Topic: Regulations — California and Federal


Regulations — California and Federal

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

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: Sites Reservoir project is huge boondoggle with harmful effects

When Californians voted for Proposition 1 in 2014, they had every reason to expect sound investments in climate-resilient water projects. And all but one of the projects selected to receive the proposition’s $2.7 billion in water supply funding fulfill those criteria.They replenish groundwater basins and enhance the storage capacity of existing reservoirs to better withstand droughts — benefits that are realized by all people across the state. Unfortunately, the one project that does not measure up — the Sites Reservoir Project — would be publicly funded to the tune of nearly $900 million. 
-Written by Max Gomberg, a former California State Water Resources Control Board climate adviser and a senior policy consultant and board member of the California Water Impact Network.

Aquafornia news Washington Examiner

Arizona Democrats stray from abortion message and focus on water in rural areas

Arizona Democrats are looking to capture voters mindful of one resource that is sparse in the desert state: water. As political battles over abortion and the southern border hit close to home for some Arizonans, record-setting high-temperature summers and droughts worry many. Democrats look to rein in rural voters who have turned on the party by framing water as a “life or death” matter going into the 2024 elections. … In tandem, Mayes and Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) have cracked down on controversial farms that had unlimited access to the state’s limited groundwater supply. Last year, the pair ended a contract with a Saudi Arabian company, Fondomonte, that grew alfalfa in Arizona and then shipped the hay back to the Middle East. Under the contract from former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, the company was given unlimited access to groundwater in Arizona.

Aquafornia news Mesa County

News release: County contributes $1 million to the Shoshone Water Rights

On April 23, during the administrative public hearing of the Board of Mesa County Commissioners, they approved a million-dollar contribution toward the permanent protection of the most senior, non-consumptive water right on the Colorado River — the Shoshone water rights. “Mesa County’s $1 million investment in the Shoshone water rights is not just a financial commitment, but a pledge to our community’s future,” said Bobbie Daniel, Chair of the Board of Mesa County Commissioners. “By safeguarding these rights, Mesa County ensures that the West Slope’s lifeblood — our beloved Colorado River — continues to sustain our families, farms, and natural habitats. …”

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Breaking down new rules about ‘forever chemicals’

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, can be found in those items and hundreds of other household products. the chemicals have made their way into our showers, sinks and drinking glasses — a 2023 study detected PFAS in nearly half of the nation’s tap water. … For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency is regulating PFAS. This month, the E.P.A. announced that it would require municipal water systems to remove six forever chemicals from tap water. Lisa Friedman, a reporter on the Climate desk at The New York Times, wrote about the new rules.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Probation under SGMA will cost the region, farmers say

Farmers in the critically overdrafted Tulare Lake Subbasin in the San Joaquin Valley are bracing for escalating costs as state and local agencies assess fees on wells and groundwater pumped. For the first time, the California State Water Resources Control Board last week placed the subbasin on probationary status as part of regulations under the state’s landmark 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. … Kings County Farm Bureau Executive Director Dusty Ference said new state and local groundwater-related fees will impact farmers and communities. 

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Aquafornia news SkyHi News

Opinion: Restoring protections to wetlands, waterways is vital to the livelihood of Grand County

In one of the biggest rollbacks of the Clean Water Act since its inception five decades ago, the U.S. Supreme Court last year abolished protections for tens of thousands of acres of wetlands in Colorado. And unless the state legislature passes a measure to create a permitting plan and restore the protections that existed before the Supreme Court’s decision, Grand County’s waterways are at risk. In every area of the state, Colorado’s wetlands lacking a permanent surface flow – along with intermittent streams that run seasonally and ephemeral streams that only flow in response to rain or snow – are in jeopardy. In essence, the ruling means wetlands that were previously protected can now be filled, paved over and destroyed with impunity.
-Written by Kirk Klanke, Colorado Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Aquafornia news The University of Arizona: Water Resources Research Center

Blog: Multiple plans proposed for post-2026 Colorado River operations

As the Bureau of Reclamation looks to prepare new rules for the Colorado River, states across the West and other interested stakeholders have proposed plans for the river’s future. These alternative plans aim to shape the operation of the Colorado River after many of the current rules expire in 2026. In April, a coalition of conservation groups including Audubon, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and others submitted a plan for managing the Colorado River. Known as the Cooperative Conservation Alternative, the proposal seeks to broaden management efforts on the Colorado River to be more inclusive of various interests, Tribes, and the environment.

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Aquafornia news Grist

The EPA is cracking down on PFAS — but not in fertilizer

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency designated two types of “forever chemicals” as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law. The move will make it easier for the government to force the manufacturers of these chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, to shoulder the costs of cleaning them out of the environment. … Although the EPA’s new restrictions are groundbreaking, they only apply to a portion of the nation’s extensive PFAS contamination problem. That’s because drinking water isn’t the only way Americans are exposed to PFAS … In Texas, a group of farmers whose properties were contaminated with PFAS from fertilizer are claiming the manufacturer should have done more to warn buyers about the dangers of its products.

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Aquafornia news Whittier Daily News

Commentary: Metropolitan Water District soaks taxpayers with higher property taxes

In what may be an illegal tax increase, the board of the Metropolitan Water District just approved a two-year budget that doubles the property tax it collects in its six-county service area. MWD is a water wholesaler with 26 cities and water retailers as its customers. Through those entities, MWD supplies water to about 19 million people in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties. The new budget raises the wholesale rates by 8.5% in 2025 and then by 8.5% again in 2026. The rates for treated water will go up 11% and then 10%. Metropolitan said it has to raise rates and taxes to cover its operating costs because they’ve been selling less water, first because of drought, and then because of rain.

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Aquafornia news Grist

California communities are fighting the last battery recycling plant in the West — and its toxic legacy

… California has some of the tightest toxic regulations and strictest air pollution rules for smelters in the country. But some residents of the suburban neighborhoods around Ecobat don’t trust the system to protect them. … Uncertainty, both about the safety of Ecobat’s operation going forward and the legacy of lead it has left behind, weighs heavily on them. … Early on, environmental officials flagged reasons for concern about the lead smelter. State and federal regulators issued an order and a consent decree in 1987 because of the facility’s releases of hazardous waste into soil and water. An assessment from that time found “high potential for air releases of particulates concerning lead.” 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: Why San Francisco stands in way of California water reform

The recently announced closure of the salmon fishing season delivered yet another devastating blow to the thousands of families that depend on commercial and recreational fishing for their livelihoods. For the second year in a row, fishing boats at Fisherman’s Wharf will remain mothballed. The recent drought contributed to the salmon decline, but the larger problem is archaic water policies that allow too much water to be diverted from our rivers and the Delta. As a result, salmon experience manmade droughts almost every year, and the droughts we notice become mega-droughts for fish. … California desperately needs water reform, but strong opposition has come from what might seem like an unlikely suspect. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which manages our Hetch Hetchy Water System, is one of the worst culprits when it comes to poor stewardship of our aquatic ecosystems.
-Written by Peter Drekmeier, Policy Director for the Tuolumne River Trust; and Scott Artis; Executive Director of the Golden State Salmon Association.​

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Questions abound in case of contamination of Sacramento River tributary

A federal judge denied summary judgment to a California nonprofit that accuses a solid waste facility in Butte County of allowing contaminants to seep out of its facility and into a wetland preserve that leads to a Sacramento River tributary during a major rainstorm. Nonprofit California Open Lands maintains a wetland preserve in Butte County that sits near the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility, operated by the Butte County Department of Public Works. 

Aquafornia news Water World

California State Water Resources Control Board will hold a multiday workshop to discuss voluntary agreements

The California State Water Resources Control Board will hold a multiday public workshop to discuss voluntary agreements (VAs) proposed by water users and state and federal agencies. The VAs proposed are to update the Sacramento River and Delta components of the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacamento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta Plan). The purpose for the planned workshop is for the VA parties to provide a detailed overview of the VA proposal. It is also planned to receive input and answer questions from board members and receive input from the public. The workshop will take place from April 24 through April 26, 2024. The schedule for the workshop can be found here.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

New Mexico town has endured toxic arsenic in drinking water for years

Rosana Monge clutched her husband’s death certificate and an envelope of his medical records as she approached the microphone and faced members of the water utility board on a recent Monday in this city in southeast New Mexico. “I have proof here of arsenic tests — positive on him, that were done by the Veterans Administration,” she testified about her husband, whose 2023 records show he had been diagnosed with “exposure to arsenic” before his death in February at age 79. “What I’m asking is for a health assessment of the community.” … Naturally occurring in the soil in New Mexico, arsenic seeps into the groundwater used for drinking. In water, arsenic has no taste, odor or color — but can be removed with treatment. Over time, it can cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, endangering the lives of people in this low-income and overwhelmingly Latino community.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Friday Top of the Scroll: US lawmakers Elizabeth Warren and Ro Khanna seek to ban trade in water rights

With private investors poised to profit from water scarcity in the west, US senator Elizabeth Warren and representative Ro Khanna are pursuing a bill to prohibit the trading of water as a commodity. The lawmakers will introduce the bill on Thursday afternoon, the Guardian has learned. “Water is not a commodity for the rich and powerful to profit off of,” said Warren, the progressive Democrat from Massachusetts. … Water-futures trading allows investors – including hedge funds, farmers and municipalities – to trade water and water rights as a commodity, similar to oil or gold. The practice is currently limited to California, where the world’s first water futures market was launched. So far, the market hasn’t taken off, dampened by the reality that the physical trade of water in the state has been limited. After a couple of wet years in California, the price of water futures has also plummeted.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Land-use bill taps farmland for solar sites

Proposed state legislation to modify California’s longstanding farmland conservation law could pave the way for large swaths of farm acreage to be repurposed as sites for renewable energy projects. The California Land Conservation Act of 1965, commonly known as the Williamson Act, preserves farmland by assessing property taxes based on the land’s agricultural value rather than its full market value. Landowners with Williamson Act contracts, which cover about half the state’s 30 million acres of farm and ranchland, generally see a 20% to 75% reduction in property taxes. … The proposed legislation seeks to align the state’s renewable energy and groundwater management goals. California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires users to bring groundwater basins into balance within the next two decades.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Group files motion to compel city to comply with order for more water in Kern River

Frustrated with the amount of water dribbling down the western reach of the Kern River, plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit over the river filed a motion Tuesday asking the judge in the case to intervene.  The motion says the City of Bakersfield has not maintained flows required to keep fish in good condition, particularly in the areas of the river from Allen Road westward.  “Fish have died and habitat has dried up and the Bakersfield community has lost much of the living river that it had enjoyed for almost all of 2023,” it says. The motion seeks to compel the city to keep the flow at a specified level based on water levels where the river enters the city’s jurisdiction.  The city’s water attorney Colin Pearce said the motion is being reviewed and the city will respond accordingly.

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Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Blog: Lawsuit demands Water Board action on outdated DWR water rights before Delta Tunnel approval

After waiting 14 years, water rights protestants to a 2009 proceeding have filed a complaint against the State Water Resources Control Board alleging it has given preferential treatment to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) regarding antiquated water rights claims. They also said the board failed to implement state laws requiring the reasonable and equitable development of water diversions and the protection of water resources in the State. … The complaint alleges that DWR has failed to comply with state water rights law requiring water rights be timely put to full beneficial use; the purpose of this requirement is to safeguard the public interest.

Aquafornia news Grist

In a first, California cracks down on farms guzzling groundwater

In much of the United States, groundwater extraction is unregulated and unlimited. There are few rules governing who can pump water from underground aquifers or how much they can take. This lack of regulation has allowed farmers nationwide to empty aquifers of trillions of gallons of water for irrigation and livestock. Droughts fueled by climate change have exacerbated this trend by depleting rivers and reservoirs, increasing reliance on this dwindling groundwater. In many places, such as California’s Central Valley, the results have been devastating. As aquifers decline, residential wells start to yield contaminated water or else dry up altogether, forcing families to rely on emergency deliveries of bottled water. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California sets nation’s first standard for cancer-causing chemical

In an effort to protect more than 5 million Californians from a cancer-causing contaminant, state regulators today set a new standard that is expected to increase the cost of water for many people throughout the state. The State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved the nation’s first drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium, which is found naturally in some California groundwater as well as water contaminated by industries. Now water suppliers will be forced to install costly treatment to limit the chemical in water to no more than 10 parts per billion — equivalent to about 10 drops in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

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Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic hit with state violation for dumping leachate

The troubled Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Castaic received a new violation last week from a state water agency for pumping untreated leachate water from the landfill into local waterways that empty into the Santa Clara River. A violation letter dated April 9 was sent to the landfill operators by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, raising concerns that the landfill’s wastewater may reach groundwater sources fed by the river and used for drinking water. 

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Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Colorado lawmakers debate state-based wetlands protections

How Colorado protects wetlands depends on two perspectives: Is it a water quality issue or a land management issue? Even assuming it’s a little of both, either answer leads to different approaches, each to be overseen by a different agency. And either path offers implications for construction, permitting and management of habitats. This month, lawmakers looked at the dueling approaches contained in two measures seeking to implement a way for the state to manage “dredge and fill discharge” permits tied to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that redefined how a body of water can be protected under the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the United States” rule.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

California spent $3.7 billion reducing wildfire fuel. Bill would make insurers factor that into coverage.

Insurers in California have sounded the alarm: A warming climate has dramatically raised the risk of devastating wildfires, and with it the cost of providing coverage. But now a Peninsula lawmaker says those insurance companies should credit the state and homeowners for the work done to reduce our vulnerability to wildfires. State Sen. Josh Becker, a Menlo Park Democrat, has introduced a bill that would require insurers to consider the state’s efforts to thin flammable brush and trees as well as property owners’ steps to make their homes more fire resistant, such as covering vents and clearing vegetation. Those efforts would need to be incorporated into their risk modeling to determine coverage decisions and costs.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California acts to halt Kings County’s groundwater overpumping

Kings County growers will face millions of dollars in fees and a mandate to report groundwater pumping after California officials voted unanimously today to put local agencies on probation for failing to protect the region’s underground water supply. The unprecedented decision is a first step that could eventually lead to the state wresting control of a groundwater basin in a severely depleted part of the San Joaquin Valley.  Before issuing the probation order, the State Water Resources Control Board had repeatedly warned five groundwater agencies in Kings County that their management plan for the Tulare Lake basin is seriously deficient, failing to rein in the dried-up wells, contaminated water and sinking earth worsened by overpumping.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Opinion: Bleak future if state prioritizes Delta ecosystem over human needs

The governance of San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water quality falls under the authority of the State Water Quality Control Board. Among other duties, the Water Board is responsible for adopting and updating the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta Plan).  The Bay-Delta Plan’s purpose sets forth measures and flow requirements to safeguard various water uses within the watershed, including municipal, industrial, agricultural, and ecological needs. Comprising five political appointees with extensive powers, the Water Board plays a pivotal role in shaping California’s water management policies.
-Written by Cary Keaten, the general manager of the Solano Irrigation District. ​

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 2024 initial Klamath Project water supply allocation and additional funding for drought resiliency, ecosystem enhancement

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the initial 2024 water supply allocations for the Klamath Project along with $8.5 million in immediate funding for the Klamath Basin communities to support drought resiliency and $5 million for Klamath Basin tribes impacted by drought. In partnership with the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency, Reclamation has secured $8.5 million for administration of specifically authorized drought resiliency programs targeted for project contractors who receive a reduced water allocation. Reclamation is announcing this funding together with an additional $5 million from separate program sources which will be disbursed through technical assistance agreements with Klamath Basin Tribal Nations for drought and ecosystem activities.

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Aquafornia news ABC News

Streams that supply drinking water in danger following 2023 Supreme Court decision that stripped wetlands protections

A Supreme Court decision that stripped protections from America’s wetlands will have reverberating impacts on rivers that supply drinking water all over the U.S., according to a new report. The rivers of New Mexico are among the waterways that will be affected most by the May 2023 Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA, which rolled back decades of federal safeguards under the Clean Water Act for about half of the nation’s wetlands and up to four million miles of streams that supply drinking water for up to four million people, according to the report, titled “America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2024.” … [The report, issued by the advocacy group American Rivers, also cited the Trinity River in California and the Tijuana River in California and Mexico as among the ten most endangered rivers.]

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Aquafornia news Reuters

New PFAS lawsuit cites EPA’s ‘forever chemicals’ drinking water rules

A new lawsuit filed by public drinking water systems in California against manufacturers of toxic “forever chemicals” is among the first to cite new Biden administration regulations that set strict limits for the chemicals in drinking water. The Orange County Water District and more than a dozen other California water utilities filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court on Friday against seven manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, including Dynax America Corp. and Arkema Inc. The lawsuit accuses the manufacturers of negligence and of creating a nuisance by contaminating water with PFAS, and seeks money to remediate that contamination.

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Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Lawsuit: Feds continue violating Clean Water Act for failing to control border sewage crisis

The International Boundary and Water Commission is again being sued over water-quality permit violations that have led to rampant sewage polluting San Diego County’s southernmost shoreline. The San Diego Coastkeeper and Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. arm of the IBWC and its contractor Veolia Water North America-West, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act. 

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Aquafornia news Bay City News

Another closure of salmon fisheries exposes state’s water politics

For the second year in a row, there will be no commercial or recreational salmon fishing in California. … The Golden State Salmon Association supports the recommendation of the [Pacific Fishery Management Council], which works closely with federally recognized West Coast tribes, many who define themselves as “salmon people” and hold annual ceremonies to honor their return each year. Bates said $20.6 million has been allocated from the U.S. Department of Commerce to compensate for some of the losses caused by last year’s closure to charter fleets and commercial fleets, buyers and processors. But the fisheries are calling on the state to allocate water, not cash. Scott Artis, executive director of the Golden State Salmon Association, said big agriculture is not limited in their water use, but fisheries get hit with constraints.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Opinion: Delivering water to the West

… The federal government’s current approach to this imbalance is the equivalent of trying to cure cancer with a Band-Aid. Instead of pursuing a long-term solution, Washington is using federal funds to pay states and tribal nations to leave water in the river instead of taking their full allocation. Mostly, that means paying farmers to stop farming. That is not a viable long-term solution, and strategically, we need to be encouraging MORE local farming and food production, not less. It does make sense to assist local farmers in switching to crops that require less water, but it does not make sense to put American farmers out of business and make us more reliant on food trucked or shipped thousands of miles before it arrives on our tables.
-Written by Arizona Republican Kari Lake, who is running for the U.S. Senate.​

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Missouri could crack down on water exports to drought-weary West

Missouri lawmakers say water has almost always been plentiful in their state, giving no reason to think twice about a concept known as riparian rights — the idea that, if you own the land, you have broad freedoms to use its water. But that could change under a bill advancing quickly in a state legislature that is normally sharply divided. The measure would largely forbid the export of water across state lines without a permit, even though there is no evidence that is happening on any large scale. … lawmakers are wary of the West, and the chance that thirsty communities facing dwindling water supplies will look east for lakes and rivers to tap. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Monday Top of the Scroll: California farmers depleted groundwater in this county. Now a state crackdown could rein them in

For the first time in California history, state officials are poised to crack down on overpumping of groundwater in the agricultural heartland.  The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday will weigh whether to put Kings County groundwater agencies on probation for failing to rein in growers’ overdrafting of the underground water supply. Probation — which would levy state fees that could total millions of dollars — is the first step that could allow California regulators to eventually take over management of the region’s groundwater. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California granted federal disaster declaration for February storms

President Biden has approved California’s request for a major disaster declaration to support recovery efforts from a string of February storms that drenched much of the state with historic rainfall and mountain snow and resulted in numerous deaths, officials announced Sunday. Nine California counties — Butte, Glenn, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sutter and Ventura — will receive federal aid as a result of the declaration, which also includes funding for statewide hazard mitigation efforts, officials said. “

Aquafornia news KPBS - Public Media

‘Forever chemicals’: Water supplies throughout California will exceed new national limits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [last week] unveiled the first nationwide limits on dangerous “forever chemicals” in drinking water, setting standards that will have sweeping, costly effects throughout California. … In California alone, traces of the compounds have been detected in water systems serving more than 25 million people, nearly a third in disadvantaged communities, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

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Aquafornia news The Willits News

CA Fish and Wildlife launches new Steelhead survey along the Russian River

As part of a new survey launched this year, personnel with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are visiting various locations along the Russian River, including at least two in Ukiah, to collect data regarding the Steelhead trout that local anglers are catching. One of the main reasons why the survey is being done in person, according to CDFW staff, is that while the existing “Steelhead report Card program is meant to collect similar data,” only about a third of the report cards are submitted. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Biden Administration said to expand two California national monuments

President Biden plans to expand the perimeters of two national monuments in California, protecting mountains and meadows in a remote area between Napa and Mendocino as well as a rugged stretch east of Los Angeles, two people familiar with the administration’s plans said Thursday. The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument will each get new boundaries designed to protect land of cultural significance to Native American tribes, as well as biodiversity and wildlife corridors, said the people, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: The hunt for water is causing this region to sink. Now, California is weighing a historic crackdown

A stretch of California that’s considered one of the fastest-sinking areas in the nation, where farms have pumped so much water from the ground that the land has slowly collapsed, is on the verge of state intervention. In a first-ever move, California regulators are looking to step in and monitor groundwater pumping in the Tulare Lake subbasin, an 837-square-mile hydrological region flush with cotton, hay and almonds between Fresno and Bakersfield. Because of heavy pumping, some places here are sinking a foot a year, causing roads to buckle and canals to crack. … The looming confrontation between the state and water agencies marks the latest, and one of the most significant, developments with California’s decade-old groundwater legislation, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.

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Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: EPA requires monitoring and treatment to limit and reduce PFAS in drinking water

… the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [on Wednesday] announced the final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation establishing the first national legally enforceable drinking water standards … for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” …. actions required for public water systems under the final rule are likely going to require significant investment of money, time, and human effort. 

Aquafornia news USA Today

Salmon fishing off California coast banned for second year in a row

California fishermen spoke out against state water management policies Thursday after federal fishing officials canceled ocean salmon fishing season in the state for the second consecutive year, delivering a major blow to the fishing industry. … Salmon stocks have been impacted by the state’s multi-year drought and climate disruptions, including wildfires, algal blooms and ocean forage shifts, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The salmon population has also been impacted by rising river water temperatures in addition to a rollback of federal protections for waterways by the Trump administration.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

How safe is Bay Area drinking water from chemicals?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced the first federal limits on PFAS — manmade “forever chemicals” linked to cancer, organ damage and other health issues — in the nation’s drinking water. The regulation, which was initially proposed in 2023, requires water systems to reduce levels of six of the most studied types of PFAS to the lowest levels that can be reliably measured with testing. … The Bay Area’s drinking water generally has low levels of PFAS because large water systems in the region get most of their drinking water from pristine sources in the Sierra or local reservoirs in regional parks, according to researchers who study toxic chemicals in drinking water. The city of San Francisco, for instance, gets most of its water from Hetch Hetchy, a reservoir north of Yosemite Valley.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California salmon fishing banned for second year in row

In a devastating blow to California’s fishing industry, federal fishery managers unanimously voted today to cancel all commercial and recreational salmon fishing off the coast of California for the second year in a row.  The decision is designed to protect California’s dwindling salmon populations after drought and water diversions left river flows too warm and sluggish for the state’s iconic Chinook salmon to thrive.  … Many in the fishing industry say they support the closure, but urged state and federal officials to do more to improve conditions in the rivers salmon rely on. Fishing advocates and environmentalists have lambasted Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration for failing to prioritize water quality and flows to protect salmon in the vital Bay-Delta watershed.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Clean air, water, environment amendment passes first hurdle in California Assembly

California lawmakers want to establish the state’s position on environmental health, taking a first step Monday in their proactive approach to ensure processes for the state’s environmental management remains secure, regardless of any federal changes. … The Los Angeles Democrat is propositioning a constitutional amendment that would enshrine into law the Californian’s right to clean air, water and the environment. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 16, authored by Bryan, passed Monday out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and into his chamber’s Appropriations Committee. It must pass both houses by at least two-thirds and then secure a majority vote at the polls.

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Aquafornia news Post Independent

More Coloradans would be allowed to use graywater systems under bill in state legislature

A bill that would allow graywater systems to be included in new homes throughout Colorado received rare unanimous approval from the Colorado House on Friday. Graywater is made up of water that has been used a single time from appliances like laundry machines, baths or sinks and can be used again for non-drinking purposes like toilet flushes and irrigation. Conservationists point to graywater uses as a way to cut down on water consumption as the drought in the West has deepened in recent years.  

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Arizona Republicans investigate state attorney general over water policy inquiry

Arizona House Republicans convened in a newly created committee Thursday afternoon to discuss an investigation into the state’s Democrat attorney general. The conservative lawmakers announced the creation of the House Committee on Executive Oversight Wednesday in response to Attorney General Kris Mayes’ ongoing investigations into “megafarms” she says are overusing groundwater and draining the wells of rural Arizonans. … Mayes has recently indicated in multiple town halls across rural Arizona, specifically La Paz County, her intent to file a public nuisance complaint against large industrial farms and corporations that she says are sucking rural Arizonans dry.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California moves to ban use of the weedkiller paraquat

New California legislation seeks to permanently ban paraquat, a powerful and widely used weedkiller that has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and other serious health issues. Assembly Bill 1963, introduced recently by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), would sunset the use of paraquat beginning in January 2026. The herbicide, which is described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as highly toxic, is regularly sprayed on almonds, grapes, cotton and other crops in the state. … California is the nation’s top user of paraquat … 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: As fish deaths increase at pumps, critics urge California agencies to improve protections

Powerful pumps that supply much of California’s population with water have killed several thousand threatened and endangered fish this year, prompting a coalition of environmental groups to demand that state and federal agencies take immediate steps to limit “alarming levels” of deaths. In a letter to state and federal water managers, leaders of five fishing and environmental groups said the estimated losses of threatened steelhead trout and endangered winter-run Chinook salmon have exceeded maximum annual limits for water intakes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Groups seek to ban large-scale animal farming in Sonoma County

Think “Sonoma County farm,” and most people will conjure an image of docile cows chewing cud or chickens scratching the dirt, idly whiling away their days among the grassy, green hills of this mostly rural, coastal Northern California county. But animal rights activists say all is not right in this region known for its wine and farm-to-fork sensibilities. They say there are two dozen large, concentrated animal farming operations — which collectively house almost 3 million animals — befouling watersheds and torturing livestock and poultry in confined lots and cages. And in an effort to stop it, they’ve collected more than 37,000 signatures from Sonoma County residents to put an end to it — forcing the county Board of Supervisors to either enact or match the ordinance themselves, or have it kicked over to the November ballot.

Aquafornia news YubaNet

Details on Spaulding powerhouse damages emerge

Two letters filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reveal details of the damage at PG&E’s Lake Spaulding Powerhouse No. 1, which is out of service since early March. The failure of the powerhouse, combined with a massive rockslide over the PG&E-owned starting portion of the South Yuba Canal, have effectively cut off water supplies from the higher elevations to the Bear River and Deer Creek. The State Historic Preservation Officer’s letter to FERC provides additional information on the damage discovered by PG&E.

Aquafornia news Ag Info

Water use report violation notices coming soon

Are you a water rightsholder? Have you filed your Annual Water Diversion and Use reports for Water Year 2023? If you answered “yes” then “no,” a notice of violation could be on the way. It’s just been announced that the Division of Water Rights will be sending Notices of Violation in the next few weeks for those who have not submitted the annual reports or statements. Those were due before February 1. According to the Board, if you submit your past-due report promptly, you will not receive the notice and potential future enforcement action. There is a help website that has been set up in an attempt to walk rightsholders through the process. You can access that at

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Bill punishes people for suing over groundwater, weaken Mayes’ power

As Attorney General Kris Mayes gathers evidence to take action against corporate farms’ groundwater pumping, some lawmakers would like to establish protections that discourage such lawsuits. Agricultural operations could get their legal fees paid by the plaintiff if they are sued in a nuisance action to reduce or take away their water use under a bill filed early this year by state Rep. Austin Smith, R-Wittmann. The measure would have a “chilling effect” on new approaches to reduce groundwater use, several legal experts told The Arizona Republic, because the claimant would need to pay filing fees and attorney fees for themselves and the sued party.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Sacramento DA sues California alleging underground tanks leaking

The Sacramento County district attorney’s office has sued a state agency alleging that storage tanks are leaking hazardous substances under several downtown buildings, including the state Capitol. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court against the California Department of General Services, alleges the leakages are also happening in Oakland. It was filed jointly by Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho and Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. The district attorneys filed the lawsuit “to protect public health and the environment from harm due to releases of hazardous substances from leaking Underground Storage Tanks, including harm to groundwater and surface waters and against harm from indoor air impacts,” the lawsuit stated.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Independent

Groundwater Authority reimburses two domestic well owners due to declining groundwater levels

At the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board meeting on March 29, the IWVGA board approved motions to reimburse two domestic well owners who had to replace their wells due to declining groundwater levels. IWVGA reimbursed $37,996 for the Halpin Well and $31,082 for the Byerly Well. Reimbursement covers the estimated current value of the exhausted well and the incremental costs of drilling a deeper well. California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires groundwater basins like the IWV groundwater basin to reach sustainability by 2040. This is why the IWVGA initially formed to draft and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan.

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Aquafornia news Nossaman LLP - JDSupra

Blog: California focuses on water supply resiliency in updated water plan

On April 2, 2024, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the California Water Plan Update 2023 (CWP 2023 Update). DWR’s press release dubs the plan “A Roadmap to Water Management and Infrastructure for a Water Resilient Future.” Resiliency is one of the key focuses for the CWP 2023 Update, as its chapter on objectives is entitled the “Roadmap to Resilience.” The plan is focused on the vision that “All Californians benefit from water resources that are sustainable, resilient to climate change, and managed to achieve shared values and connections to our communities and the environment.”

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: A better pathway forward for the Bay-Delta

As elected officials representing Colusa and Yuba counties, we sent a letter to Governor Newsom earlier this year encouraging him and his administration to advance the Agreements to Support Healthy Rivers and Landscapes (sometimes known as the Voluntary Agreements) and the associated benefits for communities, farms, businesses, the environment and the public. We were joined in this letter by counties throughout the Sacramento River Basin—we have specifically urged the State Water Board to identify the Agreements to Support Healthy Rivers and Landscapes alternative in its final staff report and forthcoming program of implementation as the State Water Board’s best pathway for updating the Sacramento/Delta portions of the Bay-Delta Plan.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Explained: Senior rights to California’s water

Water access in California has seen growing scrutiny as the climate shifts from more extreme dry to wet swings. This results in increasing year-to-year uncertainty for both commercial and residential water availability. One area getting more attention from an ethical and practical application is the system of water rights, which first took shape in the late 1800s. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Most of Stanislaus County will receive full water supplies

Winter brought just average rain and snow to Stanislaus County’s main watershed, but most farmers will get abundant supplies. That’s because reservoirs continue to hold much of the runoff from last year’s truly wet conditions. Only in parts of the West Side will water be limited. The storms also boosted groundwater, which is part of the supply in many places. City residents, too, can expect no cutbacks, but they still have to follow rules against outdoor watering in the afternoon. Too much demand on a hot summer day can tax the distribution system.

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Aquafornia news KYMA - Yuma

Yuma East Wetlands receives funding to upgrade infrastructure

The Department of the Interior announced the Yuma East Wetlands will receive $5 million to upgrade infrastructure to ensure the continued existence of the marshes for future generations. There will be improvements that include designing and replacing the system used to move water around the wetlands. Pumps currently fueled by diesel with electrical pumps will be replaced, concrete canals will be extended and electrical power will be brought to the conservation area to allow for technology updates. The Yuma East Wetlands is used by the community for public recreation and it also provides habitat for wildlife including endangered species.

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Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

Listen: California’s former water czar on the state’s coming “water nightmare”

Yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom surveyed the Sierra snowpack and outlined a new state water plan focused on climate change. Scott and KQED climate reporter Ezra David Romero are joined by California’s former top water regulator Felicia Marcus. As the state’s top water czar, she navigated severe droughts, balancing demands for scare water by cities, farms, businesses and homeowners. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New Kern County groundwater bank gets underway with another shot of public funding

The $171 million Kern Fan Groundwater Storage project – with a unique “eco-twist” – received another chunk of public funding just as the first section of the 1,300-acre project had a formal christening on Wednesday. Officials with Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, Irvine Ranch Water District and the Bureau of Reclamation gathered at the project site near Enos Lane west of Bakersfield to look over construction of the first part of Phase 1, which began in February. The Bureau announced earlier in the week that it had approved a $3.9 million grant for the project, which is in addition to $4.7 million awarded by the Bureau in 2023. That funding requires a 75% match from Rosedale-Rio Bravo and Irvine Ranch.

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Aquafornia news AP News

Court approves 3M settlement over ‘forever chemicals’ in public drinking water systems

Chemical manufacturer 3M will begin payments starting in the third quarter to many U.S. public drinking water systems as part of a multi-billion-dollar settlement over contamination with potentially harmful compounds used in firefighting foam and several consumer products, the company said. St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M announced Monday that last year’s lawsuit settlement received final approval from the U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina. The agreement called for payouts through 2036. Depending on what additional contamination is found, the amount paid out will range from $10.5 billion to $12.5 billion.

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Commentary: Environment report: US steps up watchdog role over Tijuana sewage system

Years ago, in a moment of despair over the utter dead-end that solving the Tijuana River sewage crisis seemed to be, I asked U.S. officials why we don’t just cross the border and start fixing broken pipes in Mexico. Nations can’t just cross each other’s borders like that, MacKenzie, the kindly federal official told me. At least, they shouldn’t. It would be a rude mistake. Mexico could consider such federal intrusion without permission as an act of war. But President Joe Biden’s pick to rein in cross-border sewage spills has found a way to leverage her relationships with Mexico to encourage more collaborative U.S. involvement. Maria-Elena Giner announced to reporters during a press conference last week that the International Boundary and Water Commission (the binational agency that deals with cross-border water issues) will start monthly inspections of a key sewage pump and trash shredder in Tijuana that feeds wastewater into San Diego for treatment.
-Written by MacKenzie Elmer, Voice of San Diego reporter. 

Aquafornia news Mono Lake Committee

Blog: April 1, 2024 Mono Lake level triggers important choice for DWP 

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) and Mono Lake Committee staff met this morning at the shore of Mono Lake to conduct the annual joint reading of the surface elevation of Mono Lake. The consensus is that the lake stands at 6,383.70 feet above mean sea level which means that Mono Lake is only halfway to the 6,392-foot elevation level mandated by the California State Water Resources Control Board 30 years ago to resolve ecological, wildlife, economic, Tribal, public trust, and air quality harms caused by the lowering of Mono Lake.  Today’s lake level triggers an important choice for DWP: Will the Department choose a nearly fourfold increase in diversions (16,000 acre-feet), or will it choose to leave exports unchanged (4,500 acre-feet) and preserve the lake level gains of the record-wet winter of 2023?

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Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Superior Court upholds State Board’s plan to increase flows on San Joaquin River but denies claims flows are inadequate to protect fish

In December 2018 the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) adopted updates to the Bay-Delta Plan (Plan) in accordance with its obligations under the Porter-Cologne Act. The updated Plan included flow objectives intended to restore and protect Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead in the lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries. Twelve lawsuits and 116 claims were filed challenging the State Board’s updated Plan. On March 15, 2024, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto rejected all lawsuits and claims. To some degree the court’s decision is a win for California’s fisheries, but the decision also affirmed the discretionary right of the State Board to keep less water in rivers than needed to restore fisheries and aquatic ecosystems.

Aquafornia news LAist

With California’s rainy season wrapping up, will we see water restrictions?

The start of April means that California’s rainy season is coming to an end. Things are looking pretty good this year, but there are some caveats. The snowpack across the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado River Basin — both critical stores of water — is hovering slightly above average, though it’s nowhere near what we saw last winter. … It’s looking unlikely, as our reservoirs are quite full and we’ve had a good showing of snow. “We pulled back on restrictions last year, however, we’re telling people to use their common sense,” said Adel Hagekhalil, CEO of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The public agency will neither be drawing from or putting water into storage, though that’ll change if the allocation increases. According to Hagekhalil, the MWD has enough water to help Southern California get through the next three years.

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Aquafornia news Nevada Business Magazine

Cash back for grass out

Time is quickly running out for businesses, HOAs and multifamily properties to get the most out of the cash incentives offered by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) for replacing thirsty non-functional grass with drought-friendly landscaping. The SNWA recently approved changes to the Water Smart Landscapes rebate program that will decrease cash incentives for non-functional grass conversion projects on non-single-family properties. Starting Jan. 1, 2025, the rebate for such projects will be reduced to $2 per square foot for the first 10,000 square feet of non-functional grass converted to drip-irrigated trees and plants, and $1 per square foot thereafter.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

America’s water-starved ‘salad bowl’ fights for its future

For a place where nature didn’t intend lettuce to grow, the southwest corner of Arizona has built a spectacular record as “America’s salad bowl.” Thanks to copious irrigation and decades of public investment, Yuma and the bordering Imperial Valley of California supply as much as 90 percent of the nation’s salad greens during the winter, making the area pivotal to the debate over the future of American agriculture in an era of oppressive weather made worse by the changing climate.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona Republicans want to weaken the state’s water laws

Groundwater in Arizona belongs to all of us. It is a public resource and sensible management of it is vital to our shared future.  But instead of fulfilling their obligation to protect this finite and diminishing water supply, Arizona’s Republican legislators have introduced dozens of bills at the statehouse aimed at enriching residential developers and corporate farmers who want to expand their groundwater use. Many of these bills are advancing and will end up on the governor’s desk. One intent of these bills is to weaken the state’s assured water supply requirement for development in urban areas. This crucial consumer protection prevents the sale of subdivision lots that lack a 100-year water supply, thereby assuring our desert state’s longevity.
-Written by Kathleen Ferris, a Phoenix water attorney and sits on the Governor’s Water Policy Council. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Amid above-average snowpack, Newsom urges focus on state water resilience and adaptation

With California snowpack and reservoirs at above-average levels following two wet winters, Gov. Gavin Newsom stood on a snowy field near Lake Tahoe on Tuesday and urged the state to do much more to make its water supplies resilient to the extreme droughts and flooding that come with climate change. … The governor presented a new water plan that lays out priorities for changing how the state captures, stores and moves water, including efforts to replenish groundwater, recycle wastewater and restore the natural ecosystems of watersheds. Newsom said his administration is focusing on infrastructure projects such as building the Sites Reservoir — the first new major reservoir in decades — and he vowed to move ahead with the proposed Delta Conveyance Project.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Meeting notes: Residents in Kern County desert groundwater basin need to represent their own water interests in ongoing court action

The basin depends on 7,650 acre feet of natural inflow each year but users pump out nearly 28,000 acre feet annually, creating a severe overdraft. As the Authority has worked to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to bring the basin into balance numerous legal actions have erupted. The Authority restricted pumping for most users. The U.S. Navy, which operates the China Lake Navale Weapons Base in the basin, got the lion’s share of pumping. While agricultural users, such as Mojave Pistachios, which started planting in the high desert around 2010, received zero pumping allocation.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Novato, county scrap with state over fecal pollution

Marin County and Novato are disputing a state water board’s contention that they are doing too little to prevent the discharge of fecal bacteria into the Petaluma River. The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Board notified both the county and Novato in January that they are out of compliance with a program that it adopted in 2019 to reduce the level of fecal bacteria in the river. Both jurisdictions, however, contend that they are not required to comply with the program because the scheme has not yet been incorporated into their municipal storm sewer system permits, which are issued by the State Water Resources Control Board. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Mirror

ADEQ set to take action on major mining projects in Arizona

As mining operations ramp up across Arizona, two massive projects facing opposition from environmental groups and Native American tribes have public comment deadlines in the coming weeks. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is accepting comments on the proposed Resolution Copper project near Superior through April 7 and for the Copper World project in the Santa Rita Mountains, about 30 miles south of Tucson, through April 10. … Oak Flat sits over one of the largest remaining copper deposits in the world. The mine would sink more than 7,000 feet into the ground, where temperatures reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It would require large quantities of water for cooling, dust control to remediation of mine waste.

Aquafornia news Northwest Sportsman Magazine

Feds complete status reviews of Oregon coast, NorCal Chinook populations

Federal salmon overseers say Oregon Coast Chinook face a low risk of extinction, according to a recently concluded deep dive into the health of runs stretching from the Necanicum in the north to the Elk and Sixes in the south. It’s not the final word on whether an Endangered Species Act listing is needed or not, but the 195-page status review does represent an assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northwest Science Center in response to a petition filed in 2022 to list the stock and will be a relief to fishermen and salmon managers. … However, the news wasn’t as good for Chinook in the Southern Oregon and Northern California ESU, which stretches from Bandon to the Klamath River. Even as the overall population is also at low risk of extinction, key components aren’t doing as well, raising the risk for the entire stock.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Strong water conservation standards are essential for low-income communities

California’s State Water Board is wrestling with what terms to set for water conservation regulation for urban areas. This regulation implements state policy designed to Make Conservation a California Way of Life. But the only way to make that vision equitable is to ensure the needs of low-income communities are taken into account. Unfortunately, the Water Board is considering making it too easy to slow-walk investments in conservation, not only in low-income communities, but also in wealthy places like Beverly Hills that use significantly more than their fair share. The proposed regulation currently under consideration means that 72% of Californians will not need to save a single additional drop until 2035.
-Written by Kyle Jones, Policy & Legal Director at the Community Water Center. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘We are the guinea pigs’: Arizona mining project sparks concerns for air and water

[Denise] Moreno Ramírez wasn’t surprised when she heard an Australian mining company, South32, planned to open a manganese, zinc, lead and silver operation in the same area where her family had worked. … But this latest proposed mine was alarming, she said, because Biden is fast-tracking it in the name of the energy transition – potentially compromising the mountain’s delicate ecosystems, many of which have begun to be restored as mines have shut down. … A growing network of Arizona residents say that allowing the mine to proceed as planned could introduce a grave new layer of environmental injustices. …Conservationists say they worry that South32 is seeking to use water irresponsibly amid long-term drought. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona AG investigating groundwater overpumping as ‘nuisance’

Attorney General Kris Mayes told La Paz County residents she’s considering a lawsuit to stop corporate farms from overpumping groundwater there and in Cochise County. Her investigators are seeking examples of harm such as dry wells, cracked foundations and dust on which to build a possible case using the state’s nuisance laws, she said Thursday. 

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

High concentration of ‘forever chemical’ found in Red Bluff residents’ water

Residents at Friendly Acres Mobile Home Park were given bottled water and warned about possible contamination in their well during a March meeting organized by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and California’s Division of Drinking Water. First reported by the Red Bluff Daily News, the concern stems from alarming levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Those man-made chemicals, called PFAS, are used to make a huge number of modern products like stain-resistant material, nonstick cookware, food packaging and waterproof clothing. They’ve also been linked to health impacts including cancer, liver and thyroid damage.

Aquafornia news KTLA - Los Angeles

Southern California water board member admits to stealing $30K in water

An elected member of a Ventura County water board has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of stealing water for his Oxnard farm. Daniel Naumann, 66, admitted to one count of grand theft of water, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said in a Friday news release. As part of his plea agreement, five other felony charges will be dropped, the Ventura County Star reports. Naumann, a Camarillo resident who is owner and operator of Naumann Family Farms, was an elected board member of the United Water Conservation District and an alternate board member of the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency. … Despite those roles, Naumann took nearly $30,000 in water between 2019 and 2021 using “diversion bypasses [that] were installed on two commercial water pumps that irrigated Naumann’s crops,” the release stated.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Opinion: Homeowners overwhelmed by flooding can turn to a public insurance adjuster

As a homeowner, you invest a great deal of time, money, love, imagination, and hard work into your house and property.  Of course, you hope nothing will go seriously wrong. Still, you purchase homeowner’s insurance to give you peace of mind and to ensure you’re financially protected if your home and belongings are damaged by unpredictable events such as fire, vandalism, theft, or storms. Today, climate change is causing increasingly erratic weather patterns. Natural disasters, including severe storms and wildfires, are becoming more frequent and devastating. In 2023, nine “atmospheric rivers” pummeled the western United States, dumping record amounts of rain and snow. According to the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, more than 32 trillion gallons of water drenched California, racking up $4.6 billion in damages.
-Written by John Petrov, a contractor and public insurance adjuster with over 25 years of experience in the construction industry.

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Aquafornia news CBS 8 - San Diego

Imperial Beach meeting on cross-border contamination

A special workshop on the binational sewage crisis was held Wednesday in Imperial Beach. The meeting featured a panel of experts from various government agencies and academic institutions. Dozens of concerned residents gathered at the special council workshop addressing the ongoing sewage crisis. They heard from the International Boundary and Water Commission shed light on cross-border sewage flows. … Scripps Institution of Oceanography offered valuable insights into the environmental impact of sewage contamination, while SDSU School of Public Health discussed risks associated with chemical and biological pollutants in water, air, and soil.

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Aquafornia news PIRG

Blog: We’re campaigning for microplastic free waters

Plastic fragments have been found at the top of the Alps, in the deepest parts of our oceans and likely, in your local waterways. Some of this microplastic is in the form of nurdles. You may not be familiar with them, but these lentil-sized plastics pose a huge threat to our waters and wildlife. Nurdles, also called plastic pellets, are the building blocks of plastic manufacturing. At plastic factories, pellets that fall on the floor or get contaminated with dirt are sometimes washed down drains. Because they’re small and lightweight, nurdles are often spilled during transport too. … Plastic pellets are extremely difficult to clean up once they reach our waterways, and often polluters are not held accountable.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Court ruling against bond financing for controversial delta tunnel won’t impede project, state says

A recent court ruling may have thrown a wrench in the state’s funding plans for the controversial and expensive Delta Conveyance Project – a tunnel to move Sacramento River water 45 miles beneath the ecologically sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In January, the Sacramento Superior Court denied the state Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) request to finance the project through bonds. Tunnel opponents hailed the ruling as a blow to the project. But state staff say the ruling will not impede funding. DWR has appealed the case and is still planning on using bonds to pay for the project if it comes to fruition.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kings County farmers suffer sticker shock over proposed fees even as state takeover looms

Kings County growers are organizing to stop a set of groundwater and land fees they say will wipe out small farmers, even as the drumbeat of a looming state takeover grows louder. Managers of the Mid-Kings River Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), which covers the northern tip of Kings County, have been holding a flurry of meetings asking farmers to approve the fees – a combination of $95-per-acre-foot of water pumped and $25-per-acre of land  – at its April 23 meeting. That is after April 16, when the state Water Resources Control Board will hold a hearing to decide whether to put all of Kings County, known as the Tulare Lake groundwater subbasin, into probation for failing to come up with an adequate plan to stop over pumping.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California has to conserve water. Why is Sacramento dragging its heels?

On the heels of two wet winters, it’s easy to forget how close some parts of California came to running out of water a few short years ago. But this climate amnesia will not help us prepare for the next inevitable drought. … the water board is about to trample the hard-won work that’s been done so far by allowing water utilities until 2035 or later to implement meaningful reductions. … Because the water board’s latest plan for implementing efficiency standards has such an extended timeline, water will inevitably become even more expensive, including for low-income households and communities. 
-Written by Robert Hertzberg, a former speaker of the Assembly and former majority leader of the state Senate; and Assembly member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), running to replace Adam Schiff in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Aquafornia news UC Davis

News release: Karrigan’ Börk’s award-winning water rights solution

Karrigan Börk, UC Davis professor of law and Associate Director at the Center for Watershed Sciences, has been awarded the prestigious $10,000 Morrison Prize for his paper on water rights. The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University recognizes Börk’s paper as “the most impactful sustainability-related legal academic paper published in North America” for 2023.  Börk’s winning paper, “Water Exaction Rights,” published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, proposes a solution to address current and future water crises in the US: an exactions framework. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Water pumped from Tulelake through historic D-Plant to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in four years

For the first time in four years, water is being pumped from Tulelake to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. The historic Pumping Plant D in Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) was constructed at the base of Sheepy Ridge in 1942. TID Manager Brad Kirby said the five massive pumps ran year-round for nearly 70 years. … In 2020, drought conditions and federal regulations rendered the plant inoperative. As of Monday morning, the D-Plant is up and running again, pumping water from the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge through Sheepy Ridge to the Lower Klamath refuge thanks to the efforts of TID, Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

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Aquafornia news Law 360

Fishering groups say tire companies’ can’t escape salmon ESA suit

Fishers are fighting tire companies’ attempt to dismiss an Endangered Species Act suit over the use of a rubber additive known as 6PPD, which harms salmon, telling a California federal judge the companies are trying to delay accountability…

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tiny, endangered fish hinders Colorado River water conservation plan

Southern California’s Imperial Irrigation District, which supplies water to farmers who grow most of the nation’s winter vegetables, planned to start a conservation program in April to scale back what it draws from the critical Colorado River. But a tiny, tough fish got in the way. Now, those plans won’t start until at least June so water and wildlife officials can devise a way to ensure the endangered desert pupfish and other species are protected, said Jamie Asbury, the irrigation district’s general manager. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Facing SGMA challenges, Kings County stares down water pumping fees

The Mid-Kings River Groundwater Sustainability Agency is looking to impose a pumping fee of nearly $100 per acre-foot.  Mid-Kings River GSA is comprised of the Kings County Water District, the City of Hanford and Kings County. The big picture: The GSA is proposing a pumping fee maximum of $95 per acre-foot. This comes after the State views that the region has not made enough progress through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The state wants agriculture and industrial water pumpers to cut back or pay to mitigate the impacts on other users. The state could move to put the subbasin in probation if it does not feel confident in local groundwater management, and could completely take over operations in 2025.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Calif. Division of Boating and Waterways offering grants for Quagga, Zebra Mussel infestation prevention programs

California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways is offering grant funding to prevent the further spread of quagga and zebra mussels into California’s waterways. Funded by the California Mussel Fee Sticker (also known as the Quagga Sticker), the Quagga and Zebra Mussel (QZ) Infestation Prevention Grant Program expects to award a total of up to $2 million across eligible applicants. Applications will be accepted from Monday, April 1 through Friday, May 10, 2024.All applications must be received by 5 p.m. on May 10, 2024. The QZ grants are available to entities that own or manage any aspect of water in a reservoir that is open for public recreation, is mussel-free, and do not have an existing two-year QZ Grant awarded in 2023.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Sun

Arizona panel OKs secrecy in negotiations to import water using taxpayer money

A Senate panel voted to shut the public out of the key business of the state agency tasked with finding new water for Arizona. HB 2014 authorizes the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority to enter into agreements to facilitate the construction of a project that would bring water from outside the state into Arizona. It also empowers the agency to negotiate deals with others to agree to purchase the water once it becomes available. But what HB 2014 also would do is exempt all communications and information gathered related to water augmentation from all provisions of the state’s Public Records Law. And the only time anyone could get information would be “on the consent of the authority.”

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How business and government might solve the freshwater crisis—together

Does the public sector need the private sector’s help to address the freshwater crisis? That’s the controversial thesis of Stanford law and environmental social sciences professor Barton “Buzz” Thompson’s provocatively titled new book: Liquid Asset: How Business and Government Can Partner to Solve the Freshwater Crisis. (Buzz is also a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center’s research network.) We sat down with him to hear more. … The private sector is already involved in water in many ways, some more controversial than others. … We think of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) as a public program, and it is. The legislature passed the law, and public agencies are implementing it. But if you look carefully, you’ll see private handprints all over SGMA’s success. 

Aquafornia news

A new look at Grand Canyon springs and possible threats from uranium mining

A new research paper published recently in Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, coordinated by scientists from The University of New Mexico and collaborating institutions, addresses the complex nature and societal importance of Grand Canyon’s springs and groundwater. The paper, “Hydrotectonics of Grand Canyon Groundwater,” recommends sustainable groundwater management and uranium mining threats that require better monitoring and application of hydrotectonic concepts. The data suggest an interconnectivity of the groundwater systems such that uranium mining and other contaminants pose risks to people, aquifers, and ecosystems. The conclusion based on multiple datasets is that groundwater systems involve significant mixing.

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Aquafornia news KGNU Community Radio

Tribes may finally get a seat at the table during Colorado River discussions

The Colorado River is relied upon by roughly 40 million people. That includes members of 30 federally-recognized tribes, as well as residents across seven states. Four of those are in the region known as the Upper Basin – that includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico – and the other three are in the Lower Basin – California, Arizona, and Nevada. In Colorado alone, half of Denver’s supply – as well as half of Colorado Springs’ supply – rely on the river. Tribal nations in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have been left out of key agreements involving the Colorado River for well over a century now. 

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County, Water Audit California clash on various issues

Water Audit California has voiced concerns about Napa County in recent months, appealing two Planning Commission decisions and calling new county plans for storing paper records a “black hole.” The environmental advocacy group appealed a Dec. 20 county Planning Commission decision approving a Nova Business Park project. But its bigger claim is that the county fails to do adequate due diligence, something the county denies.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Attend our Open House May 2; New Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River hot off the press; Register for Water 101 before it’s sold out

The Water Education Foundation’s 10th edition of the Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Basin is hot off the press and available for purchase. Attend our May 2 Open House; And sign up for our annual Water 101 Workshop before it’s sold out!

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces $5.5 million investment to improve the safety of two Western dams

Reclamation today announced a $5.5 million investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to repair the Willow Creek Dam in Montana and the B.F. Sisk Dam in California as part of the Investing in America agenda. Willow Creek Dam in Montana will use $2.1 million to fund temporary spillway improvements by installing rock in the spillway to reduce risk of spillway erosion until a permanent dam safety modification is completed. Construction will include purchase and placement of 9,100 cubic yards of rock. Reclamation will reserve another 900 cubic yards on site for flood fighting activities. Reclamation’s project stakeholder, Greenfields Irrigation District, will perform the work. B.F. Sisk Dam in California will use $3.4 million to modify the Phase 1 contract, to adapt to delays caused by high precipitation levels in 2023. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tribes seek equal status in Colorado River talks, compensation for any forced cuts

Two-thirds of the tribes with lands and water rights in the Colorado River Basin are calling for equal status in developing new river management guidelines and protection of their senior water rights against proposed cuts or caps on developing their water. Leaders from 20 tribes, including eight in Arizona, sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation March 11. In the letter, obtained by The Arizona Republic, the tribes outlined what they expect in new river management guidelines that will take effect when the current guidelines expire Dec. 31, 2026. The two tribes with Arizona’s largest river allocations — the Colorado River Indian Tribes, which holds senior rights to 720,000 acre-feet of water, mostly in Arizona, and the Gila River Indian Community, with 653,000 acre-feet of Colorado River and other waters — did not sign the letter.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: California doubles water allocation for most contractors following February storms

State officials on Friday doubled the amount of water California agencies will get this year following some strong storms that increased the snowpack in the mountains. The State Water Project is a major source for 27 million people. The majority of contractors who supply the water are located south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Previously, the Department of Water Resources had told them to expect 15% of their requests this year. The department increased that to 30% on Friday. The department said contractors north of the delta can expect 50% of their requests, while contractors in the Feather River Settlement can expect 100%.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After massive sewage spill, feds order fixes at L.A. water plant to improve resilience

Years after a massive spill at a Los Angeles water treatment facility dumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Pacific, officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have ordered several improvements at the plant to help prevent another such disaster, even when facing more intense storms from a changing climate. The administrative order of consent, issued this month, requires the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey to make significant fixes to its operations and infrastructure, including improving monitoring systems and overflow channels, after the federal agency’s review of the 2021 spill. The agreement, between the EPA and the Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment division, mandates the updates be implemented by the end of 2025, though some are required to be completed as soon as within 30 days, according to the order.

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Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Quechan appeal granted; Oro Cruz project goes down

In what has been a years-long fight to fend off efforts to mine sites and areas the Quechan Indian Tribe say are culturally significant, the tribe was victorious in preserving those sites this week with an unexpected win against Canada’s SMP Gold Corp. … The federally protected land, under the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, is culturally significant and important to the Quechan Indian Tribe and its members have been vehemently fighting the Oro Cruz mining project for years, with the support of other tribes, and numerous environmental and social justice groups and concerned residents behind them. … After the hearing, White elaborated further and told the Calexico Chronicle that the tribe is trying to dedicate the Cargo Muchacho Mountains area as the “Kw’tsán National Monument”

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Aquafornia news Colorado Times Reporter

Opinion: Colorado battles another ‘terrible’ SCOTUS decision with wetlands protection bill

Outrage over the Trump-packed U.S. Supreme Court rolling back federal reproductive rights has in some ways overshadowed the now 6-3 conservative majority’s relentless assault on environmental regulations that for decades protected Colorado’s clean air and water. … Now Colorado lawmakers are trying to step into that regulatory void with Wednesday’s filing of the Regulate Dredge and Fill Activities in State Waters bill (HB24-1379). If passed, it would require a rulemaking process by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s Water Quality and Control Division to permit dredge and fill activities on both public and private land.
-Written by contributor David O. Williams.

Aquafornia news NBC5 - Medford

Klamath Irrigation Districts prepare to move water over concerns

Klamath Project irrigation districts are preparing to move water as concerns grow about potential flood releases on Upper Klamath Lake in the coming weeks. The Klamath Water Users Association says its members have been concerned over water management in Upper Klamath Lake. The Klamath irrigation district says given the possibility of flood conditions in the coming weeks, it could pose a risk for everyone along the Klamath River, including those working on dam removals. Irrigation District Executive Director Gene Souza says their request to discuss these concerns with the Bureau of Reclamation has gone unanswered.

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

How last winter’s storms helped Sacramento’s groundwater storage

Last winter’s big rain and snow brought immediate benefits to California’s water supply and data now shows that there are long-term benefits, too. According to data gathered by Sacramento’s Regional Water Authority, a surplus of surface water following the 2022-2023 winter allowed water managers to use 17% less groundwater compared to 2022. Historically, groundwater throughout California’s Central Valley had been severely overdrawn. Over the past 20 years, policy changes and more nuanced water management have helped groundwater levels recover.

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Aquafornia news Wine Business

Are wineries complying with California’s new winery wastewater order? The answer: Yes and No

California wineries appear to be complying with the Water Board’s statewide Winery General Order’s winery wastewater requirements, but the pace is slow, state statistics reveal. And many are not in the compliance reporting pipeline at all, data shows. (An overview page is provided here.) The order was passed, the water boards said, for two major reasons. One was because, “Winemakers requested the order to address the statewide inconsistencies in permitting.” This request was from large wineries that operate numerous facilities throughout the state. (Smaller wineries opposed this in the public hearings.) … As of Feb. 20, 2024, 201 wineries had begun the process of filing, leaving a gap of 1,449 wineries (the difference between 1,650 and 201, based on the initial estimates). 

Aquafornia news AP News

Chevron agrees to pay more than $13 million in fines for California oil spills

Chevron has agreed to pay more than $13 million in fines for dozens of past oil spills in California. The California-based energy giant agreed to pay a $5.6 million fine associated with a 2019 oil spill in Kern County. The company has already paid to clean up that spill. This money will instead go toward the state Department of Conservation’s work of plugging old and orphaned wells. The department said it was the largest fine ever assessed in its history. … The 2019 oil spill dumped at least 800,000 gallons (3 million litres) of oil and water into a canyon in Kern County, the home of the state’s oil industry. Also, Chevron agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine for more than 70 smaller spills between 2018 and 2023. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Court upholds California rules to protect fish, but Newsom wants lenient Delta approach

A Sacramento judge upheld a decision by California’s water regulator to cut back agricultural and municipal water use from the San Joaquin River. The decision could lend support for future regulations in the rest of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta system. It comes amid declining fish populations and increasing pressure on water supply due to climate change. But rather than move forward with strict regulations, the state agency is considering a plan pushed by Gov. Gavin Newsom that would grant water districts more flexibility.

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Cleaning up California’s oil graveyards

Thousands of leaking, idle oil wells are scattered across California, creating toxic graveyards symbolic of a dying industry.  To tackle this “urgent climate and public health crisis,” Santa Barbara Assemblymember Gregg Hart introduced Assembly Bill 1866 last week. The bill would mandate oil operators to develop plans to plug the 40,000 idle wells (and counting) in the state within a decade, prioritizing those within 3,200 feet of vulnerable communities. … Ann Alexander, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, calls the system “very badly broken.” Companies “just sit indefinitely on their defunct wells” as they leak methane gas, pollute the air, and contaminate groundwater. … Last fall, the county announced its plan to spend $3.7 million to repair an “unpluggable” well at Toro Canyon Creek. Drilled in the 19th century, this idle well has leaked thousands of gallons of crude oil since the 1990s, contaminating waterways and killing wildlife as a result. 

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Butte environmentalists speak out about delayed water regulations

The California water conservation crisis continues as lawmakers may delay rules that could significantly help improve California water. Environmentalists are expressing concerns after regulators proposed delaying the timeline of implementing lawn water regulations by five years until 2040. KRCR spoke with Butte Environmental Council Member, Patrizia Hironimus, who said despite the delay of California rules, they are still aiming to educate the community on how to cut down on their lawn water use. While also collecting local data to give to the state to help them understand the water crisis even just in Butte County.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Court upholds state plan to require more water in California rivers

A court has upheld a key decision by California’s water board calling for reductions in water diversions from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries to help revive struggling fish populations. In his ruling, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto rejected lawsuits by water districts serving farms and cities that would be required to take less water under the standards adopted by regulators. The judge also rejected challenges by environmental groups that had argued for requiring larger cutbacks to boost river flows. The judge’s ruling, issued in a 162-page order last week, supports the State Water Resources Control Board’s 2018 adoption of a water quality plan for the lower San Joaquin River and its three major tributaries — the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus rivers.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: State Water Board reduces pumping fees by half but some say it’s still too high

Members of the state Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously on Tuesday, March 19, to reduce pumping fees for groundwater users in subbasins that come under state control, known as “probationary status.” The controversial fee was lowered from $40 per-acre-foot of pumped water to $20 per acre foot. The board will hold its first probationary hearing on the Tulare Lake subbasin, which covers Kings County, on April 16. … Groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) for Tulare Lake and five other San Joaquin Valley subbasins were rejected twice by the state as inadequate, which is why they are now coming before the Water Board to determine if they should be put into probationary status.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Meeting notes: Kern water districts look at joining forces to fix domestic wells and study sinking along the Friant-Kern Canal

The Kern subbasin, composed of 22 water entities across the valley portion of Kern County, is working on a groundwater sustainability plan its members hope will be accepted by the State Water Resources Control Board after the subbasin’s initial plan was deemed inadequate. Currently the subbasin has two main objectives. One is partnering with Self-Help Enterprises to assist with the administration of a program to fix domestic wells harmed by over pumping. The other is gathering support among the 22 entities to participate in the Friant-Kern Canal subsidence study. Proposed partnership: Under the proposal, Self-Help  would assist with subbasin’s well issues in several ways.

Aquafornia news E&E News

The Supreme Court slashed wetland protections. California is trying to fill the gap

California officials are trying to boost state wetlands protections in order to guard against a 2023 Supreme Court decision that slashed federal oversight of wetlands. Assemblymember Laura Friedman’s A.B. 2875 would declare it the state’s policy to ensure long-term gain and no net loss of California’s wetlands. And Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is proposing to add 38 new positions to enforce the state’s existing wetlands protection laws and scrutinize development permits. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California policy protecting major rivers upheld in long-awaited court decision

A state policy that seeks to protect California’s major rivers and creeks by cracking down on how much water is pumped out by cities and farms can move forward despite widespread opposition, the Superior Court has ruled. The long-awaited decision on what’s known as the Bay-Delta Plan denies 116 claims in a dozen separate lawsuits that seek to undo a 2018 update to the policy, most of which are from water agencies saying the limits on their water draws go too far. The 160-page verdict, released Friday by Sacramento County Judge Stephen Acquisto, specifically notes that arguments made by San Francisco against the regulation fell short. 

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Aquafornia news The Almanac and Bay City News

The fight to rid the bay of red algae may cost $11B

Ten years. That’s how much time the Bay Area’s 37 wastewater treatment plants will have to reduce fertilizer and sewage in their water by 40%. The estimated price tag for the facility upgrades is $11 billion. The San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board plans to adopt the change as part of its new discharge permit requirement beginning June 12. Previous permits did not require reductions …The regulatory change follows a damaging algae bloom in 2022 and 2023. A brown algae species called Heterosigma akashiwo, which feeds off the nitrogen in wastewater, infected the Bay and damaged aquatic ecosystems.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Why the US has the second-highest weather damages in the world

The United States suffers the world’s second-highest toll from major weather disasters, according to a new analysis — even when numbers are adjusted for the country’s wealth. The report released late last month by Zurich-based reinsurance giant Swiss Re, which analyzed the vulnerability and damages of 36 different countries, suggests that weather disasters may become a heavy drag on the U.S. economy — especially as insurers increasingly pull out of hazardous areas. Those disasters are driving up insurance rates, compounding inflation and adding to Americans’ high cost of living. … Some insurers have stopped offering home insurance policies in California, which has seen numerous large wildfires in the past few years. 

Aquafornia news AP News

Monday Top of the Scroll: California proposes delaying rules aimed at reducing water on lawns, concerning environmentalists

California regulators this week proposed delaying new rules aimed at reducing how much water people use on their lawns, drawing praise from agencies that said they needed more time to comply but criticism from environmentalists who warn that the delay would damage the state’s already scarce supply. Last year, California proposed new rules that would, cumulatively, reduce statewide water use by about 14%. Those rules included lowering outdoor water use standards below the current statewide average by 2035. On Tuesday, regulators proposed delaying that timeline by five years, until 2040. The State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to vote on the rules later this year. The state would not punish people for using too much water on their lawns. 

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Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Federal Council announces salmon fishing alternatives

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is considering three options for the ocean salmon season, set to begin May 16. The federal council that manages water from California, Oregon and Washington state came up with two options that would entail a short salmon season, and it’ll come with small harvest limits for both commercial and sport fishing. The last option includes closing off the ocean fisheries for the second consecutive year. Last year, commercial and recreation salmon fleets in California were left anchored following the PFMC’s decision to cancel the 2023 fishing season due to years of drought, low river level and dry conditions affecting the Chinook salmon populations in the Klamath and Sacramento rivers.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

California is digitizing its century-old paper water rights records

In a Sacramento office building, university students carefully scan pieces of paper that underpin California’s most contentious and valuable water disputes. One by one, they’re bringing pieces of history into the digital era, some a century old and thin as onion skin. The student workers are beginning to digitize the state’s water rights records, part of a project launched by the state’s water regulator earlier this year. It may seem simple, but scanning two million musty pages is part of a $60 million project that could take years. The massive undertaking will unmask the notoriously opaque world of California water. Right now, it’s practically impossible to know who has the right to use water, how much they’re taking and from what river or stream at any given time in the state.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Court upholds State Water Board’s revised flow objectives for the San Joaquin River

The Sacramento Superior Court has ruled in favor of the State Water Board’s 2018 Bay Delta Plan update, denying all 116 claims by petitioners. In December 2018, the State Water Resources Control Plan adopted revised flow objectives for the San Joaquin River and its three major tributaries, the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers. The new flow objectives provide for increased flows on the three tributaries to help revive and protect native fall-run migratory fish populations. The Board also adopted a revised south Delta salinity objectives, increasing the level of salinity allowed from April to August. Several petitions were filed in several counties challenging the Board’s action.  

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mystery surrounds sudden increase in steelhead trout deaths

California environmental groups are urging a federal court to intervene amid a “dramatic increase” in the deaths of threatened steelhead trout at pumps operated by state and federal water managers. Since Dec. 1, more than 4,000 wild and hatchery-raised steelhead have been killed at pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, according to public data for the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. The agencies are now at about 90% of their combined seasonal take limit, which refers to the amount of wild steelhead permitted to be killed between January and March under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. A coalition of environmental and fishing groups — including the Golden State Salmon Assn., the Bay Institute and Defenders of Wildlife — are involved in ongoing litigation that seeks to challenge current federal operating plans in the delta, an estuary at the heart of the state’s water supply. 

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado River states remain divided on sharing water, and some tribes say their needs are still being ignored

The states that use the Colorado River have put out their latest proposals on how to manage the river’s shrinking amount of water, and the two plans reveal that there are still big differences in how upstream and downstream states want to divvy up future cuts to their water consumption. While state water negotiators say they’re committed to figuring out how they can compromise in the age of climate change when there is less water available to the 40 million people who rely on it, the Southern Ute tribal government in southwestern Colorado doesn’t believe either proposal addresses their concerns or helps them secure their water future.

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Aquafornia news AP News

Interior Department will give tribal nations $120 million to fight climate-related threats

The Biden administration will be allocating more than $120 million to tribal governments to fight the impacts of climate change, the Department of the Interior announced Thursday. The funding is designed to help tribal nations adapt to climate threats, including relocating infrastructure. Indigenous peoples in the U.S. are among the communities most affected by severe climate-related environmental threats, which have already negatively impacted water resources, ecosystems and traditional food sources in Native communities in every corner of the U.S. “As these communities face the increasing threat of rising seas, coastal erosion, storm surges, raging wildfires and devastation from other extreme weather events, our focus must be on bolstering climate resilience …” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, said in a Wednesday press briefing.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State board to vote on reducing extraction fees for probationary basins

On the eve of its first subbasin probationary hearing, the state Water Resources Control Board announced it will vote on whether to reduce a controversial groundwater extraction fee.  The board will vote at its March 19 meeting on whether to cut the fee from $40 to $20-per-acre-foot for well owners in a subbasin placed on probation.  It will hold its first probationary hearing on the Tulare Lake subbasin, which covers Kings County, on April 16. Then the Tule subbasin, in the southern half of the valley portion of Tulare County, will come up for hearing Sept. 17. The extraction fee would only be charged if the Water Board had to step in and administer a subbasin in cases where it finds local groundwater agencies aren’t up to the job.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Sacramento catches a break on water conservation in new rules

Sacramento and cities across California caught a break from the state’s water regulator this week after the agency faced criticism that its water conservation rules were too complicated and costly to meet. Regulators at the State Water Resources Control Board proposed new conservation rules Tuesday that would ease water savings requirements for urban water suppliers and will ultimately lead to less long-term water savings than initially planned. Under the new rules, the city of Sacramento would have to cut its overall water use by 9% by 2035 and 14% by 2040, far less than an initial proposal that would have required it to cut back water use by 13% by 2030 and 18% by 2035.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

LA Superior Court rules on Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin boundaries

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge confirmed that the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin is one connected basin—not separate subbasins—allowing for the groundwater adjudication to move forward following a year and a half of delays and litigation. … The Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin is one of California’s 21 critically overdrafted basins that was required under the 2014 California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to create a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) and corresponding groundwater sustainability plan.

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Aquafornia news Harvard Law School

Blog: Supreme Court tackles water rights in the West in Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado

Can Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado agree to a new apportionment of the Rio Grande’s waters without the U.S. government’s approval? The Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear a case next week that may affect access to water for millions of Americans — and set a precedent that could impact millions more, as increased usage and climate change further strain supply of the precious resource. On March 20, the Court will consider Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado, a tangled case involving water rights to the Rio Grande, a 1,896-mile river that begins at the base of the San Juan Mountains and runs into the Gulf of Mexico. The case, which has been in litigation for more than a decade, centers around a 1939 compact between the three states over how to apportion the river’s waters.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo

Gila River Indian Community says it doesn’t support latest Colorado River sharing proposals

The Gila River Indian Community says it does not support a three-state proposal for managing the Colorado River’s shrinking supply in the future. The community, which is located in Arizona, is instead working with the federal government to develop its own proposal for water sharing. The tribe is among the most prominent of the 30 federally-recognized tribes that use the Colorado River. In recent years, it has signed high-profile deals with the federal government to receive big payments in exchange for water conservation. Those deals were celebrated by Arizona’s top water officials. But now, it is diverging from states in the river’s Lower Basin — Arizona, California and Nevada. Stephen Roe Lewis, The Gila River Indian Community’s Governor, announced his tribe’s disapproval of the Lower Basin proposal at a water conference in Tucson, Ariz., while speaking to a room of policy experts and water scientists.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

After destructive floods, EU sues Greece for failing to revise risk plans

The European Commission said on Wednesday it was taking Greece to the EU’s top court for failing to revise its flood risk management plans, a key tool for EU countries to prepare themselves against floods. The action comes five months after the worst rains in Greece flooded its fertile Thessaly plain, devastating crops and livestock and raising questions about the Mediterranean country’s ability to deal with an increasingly erratic climate. Under EU rules, countries need to update once in six years their flood management plans, a set of measures aimed to help them mitigate the risks of floods on human lives, the environment and economic activities. Greece was formally notified by the Commission last year that it should finalise its management plans but the country has so far failed to review, adopt or report its flood risk management plans, the Commission said in a statement.

Aquafornia news The Vacaville Reporter

State recommends huge cut to Solano water allocation

A new recommendation from the California State Water Quality Control Board in its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan (Bay-Delta Plan) for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary could see Solano County forced to adapt to a fraction of the water it is currently allocated from Lake Berryessa. The implications for Solano County cities could be enormous, leaving Solano County with about 25 percent of its current allocation. Spanning hundreds of miles from north of Lake Shasta to Fresno, the tributaries of the Sacramento and Sac Joaquin rivers that feed into the San Francisco Bay reach well into the Sierra Nevadas and Central Valley. The State Water Quality Control Board has noted that diminished river flows in these areas are harming fish habitats and are detrimental to the water system as a whole ecologically.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Summit tackles water challenges facing California

Below-average precipitation and snowpack during 2020-22 and depleted surface and groundwater supplies pushed California into a drought emergency that brought curtailment orders and calls for modernizing water rights. At the Water Education Foundation annual water summit last week in Sacramento, Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director of the California State Water Resources Control Board, discussed what he described as the state’s “antiquated” water rights system. He spoke before some 150 water managers, government officials, farmers, environmentalists and others as part of the event where interests come together to collaborate on some of the state’s most challenging water issues.

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Tour Nick Gray

Headwaters Tour 2024
Field Trip - July 24-25

Click here to register!

On average, more than half of California’s developed water supply originates in the Sierra Nevada and the southern spur of the Cascade Range. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. 

Join us as we head into the Sierra to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

Headwaters Tour 2023
Field Trip - June 21-22 (optional whitewater rafting June 20)

On average, more than 60 percent of California’s developed water supply originates in the Sierra Nevada and the southern spur of the Cascade Range. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality. 

This tour ventured into the Sierra to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

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

The Resource

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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


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

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

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

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

Dear Western Water readers:

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

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

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

Western Water Klamath River Watershed Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

California Leans Heavily on its Groundwater, But Will a Court Decision Tip the Scales Against More Pumping?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pumping near the Scott River in Siskiyou County sparks appellate court ruling extending public trust doctrine to groundwater connected to rivers

Scott River, in Siskiyou County. In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling extended the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that feed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves were not. The ruling marked a dramatic shift in water law and forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from those creeks in the Eastern Sierra to preserve the lake.

Now, a state appellate court has for the first time extended that same public trust doctrine to groundwater that feeds a navigable river, in this case the Scott River flowing through a picturesque valley of farms and alfalfa in Siskiyou County in the northern reaches of California.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Headwaters Tour 2018

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

Headwaters tour participants on a hike in the Sierra Nevada.

We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state. 

GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
Western Water Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Novel Effort to Aid Groundwater on California’s Central Coast Could Help Other Depleted Basins
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Michael Kiparsky, director of UC Berkeley's Wheeler Water Institute, explains Pajaro Valley groundwater recharge pilot project

Michael KiparskySpurred by drought and a major policy shift, groundwater management has assumed an unprecedented mantle of importance in California. Local agencies in the hardest-hit areas of groundwater depletion are drawing plans to halt overdraft and bring stressed aquifers to the road of recovery.

Along the way, an army of experts has been enlisted to help characterize the extent of the problem and how the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is implemented in a manner that reflects its original intent.

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

Amid ‘Green Rush’ of Legal Cannabis, California Strives to Control Adverse Effects on Water
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: State crafts water right and new rules unique to marijuana farms, but will growers accustomed to the shadows comply?

A marijuana plant from a growing operationFor decades, cannabis has been grown in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in suburban tract homes.

In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.

Western Water Jenn Bowles Jennifer Bowles

EDITOR’S NOTE: Assessing California’s Response to Marijuana’s Impacts on Water

Jennifer BowlesAs we continue forging ahead in 2018 with our online version of Western Water after 40 years as a print magazine, we turned our attention to a topic that also got its start this year: recreational marijuana as a legal use.

State regulators, in the last few years, already had been beefing up their workforce to tackle the glut in marijuana crops and combat their impacts to water quality and supply for people, fish and farming downstream. Thus, even if these impacts were perhaps unbeknownst to the majority of Californians who approved Proposition 64 in 2016, we thought it important to see if anything new had evolved from a water perspective now that marijuana was legal.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

One Year In, A New State Policymaker Assesses the Salton Sea, Federal Relations and California’s Thorny Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: State Water Board member Joaquin Esquivel

State Water Resources Control Board member E. Joaquin EsquivelJoaquin Esquivel learned that life is what happens when you make plans. Esquivel, who holds the public member slot at the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento, had just closed purchase on a house in Washington D.C. with his partner when he was tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown a year ago to fill the Board vacancy.

Esquivel, 35, had spent a decade in Washington, first in several capacities with then Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and then as assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. As a member of the State Water Board, he shares with four other members the difficult task of ensuring balance to all the uses of California’s water. 

Headwaters Tour 2019
Field Trip - June 27-28

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


San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

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

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

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

Water Conservation

Drought-tolerant landscaping reduces the amount of water used on traditional lawns

Water conservation has become a way of life throughout the West with a growing recognition that water supply is not unlimited.

Drought is the most common motivator of increased water conservation. However, the gradual drying of the West due to climate change means the amount of fresh water available for drinking, irrigation, industry and other uses must be used as efficiently as possible.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater

Wastewater Treatment Process in California

Wastewater management in California centers on the collection, conveyance, treatment, reuse and disposal of wastewater. This process is conducted largely by public agencies, though there are also private systems in places where a publicly owned treatment plant is not feasible.

In California, wastewater treatment takes place through 100,000 miles of sanitary sewer lines and at more than 900 wastewater treatment plants that manage the roughly 4 billion gallons of wastewater generated in the state each day.

Aquapedia background Colorado River Basin Map

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 237 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

Aquapedia background

Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act sets standards for drinking water quality in the United States.

Launched in 1974 and administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Safe Drinking Water Act oversees states, communities, and water suppliers who implement the drinking water standards at the local level.

The act’s regulations apply to every public water system in the United States but do not include private wells serving less than 25 people.

According to the EPA, there are more than 160,000 public water systems in the United States.


Folsom Dam on the American River east of Sacramento

Dams have allowed Californians and others across the West to harness and control water dating back to pre-European settlement days when Native Americans had erected simple dams for catching salmon.

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Magazine

Water Policy 2007: The View from Washington and Sacramento
March/April 2007

This issue of Western Water looks at the political landscape in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento as it relates to water issues in 2007. Several issues are under consideration, including the means to deal with impending climate change, the fate of the San Joaquin River, the prospects for new surface storage in California and the Delta.

Western Water Magazine

Thirty Years of the Clean Water Act:
November/December 2002

2002 marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most significant environmental laws in American history, the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA has had remarkable success, reversing years of neglect and outright abuse of the nation’s waters. But challenges remain as attention turns to the thorny issue of cleaning up nonpoint sources of pollution.

Western Water Magazine

Pervasive and Persistent: Constituents of Growing Concern
January/February 2011

This printed issue of Western Water, based on presentations at the November 3-4, 2010 Water Quality Conference in Ontario, Calif., looks at constituents of emerging concerns (CECs) – what is known, what is yet to be determined and the potential regulatory impacts on drinking water quality.

Western Water Magazine

Mimicking the Natural Landscape: Low Impact Development and Stormwater Capture
September/October 2011

This printed issue of Western Water discusses low impact development and stormwater capture – two areas of emerging interest that are viewed as important components of California’s future water supply and management scenario.

Western Water Magazine

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they might be provided.

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Western Water Magazine

A Call to Action? The Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study
November/December 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study and what its finding might mean for the future of the lifeblood of the Southwest.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Meeting the Co-equal Goals? The Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May/June 2013

This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.

Western Water Magazine

Two States, One Lake: Keeping Lake Tahoe Blue
September/October 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses some of the issues associated with the effort to preserve and restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

Western Water Magazine

Overdrawn at the Bank: Managing California’s Groundwater
January/February 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by local, regional and state management. For more background information on groundwater please refer to the Founda­tion’s Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.


The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (20 min. DVD)

20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues related to complex water management disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances Fisher.


The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (60 min. DVD)

For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.


Layperson’s Guide to the Klamath River Basin
Published 2023

The Water Education Foundation’s second edition of the Layperson’s Guide to The Klamath River Basin is hot off the press and available for purchase.

Updated and redesigned, the easy-to-read overview covers the history of the region’s tribal, agricultural and environmental relationships with one of the West’s largest rivers — and a vast watershed that hosts one of the nation’s oldest and largest reclamation projects.


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.


Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2020

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.


Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.


Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters

Invasive Species Poster Set

One copy of the Space Invaders and one copy of the Unwelcome Visitors poster for a special price.

Maps & Posters

Unwelcome Visitors

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive animals can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native animals. “Unwelcome Visitors” features photos and information on four such species – including the zerbra mussel – and explains the environmental and economic threats posed by these species.

Maps & Posters

Space Invaders

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive plants can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native plants and animals. “Space Invaders” features photos and information on six non-native plants that have caused widespread problems in the Bay-Delta Estuary and elsewhere.