening drought

A state appellate court has reversed a judge’s ruling that would have required the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to conduct an environmental review before making annual decisions about deliveries of water on pastureland it owns east of Yosemite. The city agency on Thursday said the previous ruling had “set an impossible standard” as it faces the complex challenges of servicing ratepayers and meeting environmental requirements in a time of drought, dwindling snowpack and changing water availability. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Caviar kingpins of Contra Costa? Major law enforcement operation exposes black market for California delicacy

Since November 2020, investigators with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have installed GPS trackers on cars, conducted nighttime stakeout surveillance operations, spied on Facebook accounts and traced wire transactions connected to what they describe as a major investigation into the state’s caviar black market. The 18-month effort paid off: Eight people have been arrested this year on suspicion of illegal fishing and other violations, and prosecutors in Contra Costa County are preparing to file criminal charges against several others, according to court records. Authorities have identified people believed to be illegally fishing sturgeon from the Carquinez Strait and Sacramento River, as well as middlemen who buy the roe, convert it into caviar, and sell it to customers under the counter.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation, DWR break ground on second phase of “Big Notch” fish passage project

When the flood protection plan for Sacramento was conceived and constructed, the aim was to divert Sacramento River flood flows away from the city. The plan was successful, but it did not provide much for the needs of  fish that migrate through the floodplain to connect with the river channel. … Fast forward to a warm summer day in 2022 as officials with federal, state, local agencies and Native American tribes gathered to break ground on the second phase of the largest floodplain salmon rearing habitat restoration in California history. Dubbed the “Big Notch” Project, the $190 million effort (partially funded by Reclamation) aims to improve 30,000-acres of floodplain habitat in the Yolo Bypass in Yolo County.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Calif. invests $2M in urgent drought relief projects

California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced financial support to four urgent drought relief projects in Humboldt, Los Angeles, Modoc, Shasta, and Siskiyou counties through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. In coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, DWR awarded $2 million in funding to support four projects that will improve drought resilience and address local water needs.

Aquafornia news Law360

Groups say feds flubbed enviro permit on 400-home project

Two environmental groups asked a judge to block a permit for a 314-acre housing development in Chico, California, arguing that federal officials failed to consider its effect on seasonal wetlands … 

Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Opinion: Scientists discover signs of intelligence on Earth – California governor signs plastics recycling bill

Until recently, I felt the same numb, dumb rage over the oceans of unnecessary plastic packaging that inevitably accompany 98.7 percent of all purchases I make. Yes, we live in an unsafe world, but do we really need to put condoms on absolutely everything? … This past week, enviros scored a massive victory for sanity and common sense when Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 54, which mandates the reduction of such plastic production by 25 percent by the year 2032. This bill also requires all one-time-use plastics be made of recycled materials by that date. It doesn’t outright outlaw Styrofoam, but comes pretty damn close.
-Written by Santa Barbara Independent Executive Editor Nick Welsh. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

East Valley farmers and cities may get more surface water this summer

Farmers and cities on the east side of the Valley may get more water than they originally thought.  Friant Water Authority, which operates the Friant-Kern Canal, said in a recent memo on its website it is confident its contractors will not only get the 15% allocation of surface water deliveries announced in February but that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will likely increase the amount to 20%, possibly as early as this week. … Better snow and rainfall in the Sacramento area late in the spring has allowed the Bureau of Reclamation to budget more water to be delivered to the San Joaquin Exchange Contractors …

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Eleven miles of Eel River corridor, Lake Pillsbury basin protected under conservation easement

Between talk of a widely reviled Coal Train and continued uncertainty over Pacific Gas & Electric’s Potter Valley hydroelectric plant, the future of the Eel River has been a source of profound anxiety over the past year. But there’s some good news with the announcement that 5,620 acres of remote wilderness along 11 miles of the river between Lake Pillsbury and the Potter Valley Project are now permanently under a conservation easement held by the Mendocino Land Trust. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Farmers who helped sink the Friant-Kern Canal reject a fee to pay off their share of the fix

Farmers in southern Tulare County on June 30 soundly rejected a proposed land fee that would have helped pay a lump sum settlement of  $125 million toward fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, which has sunk because of excessive groundwater pumping. The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency agreed in 2020 to pay a portion of the cost to repair the canal to Friant Water Authority. … The settlement agreement between Eastern Tule and Friant laid out two payment options. The GSA would either pay a lump sum of $125 million by the end of 2022, or $200 million over the next decade through pumping fees charged to its farmers.

Aquafornia news Fresh Plaza

California pistachio growers face more water challenges

The next six weeks, California pistachios will be on close watch around how much–if any, the current drought in the state is affecting its growth or “nut fill.” … So while some growers are located in areas with good groundwater and/or are receiving some supply of surface water, others have zero surface water and also limited sources of groundwater. … At the same time, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is starting to be implemented. This legislation, which passed in 2014, requires that all groundwater basins in California be sustainable and agencies were formed to ensure compliance with the act.

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Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: New studies show Metropolitan’s grass removal incentives are driving transformation of Southern California’s landscapes

As Southern California faces the most challenging drought in its history, two new studies highlight the value and wide-ranging success of Metropolitan Water District’s Turf Replacement Program, which gives cash rebates to residents who swap their water-guzzling lawns for more water-efficient California Friendly and native plants. One study found that for every 100 homes that converted their yards using a rebate, an additional 132 nearby homes were inspired to convert their own grass without receiving a rebate to help fund the projects. This “multiplier effect” more than doubled the value of Metropolitan’s investment in making Southern California more sustainable. 

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Is Poseidon’s Huntington Beach desal plant proposal gone for good?

After more than 20 years, a June letter to Southern California water officials might spell the end for the Poseidon Water company’s desalinated dreams in Huntington Beach, once and for all.  The fatal blow came in May, from within the Hilton in Costa Mesa, where California Coastal Commissioners unanimously rejected Poseidon’s bid to build a desalting plant by the AES generating station in the city’s south end. In striking the project down, commissioners cited what would be higher water rates, marine life loss, and impacts to poor households already living near industrial areas, from a project that would have taken 100 million daily gallons of seawater, desalted half of it, and discharged the other half back as saltier brine.

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Aquafornia news Politico

The Southwest is bone dry. Now, a key water source is at risk.

California and six other Western states have less than 60 days to pull off a seemingly impossible feat: Cut a multi-way deal to dramatically reduce their consumption of water from the dangerously low Colorado River. If they don’t, the federal government will do it for them. A federal Bureau of Reclamation ultimatum last month, prompted by an extreme climate-change-induced drop in water levels at the nation’s largest reservoirs, reopens years of complicated agreements and political feuds among the communities whose livelihoods depend on the river. The deadline represents a crucial moment for the arid Southwest, which must now swiftly reckon with a problem that has been decades in the making.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: State’s leaders must change water agreements to reflect climate realities

California’s once-abundant salmon runs are on the verge of collapse. That’s a tragedy, but this story is bigger than the extinction of an iconic fish that once fed millions of people and was the basis of thriving commercial, tribal and sport fisheries. … Our salmon are flirting with extinction because they’re not getting the cold water they need to survive. … Although they were aware of the growing water crisis, state and federal water managers have drawn down reservoirs rapidly over the past three years, leaving cold water — indeed, any water — in short supply. Why? To provide water to a small subset of commercial growers.
-Written by Tom Stokely, a member of the board of the California Water Impact Network, a nonprofit working for the equitable distribution of water resources.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Recycled water meeting Monterey Peninsula needs

Monterey Peninsula water officials are reporting that not only did they meet the obligation to provide the agreed-upon amount of water from the Pure Water Monterey water recycling project, they were able to bank more than 100 acre-feet in groundwater reserve. Pure Water Monterey — a project of Monterey One Water, the area’s wastewater service provider — takes recycled water that has been treated to a potable level and in a joint effort with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District injects it into the Seaside Groundwater Basin for later extraction. 

Aquafornia news High Times

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife announces enforcement for illegal cannabis growing season

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and State Water Resource Board (SWRCB) announced in a press release on July 1 that it would be collectively authorizing enforcement teams for the 2022 cannabis growing season. … This effort is funded by Proposition 64 which enables these government agencies to focus on protecting “priority watersheds and areas with sensitive habitat and/or threatened or endangered species.” … The water streams of California, and the wildlife that depends on them, suffer when illegal cannabis grow operations divert water. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Vacaville can’t be held responsible for polluted tap water, court rules

A lawsuit accusing Vacaville of endangering its residents with tap water polluted with hexavalent chromium — the cancer-causing chemical made infamous in the film “Erin Brockovich” — was dismissed Friday by a federal appeals court, which said the city merely carried the water in its pipes and isn’t responsible for contamination caused by others. The city was sued in 2017 by the environmental group California River Watch, which said Vacaville had failed to inspect or clean up the water it had piped in from wells near a former wood-processing plant whose owners had dumped the chemical into the ground for many years.

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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

Travel 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.

Click here to register!

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.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary PitzerDouglas E. Beeman

As Wildfires Grow More Intense, California Water Managers Are Learning To Rewrite Their Emergency Playbook
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Agencies share lessons learned as they recover from fires that destroyed facilities, contaminated supplies and devastated their customers

Debris from the Camp Fire that swept through the Sierra foothills town of Paradise  in November 2018.

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

It’s been a year since two devastating wildfires on opposite ends of California underscored the harsh new realities facing water districts and cities serving communities in or adjacent to the state’s fire-prone wildlands. Fire doesn’t just level homes, it can contaminate water, scorch watersheds, damage delivery systems and upend an agency’s finances.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law Jenn Bowles Nick Gray

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

The Water Education Foundation’s 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 one-day workshop held on Feb. 20, 2020 covered the latest on the most compelling issues in California water. 

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A UC Berkeley symposium explores approaches and challenges to managed aquifer recharge around the West

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.


Save The Dates For Next Year’s Water 101 Workshop and Lower Colorado River Tour
Applications for 2020 Water Leaders class will be available by the first week of October

Dates are now set for two key Foundation events to kick off 2020 — our popular Water 101 Workshop, scheduled for Feb. 20 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, and our Lower Colorado River Tour, which will run from March 11-13.

In addition, applications will be available by the first week of October for our 2020 class of Water Leaders, our competitive yearlong program for early to mid-career up-and-coming water professionals. To learn more about the program, check out our Water Leaders program page.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

As Californians Save More Water, Their Sewers Get Less and That’s a Problem
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Lower flows damage equipment, concentrate waste and stink up neighborhoods; should water conservation focus shift outdoors?

Corrosion is evident in this wastewater pipe from Los Angeles County.Californians have been doing an exceptional job reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive the most recent drought when water districts were required to meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable, Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water in the future.

Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

Bruce Babbitt Urges Creation of Bay-Delta Compact as Way to End ‘Culture of Conflict’ in California’s Key Water Hub
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Former Interior secretary says Colorado River Compact is a model for achieving peace and addressing environmental and water needs in the Delta

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gives the Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum.  Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Sustainability plans required by the state’s groundwater law could cap Kern County pumping, alter what's grown and how land is used

Water sprinklers irrigate a field in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County.Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

Women Leading in Water, Colorado River Drought and Promising Solutions — Western Water Year in Review

Dear Western Water readers:

Women named in the last year to water leadership roles (clockwise, from top left): Karla Nemeth, director, California Department of Water Resources; Gloria Gray,  chair, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Brenda Burman, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner; Jayne Harkins,  commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico; Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission.The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.

These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.

We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018: