Topic: Regulations — California and Federal

Overview

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 E&E News

PFAS pose ‘watershed’ moment for Superfund liability

The Biden administration’s ambitions to crack down on “forever chemicals” — touted as an administration priority — are facing headwinds from key industries that say they could be unfairly punished and held liable for contamination they did not create. Members of the water and waste sectors are ramping up pressure on Congress and EPA to shield them from an upcoming proposal as the agency makes progress on addressing PFAS contamination. 

Aquafornia news Mono Lake Committee

Blog: Surface water exports curtailed by low Grant Lake Reservoir storage

During the 2021 runoff year (April 1, 2021–March 31, 2022), the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) was allowed to export up to 16,000 acre-feet of stream diversions from the Mono Basin because Mono Lake was above 6380 feet above sea level on April 1, 2021. Yet, only 13,300 acre-feet of water was taken, consistent with the low reservoir requirements in DWP’s water licenses, which were amended last year by the California State Water Resources Control Board. The new licenses contain an overall minimum level of 11,500 acre-feet of storage for Grant Lake Reservoir, with a minimum of 20,000 acre-feet for July–September. 

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Sonoma Co. vineyard exec faces $3.75M fine over alleged environmental violations

A well-known Sonoma County vineyard executive is facing a multi-million-dollar state fine for allegedly removing trees and destroying a small wetland on a rural patch of land east of Cloverdale. Hugh Reimers and Krasilsa Pacific Farms could be on the hook for up to $3.75 million in fines for allegedly cutting down trees, grading, ripping and other activities near tributaries to Little Sulphur Creek, Big Sulphur Creek and Crocker Creek in the Russian River Watershed … In a complaint filed May 9, the Water Board accused Reimers and Krasilsa Pacific Farms of also failing to abide by a 2019 cleanup and abatement order, which required them to restore the streams and wetlands.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

County Corner: Our answers on groundwater leave more questions

In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order outlining the temporary strategies for California to manage the ongoing drought. Within this order, he outlined rules for counties, cities and other public agencies as it relates to new wells or alterations to an existing well. One rule requires farmers and ranchers to get written verification from their local groundwater sustainability agency that the new well or alterations “would not be inconsistent with any sustainable groundwater management program” for the area. 

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California moves to curb harmful tire pollutant collecting in Bay, threatening wildlife

If you think about the pollution your car causes, chances are you’re not thinking about the tires. And probably even less about a faraway creek, where a Coho Salmon is dying. But researchers at the University of Washington and elsewhere … say as the rubber wears away from car tires during everyday driving, it spreads tiny micro particles, including a destructive chemical called 6PPD. … Now, with information gathered in part by the [San Francisco Estuary] Institute, the State of California is stepping in, laying the groundwork for potential regulations to curb the toxic tire pollution.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State funding to retire valley farmland could more than double under Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget

A state program aimed at retiring and repurposing farmland could get $60 million – more than doubling its current funding – under Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget. The Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program was created with $50 million from the 2021 state budget. The program helps pay for farmland to be taken out of production and repurposed to less water intensive uses. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have pumped groundwater for crops without limits for generations. But groundwater levels are plummeting …

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Delta water crisis linked to California’s racist past, tribes and activists say

Tribes and environmental groups are challenging how the state manages water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a major source for much of California, arguing the deterioration of the aquatic ecosystem has links to the state’s troubled legacy of racism and oppression of Native people. A group of activists and Indigenous leaders is demanding that the state review and update the water quality plan for the Delta and San Francisco Bay, where fish species are suffering, algae blooms have worsened and climate change is adding to the stresses. 

Aquafornia news Grist

How the “exchange contract” pits California farmers against each other

[On the southeast side of California’s Central Valley] farmers are pumping unreliable groundwater to make up the difference, hoping their already struggling wells don’t go dry … Others will rip up their trees and leave their fields fallow. … About 100 miles away, on the northwest side of the Central Valley, the situation could not be more different. Even during an unprecedented drought, the almond and pistachio farmers around the city of Los Banos will get around 75 percent of a normal year’s water … The startling contrast is the result of an obscure and contentious legal agreement known as the exchange contract …

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Aquafornia news & the West

Weighing the consequences of losing carbon-free energy in California

Old environmental arguments over the consequences of nuclear power had seemed almost resolved in California. Antinuclear sentiment was intensified by the 33-year succession of accidents, from Three Mile Island in 1978 to Chernobyl in 1986 to Fukushima in 2011, severely diminished their appeal. California was getting ready to wave goodbye to its last nuclear plant. Up Close We explore the issues, personalities, and trends that people are talking about around the West. The political realities of 2022 and the need to reduce carbon emissions might change things.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California just adopted new water restrictions: What you need to know

California water regulators strengthened the state’s drought rules this week, ordering local suppliers to take steps to reduce water usage to stretch limited supplies this summer. Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that more stringent statewide water restrictions could come if the state doesn’t make more progress on conservation soon. … As part of the new rules, the state also banned the use of drinking water for irrigating grass that is purely decorative at businesses and in common areas of subdivisions and homeowners associations. Here is a breakdown of what is going on:

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Assemblyman maneuvers to slow proposed river flow increases

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, is maneuvering against a bill that seeks higher flows on local rivers. Assembly Bill 2639 would set a Dec. 31, 2023, deadline for the State Water Resources Control Board to complete its plan for tributaries to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They include the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The decision would follow decades of wrangling over whether fish should get more water on the lower rivers at the expense of farms and cities.

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Aquafornia news J- The Jewish News of Northern California

Opinion: California Jews, enough with your green, grassy Jewish cemeteries

Jewish law has a lot to say about what’s supposed to happen when you die: your lifeless body must be washed and buried quickly, with a simple headstone to mark your grave. But nowhere, in 4,000 years of Jewish law, custom or tradition does it say you need to rest eternally under bright, green grass. As California struggles with the West’s longest megadrought in 1,200 years, emergency water conservation rules are set to take effect on June 1. Yet cemeteries in L.A., including the three largest Jewish ones, remain as grassy and green as a Scottish golf course.
-Written by Rob Eshman, national editor of the the Forward.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Sustaining steelhead populations in the Bay Area’s backyard

Central California Coast steelhead historically thrived in Bay Area waters, but today, populations are collapsing with only a fraction of their historical abundance remaining, according to CalTrout’s SOS II Report. California Trout, along with our partners at California Department of Fish and Wildlife, San Mateo Resource Conservation District (RCD), Trout Unlimited, and others such as California State Parks, private landowners, and NOAA Fisheries- the federal agency tasked with managing steelhead and salmon nationwide- are determined to improve this system for the overall health of the watershed and for its inhabitants — both fish and people. 

Aquafornia news KOLO - Reno

Some boat ramps closed in Lake Tahoe this summer

With the holiday weekend coming up a lot of people are expected in Lake Tahoe for boating and other summer activities. But, there are a few boat ramps that will be closed this weekend that could impact plans. Because of the lack of precipitation, a majority of boat ramps in Lake Tahoe will be closed this summer. Even with the winter weather we had just a few weeks ago, it only raised the lake about an inch. The boat ramps that will be closed this season are Sand Harbor, El Dorado, Kings Beach, and Tahoe Vista Recreation Area. 

Aquafornia news Fox 40 - Sacramento

California Tribal communities ask the State Water Resources Board to protect the Delta

As drought conditions continue, people who rely on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are demanding California make sure their communities are protected. Early Tuesday, a group gathered in front of the California State Water Resources Control Board building to demand the state enforce the Bay-Delta plan. It’s been a long fight and the group said enough is enough. For many of the tribes, the Delta is an important lifeline.

Aquafornia news ABC 23 - Bakersfield

Water shortage impacting California cotton farmers

The California Department of Food and Agriculture says that more than 90% of the cotton harvested in California has been grown in the San Joaquin Valley but continuing dry weather is posing significant challenges for growers. Consumer demand is driving the market for cotton, including high-quality Pima cotton now reaching record levels of more than $3 a pound. But as California faces another dry year many farmers in Kern County are impacted not only by an increase in price but also by a decrease in production.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Flights over Klamath River provide view of dams set for removal

Four PacifiCorps dams — the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1 and No. 2, and Iron Gate — are scheduled to be removed as part of a controversial effort that advocates have said will restore the health of the river, fish and communities along the river, including several in the Upper Klamath Basin. Dam removal is something that has drawn heated discussion for and against for decades, highlighted in 2001 when decisions to not release water to Klamath Basin irrigators resulted in protests and demonstrations that drew national attention.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: California’s water shortage requires updates in technology, law — and mindset

Californians responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for voluntary water conservation earlier this year by using more, not less. … Already, residents face sharp new outdoor water restrictions June 1, and serious doubts over whether those limits will be enough to cope with a historic water shortage. It’s a good time to imagine the ideal California of the future, in which information technology and rational pricing make water conservation simple, understandable and a common way of life. Here’s how it should work, as a resident pulls out his or her phone and at the touch of a button checks the household’s water use for that day in real time: 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

California drought: Water wasters could face fines of up to $10,000 in Santa Clara County under new rules

Residents in Santa Clara County could face fines of up to $500 — and in extreme cases, $10,000 — for wasting water, under new drought rules approved Tuesday afternoon that are among the toughest of any urban area in California. … The new rules take effect June 1, but depend largely on citizen complaints and very few “water cops” to investigate them. Under the rules, residents who see water being wasted can notify the district of the address and date of incident by calling 408-630-2000, or emailing WaterWise@valleywater.org, or reporting online…. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California bans watering of ‘non functional’ lawns around businesses as drought persists

Californians can expect to see more yellow grass around hospitals, hotels, office parks and industrial centers after water regulators voted Tuesday to ban watering of “nonfunctional” turf in commercial areas. The State Water Resources Control Board also moved to order all the state’s major urban water providers to step up their conservation efforts. The moves are the strongest regulatory actions state officials have taken in the third year of the latest drought.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: California bans watering “non-functional” grass in some areas, strengthening drought rules

California’s top water regulators adopted emergency drought rules Tuesday that scale up conservation requirements for water suppliers throughout the state and prohibit watering grass that is purely decorative at businesses and in common areas of subdivisions and homeowners associations. The regulations outlaw the use of potable water for irrigating “non-functional” grass at commercial, industrial and institutional properties.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP - JDSupra

Blog: Full quantification of water rights not required for CEQA review, Second District declares

On March 22, 2022, the Second District Court of Appeal published its Opinion in Buena Vista Water Storage District v. Kern Water Bank Authority, upholding the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Kern Water Bank Authority’s Conservation and Storage Project (“Project”) and reversing the trial court’s ruling. The Project proposes to divert up to 500,000 acre-feet-per-year (AFY) from the Kern River for recharge, storage, and later recovery within the Kern Water Bank.

Aquafornia news CA Water Commission

Report: Water Commission’s white paper on groundwater trading programs emphasizes safeguards for vulnerable water users

The California Water Commission approved a white paper that contains its findings and the potential next steps for State engagement in shaping well-managed groundwater trading programs with appropriate safeguards for vulnerable water users: natural resources, small- and medium-size farms, and water supply and quality for disadvantaged communities. The white paper will be shared with the Secretaries for Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, and Food and Agriculture, who requested the Commission’s engagement on this topic.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Methane leaks near Bakersfield homes renew concerns about idle oil wells

Environmentalists advocating new state restrictions on oil and gas drilling have seized upon confirmation last week that two idle wells were leaking methane near a residential area in northeast Bakersfield decades after they were improperly abandoned. Details remained sketchy Monday, including how much gas the wells were emitting and for how long. … Late last month, California officials outlined plans for doing more to cap the state’s orphan oil and gas wells using $25 million in federal money they said will help them prioritize work in populated areas most vulnerable to methane leaks and groundwater contamination.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: New Melones modeling & megadroughts: Setting stage for state’s water Armageddon

New Melones Reservoir is the proverbial canary in the mine when it comes to where state water policy wedded with the return of megadroughts is taking California. Using historical hydrology data on the Stanislaus River basin between 1922 and 2019: *Based on current regulatory rules New Melones Reservoir would fall below 250,000 acre feet of storage in 3 out of the 98 years. 
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, editor of The Manteca Bulletin.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

The conservation case for emergency rules on groundwater in the Scott and Shasta basins

The fish need the water, the farmers and ranchers need the water, and the fish win. Because coho salmon are on the Endangered Species List in the region, and the Scott and Shasta Rivers are important to their survival. The State of California put emergency rules in place governing groundwater around those rivers, and the people in agriculture take exception. We hear the environmental side of the issue in this interview. Craig Tucker, Natural Resources Policy Advocate for the Karuk Tribe, lays out the importance of the water for the fish …

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom calls for increased water conservation, warning of mandatory statewide restrictions

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday warned major water agencies to show better conservation results or face mandatory statewide water restrictions as California heads into its third summer of severe drought. The threat is a sign of Newsom’s growing impatience with the state’s failure to reduce urban water use, as he has requested since last year. In fact, people have been using more. … Newsom also said the state will closely monitor the situation over the next 60 days, and he told the agencies to submit water use data more frequently to the state and to step up outreach and education efforts to communicate the urgency of the crisis to the public.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A conservation bill you’ve never heard of may be the most important in a generation

This blog is a short introduction to a lesser known federal bill that is one of the most significant pieces of fish and wildlife legislation in decades. In Spring of 2021, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. During July 2021, a separate adaptation of the act was also introduced in the Senate (S.2372) by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). At its core, the bipartisan bill seeks to provide $1.39B in annual funding for state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies to protect and conserve declining species.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Fishermen threaten to sue Bureau of Reclamation over Trinity River diversions

A Trump era decision has further imperiled endangered fish species in the Trinity River, and commercial fishermen and local tribes are demanding the federal government take action. This week, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and its sister organization Institute for Fisheries Research sent the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation a 60-day notice of their intention to sue the federal agency for violating the Endangered Species Act. The amount of water the bureau is diverting from the Trinity River to the Central Valley Project has decimated the river’s salmon populations … 

Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

California water officials urge conservation amid dim outlook for improvement in drought conditions

Outdoor watering restrictions area set to take effect in Los Angeles at the end of the month, and the prospect of an improvement in drought conditions appears dim. Just how bad is the drought? According to state figures, the first three months of the year were the driest in the state’s recorded history. California is currently in the third year of a drought. Wade Crowfoot is the state secretary for natural resources. The one resource he oversees that we all use is water. According to his agency, the drought is getting worse, not better.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

North Coast trail plan complicated by US rail ruling

A ruling by federal regulators has put a damper on plans to turn 300 miles of rail line from Humboldt County to Marin County into the Great Redwood Trail. The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision Tuesday that it will not prioritize trail use … Maintaining the rail line along the Eel River is financially infeasible because of landslides and other risks, but the North Coast Railroad Co. wants to take over that portion of the line. … U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman and state Sen. Mike McGuire … issued statements saying they weren’t surprised by the decision, but that they are taking steps to ensure the “toxic coal train” doesn’t become a reality on the North Coast.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Companies face billions in damages as PFAS lawsuits flood courts

For years, plaintiffs’ lawyers suing over health and environmental damage from so called forever chemicals, known collectively as PFAS, focused on one set of deep pockets—E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. But over the past two years, there’s been a seismic shift in the legal landscape as awareness of PFAS has expanded. Corporations including 3M Co., Chemguard Inc., Kidde-Fenwal Inc., National Foam Inc., and Dynax Corp. are now being sued at roughly the same rate as DuPont, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of more than 6,400 PFAS-related lawsuits filed in federal courts between July 2005 and March 2022. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plastics industry targets Democrats to head off restrictions

In the current legislative session, lawmakers are working on a bill designed to reduce plastic waste. If they are unable to draft legislation by June 30, the issue will go straight to voters as a ballot measure. The initiative, the California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, would require all single-use plastic packaging and food ware used in California to be recyclable, reusable, refillable or compostable by 2030. … Over the last year, research has shown the presence of these particles in human blood, healthy lung tissue and meconium — the first bowel movement of a newborn. They are also found in marine organisms, ocean water, air and soil.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Sacramento Valley struggles to survive record water cuts

Three years ago, when he sank everything he had into 66 acres of irrigated pasture in Shasta County, [farmer Josh] Davy thought he’d drought-proofed his cattle operation. He’d been banking on the Sacramento Valley’s water supply… But this spring, for the first time ever, no water is flowing through his pipes and canals or those of his neighbors: The district won’t be delivering any water to Davy or any of its roughly 800 other customers.

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Aquafornia news The Revelator

The fight for an invisible fish

The Clear Lake hitch is one of 13 species endemic to California’s largest, oldest and now most toxic lake. Known as chi to local tribes, the hitch teeter on the edge of extinction, a fate to which their cousins, two other formerly endemic lake species — the thicktail chub (last seen in 1938) and the Clear Lake splittail (last seen in the 1970s) — have already succumbed. Clear Lake hitch are vanishing because of our unabated appetites for fossil fuels, sportfishing, irrigation water and wine. 

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

State, county may take water from City of Porterville

City of Porterville Manager John Lollis … announced at Tuesday’s Porterville City Council meeting the County and State may exercise its right to take 3 million gallons of water a month at no charge from a city well as part of the arrangement the city, county and state reached to supply East Porterville with water after the 2015 drought. … Lollis noted the state still hasn’t fulfilled its portion of the agreement which called for the development of three wells for the City of Porterville as part of the East Porterville project.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Watering tips for Sacramento lawns during California drought

California cities are enforcing water-saving measures, summer heat has crept in early and your lush green grass is probably starting to wither. As reported by the California’s drought information system, 40% of the state is experiencing extreme drought. … In response to the record dryness, the city of Sacramento is under a “Water Alert,” asking residents to cut back on water use by 15% and to follow a seasonal watering schedule. Fines for water waste have doubled. … As you cut back on watering your home’s lawn, there are ways to still keep it green.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Drought, groundwater restrictions and – oh yeah, drought – pervade talk at annual Kern water summit

Local and state water leaders were practically upbeat two years ago at the last in-person Water Summit put on by the Water Association of Kern County. At least as upbeat as California water folks typically get. They advocated for new ideas, radical partnerships and solutions that could benefit both ag and environmental interests. That was then. Facing a third year of punishing drought and the bleak realities of new groundwater restrictions, the vibe at this year’s summit was more “in the bunker” than “in it together.”

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Interior watchdog finds David Bernhardt did not violate lobbying laws

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog on Thursday said it found no evidence that former secretary David Bernhardt violated lobbying laws regarding a former client, a California water district that is the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, although he continued to advise them on legislative matters on occasion after he stopped being their lobbyist.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Petitions submitted for new groundwater management district

A proposal apparently headed to the November ballot would have voters in rural southeastern Arizona decide whether to create a new regulatory district to manage large-scale groundwater use for agriculture in an area where aquifer levels have dropped in recent years. A grassroots group collected sufficient voter signatures on petitions required under state law for a ballot measure on creation of an active management area in the Willcox basin in Cochise and Graham counties, myheraldreview.com reported. The management area would be Arizona’s first created through a petition drive. 

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

North Bay agencies seek $83 million to expand water recycling amid drought

Petaluma, one of the driest corners of Sonoma County during the past two years of drought, is making a multimillion-dollar advance into recycled water. Operator of a wastewater treatment plant that serves about 65,000 people and treats about 5 million gallons of effluent a day, Petaluma is seeking grants for four projects with a total cost of $42 million. Six other North Bay agencies — including Sonoma Water and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District — are proposing a dozen projects totaling $41.2 million, bringing the total to $83.2 million, as Gov. Gavin Newsom is backing water reuse as an antidote to drought.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

Another CEQA criticism: No consideration of the future

The Bay Area is often associated with two things – the beauty of its natural landscape, and the skyrocketing costs of living in it. Of late those have been seen as being in tension. … As a planning tool, CEQA has myriad uses, but its overarching nature also means that it can be used by just about everyone – which is how its implementation has so often come to pit environmentalists against developers … Environmentalists have long wanted to add Area 4 to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge as upland migration space – to preserve room for wetlands to move inland as sea levels rise on the Bay shoreline. 

Aquafornia news Law 360

States, green groups look to restart water rule challenge

Blue states, green groups and tribes that are challenging a Trump-era Clean Water Act rule are trying an unusual procedural move that could allow them to restart their case in federal district court and bypass an appeal that’s currently underway in the Ninth Circuit. The coalition is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to overturn a 2020 rule that restricted states’ and tribes’ authority to deny permits for projects such as pipelines under section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news NBC Los Angeles

It’s about water, not just illegal drugs, officials say of rampant pot grows

Illegal pot grows were already a problem in the High Desert, but during the pandemic, the number increased, and now officials say with scarce water resources in Southern California, it’s a drought problem too. The NBC4 I-Team has been following the efforts to eradicate illegal marijuana operations in the high desert region of Southern California. On May 17, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced a new operation targeting those operations. The problem exploded during the pandemic with illegal marijuana grow operations quickly multiplying in High Desert communities. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Accusations continue to fly between two valley ag titans in water feud

The ongoing water feud between two of Kings County’s biggest farming entities recently spilled into Kern County and up to Sacramento with allegations on both sides of misuse of water and other public resources. In a May 12 letter, the Southwest Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency complains that the J.G. Boswell Company has been pumping and storing massive amounts of groundwater for irrigation in a shallow basin, subjecting it to extreme evaporation and contributing to the area’s already significant subsidence problems.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Commentary: A creative approach can help Russian River, farmers

On May 10, the California State Water Resources Control Board readopted an emergency regulation that stands to force 2,000 water-rights holders to curtail water diversions for another year. (See related story on Page 10.) The emergency action is being used to make water available to senior diverters, minimum instream flows and minimum health and human safety needs. … As an alternative to a full curtailment action being applied to a diverter, water-right holders in the upper watershed (north of Dry Creek in Sonoma County) can instead voluntarily sign up to participate in the program to receive some lower percentage of their typical reported water use.
-Written by Frost Pauli, a Mendocino County winegrape and pear grower and is chair of the Mendocino County Farm Bureau Water Committee. 

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Hurtado calls for a crackdown on water profiteering

On Wednesday, State Senator Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger joined her colleague, Democratic State Senator Dave Cortese in sending a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting an investigation into possible drought profiteering and water rights abuses in the Western states.  The Senators said they’re concerned about the increasing amount of water rights being purchased by hedge funds, their potential anti-competitive practices and the devastating impact that could have on water security.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

San Gabriel Valley Water supplier issuing water conservation kits to residents

Steve Bray lives in Monrovia and is already doing what he can to save water. He has installed Wi-Fi-connected sprinklers. … The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District worries state’s historic drought will get worse. … The district actually captures 100% of rainwater and is able to store it in spreading basins. They use that water during dry years to deliver it into the drinking water system, but it’s quickly disappearing.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

California is spending big on repurposing—not saving—farmland, argue critics

California lawmakers and the governor are hashing out the final details for investing billions of state dollars into a drought relief plan with long-term water investments and some benefits to farmers.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Study finds mysterious DDT chemicals in California condors

In a sophisticated chemical analysis published Tuesday in Environmental Science & Technology, the team found that DDT-related chemicals were seven times more abundant in coastal condors than condors that fed farther inland. Looking at the birds’ coastal food sources, researchers found that dolphin and sea lion carcasses that washed ashore in Southern California were also seven times more contaminated with DDT than the marine mammals they analyzed along the Gulf of California in Mexico.

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Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

East County’s $950M water recycling project could be in jeopardy as San Diego nixes pipeline deal

East County officials fear a $950 million sewage recycling project could get flushed down the drain because of a pipeline deal gone awry. Leaders spearheading the endeavor blame San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria — who signed off on building an eight-mile “brine line” as recently as last year but has since reneged on that commitment. The pipeline would prevent concentrated waste generated by the East County project’s reverse osmosis filtration system from entering into the city’s own $5 billion Pure Water sewage recycling project now under construction.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 - Los Angeles

Gov. Newsom pushes need for conservation during visit to SoCal water recycling facility

Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging Californians to find ways to reduce their water use in an effort to combat the historic drought and said upcoming conservation mandates are a priority. The governor visited a water recycling facility Tuesday afternoon in Carson. It was originally built as a demonstration project to recycle household wastewater and replenish groundwater supplies…. Statewide, water consumption is up just 3.7% since July compared to 2020, woefully short of Newsom’s 15% goal. Newsom pledged to spend $100 million on a statewide advertising campaign to encourage water conservation.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Farmers across state face new water cuts

With 60% of the state now in extreme drought conditions, state officials are warning water-right holders that they should expect more curtailments during peak irrigation season in June and July. … Drought emergency curtailment regulations were issued last fall by the California State Water Resources Control Board for certain watersheds in response to persistent dry conditions and spurred by a drought emergency declaration by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Curtailment orders adopted last year are effective for up to one year unless readopted.

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Aquafornia news The Pew Charitable Trusts

Blog: Water shortages threaten development in more western cities

As the Western United States endures an ongoing megadrought that has spanned more than two decades, an increasing number of cities, towns and water districts are being forced to say no to new growth. There’s just not enough water to go around. Last month, the California Coastal Commission urged San Luis Obispo County to stop all new development requiring water use in the communities of Los Osos and Cambria. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Lemoore launches salvo against effort to swipe to Kings River floodwater

Lemoore is speaking out against the efforts of an out of town water entity to export water from the Kings River. The Lemoore City Council approved a letter in opposition to a petition to revoke the Fully Appropriated Stream (FAS) status of the Kings River on Tuesday. The letter is directed to the State Water Resources Control Board, which is hearing a petition from Kern County water agency Semitropic Water Storage District to revoke the FAS status.

Aquafornia news Law 360

Calif. irrigation district loses bid to join river ceremony suit

A lawsuit over the U.S. government’s refusal to release water for a Yurok Tribe water ceremony during drought conditions in 2020 will proceed without a local irrigation district, which a federal judge in California found Monday sought to litigate issues beyond the scope of that case. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick said the Klamath Irrigation District’s intervention bid … 

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects 22 projects to receive $17.3 million to improve water efficiency in West

The Bureau of Reclamation selected 22 projects to share $17.3 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants. These competitive projects improve water use efficiency, increase renewable energy production, reduce the risk of water conflicts, and provide other benefits that will enhance water supply sustainability in the Western United States…. The Bard Water District, located in southern California near the Arizona border, will line a 1/2 mile section of the currently earthen upper Mohave Canal with concrete….

Aquafornia news Law360

Blog: Court declines to lift blockade on water laws targeting pot

A California federal judge has declined to lift an injunction on two Northern California county ordinances that require strict permits for the transport of water, saying that while the local laws were enacted to quash illegal cannabis farms, they’ve caused harm to a group of Hmong farmers. In a decision handed down Friday, Chief U. S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller found that although Siskiyou County had modified the ordinances, they were still likely to cut off water to a community of Hmong farmers within the county’s borders.

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

$230 million settlement reached in 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill lawsuit

A settlement has finally been reached in the seven year-lawsuit regarding the 2015 Santa Barbara oil spill. Plains All American Pipeline has agreed to pay $230 million to fishers, fish processors and shoreline property residents who are members of two classes in a class-action lawsuit filed against the company.  The lawsuit was filed after a corroded pipeline spilled an estimated 15,000 barrels of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean in 2015. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Alarming research on pesticide warrants curbs on its use

Even if you’ve never heard of imidacloprid, there’s a good chance the world’s most-used neonicotinoid pesticide is lurking somewhere in your home. Or on your dog. Or maybe even in your groundwater or drinking-water supplies. This insecticide, widely used for decades on fruits, vegetables and many other crops, has triggered growing concerns over its well-documented role in the dramatic declines of birds, bees, butterflies and other insects across the globe. … With imidacloprid being discovered in groundwater and drinking-water supplies across the state, state regulators — and legislators — finally are paying closer attention …
-Written by Jonathan Evans, legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom pitches $75M in drought relief for agriculture

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised budget proposal would set aside $75 million to aid small agricultural businesses as the drought deepens. The one-time assistance would provide grants ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on the amount of lost revenue. The program would prioritize businesses in the hardest hit regions, such as the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys…. Newsom’s budget plan would allocate $100 million for repairing conveyance canals, which was part of a 2021 budget deal. But it would not add anything further.

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Aquafornia news Comstock's magazine

The lasting agreement: California’s long legacy of trying to solve its water problem

If there’s one thing people in the West know how to fight over, it’s water. California was built on scarcity, whether it be gold or silver, land or water. In the mid-1800s, when European Americans arrived to the land where Indigenous people had lived for at least 10,000 years, they wasted no time staking their claims. A big head-scratcher for those early colonizers was how to get water to sustain burgeoning towns. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

California getting new state park for first time in 13 years

California will acquire a sprawling former farm property in the San Joaquin Valley and create a new state park for the first time in 13 years. The park is planned for Dos Rios Ranch, where the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers meet southwest of Modesto.

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

New bill aims to boost tribal access to clean water

Two recent moves aim to benefit water access for tribal communities in the Colorado River basin. One, a bill in the U.S. Congress, could increase access to clean water. Another, the release of a “shared vision” statement, outlines the goals of tribes and conservation nonprofits. Tribes in the basin hold rights to about a quarter of the river’s flow, but have often been excluded from negotiations about how the river’s water is used.

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Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Opinion: Clean drinking water should be a right, but now we must fight for it

As a young person growing up in Ventura County for the past 19 years, I am no stranger to droughts. Not watering the lawn and taking shorter showers is simply a part of life in Southern California. Although water is scarce in Ventura County, there is currently a direct threat to our drinking water. Unfortunately, the oil industry wants to profit at the expense of our precious groundwater that supplies drinking water to over 400,000 Ventura County residents and irrigation water to our $2 billion agriculture economy.
-Written by Alex Masci, an undergraduate in environmental studies at UC Berkeley, a coordinator with CA Youth Vs Big Oil, and a supporter of VC-SAFE. 

Aquafornia news ACWA News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes funding for drought

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his revised state budget for the 2022-’23 Fiscal Year. The $300.7 billion budget includes several priorities of interest to ACWA members, including funding for drought, climate change, forest management and more. Building upon last year’s three-year, $5.2 billion allocation to support drought response and long-term water sustainability, the governor’s revised budget includes an additional $2 billion for drought response and water resilience. This is part of the governor’s larger $47.1 billion climate package.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge blocks water sanctions that would affect rural Asian immigrants

A federal judge struck down a second attempt by a Northern California county to dismiss a case against them for water sanctions that would leave the local Asian community without water.  … In the original complaint, plaintiff Der Lee compared living in Shasta Vista to his days hiding out in the Laos jungles — just now without water. Others explained that they only bathe once a week, are dehydrated and have had their food sources — crops and livestock — die from the lack of water access. As a result, many resorted to filling jugs with water in streams and local parks. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Opinion: High time for SCOTUS to clarify what constitutes ‘waters of the United States’

The 1972 Clean Water Act established federal authority over the “waters of the United States.” Congress did not offer further explanation of what was covered under that term, but the two federal agencies given authority by the Clean Water Act asserted broad power. The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers required farmers, homeowners, commercial and industrial concerns and developers to obtain permits before digging a ditch for water run-off, shoring up existing erosion protection structures, or draining swampy land.
-Written by columnist Tom Campbell. 

Aquafornia news CNN

California is in a water crisis, yet usage is way up. Officials are focusing on the wrong things, advocates say

[R]esidents and businesses across the state are also using more water now than they have in seven years, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts to encourage just the opposite. … Part of the problem is that the urgency of the crisis isn’t breaking through to Californians. The messaging around water conservation varies across different authorities and jurisdictions, so people don’t have a clear idea of what applies to whom. And they certainly don’t have a tangible grasp on how much a 15% reduction is with respect to their own usage.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: California Coastal Commission rejects plan for Poseidon desalination plant

After hearing hours of heated debate, the California Coastal Commission voted against a controversial plan by the company Poseidon Water to build a huge desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Despite worsening drought and repeated calls from Gov. Gavin Newsom to tap the Pacific Ocean as a source of drinking water, commissioners voted unanimously against the plan Thursday night. The decision, which was recommended by commission staff, may end the company’s plans for the $1.4-billion plant.

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Aquafornia news Long Beach Post News

Water Commission may issue another $21.8 million in rebates to customers

Long Beach residents and business owners could soon get another one-time credit on their monthly water bills if the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners votes Thursday to return upward of $21.8 million to customers later this year. The vote is looming because, in March, the city lost an appeal to keep in place the Measure M charter amendment, which allowed the Water Department to transfer millions of dollars in excess money to the city’s general fund each year. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Court of Appeal sides with parties seeking attorneys’ fees for challenge to California WaterFix project

Siding with public agencies and environmental groups who filed numerous legal challenges to the “twin tunnel” Delta conveyance project known as California WaterFix, the Third District Court of Appeal today unanimously held that the trial court improperly denied the appellants’ attorneys’ fees motions when it ruled that their legal challenges were not a “catalyst” for the State’s 2019 decision to rescind the WaterFix project approvals and decertify the project environmental impact report (EIR). 

Aquafornia news Patch - Healdsburg

CA drought: Russian River water draws in jeopardy

Thousands of water rights holders in the Russian River watershed could soon lose access to their water after state regulators approved emergency drought rules Tuesday. The State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to reauthorize the Division of Water Rights to issue “curtailment orders” for up to 2,000 rights holders in order to preserve water in Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino and to protect drinking water supplies and fish populations.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join online groundwater short course starting today (May 12 )

An online short course starting Thursday will provide registrants the opportunity to learn more about how groundwater is monitored, assessed and sustainably managed. The class, offered by University of California, Davis and several other organizations in cooperation with the Water Education Foundation, will be held May 12, 19, 26 and June 2, 16 from 9 a.m. to noon. If you attended the Foundation’s Water 101 Workshop in April, you get a discount on registration! at $60!

Aquafornia news KSL - Salt Lake City

Utah water restrictions vary based on rights and state history

Why are Utah water restrictions so confusing and seemingly unfair to residents in one city yet generous to citizens of another? For example, different cities in the Weber Water Basin District have different restrictions: In West Haven, a homeowner is allowed — beginning in mid-May — to water outside once a week. But in Roy, homeowners can water their lawns and plants twice a week. Do the state’s and the West’s ongoing, historic drought play a major part in today’s water restrictions?

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Local solutions central to water forum

Facing a third year of drought, leadership from county Farm Bureaus, spanning all regions of California, gathered in Sacramento last week to engage with state water officials about all things water. A changing climate, shrinking snowpack, water rights, aging infrastructure, groundwater regulations and solutions to the state’s water crisis were among the topics discussed at the California Farm Bureau Water Forum. The event brought together state water officials and county Farm Bureau leaders from the Mountain, North Coast, Central Valley, Central Coast and Southern California regions.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

California to decide fate of controversial desalination plant amid brutal drought

California officials are poised to decide the fate of a controversial desalination plant planned along its southern coast, in a vote that comes as the American west battles an increasingly perilous drought. California water use leapt 19% in March, amid one of the driest months on record. After more than a decade of debate, the California coastal commission on Thursday will finally vote on a proposal for a $1.4 bn desalination plant in Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles.

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Aquafornia news California Globe

Opinion: The abundance choice, part one

In October, and then again in December 2021, as the third severe drought this century was entering its third year, not one but two atmospheric rivers struck California. Dumping torrents of rain with historic intensity, from just these two storm systems over 100 million acre feet of water poured out of the skies, into the rivers, and out to sea. Almost none of it was captured by reservoirs or diverted into aquifers. Since December, not one big storm has hit the state. After a completely dry winter, a few minor storms in April and May were too little too late.
-Written by Edward Ring, a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Klamath Tribes sue feds over endangered sucker fish

Two species of endangered sucker fish could face extinction this year because the federal government let farmers take irrigation water from Upper Klamath Lake instead of leaving enough water in the lake for the fish born this year to survive, the Klamath Tribes claim. … Last year, the fight over the region’s water risked a standoff between extremist farmers who threatened to take control of the irrigation system the government had shut off in an effort to prevent the extinction of two species of endangered sucker fish sacred to the Klamath Tribes: the c’waam, or Lost River sucker and koptu, or shortnose sucker. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

LADWP orders two-day-a-week watering restrictions citywide

Nearly 4 million Angelenos will be reduced to two-day-a-week watering restrictions on June 1 under drought rules released by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Tuesday. … Under the rules, residents will be assigned two watering days a week based on their addresses — Monday and Friday for odd addresses and Thursday and Sunday for even ones — with watering capped at only eight minutes, or 15 minutes for sprinklers with water-conserving nozzles. No watering will be allowed between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. regardless of the watering days.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California urban water use rose 19% in March despite drought

Despite official calls to increase conservation amid worsening drought, urban water use across California increased by nearly 19% in March, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. The startling conservation figure was among a number of grim assessments water officials offered reporters Tuesday in a California drought outlook. Others included critically low reservoir levels and major shifts in the water cycle due to climate change. … The increase was even greater in the South Coast Hydrologic Region, which is home to more than half the state’s population. In this region, which includes Los Angeles, urban water use increased 26.9%.

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

State lawmakers target trash in Tijuana River valley

A handful of state lawmakers gathered last week on the side of the Tijuana River Estuary that’s not visibly clogged by plastics and tires spilling from Mexico down canyon gullies or down the river itself to ask the governor for money to, well, stop trash from spilling over the border.  Southern California lawmakers hope Gov. Gavin Newsom will put $100 million in next year’s budget to be split equally between the Tijuana River and the Mexicali-to-Salton-Sea-flowing New River, both sewage-plagued water bodies.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 San Diego

Final vote for Huntington Beach desalination plant expected

Poseidon Water, the company that runs the seawater desalination facility in Carlsbad, is pushing to build another desalination plant in Huntington Beach. … Recently a California Coastal Commission staff report recommended that the project be denied. The California-based ’Stop Poseidon’ coalition praised that recommendation, but on May 12th, the commission will have a final vote, deciding if the company will move forward with construction. The Coastal Commission Public Hearing is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Thursday, in Costa Mesa.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Havasu Water Co. fined for leaving residents without drinkable water

State regulators have fined a Havasu Lake water company that has failed to provide potable water to its customers for more than a month and been accused of allowing its equipment to fall into a state of disrepair. The California State Water Resources Control Board issued the $1,500 fine on Friday, May 6, after the Havasu Water Co. failed to meet state-imposed directives and deadlines. The state has given a new list of directives and deadlines for the water company to meet by May 20 or it could face additional penalties. The Havasu Water Co.’s system has fallen into a state of disrepair over the years …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California crises abound, but they won’t be debated

Throughout the state, water agencies are telling Californians that they must seriously curtail lawn watering and other water uses. We can probably scrape through another dry year, but were drought to persist, its impacts would likely be widespread and permanent. … It didn’t have to be this way. We could have built more storage to capture water during wet years, we could have encouraged more conservation, we could have more efficiently captured and treated wastewater for re-use and we could have embraced desalination.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.  

Aquafornia news Mercury News

“Water cops” likely this summer as Santa Clara County misses drought goal by large margin

If you waste water in Santa Clara County, water cops could soon be on the way. Since last summer, Santa Clara County residents have been asked to cut water use by 15% from 2019 levels to conserve as the state’s drought worsens. But they continue to miss that target — and by a growing amount. In March, the county’s 2 million residents not only failed to conserve any water, but they increased use by 30% compared to March 2019, according to newly released data…. Santa Clara Valley Water District … is proposing to hire water enforcement officials to issue fines of up to $500 for residents … wasting water ….

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Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Devore residents battling water company over multimillion-dollar tank on board member’s land

The rural hillside community of Devore has erupted in a dispute pitting a tiny local water company against a group of residents opposed to construction of a potential $7 million reservoir on a board member’s property. At issue with some residents is a 99-year land lease agreement, ratified in July 2021, between the Devore Water Co. and Doug Claflin, a member of the company’s board of directors. It would allow the water company to build a 610,000-gallon water tank on Claflin’s property to treat nitrate-contaminated water by blending it with clean water to reduce nitrate levels. 

Aquafornia news Law Street Media

Blog: Orange County Coastkeeper sues owner of metal finishing facility under Clean Water Act

On Thursday, the Orange County Coastkeeper filed a complaint in the Central District of California against Hixson Metal Finishing, FPC Management, LLC and Reid Washbon alleging violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and Clean Water Act.  According to the complaint, the Orange County Coastkeeper is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation dedicated to the preservation, protection and defense of the environment, wildlife and natural resources of Orange County. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Local white water rafting industry bottoms out in drought

It’s not just farmers who get a sinking feeling during the drought. The local white water rafting industry has bottomed out as well.  Only one local company is left in Three Rivers offering rafting trips down the Kaweah River in the scenic southern Sierra Nevadas. Once a beehive of rafting activity along the middle reach of the river, several years of drought have dried up interest in what was a spring ritual in these parts.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Water districts bail on Kern’s largest groundwater agency; form their own group

Fractures have appeared within Kern County’s largest groundwater agency as pressure mounts for it to show the state how it plans to address the region’s massive groundwater deficit. Four water entities recently notified the Kern Groundwater Authority they were pulling out of the 16-member group to write their own groundwater sustainability plan. That will add a sixth plan covering the Kern subbasin, which extends across the San Joaquin Valley portion of the county.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

New bill aims to limit frenzy of California well drilling

In farming areas across the Central Valley, a well-drilling frenzy has accelerated over the last year as growers turn to pumping more groundwater during the drought, even as falling water levels leave hundreds of nearby homes with dry wells. Counties have continued freely issuing well-drilling permits in the years since California passed a landmark law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 … Some state legislators are now supporting a bill that they say would strengthen oversight and limit the well-drilling frenzy by requiring a review of permits for new wells by the same local agencies that are charged with managing groundwater.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California drought could wither many Los Angeles lawns

Amid the historic drought now entering its third painful summer … the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, has demanded [millions of homes] cut irrigation by 35 percent as of June 1. If things don’t improve by September, authorities say, outdoor water use could be banned entirely. … Since the restriction warnings began, customers have bombarded the Las Virgenes water office — one of 26 public water agencies which operate under the Metropolitan Water District — with angry phone calls.

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Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: State stormwater permit would stall housing, infrastructure

Gov. Gavin Newsom has boldly promoted the goal of building more than 3 million new homes by 2025 to address the significant supply/demand imbalance and bring down the cost of housing. … In spite of this, an excessive new proposal by the State Water Resources Control Board … will further stall new housing production, as well as the development of public infrastructure and economic development projects throughout California. The proposal will require unachievable standards for water quality compared to alternative enhanced and achievable approaches.
-Written by Joseph Cruz, executive director for the California State Council of Laborers; and Richard J. Lambros, the managing director for Southern California Leadership Council.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Groundwater law’s sinking of ag economy may have been overstated

As the deadline for local agencies to implement plans to reduce groundwater use approaches, a new study finds California’s landmark legislation may have less of an impact on the local agriculture economy than originally predicted. A study authored by Professor Michael McCullough on the effect of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Tule Sub Basin in the Central Valley … says by 2040, the deadline for local agencies to reach groundwater sustainability, the 2014 law will likely result in the loss of some crops, but probably not the more valuable ones, such as fruit and nuts…

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Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

California voters in November likely will decide on plastics – again

California’s inability to meet its long-stated goal of cutting solid waste by 75 percent by 2020 has prompted environmentalists to craft a ballot initiative targeting single-use plastic products – including a sharp limit on their production. The initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot marks the second time in six years that California voters have decided on plastics use. … The latest initiative, the California Recycling and Plastic Reduction Act, would require all single-use plastic packaging and foodware to be recyclable, reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2030.

Aquafornia news CBS Bay Area

Marin Water Board rescinds emergency declaration for new watering rules

The Marin Water Board of Directors rescinded the county’s water shortage emergency declaration and updated its water use rules this week, adopting new requirements for outdoor irrigation and swimming pools. …Now that the water emergency has been canceled, residents are permitted to wash their cars at home, irrigate golf courses in areas outside of the green or tees, fill swimming pools but cover them when not in use, and install new landscaping and irrigation systems. Outdoor irrigation using overhead spray systems is permitted up to two days per week; drip irrigation is permitted up to three days per week.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

California water regulators weigh renewing emergency drought restrictions in the Scott and Shasta rivers

California water regulators hosted a public forum on Wednesday to collect comments about re-adopting drought emergency regulations for Siskiyou County’s Scott and Shasta River watersheds. … In response [to current drought conditions], the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is requesting the re-adoption of a 12-month drought emergency regulation to protect salmon, steelhead and other native fish. 

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post News

Water Commission votes to cut rates to align with court ruling

Long Beach Water Department customers will be seeing a small decrease in their monthly bills after the city’s water commission voted Wednesday to lower rates after the city’s legal defeat over transferring excess revenue from the department into its general fund. The 2.54% decrease will result in a savings of about $2 per month for most residential customers for the rest of the fiscal year that ends in September. Lauren Gold, the department’s public information officer, said the reduction will result in a loss of about $3 million for the department.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

California dairy farmers concerned over water scarcity

In the midst of a years-long drought, California is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, creating even more concerns for the state’s dairy farmers. … The biggest impact for dairies may be not so much on the dairy facility but on the feed side. Without adequate water or certainty of water, the question is where the feed will come from. The implementation of SGMA is going to impact local forages, hay, silages and wheat …

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State funding helps pay for valley groundwater projects

Multiple San Joaquin Valley groundwater projects got a significant shot of state funding this week to kickstart recharge, and other, projects. On Monday, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced $150 million was awarded to 20 agencies through its first round of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program. That includes almost $84 million for 11 agencies in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water supplier makes some drought rules permanent

Some water use restrictions that were imposed on most Marin County residents during the drought last year are now set to become permanent. The Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to continue limiting sprinkler use to two days per week, which is down from three days it allowed before it adopted its drought restrictions in 2021. Drip irrigation will be allowed three days a week. All pool owners in the district must also have a pool cover. These rules will be part of the district’s list of permanent conservation rules …

Aquafornia news City News Service

San Diego wins appeal in State lead testing mandate case

The city of San Diego has won an appeal in its suit challenging a state mandate that required local water districts to pay for mandatory lead testing at schools, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. The ruling issued Friday finds that either the state’s Commission on State Mandates must reimburse San Diego for water testing or the city can impose fees, charges or assessments to cover testing costs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Patrols, fines, altered landscapes: How severe SoCal water restrictions will roll out

More than a week after the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced its harshest-ever water restrictions for millions of residents across the region, several of the affected water agencies are offering a preview of how life will change throughout Southland when the rules kick in June 1. … MWD’s largest member agency, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, has so far offered few details about how the restrictions will be applied to their customers, but said more information will be provided in the coming days.

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Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: California feeds us, but it’s in severe drought again. Time for a new idea

Chances are, you’ll eat something grown in California today. Its farms churn out a third of US-grown vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and more milk than any other state. But as I’ve documented in many articles and in my 2020 book Perilous Bounty—released in paperback today, May 2—its water resources are dwindling, parched by climate change and a relentless expansion of thirsty nut groves. ..Where will we get our fruits and vegetables as California’s farms inevitably adapt to a hotter, drier new normal?
-Written by reporter Tom Philpott.

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Aquafornia news City News Service

LA votes to phase out single-use plastics at city facilities

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Wednesday to begin the process to phase out single-use plastics at city facilities and city-sponsored events, as well as to take steps toward a potential citywide ban on polystyrene products such as Styrofoam. … Wednesday’s motion instructed the city attorney to draft an ordinance banning single-use plastic at city facilities and at events on city property. 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Calif. awards $150M for groundwater management

In an effort to boost water supply reliability for millions of Californians, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced its first round of funding to 20 agencies responsible for managing critically overdrafted groundwater basins throughout the state. A total of $150 million in funding is being awarded to regional groundwater agencies through the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program. The funding will go toward projects focused on water efficiency, groundwater recharge, feasibility studies for alternative water supplies, and the installation of monitoring wells.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

California’s new drought rules: will they be enough to halt the ‘alarming challenges’ ahead?

With little hope of reprieve ahead of the warming summer months, demand for water in parts of drought-stricken California is outpacing supply. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California declared a water shortage emergency last week for areas that rely on the State Water Project…. The move is a marked shift in a drought disaster that’s only expected to deepen with warmer and drier days ahead. Now in the third year of the drought, supplies across the region are becoming increasingly strained. Experts say more restrictions across the state are likely as the effects of climate crisis unfold faster than expected.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A way around California water restrictions: greywater

Southern California officials have imposed unusually strict limits on outdoor water use in response to a water shortage emergency, effective June 1. So you may need to find an alternative way to keep your plants from desiccating in the summer sun. How about irrigating them with grey water instead of sprinkling them with clean water? Grey water is the water from faucets, showers, bathtubs, washing machines — anything that’s not laden with human waste, food or toxic chemicals.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

‘Enough is enough’: Calif. targets Big Oil over plastics

In a first-of-its-kind legal action, California is interrogating the role of fossil fuel and chemical giants in driving the plastics pollution crisis and deceiving consumers about recycling. California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said yesterday that the state is investigating Exxon Mobil Corp. and other companies for “their role in causing and exacerbating” plastics contamination. … “In California and across the globe, we are seeing the catastrophic results of the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long campaign of deception. Plastic pollution is seeping into our waterways, poisoning our environment, and blighting our landscapes,” said Bonta, a Democrat, in a statement.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

To save water amid a megadrought, Las Vegas outlaws grass

Under a state law passed last year that is the first of its kind in the nation, patches of grass like this, found along streets and at housing developments and commercial sites in and around Las Vegas, must be removed in favor of more desert-friendly landscaping. The offense? They are “nonfunctional,” serving only an aesthetic purpose. Seldom, if ever, walked on and kept alive by sprinklers, they are wasting a resource, water, that has become increasingly precious.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 directors vote 5-2 to continue in Delta Conveyance Project planning

A divided Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors voted to continue participating in the planning phase for the ambitious and long-discussed Delta Conveyance Project, following discussions about intricacies and concerns related to the matter last month. The directors’ 5-2 vote on April 20 comes with an a commitment of an additional $4.75 million in funding by Zone 7 for environmental planning for the proposed project.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Kill the Huntington Beach desalination project already

When it comes to wasteful, overpriced and ill-considered proposals to address California’s water supply issues, it’s hard to know where to start. But a good place would be the plan to build a desalination plant on the Pacific coast at Huntington Beach. … As I’ve reported in the past, there isn’t much to recommend the Huntington Beach project. It would seriously damage the marine coastal environment, produce the costliest water of any source available and raise water bills for residents and businesses.
-Written by Michael Hiltzik, LA Times business columnist.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Why farmers often pay higher water rates and fees during drought

California walnut grower Tim McCord is at the dry end of the spigot, facing a zero-water allocation from the Central Valley Project, which is supposed to deliver to his local San Benito County Water District. … The farmer is not just concerned about his orchard; he’s also frustrated that he owes substantial water-related taxes to the district, and, if water is eventually delivered, he’ll be charged $309.75 per acre-foot — more than in non-drought years. McCord is not alone. During drought, it’s common for farmers across the West to pay higher water-related rates, assessments, fees and taxes than during wet years.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water cuts due to California drought will require sacrifice

In less than a month, residents in large portions of Southern California will be under unprecedented water restrictions due to a worsening drought that has severely limited water supplies. The biggest change is the requirement from the Metropolitan Water District that local water suppliers in those areas, from Ventura County to northwestern L.A. County to parts of the Inland Empire, limit outdoor watering to once a week. But behind that is a big cut in water use needed to avoid even more serious measures. Can we do it? Here’s what we know:

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Valley could see a “mass migration” of farmworkers as land is fallowed under state groundwater law

Advocates are sounding the alarm for what they think could be the collapse of the San Joaquin Valley’s agriculture workforce. As drought continues to hammer the state and groundwater pumping restrictions take effect, farmland will need to be retired en masse. While there have been many conversations, including legislation, on how to support farmers during intermittent droughts, advocates say there has been little to no planning for what will happen to the nearly 167,000 farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley when swaths of farmland are permanently fallowed.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A life written in water – Susan Tatayon reflects on her 40-year career

Susan Tatayon has spent four decades working in California’s water world, most recently as chair of the Delta Stewardship Council. (She was appointed by Governor Brown in 2014 and reappointed in 2018.) She retired from state service in 2022. We caught up with her to gather a few gems of wisdom, calling on her unparalleled understanding of water in a state that’s facing bigger water challenges than ever.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona has too many homes without water. How to stop this trend

It’s far better to stop a water problem before it starts than to try to fix it after it appears. We’re seeing that all over the state, from the rapidly developing Rio Verde Foothills near Scottsdale to the farming community of Willcox. Those who thought they could build without water – or who had a well and surrounding uses sucked it dry – are now in a world of hurt. Some are hoping that if they create a water improvement district, it can save the day. This is not a dig on those efforts, but rather a cautionary tale about what happens when our development decisions fail to reflect our water realities.
-Written by Arizona Republic columnist Joanna Allhands. 

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Los Osos and Cambria must stop new development, CA says

The California Coastal Commission wants San Luis Obispo County to immediately halt all new water-using development, including housing, in Los Osos and Cambria. … The Coastal Commission also sent a letter on the same day to the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) notifying that it had violated the California Coastal Act over more than three decades due to its water extractions from wells in the San Simeon and Santa Rosa creek aquifers … 

Aquafornia news NBC News

Watch: Consequences of severe drought and climate change ripple across California

Water officials believe the past three years could end up as the driest in California’s history. State reservoir levels are alarmingly low, and measurements of the Sierra Nevada snowpack are “grim,” the state’s natural resources secretary tells Lester Holt. The drought is impacting the water supply for residents and farms, which supply critical crops for the nation.

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Aquafornia news Mother Jones

An oil train is set to destroy pristine Utah mountains. Why won’t Biden stop it?

Wildcat speculators, big oil companies, and state officials alike have been salivating over the Uinta Basin’s rich oil deposits for years … In December, the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) signed off on a plan to build an 88-mile railway from the Uinta Basin to a rail terminal about 100 miles south of Salt Lake City. … Environmentalists, however, warn that … during a time of extreme drought, the construction will impact more than 400 streams, many within the critical watershed of the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to 40 million people in the West.

Aquafornia news Western Water

As drought shrinks the Colorado River, a SoCal giant seeks help from river partners to fortify its local supply

Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies. Southern California’s giant wholesaler, Metropolitan Water District, claims a multi-billion-dollar water recycling proposal will not only create a new local source for its 19 million customers, but allow it to share part of its Colorado River supply …

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

California attorney general subpoenas ExxonMobil, opens major investigation into plastic pollution

California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Thursday announced a major investigation into companies that manufacture plastics, the first of its kind in the nation, saying that for 50 years they have been engaged in potentially illegal business practices by misleadingly claiming that plastics products are recyclable, when most are not. Bonta said he issued subpoenas to ExxonMobil, with other companies likely to follow, and said society’s growing plastics pollution problem — particularly in oceans, which are littered by trillions of tiny pieces of plastic — is something they are legally liable for and should be ordered to address.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Government spending on stormwater management in California

Stormwater infrastructure in cities is highly visible and serves to mitigate flooding and reduce pollution that reaches local waterbodies. Being so visible, it might be reasonable to assume that stormwater is adequately funded both in infrastructure and water quality management. Yet, stormwater infrastructure and water quality improvement are notoriously difficult to fund.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Prado Dam patriotic mural near Corona loses legal protection, but could be repainted

A colorful, widely visible, but graffiti-marred mural on a flood-control dam near Corona that celebrated the nation’s bicentennial no longer enjoys the protection of a court order. But officials say a plan is in the works to replace the patriotic image on Prado Dam, which was originally created with toxic lead paint. The fate of the mural near the 91 and 71 freeways has been uncertain since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the dam, announced plans to begin removing the gigantic painting in spring 2015.

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Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: Developing the hills won’t solve the West’s housing crisis

California’s housing crisis, with its soaring real estate prices and 160,000 unhoused people, threatens these hills. It also threatens the remaining marshes and wetlands, coastal bluffs and mountain meadows. Any open space not yet protected by park or preserve is at risk. … Building farther out from population centers also strains other public resources. As demand expands for energy, emergency services and water, so must the infrastructure to provide them.
-Written by Nicholas Crane Moore, a writer and public-interest environmental attorney in Anchorage, Alaska, and a former California land-use attorney. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Trout clout – Victory for protections of southern steelhead

The science and data are clear. Southern California steelhead are on the brink of extinction. Southern steelhead populations have been decimated at the southern end of their native range, plummeting from tens of thousands to a few hundred remaining adults due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation from urbanization. On April 21, an important milestone was achieved to prevent the irreversible loss of this iconic Southern California fish species. The California Fish and Game Commission unanimously voted that the state ESA listing of Southern steelhead may be warranted. 

Aquafornia news High Country News

Siskiyou County’s sheriff is suddenly interested in policing ‘environmental crimes‘ (The rise of the nature cop)

Last summer, Siskiyou County’s recently appointed sheriff, Jeremiah LaRue, released a video on YouTube to explain two controversial new county groundwater laws. The drought was severe that year, he said, and the “wasteful extraction” of water for illegal cannabis cultivation was making it worse. … The environmentalist rhetoric and talk of water policy signaled a shift in how LaRue’s department policed the illicit cannabis industry. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

New release: DWR awards $22 million to address drought impacts and support small communities statewide

Following the driest three-month stretch in the state’s recorded history and with warmer months ahead, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its seventh round of grant awards for local assistance through the Small Community Drought Relief program. In coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, DWR has selected 17 projects … 14 will directly support disadvantaged communities, including three Tribes, and will replace aging infrastructure, increase water storage, and improve drinking water quality and supply.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Why some SoCal neighborhoods face dire water cuts while others escape restrictions

Major water restrictions are about to take effect in areas ranging from Rancho Cucamonga to Thousand Oaks, and Baldwin Park to North Hollywood. But many nearby areas will escape the mandatory one-day-a-week watering limits — among them Santa Monica, Long Beach, Torrance and Beverly Hills. Why? The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has targeted these first-ever water restrictions for areas that rely heavily or entirely on the State Water Project — a Northern California water supply that officials say faces a real risk of running dry. 

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Aquafornia news Palm Springs Desert Sun

La Quinta Coral Mountain surf resort OKd 4-3 by planning commission

A proposed La Quinta resort with a hotel, homes and a wave basin — which has brought loud opposition from people saying it is a poor use of water during a drought — narrowly won the planning commission’s endorsement Tuesday and will now move to the city council for final consideration. The vote for the Coral Mountain project came in two motions: The first was for certification of the environmental impact report, which passed 5-2 with Vice Chairperson Loretta Currie and Commissioner Michael Proctor voting no.

Aquafornia news Petaluma Argus-Courier

How Petaluma is tackling this drought – and the next one

Despite a glut of recent rain descending on Sonoma County in late spring and ratcheting rainfall totals to more than double last winter’s paltry numbers, the region remains locked in drought, and local water experts say residents should prepare for ongoing restrictions. Since last September, Petaluma has sought to curb the city’s overall water usage by 30% compared to 2020 numbers, implementing restrictions on water use to help the city meet mandatory cutback targets set by Sonoma Water, the region’s primary supplier.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The state says the Peninsula must build, but also holds back on water

Right on time, the Monterey Peninsula, along with the rest of the region, learned on April 21 how many new housing units the state not only expects, but will require, it to plan to build between 2023 and 2031. Historically, for the Peninsula, this has been as awkward as a relationship between local and state government can get. The local governments here agree they need to add housing, yet the region, served by water utility California American Water, remains under a cease and desist order from the state that has, for years, barred adding new water connections.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Ag well drilling still under a cloud of confusion from Gov. Newsom’s drought order

Gov. Newsom’s emergency drought order that singled out agricultural wells for extra scrutiny is continuing to cause confusion and angst in some parts of the San Joaquin Valley, while other areas are stutter-stepping forward. Selma raisin farmer Tony Panoo was happy to finally have his well drilled on Monday after several tense weeks when his permit application was stuck between Fresno County and the Central Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), which covers his 20-acre vineyard.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Funding will help seal thousands of abandoned oil wells in Southern California and statewide

California is home to thousands of oil and gas wells abandoned years ago and never  properly sealed — many of them sitting near homes, schools and businesses from the coast to the Inland Empire. With no legally responsible party to clean them up, environmental leaders say that 5,356 abandoned and deserted wells now sprawl across Southern California and the state, polluting drinking water and leaking methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. That is about to change as the state gets millions of dollars in state and federal funding to safely seal old wells.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Blog: Valley’s ‘water blueprint’ makes splash with statewide push for $6.5bil in water funds

A coalition of water stakeholder organizations from across California joined together to send a letter addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom and six key legislators requesting action to address water issues. The nine page document dated April 19, 2022 was signed by 18 organizations and entities including the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint and 10 Southern California, four Bay Area and three trade groups. The letter laid out the need to include a $6.5 billion appropriation in the 2022-2023 General Fund budget to strengthen statewide drought and flood resilience.
-Written by Don Wright, a contributor to The San Joaquin Valley Sun. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Parts of SoCal face full outdoor watering ban by September

The Metropolitan Water District said Wednesday that the unprecedented decision to reduce outdoor watering to one day a week for about 6 million Southern Californians could be followed by even stricter actions in September if conditions don’t improve, including a total ban in some areas. … The MWD’s board has never before taken such a step, but officials said it became an inevitability after California’s driest ever January, February and March left snowpacks shrunken and reservoirs drained.

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Aquafornia news KCRA -Sacramento

How farmers can rebuild CA’s groundwater supply through ‘Ag-MAR’

During drought years, California relies heavily on its groundwater supply. As droughts become longer and more intense with climate change, it’s becoming more important than ever to “bank” excess surface water during stormy weather patterns in order to provide some long-term insurance. … [Dr. Helen Dahlke, a hydrology expert at UC Davis] and a team of researchers recently shared findings from their study showing how California’s 8 million acres of farmland could be tapped as one way to help get water back into the ground through a process called ‘Ag-MAR.’

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Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Opinion: You can have a new showerhead, but you can’t have any new water

Would it surprise you to know that California could have all the water anybody could want, but various government officials refuse to take the actions that would provide it? Consider, for example, the recent report by the staff of the California Coastal Commission about the long-suffering proposal for a desalination plant in Huntington Beach. The staff recommended that the commissioners vote to kill the project. Poseidon Water’s project was first proposed in 1998.
-Written by Susan Shelley. 

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Water is the ‘lifeblood’ of Oregonians. How will the next governor manage a future of drought?

The Klamath Basin provides a cautionary tale for Oregon about the need to plan more intentionally and sustainably with its shrinking water supply. Though the state and its watersheds aren’t newcomers to drought, research suggests that climate change is magnifying the impacts of the region’s natural wet and dry cycles…. Oregon’s next governor will inherit a state whose ecosystems, economy and communities are enduring their driest period in 1,200 years. 

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: CEQA attacks come as our planet most needs the law

If the recent attacks on California’s landmark environmental law sound tired, that’s because they are. Ever since the California Environmental Quality Act went into effect in 1970, there have been calls to tweak, reform or completely throw it out. … In Napa, where hillside forests are being razed for vineyards, CEQA was used to limit the size of a massive winery conversion project to save as many carbon-sequestering trees as possible.
-Written by John Buse, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity. 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: 5 takeaways on California 30×30 report: land and freshwater

The state of California has released the final version of its Pathways to 30×30 report. Here are five things to know about the terrestrial conservation elements of this landmark effort: 1. Freshwater Conservation  The Pathways document is explicit about the critical need to expand protection of California’s rivers, streams, wetlands, and other freshwater resources … 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Butte farmers propose new water district

A group of Butte County farmers, who rely solely on groundwater to farm mostly tree crops north of Chico, are one step closer to finalizing formation of a new water district. They say the new district will help future generations comply with a state regulation to bring groundwater supplies into balance in 20 years. … SGMA, signed into law in 2014, establishes a new structure for managing groundwater in California and requires groundwater sustainability agencies to manage groundwater locally and develop and implement plans to achieve long-term sustainability.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: 6 million Southern Californians face order to conserve water

Unprecedented water restrictions are in store for about 6 million Southern Californians, a sign of deepening drought in counties that depend on water piped from the state’s parched reservoirs.  The Metropolitan Water District’s board voted unanimously today to require six major water providers and the dozens of cities and local districts they supply to impose one of two options: limit residents to outdoor watering once a week or reduce total water use below a certain target.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

New Alameda Creek fish ladder to aid spawning migration

For the first time in half a century, ocean-going fish will soon be able to migrate up Alameda Creek to spawn, now that a second fish ladder has been completed in the lower portion of the creek in Fremont. Alameda County Water District and Alameda County Flood Control District officials on Monday celebrated the completion of the fish ladder, which was finished earlier this month, according to Sharene Gonzales, a water district spokesperson. The ladder, which consists of a series of steadily elevating pools, allows migratory fish such as Chinook salmon and threatened steelhead trout to get around human-made barriers in the lower creek …

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California wildlife officials bust white sturgeon poaching ring

Nine people were arrested by state wildlife police on suspicion of poaching, selling animals on the black market and other offenses after a sprawling investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the agency said. Eight men were arrested on suspicion of poaching white sturgeon from Sacramento Valley waterways, the department said last week. A ninth man was arrested on suspicion of selling Dungeness crab and red abalone on the black market. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Colorado bid to dry up water speculation is circling the drain

A move to dry up water speculation once and for all in Colorado ended at the legislature despite intense supply pressures from drought and water developers, as lawmakers said they’re loath to hurt farmers’ ability to sell their most valuable asset.  The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee tabled the anti-speculation bill after first accepting an amendment to turn it into a between-sessions study of the problem. Technically, the measure could be revived, but the bill’s sponsors say the issue is over for this year. 

Aquafornia news Stanford News

Blog: Massive conservation effort

One of the most ambitious conservation efforts ever, California’s 30×30 initiative aims to protect plant and animal life across 30 percent of the state’s most critical land and water by 2030. Gov. Gavin Newsom has described the plan as an important step toward ensuring community well-being, equity, and economic sustainability while staving off mega wildfires, droughts, and other climate change-driven threats. Stanford University experts have informed 30×30 through their participation in public outreach sessions, meetings with the plan’s leadership and a letter of support signed by faculty members from all seven of the university’s schools.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Delta voluntary agreements are a “plan to fail” in droughts

Rather than planning for droughts and ensuring that minimum water quality objectives are achieved in critically dry years, the proposed voluntary agreement appears to be a “plan to fail” to protect the Delta in future droughts.  Droughts are a fact of life in California, even as climate change is making them worse.  The Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio recognizes the need to improve drought preparedness, requiring that the State to be able to protect fish and wildlife during a six year drought …

Aquafornia news Reuters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California desalination plant hits regulatory hurdle

A proposed California desalination plant that would produce 50 million gallons of drinking water per day failed a crucial regulatory hurdle on Monday, possibly dooming a project that had been promoted as a partial solution for sustained drought. The staff of the California Coastal Commission recommended denying approval of the Huntington Beach plant proposed by Poseidon Water … [and] said the project was more susceptible to sea-level rise than was understood when it was first proposed more than two decades ago.

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Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: White House Council on Environmental Quality finalizes first phase of NEPA regulation revisions

The White House Council on Environmental Quality has reversed three key Trump administration changes that govern how federal agencies implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The rule, published on April 20, 2022, finalizes what the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) called “Phase One” of their effort to review and revise the Trump administration’s July 2020 overhaul of the NEPA regulations, and follows a proposed rule that CEQ issued for public comments last fall.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

California regulators banned fracking wastewater for irrigation, but allow wastewater from oil drilling. Scientists say there’s little difference

California prohibits farmers from growing crops with chemical-laced wastewater from fracking. Yet the state still allows them to use water produced by conventional oil drilling—a chemical soup that contains many of the same toxic compounds. When rumors spread several years ago that California was growing some of the nation’s nuts, citrus and vegetables with wastewater produced from hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, regulators said that would be illegal.

Aquafornia news Redheaded Blackbelt

Blog: ‘Everyone knew it was coming’: Eel River waters continue to be diverted as PG&E granted annual license for the Potter Valley Project

No one was surprised by Thursday’s letter granting PG&E an annual license to run the Potter Valley Project until April of next year. And, while a last-minute mystery application did provide a few moments of titillating speculation, the enigmatic Antonio Manfredini failed to generate any real suspense. The 50-year license to operate the Potter Valley Project, which diverts water from the Eel River into the east branch of the Russian River to Lake Mendocino by way of a tunnel, a pair of dams and reservoirs, and a small hydropower plant, expired on April 14.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

Long Beach commission may further limit watering yards amid drought

The Long Beach Water Commission may upgrade the city’s water shortage level next week, which would bring with it new restrictions on when residents can water landscaping. Updating the city’s water shortage stage comes as California heads toward its third straight year of drought. The proposal to go to Stage 2, which would limit landscape irrigation to two days per week year-round, would take the city back to water conservation rules not seen since June 2016.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Bill to aid farmworkers jilted by drought effects advances in Calif. legislature

A new bill aimed at bringing relief to farmworkers affected by the drought is now one step closer to becoming law. The bill, introduced by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger), aims to provide financial assistance to farmworkers struggling to afford basic necessities. Wednesday it passed in a state senate committee, four to one. Senate Bill 1066 aims to create a program called the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Project. The project is a state-funded supplemental pay program that would give eligible farmworkers $1,000 for three years.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Can the Paso Robles wine industry continue to thrive as groundwater levels fall?

New data and reports now show that the Paso Robles groundwater basin is being severely depleted — with unsustainable amounts pumped throughout the entire last decade. As a result, it is now considered a critically overdrafted groundwater basin in need of management to ensure the long-term sustainability of the water source…. Blame for the status of the groundwater basin is tossed around between lack of regulation from local politicians and overpumping from vintners…. But vintners and local industry leaders interviewed by The Tribune said placing the blame on the wine industry is oversimplifying a complicated issue.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Why rural communities struggle to bring in much-needed federal grants

When overlaid with data about flood and wildfire risk, Headwaters’ analysis reveals areas with stark capacity barriers, often exacerbated by historical injustices, as well as high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. … In theory, the $47 billion the infrastructure bill designates for climate resilience can help communities prepare for floods, fires, storms and droughts. But Headwaters’ analysis suggests that areas with low capacity might not submit requests in the first place.

Aquafornia news Marijuana Business Daily

California drought plan could exclude cannabis as growers prepare for dry summer

Heading into another brutally dry summer, struggling cannabis growers in California could be excluded from the state’s latest assistance plan to save water. A proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom would pay farmers to not plant crops, known as fallowing, this year as drought conditions worsen. The plan with some of the state’s largest water providers earmarks $268 million in upfront payments for voluntarily leaving fields uncultivated, or fallowing.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Water rights groups win lawsuit in Siskiyou County over environmental review

The group “We Advocate Through Environmental Review” and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe challenged the environmental impact report prepared by the city [of Mt. Shasta] and Siskiyou County. They argued county officials offered a misleading report and failed to properly look at the impacts of the bottling plant on the environment. The groups filed two lawsuits, one against the city and one against the county.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Delta Science Program: 2022 – 2026 Science Action Agenda

The Delta Science Program is excited to release the 2022-2026 Science Action Agenda (SAA). Developed by and for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta science community, the 2022-2026 SAA builds on the progress of the 2017-2021 iteration to prioritize and align science actions to meet management needs, foster collaboration and coordination, and guide science funding. It will serve as a roadmap for the allocation and integration of investments through research, time, and resources. 

Aquafornia news Eos

Uranium detected in Latinx communities’ water systems

Unsafe uranium levels have been detected in more than 14,000 community water systems across the United States, and 63% of water records reported at least a trace amount of the contaminant, according to a new nationwide analysis. Concentrations of uranium, along with arsenic, barium, chromium, and selenium, were the highest in community water systems that serve semiurban Latinx communities.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

9 arrests made after investigation into Sacramento River sturgeon poaching

A total of nine people have been arrested after an investigation into a large suspected sturgeon poaching operation along Sacramento Valley waterways. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the investigation started as two separate cases, but a connection between the suspects led them to uncovering the larger operation.

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Aquafornia news Brownstein

Blog: Nevada district court strikes down state engineer’s creation of ‘superbasin’

On April 19, 2022, Clark County District Court Judge Bita Yeager issued a decision vacating the Nevada State Engineer’s (State Engineer) June 15, 2020, Order 1309. Under Order 1309, the State Engineer merged seven independently designated hydrographic basins into one basin known as the Lower White River Flow System (LWRFS) to be conjunctively managed. The State Engineer did so based on scientific evidence as to the previously delineated basins’ hydrological connection. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Proposed well water fee for rural residents in Santa Rosa groundwater basin is $20 a year

Rural residents using well water in the sprawling Santa Rosa Plain would pay about $20 a year under a state-mandated program aimed at protecting groundwater for the next 50 years. The 10-member board that governs the agency overseeing Sonoma County’s largest groundwater basin favors a regulatory fee structure based on the estimated amount of water well owners pump from the ground, officials reported at a virtual community meeting Wednesday night.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

State audit slams powerful water agency for workplace discrimination, harassment and more

A powerful agency that is a vital source of water for millions of Californians has left its employees exposed to harassment, engaged in unfair hiring practices and allowed employee housing in blistering desert outposts to deteriorate, a state audit found. Auditors launched their review after a Times investigation last year found a pattern of complaints alleging harassment and bullying of women at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which operates the sprawling 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct system that delivers drinking water to households and businesses in Southern California.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Can I get help with my overdue water bill in California?

New guidelines were released in early April for a federally funded program meant to help low income families pay their outstanding water bills. The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program is part of an emergency effort to respond to the economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In California, the Department of Community Services and Development is the designated agency responsible for overseeing the program. The finalized state plan defines the scope of the program and how it will be implemented.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Flaming Gorge to release 500K acre-feet water to protect Lake Powell

Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming will release 500,000 acre-feet of water under a new Drought Operations Plan to help prop up dangerously low water levels at Lake Powell. The plan, approved Thursday by the Upper Colorado River Commission, does not call for any water to be released from Blue Mesa west of Gunnison, but also does not rule out the possibility of that being an option in the future.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: Bay Area’s biggest water agency may start capping household use

As California faces a third dry year, the Bay Area’s biggest water agency may push forward with caps on customer water use, and fines for those who exceed the limit. The move would put the East Bay Municipal Utility District among a small, and perhaps soon-to-grow, number of water suppliers in the region that have taken the unusual step of compelling households to cut back, instead of simply encouraging conservation.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Decision looms for controversial Poseidon desalination plant

Among the many complex arguments over water in California, one particularly heated debate centers on whether the state should seek more drinking water from a plentiful but expensive source: the Pacific Ocean. The debate has reached a critical stage in Huntington Beach, where Poseidon Water has been trying for more than two decades to build one of the country’s largest desalination plants. The California Coastal Commission is scheduled to vote next month on whether to grant a permit to build the plant.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

California Senate OKs lower standard for indoor water use

Mired in an extreme drought, California lawmakers on Thursday took the first step toward lowering the standard for how much water people use in their homes — a move that won’t be enforced on individual customers but could lead to higher rates even as consumption declines. California’s current standard for residential indoor water use is 55 gallons per person per day…. The California Senate voted 28-9 on Thursday to lower the standard to 47 gallons per person per day starting in 2025; and 42 gallons per person per day beginning in 2030. The bill has not yet passed the Assembly, meaning it is still likely months away from becoming law. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

North Bay contractors, California trade groups lament swimming pools as latest drought casualty

Facing a giant hole in her year-old yard, Tania Weingart’s dream of summer fun in Novato runs deep. But one thing to fill it is in short supply these days — water. Her water company, North Marin Water, along with Marin Water, has imposed drought-related water restrictions that prohibit the filling of new pools and refilling existing ones. The mandate comes as the state is asking water agencies to impose restrictions for residents and businesses to cut water use by 10% among California residents and businesses as of March 28.

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Aquafornia news Point Reyes Light

In statewide campaign, water control board urges consolidation of districts

The ongoing drought and another year of unprecedented low rainfall have prompted the California State Water Resources Control Board to push for the consolidation of small public water systems across the state. In a letter sent on April 4, the water board asked North Marin Water District to consider partnerships or consolidations with small systems across West Marin and beyond.

Aquafornia news New York Magazine

The multistate battle over the Colorado River

In March, the water level of Lake Powell declined below a threshold at which the Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to generate power becomes threatened, and the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that oversees the West’s water infrastructure, is working with the states above Lake Powell to divert more water to keep its dam operational. Meanwhile, the states around Lake Mead have been hashing out the details of a plan to voluntarily curtail their use to prevent even more dramatic cuts to Arizona and Nevada from going into effect next year.

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Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Santa Paula to cover some residents’ unpaid water bills

Some Santa Paula residents with overdue water bills are getting a break thanks to a state grant for COVID-19 pandemic relief. The city is using $366,000 in funds from the State Water Resources Control Board through the California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program to cover overdue residential and commercial water bill payments as a result of the pandemic, according to a news release. 

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State Water Board staff proposes readoption of emergency drought regulation in Bay-Delta

With three consecutive years of drought reducing water levels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed to alarming lows, the State Water Resources Control Board [Tuesday] released the draft of an emergency regulation to continue curtailments adopted last year to preserve water storage in reservoirs, protect drinking water supplies, prevent salinity intrusion and minimize impacts to fisheries and the environment…. This year, water users should expect curtailments to be imposed much sooner and to affect more senior right holders and claimants since supplies may be the most limited during the peak irrigation period of June and July.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Central

Opinion: Water policy threatens our food supply as much as war in Ukraine

As the Ukraine war kindles fears of rising food prices, the recognition of a secure domestic food supply – driven in large part by irrigated agriculture in the Western U.S. – is something we need to talk about. … Government water policy decisions made in California and Oregon are currently withholding once-reliable water from farmers in order to meet perceived environmental priorities. In simple terms, our own government is actually voluntarily directing measures that restrict water to farmers. Sadly, this diminishes our food production capacity, and with it, our national security.
-Written by Paul Orme and Dan Keppen, both of the Family Farm Alliance.

Aquafornia news Newsy

Las Vegas enforces new water restrictions

In the Southwestern U.S., the massive Lake Mead Reservoir near Las Vegas is not as massive as it used to be. The water level has dropped to near-record-low levels. Drought has reduced the flow of water into the river, which has forced communities to cut back. … The water authority targeted the lush green grass that’s not native to the desert, encouraging people to remove it. … At first, residents and businesses were slow to pull up their lawns. 

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa’s flood control district could lose out on millions in state reimbursement funding for Napa River projects

Napa County has joined an effort to raise an early alarm about flood control agencies potentially losing out on millions of dollars if the state doesn’t take action to extend a deadline.  Specifically, a loss of access to reimbursement funds would happen if the funding from Proposition 1E — a $4.09 billion bond measure for flood control projects passed by California voters in 2006 — is allowed to expire by its current deadline of July 1, 2023. The funds come by way of a state program, managed by the California Department of Water Resources, that pays back agencies their costs for federally-required flood control projects.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Spring flows from Trinity River announced

The Bureau of Reclamation recently announced this year’s restoration flow schedule for the Trinity River. … Due to lack of precipitation and snowpack in the Trinity Mountains this winter, the flow schedule for 2022 is scaled to a critically dry water year. Critically dry is one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to determine how much reservoir water will be released in support of the program’s goals to improve habitat for anadromous fish—fish that migrate to fresh water from salt water to spawn—like salmon and steelhead.

Aquafornia news Eos

Endangered rivers plagued by pollution, climate change, and outdated management

A leading U.S. environmental conservation group has released its annual list of the country’s most endangered rivers. The Colorado River tops the list, but states across the nation must address polluted, dry, and unhealthy rivers, according to the list and accompanying report published today by American Rivers.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Environmental groups intend to sue PG&E over Potter Valley Project

The 100-year-old Potter Valley Project consists of two dams along Northern California’s Eel River. The upstream Scott Dam blocks salmon and steelhead from reaching prime spawning grounds, according to Alicia Hamann, the director of Friends of Eel River. Both fish are threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Friends of the Eel River are one of a handful of environmental groups planning to sue PG&E to seek protections for these dwindling fish populations.

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Aquafornia news Random Lengths News

The color of water

Scattered across California’s San Joaquin Valley are colonias, the unincorporated communities home to some of the Valley’s poorest residents in one of the richest agricultural areas in the world. … Water access is a critical question in California. Former Governor Jerry Brown declared an official drought in 2014. The state today is even drier, and the declaration is still in force. Teviston, a tiny community established by African Americans in the 1940s, went completely without water for a month last summer when its only well stopped working.

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Aquafornia news Action News Now - Chico

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Gov. Newsom to ask legislature for $750M as state looks to conserve water

During Gov. Gavin Newsom’s visit to Butte County on Tuesday, Newsom said he will ask the legislature for $750 million to help with drought conditions. At the Hyatt Powerplant at Lake Oroville, which shut down last year due to record low lake levels, Newsom spoke about how the state needs a different approach to water conservation. Newsom already invested $5.2 billion in the past three years for water security for all Californians.

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Aquafornia news KDRV - Medford

Federal funds for forests include Oregon, California

$31-million in federal funds planned for forest landscape restoration include projects in Southern Oregon and Northern California involving the Rogue Basin, Lakeview and Western Klamath Mountains. The Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service announced the funding today for 15 projects that “aim to reduce the risk of severe wildfires, support local economies, create jobs and enhance forest and watershed health in eight states … [including] $3 million to the Western Klamath Mountains Fire and Fire Resiliency Project … [and] $3 million in the North Yuba River watershed across 356,000 acres.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Klamath Tribes: Plan will devastate critically endangered sucker fish

A Native American tribe in Oregon said Tuesday it is assessing its legal options after learning the U.S. government plans to release water from a federally operated reservoir to downstream farmers along the Oregon-California border amid a historic drought. Even limited irrigation for the farmers who use Klamath River water on about 300 square miles of crops puts two critically endangered fish species in peril of extinction because the water withdrawals come at the height of spawning season, The Klamath Tribes said. 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Two areas in rural Arizona might finally gain protection of their groundwater this year

In the late 1990s, Steven and Lucia Kisiel bought 20 acres of land with a new well in Cochise County, a rural area in southeastern Arizona. The couple built a straw bale house with their own hands and started growing produce for themselves and others in the area. In 2013, Kisiel turned on his kitchen faucet and water sputtered out along with fine sediment, a sign that his well wasn’t pumping enough water.

Aquafornia news San Jose Spotlight

Silicon Valley environmentalists want Caltrans to clean up trash

Environmentalists are concerned Caltrans isn’t doing enough to keep trash from washing off its properties into the San Francisco Bay. The state transportation department has been under a cease and desist order since 2019 requiring it to reduce trash over the next seven years. The order covers more than 8,000 acres of its property in the Bay Area, including the South Bay. The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the order following widespread community outrage about Caltrans failing to pick up trash polluting local waterways.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin district weighs permanent water use restrictions

Some drought restrictions imposed on most Marin residents last year could become permanent, while others could be repealed in the coming weeks. On Friday, the Marin Municipal Water District proposed keeping a two-day-per-week sprinkler irrigation limit in place for good but also rescinding some prohibitions to allow residents to wash their cars at home or refill their pools.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Fight brews over California measure to reduce plastic waste

[P]iles of single-use plastics that can’t easily be recycled, pollute roadsides and waterways and add to the garbage that clogs landfills. In November, Californians may get a chance to shrink that waste. An initiative designed to reduce single-use plastics and polystyrene food containers will be on the ballot, a move by environmentalists to bypass the Legislature, where such measures have repeatedly failed in the face of industry lobbying.

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Aquafornia news The Union

‘How we get the water’: NID takes on management of South Yuba Canal, Deer Creek Powerhouse

The Nevada Irrigation District will begin managing the South Yuba Canal and the Deer Creek Powerhouse this month. The purchase technically helps NID diversify Nevada County’s energy sources, but the district’s purchase of the powerhouse is “ancillary more than anything” to the acquisition of the canal itself, Hydroelectric Manager Keane Sommers said. The canal services the residents of Grass Valley, Nevada City, their fire hydrants, the air attack base and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital — over 30,000 customers.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Valley farmers worried as groundwater levels remain low

Throughout western Fresno County, fertile land has been taken out of production because the irrigation supply isn’t stable enough to bring a crop to harvest. Many of Joe Del Bosque’s dry fields in Firebaugh will stay that way this season. … Without adequate surface water delivered from reservoirs, some growers must continue to pump groundwater from their wells. But the California Groundwater Live website shows 64% of monitored wells are below normal.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Ducey desalination proposal carries hefty price tag

This Friday marks Earth Day. This year the drought and dwindling water supplies top the list of environmental challenges here in the southwest. Scientists remain at odds over Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan to help solve Arizona’s water issues by desalinating water from the Sea of Cortez. Ducey unveiled the idea in his State of the State address earlier this year. He proposed a $1 billion project to draw treated water to Morelos Dam near Yuma, but the challenges to the idea remain difficult to solve.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: California steps up its investigations and permitting of PFAS

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) recently updated the regulated community and the public on the Board’s statewide investigation to study and sample potential sources of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  The State Water Board’s investigation is aimed at public agencies involved in drinking water and wastewater treatment, as well as private entities involved in manufacturing or other industries where PFAS may have been used in various products and/or processes.