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 KJZZ - Tempe

Arizona Corporation Commission to consider long-term Rio Verde water fix

The Arizona Corporation Commission will consider green lighting a long-term solution Wednesday for residents of the unincorporated Rio Verde Foothills community who lost access to their water supply earlier this year. After the city of Scottsdale cut Rio Verde residents off from a city-owned standpipe in January, state legislators passed a law that temporarily restored water through an agreement that ends in 2025.  At the same time, private utility EPCOR has been in discussions to provide long term water service to the area, but the utility first needs approval from the Corporation Commission.

Aquafornia news KFF Health News

Blog: ‘Forever chemicals’ in thousands of private wells near military sites, study finds

Water tests show nearly 3,000 private wells located near 63 active and former U.S. military bases are contaminated with “forever chemicals” at levels higher than what federal regulators consider safe for drinking. … According to the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that analyzed Department of Defense testing data, 2,805 wells spread across 29 states were contaminated with at least one of two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, above 4 parts per trillion, a limit proposed earlier this year by the Environmental Protection Agency. That new drinking water standard is expected to take effect by the end of the year.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Merced agencies sought state approval to clear stream beds for more than five years before last winter’s floods. Now they’re suing.

A string of emails appears to show that one state agency stood in the way of stream channel maintenance for more than five years, which may have led to flooding that caused severe damage in Merced County, according to a recent lawsuit.  The emails begin in 2018 and go back and forth for years between several Merced agencies  – seeking a permit agreement to clear stream beds of the Black Rascal, Bear and Miles creeks – and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW.)  The emails show repeated warnings by CDFW that maintenance work could not be done without a permit agreement. Then, after 2023 floods destroyed homes, businesses and farmland, at least one email suggests staffers at CDFW sought to shift blame for the delayed channel work onto local agencies.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A better way to promote urban water conservation

Reducing per capita water use in cities and suburbs is key for helping communities get through droughts. And together with strategies to improve water supplies, it can also help build long-term water resilience in the face of our changing climate. In recent decades, Californians have been making great strides in long-term water conservation, and this latest drought showed once again that communities will go the extra mile to save water during droughts if needed. But while it’s often assumed that water conservation is inexpensive, it actually can be very costly. In response to 2018 legislation, the State Water Board is now considering new urban water use regulations whose statewide costs would far exceed their benefits. What’s more, these costs would significantly impact affordability, hitting inland, lower-income communities hardest.

Aquafornia news The Daily Wildcat

Study seeks to explore future of water sustainability for Yuma farming

It may be hard to be-leaf, but during the winter months, 90% of vegetables come from fields in Yuma, Arizona. With 230,000 acres of land used for agriculture, Yuma county ranks third in the nation for vegetable production, according to Visit Yuma. But with drought conditions and water shortages in the West, agriculture is at risk. To help address these issues, researchers in Arizona evaluated water efficiency and salt balances for 14 common crop varieties in the Winter Lettuce capital, coordinated by the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture. The study took place over seven years and the results were published in a paper in November 2023.

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Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

SCV Water to discuss lawsuit over contaminants 

The governing board of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency is meeting in closed session Friday to discuss a 36-page complaint against manufacturing giant 3M and more than a dozen other businesses in October 2020, accusing them of poisoning the state’s water supply with their products.  The lawsuit claims that from the 1960s through the present, the company has manufactured and distributed “fluorosurfactant products” — known to the average consumer as chemicals that create Teflon coating, “Scotchgard,” stainproofing compounds, waxy surfaces and aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”), a firefighting agent used to control and extinguish Class B fuel fires.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun News

Nevada’s strategy to conserve water may be used by Utah nonprofit to save the Great Salt Lake

A Utah nonprofit group is proposing legal protections and water conservation measures like Nevada’s to save the rapidly drying Great Salt Lake. The United States Geological Survey considers a water level of 4,198 feet the “minimum healthy level” for the lake, but it’s mostly been lower than that since 2000. Today, the lake sits at 4,192 feet, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. It has lost 73% of its water and 60% of its surface area since 1850, according to a 2023 Brigham Young University report.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Author interview: Climate adaptation is backfiring

So flash forward to the last section of the book, is all about Arizona, where I grew up. And there the issue, obviously, is not too much water, there’s too little water.  I talk about the Central Arizona Project, which is a canal that brings Colorado River water hundreds of miles across the desert into Phoenix and Tucson. Most of the book focuses on the farmers there who because they’re the ones who are feeling the impacts of the water shortages in the Colorado River. They’re finding themselves–some of these cases, some of my sources and characters in the book, are people who are being cut off from their water supplies. One of them’s a young farmer, he’s in his 30s, he just had his first kid, he’s a fifth-generation grower, and he’s now realizing that he doesn’t, he’s not going to have any water, at least not the way he thought he was going to.

Aquafornia news Aspen Public Radio

At water summit, Indigenous youth speak up about the climate future they want

It was the last session at a recent One Water Summit in Tucson, Arizona, and some of the Indigenous youth speakers about to present were not sure if anyone would show up. The three-day One Water Summit, which takes place annually in different U.S. cities, brought together top leaders from the Environmental Protection Agency, key Colorado River stakeholders, and others discussing recent political actions and highly-debated solutions to water issues like drought, flooding and clean water. Would those important figures be interested in hearing from youth? It turns out, yes. After youth speakers presented during a session focused on Indigenous-based water solutions, several attendees in the room were in tears. The young panelists’ words were that powerful.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Blog: Water authority freezes up again on providing records

[The San Diego County Water Authority, the region’s water supplier] dropped a 360-page lawsuit on San Diego’s boundary referees – the Local Agency Formation Commission or LAFCO – just weeks after it said Fallbrook Public Utilities District and Rainbow Municipal Water District could ditch the Water Authority. But the Water Authority won’t tell me how much it spent suing everybody. … David Edwards, the Water Authority’s general counsel, said in an email that the Water Authority has the information I requested — the total cost per hour and hours spent on the litigation, a copy of the contract with Meyers Nave, and what part of the agency’s budget from whence this expense came – but those records are “exempt from production.” 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

As Water Board investigates two Carmel Valley sewage spills, Cal Am explains what went wrong.

In the immediate aftermath of a sewage spill at Carmel Valley Ranch on Aug. 6 and then another on Aug. 16, California American Water officials were out on the scene right away, seeking to contain the overflow. Paperwork moves much slower. Months later, in response to a notice of violation issued on Oct. 26 by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Cal Am has filed a technical report explaining what the utility believes happened. … According to the water board’s findings, “Due to the proximity of the storm drain to the manhole and the County [Environmental Health Bureau of the Monterey County Health Department]’s observation that sandbags were not effective in stopping the overflow from entering the storm drain, Central Coast Water Board staff assume that up to 1,200 gallons of sewage discharged to the storm drain.”

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

SoCal’s water wars threatened to tear San Diego apart

Two of the San Diego County Water Authority’s smallest customers — avocado and citrus farming communities in North County tired of paying ever-rising water rates to urbanize San Diego — were prepared to leave quietly in search of cheaper water elsewhere.  These water divorce proceedings began back in 2020. But at the 11th hour, the Water Authority started pulling out all the stops to keep them in line, and all hell broke loose. The Water Authority leaned on powerful friends at the State Capitol and former enemies in Los Angeles, where the biggest water supplier in the world lives: the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.   The Water Authority also turned to the courts, dropping a 360-page lawsuit against its defectors, Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utilities District, and a little-known organization that gave them permission to leave: the Local Agency Formation Commission or LAFCO.  

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

River district funds helped in tapping federal money for water projects

Four recently announced federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grants for water projects in the region all included one notable common denominator — they all got help in their application process through a special Colorado River District program made possible by a voter-approved tax measure in 2020. On Nov. 15 the Department of Interior announced $51 million in funding via the Bureau of Reclamation for 30 new environmental water resource projects in 11 states. The projects focus on water conservation, water management and restoration efforts that will result in significant benefits to ecosystem or watershed health, the Interior Department says. Interior Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Brain visited Grand Junction at the time of the funding announcement to highlight recipients of funding in Colorado.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

New Colorado River model lets everyone test drought solutions

Everyone from policymakers to armchair warriors has a theory on the best way to solve the Colorado River crisis. Soon they’ll have a chance to test out their ideas. The Colorado River’s flow is dropping — it’s about 18% lower in the 21st century than it was in the 20th century — and that’s a big deal to the 40 million people who depend on it for water across the West. But solving the crisis gets complicated, quickly. That’s where a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, think they can help. They’ve developed a new way of looking at water-saving efforts across the enormous basin, and they’re turning it into an interactive map and dashboard that everyone can use.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Restoring the Klamath River: Dam removal is just the 1st step

… A series of hydroelectric dams had altered the Klamath’s flow more than a century ago, creating an unnatural system that left fish and people high and dry. … But the 6,500-member Yurok Tribe and its neighbors in the Klamath River Basin still had cause to celebrate: They had won a 20-year-long struggle to demolish four decommissioned hydroelectric dams in the middle basin. That massive project, the largest in U.S. history, is ongoing and expected to be completed sometime in early 2025.

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Aquafornia news Nature

New study: City-based scientists get creative to tackle rural-research needs

In 2022, Ashok Gadgil conducted the first field trial of a water-treatment system for the 600 or so residents of Allensworth, California, who have been battling arsenic contamination for some time. The system is a more efficient iteration of technology that Gadgil and his team installed in India in 2016 to provide rural and marginalized communities with access to safe drinking water at low cost1. Like many small rural communities, Allensworth — a historically Black town with a majority Latinx population today — has no access to high-quality surface-water treatment facilities that are common in urban areas. Instead, these communities often use wells, which are at high risk of contamination with arsenic and other toxic substances.

Aquafornia news Clyde & Co

Blog: Into the Unknown – Navigating expanding and uncertain PFAS litigation

Growing concern over per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) is cascading into a surge of unprecedented litigation. Like the chemicals themselves, PFAS-related lawsuits are becoming ubiquitous, spreading far beyond the initial exposure and environmental contamination claims we’ve seen to date. These legal actions are now encompassing a broader array of defendants that have incorporated PFAS chemicals into their products or packaging, venturing into uncharted territory concerning bodily injury, and expanding into other causes of actions. Given the current absence of substantial judicial precedent regarding coverage matters and liability defenses in the context of PFAS and aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), manufacturers, sellers, and commercial consumers of PFAS and their insurers will be closely watching litigation, looking to future rulings for guidance about the viability of coverage defenses raised in other pollution claims.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Senate chief says he won’t try to change water-supply mandate

Arizona’s Senate president said he does not plan to introduce legislation to alter water supply requirements for new development despite his criticism of the historic 1980 law that created them. Sen. Warren Petersen said his comments, given last week to the Arizona Tax Research Association where he was asked to preview his legislative priorities, were meant to emphasize that the mandate to show an assured source of water will be available for 100 years was “arbitrary.’’ … He complained about the Arizona Department of Water Resources halting new construction in two areas on the edges of Phoenix earlier this year. He said that would not have happened if the standard here were something less, like California’s.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: Court of Appeal upholds County of Monterey’s management of groundwater in landmark SGMA case

On November 13, 2023, the Sixth District Court of Appeal issued the first published decision interpreting California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) in City of Marina et al., v. County of Monterey et al., Case No. H049575. The case arose after the County of Monterey elected to form a groundwater sustainability agency (“GSA”) to resolve overlapping claims to manage groundwater in a small area of the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin known as the CEMEX Area, a seaside parcel on which CEMEX previously operated a sand-mining facility and is now proposed to house a desalination plant to provide fresh water to residents of Monterey County. The Court upheld the trial court’s determination that the County of Monterey Groundwater Sustainability Agency, rather than the City of Marina, has the authority to manage groundwater in the CEMEX Area. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River battles continue as ag districts accuse Bakersfield of pulling off a historic ‘water heist’

If anyone thought a recent court order mandating 40% of the Kern River’s flow remain in the river for fish was the end of the story, think again. Agricultural water districts are striking back. … at what they say is an historic water heist by the city of Bakersfield. On Tuesday, a coalition of ag districts filed a motion to stay and a motion for reconsideration of Kern County Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp’s injunction and implementation order requiring water in the river. The group, including Kern Delta Water District, Kern County Water Agency and the North Kern, Buena Vista and Rosedale-Rio Bravo water storage districts contend, among other things, that the implementation order was rushed by … not affording them due process.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Without a statewide water supply target, California’s future is at risk.

If you don’t already know, it will surprise you to learn that for all the attention that our state’s water supply receives in California – for all the worry and effort it takes to make sure there’s enough for our 40 million residents, 24 million acres of farmland, countless acres of natural environment, and status as the world’s fifth-largest economy (of which its agriculture and environment are huge parts) – no statewide goal exists to ensure a sustainable water supply for California’s future. What big, bold vision has ever been achieved without first setting a goal? Without such a goal, we have no clear path forward, and we don’t know which direction and how far we need to go to achieve a reliable water supply. In a state always preoccupied with fears of drought and the impacts of climate change, we have not determined how much water will be needed in the short- and long-term to address these existential threats.
-Written by Heather Dyer, the General Manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District; and Graham Knaus, the CEO of the California Association of Counties.​

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Big year of rain means big budget hole at Metropolitan

California’s biggest water supplier is hurting for cash this year as the recent record-breaking rainy winter means its customers need to buy less water.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is facing a more than $300 million budget shortfall – about a quarter of its normal revenue from selling water. The agency, which provides drinking water for 19 million people including San Diego, is drawing money out of its cash reserves and taking out a $100 million loan to make up the shortfall. But long term, its leaders are talking about changing the way they charge for water, realizing that decades of conservation policies in California and diversification of water supplies with desalination and wastewater recycling means water sales will continue to drop. 

Aquafornia news Forbes

Inside the two companies that dominate the U.S. carrot crop

Fresh carrots are an expanding $1.4 billion U.S. market, and Americans are expected to consume 100 million pounds this Thanksgiving — roughly five ounces for every human being in the country. At least 60% of those carrots are produced by just two companies, Bolthouse and Grimmway, both of which were acquired by buyout firms, in 2019 and 2020 respectively. … Cartels are less funny for neighbors of the two producers in Southern California’s Cuyama Valley, who are calling for a boycott of Big Carrot over the amount of water their farms are sucking out of the ground. In 2022, Bolthouse and Grimmway together were responsible for 67%, or 9.6 billion gallons, of the area’s total water use. Local residents said they expect their wells to dry up if the carrot farms continue to use as much water as they do …

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Aquafornia news KJZZ - Tempe

Arizona Senate president critical of key requirement set in 1980 Groundwater Management Act

Projections of water shortages have halted development on the fringes of the Phoenix metro area. And Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen, who is also a real estate broker, is no fan of a regulation at the heart of those projected shortages, a requirement for residential developers in urban areas to show they have a 100-year-water supply. “You have to have a 100-year water certificate for your house. Why wasn’t it 105 years? Why wasn’t it 95 years? Do you know what the highest water supply requirement in the nation is outside of Arizona? It’s California. And it’s 25 years,” Petersen said. But Sarah Porter with the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University says there’s a good reason the 100-year requirement was included in Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Politico

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Feds are flooding California’s water market

Who could forget last May, when Arizona, California and Nevada made a three-year pact to conserve water from the Colorado River? Many thought it couldn’t be done, but with Lake Mead reservoir levels at a historic low, and the federal government poised to wrest control of the process, the states agreed to conserve 10 percent of their water — nearly a billion gallons — between now and 2026. The deal, greased by an unusually wet winter, was made possible by $1.2 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act that would pay water users to conserve. But those payments, whose contracts are being finalized, may come with a heavy toll over how much the feds are prepared to shell out. A new investigation from POLITICO shows that much of the water states agreed to save under new federally-funded contracts was already accounted for under cheaper, pre-existing agreements.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Republican lawmaker seeks to undo Central Valley Project environmental protections

More than 30 years ago, a piece of federal legislation dropped like a bomb on California’s Central Valley farmers. Reverberations from that legislation continue through today. Just last month, a San Joaquin Valley congressman added language to an appropriations bill that would unwind a key portion of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA). … One of its cornerstones was that 800,000 acre feet of water per year would be carved out of supplies that had been sent to towns and farms and redirect it to the environment instead. Specifically, the legislation hoped to save salmon populations, which had been crashing. Thirty-one years later, salmon are still on the brink. Now, Republican lawmakers are trying to get rid of the environmental protections in the CVPIA for good.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Flooded California towns secured millions in aid. Who gets the money?

Merced and Monterey counties got $20 million each from the state in October to help the residents of Planada and Pajaro recover from January floods. But local officials want to spend at least some of the money on infrastructure, while residents want all of the money to help relieve debt they’ve incurred from the natural disaster. That is, after all, what state lawmakers ostensibly sent the money for.  Days of rain led to a flood of local canals and creeks in the area on Jan. 9, forcing the complete evacuation of the majority-Latino community of Planada, population almost 4,000.

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

An energy company wants to build hydropower projects on the Navajo Nation. Not everyone is on board

Percy Deal, a member of the Navajo Nation, is looking up at a pale stripe of sandstone that stands out against the rim of Black Mesa in northeastern Arizona. Juniper trees speckle the steep cliffsides facing the site of a proposed hydropower project. … The hydropower company Nature and People First applied for preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last year to investigate the possibility of building three pumped water storage projects on and below Black Mesa to generate electricity for nearby cities like Phoenix and Tucson. Deal and other Black Mesa residents are worried that the project could do damage to land and water that has ecological and cultural significance to both the Navajo and Hopi tribes. … They’re concerned about potential overuse of groundwater underneath the Black Mesa region, which is still reeling from the environmental consequences of decades of extractive coal strip mining.

Aquafornia news CBS - Sacramento

Sites Project Authority certifies Sites Reservoir’s final environmental report

An important milestone was reached Friday for the construction of another reservoir in California. The Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Sites Reservoir was certified and the Sites Reservoir Project was approved by the Sites Project Authority, the lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act. Next up for the Sites Project Authority is to move the project through the final planning stages. After getting through the final stages, crews will begin building the reservoir. … The Sites Project says the final EIR evaluates the environmental impact and proposed mitigation measures that come with construction and operations. It was updated to address public comments and updates to the project following a draft that was released in 2021.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

New Point Reyes water pollution data add pressure on ranches

The debate over coastal cattle and dairy ranching has revived as unsafe levels of fecal bacteria continue to contaminate waterways in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Park data from a year of testing concluded that E. coli exceeded health standards in roughly 31% of the samples collected from 24 sites, including at Kehoe Beach and Drakes Bay. The data were presented to the California Coastal Commission on Thursday as part of a first annual update on the National Park Service’s water quality management plan to curb water contamination caused by the ranching. Commissioners and environmentalists said they want a resolution, with many calling for a halting or reduction of coastal ranching.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

The future of the Colorado River hinges on one young negotiator

[John Brooks] Hamby 27, … California’s boyish-looking representative on issues concerning the river, sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the other states’ powerful water managers, many of whom have decades of experience, an almost uncomfortable sight given their latest brawl over the beleaguered Colorado River. … Combined, these roles position Hamby as arguably the most powerful person involved in talks on the future of the Colorado River, a waterway that is relied upon by an estimated 35 million people and supports about $1.4 trillion worth of commerce. They also place him at the center of the river’s most consequential moment since midcentury, when Arizona and California went to the Supreme Court to fight over the amount of water they were allocated. 

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Cache Slough rec plan offers few, if any, new public activities

The Solano County supervisors this week accepted the Cache Slough Public Access Recreation Action Plan – a document that offers few options to expand public access opportunities. The board action on Tuesday was part of the consent calendar so there was no comment from the supervisors. An agreement was reached in 2021 between Solano County and the state Department of Water Resources and other state agencies with the goal of enhancing public recreation opportunities – and particularly more land access to the waterways – in the Cache Slough region.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Napa Green vineyard sustainability program to phase out Roundup

A first-of-its-kind winegrower sustainability certification program in Napa Valley is changing its rules to require that vineyards eliminate the use of synthetic herbicides. Napa Green, a nonprofit established in 2004, announced Tuesday it will require members to phase out their use of Monsanto-made weed killer Roundup by 2026, and all other synthetic herbicides by 2028. The program currently has around 90 participating wineries. … The move makes Napa Green the first of about 20 sustainable winegrowing certification programs worldwide to phase out synthetic herbicides. It also represents a change in position for Napa Green. Last year, Brittain told the San Francisco Chronicle that she feared banning Roundup would alienate growers. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been linked to cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with repeat exposure.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

Listen: Lawsuit chugs on as Sonoma County’s groundwater wells keep pumping

… The Coastkeeper Alliance and Russian Riverkeeper are accusing Sonoma County of failing its duties under the Public Trust Doctrine. That by allowing so many water wells, as the initial complaint states, “the extraction of groundwater interconnected with nearby streams and rivers impacts streamflow and public trust resources and uses, such as the fish and availability of water for recreation, in those surface waters.”

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water authority drops lawsuit against water divorcees

The San Diego County Water Authority’s board voted Thursday to drop a lawsuit the water seller filed in August against two of its customer water districts that are trying to leave and the agency that gave them permission to do so. After a closed-door deliberation, the Water Authority publicly directed its lawyers to enter into a settlement agreement with Rainbow Municipal Water District, Fallbrook Public Utilities District and the Local Agency Formation Commission or LAFCO – the boundary referees that agreed to allow two of the Water Authority’s customers to divorce from their water seller.

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Aquafornia news Fresno State News

Professor delves into ‘Fragmentation of Western Water Policy’ in new book

Dr. Thomas Holyoke, professor of political science at Fresno State, was dissatisfied with the textbooks he was using for his class on water policy, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. “I decided to write my own book and it kind of became this larger project about the fragmentation of water policy,” Holyoke said. Holyoke’s book, “Water Politics: The Fragmentation of Western Water Policy,” was released on Nov. 13. The book is about the enactment of government policy regarding the use of water in the western United States and its eventual fragmentation, in part due to the rise of environmentalism as a political force.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Elk Grove Water District provides assistance for households

The Elk Grove Water District is putting together a free sign-up event Friday that will provide a leg up for low-income households struggling to pay bills. The event will help residents apply for assistance through the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), a federally funded program operated by California Department of Community Services and Development. The program offers one-time support to help individuals pay past due or current water and sewer bills to their local water service providers.

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Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

Bay Area housing project raises concerns about sea-level rise

Climate activists are pushing back on a contentious shoreline housing project in the South Bay city of Newark. By building there, the activists believe, the city will miss an opportunity to restore sensitive wetlands and areas for them to migrate to as seas rise. Marshes are the region’s first line of defense against rising seas, and the Bay Area has just 15% of its wetlands left. Environmental advocates want these ecosystems protected. … Scientists project seas could rise by at least 1 foot by 2050 and as much as 7 feet by 2100 because global emissions are still increasing. A recent study by researchers with the British Antarctic Survey suggests that rising sea levels will speed up this century no matter if the world curbs emissions.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

A small hydroelectric plant with big water rights is the center of a proposal to keep Colorado River water in the state

A Western Slope coalition is making a play to buy the water rights of a small hydropower plant with a big role in how water moves across Colorado. If the group succeeds, farmers, water providers, anglers and rafters say they could sleep more easily for years into the future. … The Shoshone Power Plant, owned by Xcel Energy, is small compared with some of the company’s other power plants, but its right to water on the Colorado River is one of the oldest and largest within state lines. Local economies and communities from Glenwood Springs to Grand Junction are dependent on consistent flows out of the plant and have been worried for decades about another entity snapping up the Shoshone water rights and siphoning off their water supply.

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Aquafornia news Produce Blue Book

Commentary: Groundwater lawsuit leads to carrot boycott

A struggle over water rights has led to a carrot boycott in California’s Cuyama Valley north of Santa Barbara. The cause of contention is groundwater rights. Groundwater is the only source of water available in the region, and its aquifers are being rapidly drained. Wells have had to be sunk to 680 feet below the surface to gain access to the water, reports The Los Angeles Times. Signs reading “BOYCOTT CARROTS” and “STAND WITH CUYAMA AGAINST CORPORATE GREED” are aimed at the region’s two largest growers, Grimmway Farms BB #:112956 and Bolthouse Farms BB #:111358, which specialize in carrots and are by far the largest water users in the area.
-Written by Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Biden-Harris Administration announces $51 Million from Investing in America Agenda for water resources and ecosystem health

The Department of the Interior today announced $51 million from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda for 30 new Environmental Water Resource Projects in 11 states through the Bureau of Reclamation. The collaborative projects focus on water conservation, water management and restoration efforts that will result in significant benefits to ecosystem or watershed health. … As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commemoration of the two-year anniversary of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Michael Brain announced the selections during a visit to Grand Junction, Colorado, where eight of the selected projects are located.

Aquafornia news KBAK - Bakersfield

Where’s our water? A look at California’s storage problem

In 2014, California voters passed a proposition using $7.5 billion dollars in state funds to expand water storage capacity. Nearly 10 years later, people say not much has come from the vote. The main focus on their minds is the failure to expand Shasta Dam. Kern County Congressman David Valadao (R-CA) has authored legislation that makes it easier for Shasta to receive federal funding. … So what’s the problem with raising the dam? Jon Rosenfield, Science Director at San Francisco Baykeeper, says a whole lot. “Raising that dam is going to have negative impacts,” Rosenfield said.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Fish to receive 40% of Kern River flow under judge’s order

A judge’s order signed Tuesday ensures there will be at least some water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield in perpetuity. Unless, of course, it’s overturned. Kern County Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp signed an order that requires 40% of the Kern River’s flow to remain in the river to keep fish populations healthy. This order is the implementation of an injunction granted by Pulskamp October 30 mandating that some amount of water must flow through the river for fish populations. Pulskamp instructed the City of Bakersfield and plaintiffs to work out how much water should be kept in the river for fish, which is what Tuesday’s implementation order lays out.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California state scientists strike, demand equal pay

Hundreds of scientists working for the state of California to protect water supplies, respond to oil spills, study wildlife and track foodborne outbreaks marched in Sacramento today in what’s being called the first-ever strike by state civil servants.  Today was the first day of a three-day “Defiance for Science” rolling strike by more than 4,000 rank-and-file state scientists, who are seeking to close pay gaps with their counterparts in local, federal and other parts of state government. Many of the workers picketing at the headquarters of the California Environmental Protection Agency carried signs reminding Californians what they do behind-the-scenes: “I am a scientist and I give you safe food,” read one. “No science? No salmon!” Others called for the Newsom administration to “Smash the sexist gender pay gap!” 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: Here’s how agencies are addressing PFAS in water

While tap water in California is considered safe by most standards, specific contaminants are finding their way into the drinking water supply. Take per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”) for example, which have been shown to have serious adverse effects on human health, including cancer, thyroid disorders, ulcerative colitis, infertility. The list goes on. In fact, tap water in urban areas in Southern and Central California appears to be a hot spot for contamination by these chemicals, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research. Pollution involving “forever chemicals” is widespread.
-Written by Mike DiGiannantonio, an attorney with Environmental Law Group and lives in Hermosa Beach.

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Aquafornia news Marketplace

Listen: What happens when you lose access to affordable running water?

When Leigh Harris and her husband Franck Avril moved into their dream home, Leigh said she felt like the luckiest person in the world. The home is in Rio Verde Foothills, Arizona, near Scottsdale in unincorporated Maricopa County. … There was just one downside. Their home was built on a dry lot, which means there were no pipes connected to a city water supply. … Leigh and Franck’s experience is an extreme version of the kind of trade-offs we all may have to consider in the future. Under the growing threats from drought, extreme heat, wildfire and floods, what are we willing to endure to keep living in the places we love? And who will have a choice?.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Complaints, billing mistakes prompt San Diego water overhaul

Years of complaints about billing mistakes and hours-long customer-service hold times have prompted San Diego officials to make sweeping changes to the city’s Water Department. The changes include a new billing system, switching customer service software, new call routing, more payment options and a new policy alerting customers when their bill is being withheld for a leak investigation. The city is also hiring more customer service workers, paying them more, expanding their training and putting new leaders in charge of their efforts.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Bay Delta Plan update: A deep dive into the staff report for the for the Sacramento Delta update: How do the voluntary agreements stack up?

On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board will hold the first day of a three-day public hearing on the draft staff report for the Sacramento Delta update to the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan.  The Board is accepting public comments on the report through December 15. The report examines the potential economic, environmental, and other impacts of various options for updating the Bay Delta Plan, including the proposed voluntary agreements.  Curious to know how the staff proposal and voluntary agreements compare? In a workshop held on October 19 workshop, the State Water Board staff delved into the details of the report, discussing the background, key components, and modeling results for both the staff proposal and the voluntary agreements. This is essentially a transcript of the staff presentation.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

News release: Former supervisor Ryan Sundberg appointed to North Coast water board

Former Humboldt County 5th District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. The board’s stated goal is to “preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water,” according to the agency’s website. The board also works to “ensure proper water resource allocation and efficient use.” Sundberg is the general manager of the Heights Casino in Trinidad.

Aquafornia news Moab Times-Independent

Native fish boomed around Moab this year, data suggest

If you asked Katie Creighton in May how native fish would fare this year, “cautiously optimistic” might have been her answer. Spiking flows across the Colorado River basin, the result of last winter’s strong snowpack, were setting the stage for the river’s small cadre of endangered and threatened fish. Six months later, the optimism has become less cautious. … Indeed, counts from this year suggest that at least two endangered fish species — the razorback sucker and Colorado pikeminnow — saw a bumper season around Moab. It’s at least partly due to the spring inundation that flooded the Scott and Norma Matheson Wetlands Preserve.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: State presents $38 million to Metropolitan to increase turf rebate for businesses, institutions

Businesses and institutions gearing up to comply with a new state ban on using potable drinking water to irrigate non-functional lawns will soon get additional help from the Metropolitan Water District to transform turf into more sustainable landscaping, thanks to a state grant awarded to the district. The California Department of Water Resources presented a $38 million check to Metropolitan officials today as part of its Urban Community Drought Relief program, which has awarded over $217 million to 44 projects to help communities strengthen drought resilience and better prepare for future dry conditions.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Water agencies say funding for California’s biggest dam in decades is ‘pretty much lined up’

California water agencies say they have nearly secured $4.5 billion in funding needed to build the state’s largest reservoir in nearly a century, Sites Reservoir, as a state environmental review process for the project comes to a rapid close after decades of delay. … Approving it would mark a key procedural milestone and official green light for construction scheduled to begin in 2026.

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Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Blog: SF Baykeeper intends to sue feds for missing congressional deadline to protect longfin smelt

On October 11, San Francisco Baykeeper put the US Fish and Wildlife Service on notice that the environmental advocacy organization intends to sue the agency for for violating the Endangered Species Act by missing a Congressional deadline for the listing of the longfin smelt. … The longfin smelt is a cousin of the Delta smelt, once the most abundant fish in the entire estuary and now virtually extinct in the wild. No Delta smelt have been found in the past five years of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fall Midwater Trawl (FMWT) survey on the Sacramento- San Joaquin River Delta:… The abundance index, a relative measure of abundance, for the Longfin Smelt was 28 in 2020, 323 in 2021 and 403 in 2022. Those figures contrast with an index of 81,737 when the survey first began in 1967. 

Aquafornia news The Nature Conservancy

News release: CA scientists to join UN’s plastic pollution treaty conference

Scientists based in and/or work on issues in California—from The Nature Conservancy and Ocean Conservancy—will be traveling to Nairobi, Kenya for the UN environment programme’s third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) from Nov 13-19. At this session, the following scientists will hold observer status on behalf of their organizations as nations come together for the goal of developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Marin County supervisors green-light new Stinson Beach home

The Marin County Board of Supervisors has denied efforts to block a proposed house on the last vacant beachfront property in Stinson Beach. … The owners of the 15,200-square-foot property, which has been in their family for almost 90 years, hope to build the vacation home on the site of a cottage that burned down in the 1980s. But in the intervening decades, concerns about environmentally sensitive habitat and sea level rise have made development more difficult. … Impacts of flooding from a nearby creek during a 100-year storm, as well as from sea level rise, would be “less than significant” because of the site elevation, Taplin said at the meeting. He also said that inspections two weeks after January’s destructive winter storms showed no damage to the parcel, while nearby areas were severely impacted. 

Aquafornia news Oregon Capital Chronicle

EPA moves on petition from West Coast tribes to investigate tire toxin linked to fish deaths

For several decades, many coho salmon returning to waterways around Seattle to spawn have died mysteriously following heavy rains. In some urban streams, nearly all of the coho returning from the ocean died.  It wasn’t until 2021 that scientists figured out what was behind what they called “urban runoff mortality syndrome,” and it was not until this month that federal regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency moved to do something about it. The EPA on Nov. 2 said it would consider an August petition from the California-based Yurok Tribe and the Washington-based Port Gamble S’Klallam and Puyallup tribes, calling for a ban of the chemical 6PPD-q. It’s used in car tires to keep them from cracking and degrading, but as tires wear down, they shed particles containing the chemical into stormwater and streams.

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Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Parcels to be rezoned at Goleta Planning Commission

Goleta plans to be on track to add 1,837 new homes over the next eight years, part of the city’s effort to satisfy California’s push to reach the building of 180,000 homes annually. Goleta’s Planning Commission takes its turn to attack the problem at the local level during a series of rezoning discussions and votes on Monday evening concerning 11 properties on the city’s much-debated rezoning list. … Creeks have been flowing since California’s good winter of rains, too good at times for some flooded areas. But it means the aquifer below Goleta is filling, which the Goleta Water District anticipates will allow it to lift the moratorium on new water meters sometime this year.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tribal Water Institute will give tribes help in water law and policies

A new institute created by a national Native nonprofit law group and a foundation that works to protect rivers will support tribal water rights advocacy, recruit and train the next generation of tribal water attorneys and provide education on tribal water law and policies. The Tribal Water Institute will be housed at the Native American Rights Fund, known as NARF, a national nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to tribal governments, organizations and individuals in need of legal help on Indigenous law cases. The Walton Family Foundation committed $1.4 million over the next three years to support the institute. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In California, a carrot boycott targets corporate growers

In the Cuyama Valley north of Santa Barbara, lush green fields stretch across the desert. Sprinklers spray thousands of acres to grow a single thirsty crop: carrots. Wells and pumps pull groundwater from as deep as 680 feet, and the aquifer’s levels are dropping. As the valley’s only water source shrinks, a bitter legal battle over water rights has arisen between carrot growers and the community. Residents are fighting back with a campaign urging everyone to stop buying carrots. Along the valley’s roads, in cattle pastures and outside homes and businesses, signs and banners have sprung up declaring “BOYCOTT CARROTS” and “STAND WITH CUYAMA AGAINST CORPORATE GREED.”

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Aquafornia news The Vacaville Reporter

Turning off the tap

The Solano County Water Agency Board of Directors told its staff not to continue discussions with California Forever regarding their proposed development project in eastern Solano County. At a regular meeting of the board Thursday evening, over 90 attendees and public commenters filled the meeting room, spilling out into the hallway as the zoom room exceeded its capacity of 100 throughout most of the evening, leaving some citizens unable to access the meeting in real-time. … Friday morning, California Forever released a statement to their website which indicated they will seek other water sources. “Regrettably, under pressure from a vocal group of opponents of the project, the board declined staff’s recommendation to continue discussions with us,” the statement reads, “so we are proceeding with other water supply options we have been considering.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: It’s about time California built the Sites Reservoir

California’s state government began drawing up plans for Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley 70 years ago. And it still only exists on paper. So, kudos to Gov. Gavin Newsom for deciding that it’s finally time to put this tardy project on the fast track. Fast track means there’ll be limited time for any opponent to contest the project in court on environmental grounds. Newsom used a new law he pushed through the Legislature in June aimed at making it easier to build transportation, clean energy and water infrastructure by expediting lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act.
-Written by LA Times columnist George Skelton.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

State, regional water boards’ nitrate policies face lawsuits

California environmental nonprofits and local agriculture organizations recently filed lawsuits against the state and regional water boards over nitrate regulations, but for different reasons.  Agriculture wants a better balance between the need to grow food and need to protect water quality, while environmental groups want to see a limit to nitrates’ use in agriculture. Nitrates are inorganic compounds containing nitrogen that can come from man-made or natural resources and are used to help with the soil quality in agriculture, but they can cause problems when they enter into ground or surface water, said Ted Morton, executive director for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper. 

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Bureau of Reclamation invests in reuse, desal projects

The Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the selection of 31 planning projects to receive more than $28 million in appropriated funding to support potential new water reuse and desalination projects. The 31 projects are in California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The projects also bring a cost-share contribution of $64.7 million, bringing the total investment of $93.7 million. Reclamation said the funding is aimed at creating new sources of water supply less vulnerable to drought and climate change. Recipients will use the funding to prepare feasibility studies and undertake other planning efforts like preliminary project design and environmental compliance activities.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Commercial fishing groups sue 13 US tire makers over rubber preservative that’s deadly to salmon

The 13 largest U.S. tire manufacturers are facing a lawsuit from a pair of California commercial fishing organizations that could force the companies to stop using a chemical added to almost every tire because it kills migrating salmon. Also found in footwear, synthetic turf and playground equipment, the rubber preservative 6PPD has been used in tires for 60 years. As tires wear, tiny particles of rubber are left behind on roads and parking lots, breaking down into a byproduct, 6PPD-quinone, that is deadly to salmon, steelhead trout and other aquatic wildlife when rains wash it into rivers. … The Institute for Fisheries Resources and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Wednesday against Goodyear, Bridgestone, Continental and others.

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Aquafornia news FOX 5 - San Diego

Millions for border sewage treatment projects in California stuck in Congress

As you walk along the Tijuana River Valley, it’s hard not to smell the pungent smell of sewage, effluent flowing its way down the valley toward the Pacific Ocean. It’s been a problem for decades as Tijuana’s sewage infrastructure has failed to keep up with a city that seemingly grew to two million residents overnight. The system constantly spews untreated raw sewage that eventually makes its way north of the border. In 1999, the International Wastewater Treatment plant was built in the valley just north of the border to help control the problem.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Napa council OKs water rate increase, 53-home subdivision

The Napa City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved two separate items, one to increase rates for city water customers and the construction of a new 53-home subdivision in northern Napa. The rate increases — the first since October 2021 — will go into effect Jan. 1, 2024, and the first bills with the new rates will be in March and April. The increase will add up to about $5 per month more in the winter and $10 per month more in the summer for average residential water users. Water rate increases along similar lines will also move forward for irrigation, other commercial uses and multifamily residential customers. Additional increases will go into effect each year until 2028. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Arizona homebuilders are using a rental loophole to get around water laws

Desert cities around Phoenix are constantly facing questions of water supply — not just at water management agencies but also at city councils considering where to develop. That’s because Arizona has one of the most powerful laws in the country linking water with the decision to build. State law limits growth where water is in short supply, requiring new subdivisions to show they have 100 years of water for their customers. … Developers have found a profitable workaround. Arizona’s water law applies only when lots are subdivided into smaller lots for six or more homes and those houses are either sold or made available for long-term rentals. Instead, developers have turned to building short-term rentals on a single large piece of land.

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Aquafornia news KPBS Public Media

Live results: Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts detachment measures approved

Voters in Fallbrook and Rainbow approved of detaching from the San Diego County Water Authority for cheaper water in Riverside County in early voting results Tuesday night. After nearly three years of battling the Water Authority over what they say is increasingly high water rates, voters have had enough. … In July, the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) approved the request for Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utility District to leave the Water Authority for Riverside’s Eastern Municipal Water District. Detachment is a two-step process. After LAFCO’s decision, voters in both Rainbow and Fallbrook would also need to approve the detachment.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Measuring groundwater overdraft in the Sacramento Valley

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is now in its tenth year since passing in 2014, and we are beginning to see some real progress in coordination and implementation. Groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) have been formed and initial groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) submitted. Following submission, some plans have been approved, some are still under state review, and many have gone through some iteration to correct deficiencies. … The Department of Water Resources recently sent plans for five Sacramento Valley basins back for revisions, largely due to ongoing concerns around dry-year impacts of pumping on drinking water wells and land subsidence. 

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Aquafornia news Deseret News

How Biden’s $63.4M in new money for Colorado River may help the West

The ailing Colorado River, serving 40 million people in seven Western states, has long been described as being on life support by water managers. Drought. Diversions. Seven states that don’t want to give up what they believe is their fair share of its water resources. Add Native American tribes’ water rights and Mexico’s use of the river and it becomes complicated and fraught with divisions. U.S. President Joe Biden says he has a plan with new money aimed at conservation for a river that has long been described as the “Workhorse of the West.” It is the vital water lifeline for the mostly arid Southwest and helped foster the development and the livability of cities like Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Denver. It irrigates 15% of the nation’s farmland and provides 90% of the country’s winter vegetables.

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Aquafornia news Patch - Napa Valley

Residents invited to attend hearing on water rate increase proposal

City of Napa residents are invited to attend a public hearing on proposed water rate increases scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 7, the city reminded residents on social media today. The meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. will be held at Napa City Hall located at 955 School Street. … Proposed water rate increases, should they be approved by city leaders, will help to pay for maintenance, including infrastructure Investments which include planned capital improvements and debt service on past capital improvements, the city said.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Paperwork delays blamed for flooding from overgrown rivers. Will the process work better this winter?

Entire towns flooded last winter because of permit delays, according to lawmakers and others. Debris from overgrown creeks and waterways up and down the state hadn’t been cleaned out in years for lack of proper permits. When water barreled down those channels, debris piled up, pushing water over levees and into hundreds of homes and businesses. … The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the main state-level permitting agency, agreed there were past delays, though it downplayed them as the culprit for last winter’s floods saying agencies could have gotten “emergency permits” if needed.

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Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: An update from Nossaman’s California Water Views

Deadlines are upcoming related to the multi-district per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) litigation. The relevant settlements are with DuPont, Chemours, and Corteva (collectively, DuPont) and 3M, parties who allegedly manufactured various PFAS chemicals. The currently-pending settlements cover $1.185 billion for DuPont and $10.5-$12.5 billion for 3M. The litigation is focused on alleged contamination of drinking water caused by DuPont’s and 3M’s alleged manufacture of PFAS chemicals. PFAS are a family of manmade chemicals that are used due to beneficial properties like repelling water.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Monday Top of the Scroll: As the first major project at the Salton Sea nears completion, what’s next?

After years of studies, public meetings and deliberation over the future of the receding Salton Sea, the first visible signs of major projects at the sea are starting to appear. Local and state officials are hoping to build on the momentum generated by the near-completion of the largest project at the sea to date: The 4,100-acre Species Conservation Habitat Project along the sea’s southern edge should be finished by the end of the year; a pilot project along the northern edge is officially in the works; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the early stages of a feasibility study focused on potential long-term solutions at the Salton Sea. … With further reductions expected due to mandated cuts to Colorado River water use, the crisis at the Salton Sea has taken on additional urgency over the past few years.

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Aquafornia news Kronick

Blog: Superior Court preliminarily enjoins City of Bakersfield to protect fish below Kern River weirs

On October 30, 2023, the Kern County Superior Court preliminarily enjoined the City of Bakersfield (“City”) from operating six Kern River weirs in a way that reduces flows below the amount sufficient to keep downstream fish in “good condition.” The ruling in Bring Back the Kern et al. v. City of Bakersfield (BCV-22-103220) seems likely to result in further development of the law regarding the application of Fish and Game Code section 5937 (“Section 5937”) and the public trust doctrine.   

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Colorado lawmakers move to ban nonfunctional turf planting

State lawmakers are advancing a bill that would prohibit the planting of new, nonfunctional turf. If the bill passes next year, it would prohibit local and state governments and unit owners associations from allowing the planting of nonfunctional turf or nonnative plants or installing artificial turf in commercial, institutional or industrial properties beginning in 2025. Although new bluegrass could still be planted around homes, homeowners associations and others would be prohibited from planting such grass for ornamental purposes in medians or areas fronting streets, sidewalks or driveways. The bill is not intended to be retroactive and would not affect already existing nonfunctional turf.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Reallocating environmental risk

Living the good life has often meant finding ways to allow for growth and construction while ostensibly protecting the natural environment on which we depend. Want to build a housing development, but there’s a wetland in the way? Mitigate the harm by building a new one somewhere else. Want to dam a river, but there’s a salmon run in the way? Build fish passage around the dam. If that’s not feasible, build a hatchery instead. … Unfortunately, these creative approaches often fail. Constructed wetlands fail to reproduce the essential hydrologic or biodiversity or other functions of natural wetlands. Fish passage fails to get enough fish up and down stream to keep populations viable. Hatcheries can’t sustain fisheries over the long term in the same way that habitat can.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Big Basin Water making progress, still long road ahead

The precarious state of Big Basin Water Co. is beginning to stabilize, but the private water provider still faces a long and bumpy road ahead. That was the message delivered by Big Basin’s newly appointed receiver late Thursday night to a crowd of roughly 50 customers packed into the Boulder Creek Fire District station along with 40 more who tuned in via Zoom. The meeting featured Nicolas Jaber, an attorney and project manager of receiverships with Silver and Wright LLP, which is the law firm tasked in early October by a Santa Cruz County Superior Court judge with managing the water system and bringing it back into compliance with regional standards.

Aquafornia news CBS - Sacramento

U.S. regulators will review car-tire chemical that kills salmon, upon request from West Coast tribes

U.S. regulators say they will review the use of a chemical found in almost every tire after a petition from West Coast Native American tribes, including one in Northern California, that want it banned because it kills salmon as they return from the ocean to their natal streams to spawn. The Yurok tribe in Northern California and the Port Gamble S’Klallam and Puyallup tribes in Washington asked the Environmental Protection Agency to prohibit the rubber preservative 6PPD earlier this year, saying it kills fish — especially coho salmon — when rains wash it from roadways into rivers. Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut also wrote the EPA, citing the chemical’s “unreasonable threat” to their waters and fisheries.

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Aquafornia news ProPublica

The EPA’s struggle to limit drinking water contaminants

[A]t least once a year since 2019, the Smithwick Mills water system, which serves about 200 residents in [Texas], has reported high levels of the synthetic chemical 1,2,3-trichloropropane … Water quality tests from the Smithwick Mills utility have revealed an average TCP level of 410 parts per trillion over the past four years — more than 80 times what would be allowed in California. But the utility hasn’t taken any action. It doesn’t have to. The chemical isn’t regulated in drinking water by the EPA or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which means neither agency has ever set a maximum allowable level of TCP. 

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

State Water Board presents Bay-Delta options

The feud over the flow of water in California is as old as the state itself. The regional debate continues over whose needs for the precious resource should take priority. The latest exchange will take place in the upcoming State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) hearings on Phase 2 of the Bay Delta Plan. SWRCB will be considering updates to its Plan for the Bay-Delta over the next year or so. State Water Board staff released a series of documents in September that describe the process to evaluate alternatives and other supporting documents. The public will have the opportunity to comment over the next several months. It is anticipated that the SWRCB will consider those comments and adopt the Bay-Delta Plan Update in late 2024, after considering the alternatives and their environmental effects.

Aquafornia news Northwest Sportsman

News release: EPA grants coho-killing tire compound petition

Federal environmental regulators have granted a petition to develop regulations addressing a vehicle tire compound that, when it reacts with the air and mixes with water, kills coho and other salmonids. The petition was submitted by three West Coast tribes last summer, and in response the Environmental Protection Agency announced it will publish an advance notice of proposed rulemaking around the chemicals 6PPD and 6PPD-quinone by fall 2024, according to a notice.

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

San Mateo County Event Center receives a $7.2 million resiliency grant

The San Mateo County Event Center has received $7.2 million Thursday to convert the center into an emergency shelter during emergencies like earthquakes, wildfires and floods.  The money, granted by The California Department of Food and Agriculture, is meant to improve programs at the center. It will go towards the construction of a new community kitchen, shelter for 600 people and feeding thousands during emergencies. The county said the center is especially important for financially vulnerable members of the community.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

State pours millions into Sonoma County for groundwater

Scientists and technicians will be keeping a close and detailed watch on something not easily seen from the surface—the amount of water beneath Sonoma County. That’s a critically important source with California’s fickle rainy season. Unlike other NorCal counties, none of the county’s water comes from snowmelt. It’s all dependent on rain filling up Its rivers…reservoirs: Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma…and seeping underground. On Monday state officials handed giant novelty checks clocking in just above $15 million to representatives of Sonoma county’s three groundwater basins. … Sonoma Valley basin is near the bay, so infiltration by sea water is a serious issue. Santa Rosa Plain comes through Sebastopol. It’s a little bit more urban, but it also has wells around it. Petaluma Valley contains some agricultural users, but it also butts up against the city and rural residents.

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Aquafornia news 12 News - Phoenix

Lawsuit: Cattle ruining endangered bird habitats near Gila River

Two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allegedly failing to protect the habitat for two endangered species of birds along Arizona’s Gila River. The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon Society said damage from cattle grazing is decimating the streams that the southwestern willow flycatcher and western yellow-billed cuckoo rely on. … The Gila River is a nearly 650-mile-long (1,046-kilometer-long) tributary of the Colorado River and flows through parts of Arizona and New Mexico.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Reclamation plan for Colorado River paints ‘rosy’ picture

Colorado scientist Brad Udall spent hours digging — with frustration — through the federal government’s 700-page proposal for managing key dams and reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin over the next three years. … Udall [senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University] is one of many water experts and officials across the West who are carefully analyzing the federal proposal released Oct. 25 by the Bureau of Reclamation. The draft document focuses on how water is stored in and released from two key reservoirs: Lake Powell and Lake Mead. It says basin conditions have improved and outlines options to either maintain the status quo or to conserve 3 million acre-feet of water in the Lower Basin … Udall had some concerns, mainly that the federal analysis could be too optimistic.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

How Imperial Valley spends San Diego’s cash for water

… Last year, San Diegans paid almost $148 million to the Imperial Irrigation District for what amounts to just over 40 percent of San Diego’s water supply. That funds about half of the Imperial Irrigation District’s budget on the water side, an agency that operates almost debt free. (It also operates a public energy utility with an over $775 million budget.) And it was the San Diego deal that paid $5.7 million for this reservoir. … The water San Diego buys from Imperial Valley is some of its most expensive supply. A few San Diego political leaders have suggested the Water Authority sell off that water, arguing that the region doesn’t need all of it as rates continue to rise despite San Diegans using less. 

Aquafornia news Stormwater Solutions

Rebates can help pay for California’s stormwater capture

New research describes the development and operation of a novel incentive program that uses water rebates to pay for some of the costs of stormwater capture, according to a press release from the University of California – Santa Cruz. Many aquifers in California and around the world are being drained of their groundwater because of the combined impacts of excess pumping, shifts in land use, and climate change. However, the new study published on Oct. 18 in Nature Water, may offer a solution. The study describes the development and operation of a novel incentive program that uses water rebates to pay for some of the costs of getting stormwater runoff into the ground. The program is called recharge net metering (ReNeM).

Aquafornia news Summit Daily

Opinion: Water solutions are a priority

We all know that out here in western Colorado, water is life. It sustains our agriculture, powers our outdoor recreation economy and is the keystone of the beautiful environment we all cherish. All of us also know that our state’s water future faces immense challenges; from ongoing megadrought in the West, overuse of the Colorado River by California and Arizona, and much more. … That is why the state legislature, among other public and private entities, have been hard at work on a multifaceted approach to protect Colorado’s water future. The 2023 legislative session was one of the most productive and historic sessions for water in recent memory. As your state senator, I made sure that water was at the forefront of my colleagues’ minds and am proud to have led several successful water measures.
-Written by Dylan Roberts, State Senator for Clear Creek, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, and Summit counties​.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Noll Inc. wants the regional water board to take accountability for wrongfully accusing it of contaminating groundwater

In the last four years, the Nolls have spent almost half a million dollars on consultants, investigatory reports, water bottles and filtration systems, well testing, and more. Starting on July 31, 2019, the family lived under constant threat from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board: a fine of $5,000 a day for not complying with a cleanup and abatement order for pollution that the Nolls maintained from the beginning wasn’t their fault. … This summer, the water board finally rescinded its order against them, acknowledging the Nolls’ “time and resources to provide safe drinking water to the residents of the Buckley Road community” in its July 2023 notice to the Nolls but not much else.

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Aquafornia news New York Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: A tangle of rules to protect America’s water is falling short

America’s stewardship of one of its most precious resources, groundwater, relies on a patchwork of state and local rules so lax and outdated that in many places oversight is all but nonexistent, a New York Times analysis has found. The majority of states don’t know how many wells they have, the analysis revealed. Many have incomplete records of older wells, including some that pump large volumes of water, and many states don’t register the millions of household wells that dot the country. … While farmers face severe risks from groundwater depletion, many warn that too much regulation would harm their livelihoods and the nation’s food supply. “Farming would not exist as we know it in California without the use of groundwater,” said Chris Scheuring, a water attorney at the California Farm Bureau and a family farmer himself.

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Aquafornia news Investigate Midwest

As extreme weather increasingly threatens crops, study finds taxpayers pay the price

Crop insurance payouts surpassed $118 billion between 2001 and 2022 nationally for damage caused by extreme weather like drought, heat and floods. The report, released this week by the advocacy organization Environmental Working Group, points to climate change’s increasing impacts to agriculture. The findings follow a tumultuous growing season, wrought with extreme drought ravaging the Midwest and much of the surrounding Mississippi River basin. … Hail payments were largely concentrated in the Great Plains and Montana, with smaller pockets in Iowa and Minnesota. Indemnities related to heat and freeze were concentrated in California, Texas, Kansas and Washington.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

House passes Valadao’s WATER Act

The House has recently passed a bill that will ensure residents of the Central Valley have continued access to a clean and reliable water supply. The House of Representatives approved the bill, H.R. 4394, on Oct. 26. Congressmember David Valadao, 22nd District, authored the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act, which – at Valadao’s insistence – was included in H.R. 4394. According to Valadao’s office, WATER guarantees that Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) water stakeholders, including Friant Water Authority, Westlands Water District, Kern County Water Agency, San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority, will receive the water they contract and pay for. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

‘It’s going to be a wild ride’: California aims to fill a large federal footprint in the state’s wetlands

California growers can expect no major changes. But bureaucratic delays and significant regulatory uncertainty could hamper rural infrastructure projects that support agriculture.

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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Aquafornia news The Denver Post

How should the drying Colorado River be managed? Here’s what’s at stake in negotiations for its long-term future

An immediate crisis on the Colorado River has been averted, but negotiators now must turn their attention to the next problem at hand: How will they manage the drying river after the current guidelines expire at the end of 2026? Federal officials announced this week that last winter’s heavy snowpack and cuts in use likely will be enough to keep the river basin’s two major reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, from draining to water levels too low to generate power or move water downstream for at least three years. Federal officials, the seven Colorado River basin states and 30 tribes in the basin are negotiating the future of water management on the Colorado River and creating the next set of guidelines that will govern use of the critical water source in decades to come.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A river runs through Bakersfield? Judge rules the Kern River must be allowed to flow

Environmental activists in Bakersfield have won an initial victory in their legal fight to keep water flowing in the Kern River, which for many years was reduced to a dry, sandy riverbed. A judge has granted a preliminary injunction preventing water diversions that would dry up the river, requiring sufficient water to provide for fish and keep the Kern flowing in the city. … The order, issued Monday by Kern County Superior Court Judge Greg Pulskamp, will remain in effect pending a trial and decision in the case. Six environmental groups sued the city last year, saying that continuing to allow so much water to be taken from the river was harming the environment and the community.

Aquafornia news KUNM - New Mexico

Water projects in NM to receive $235M from Interior for tribal water fund settlements

The U.S. Department of the Interior announced last week the most recent batch of funding to help the federal government meet its requirement to pay tribal water rights settlements. Out of the $326.5 million announced for nearly a dozen settlements and projects, $235.1 million will go to two water supply projects in New Mexico. The bulk of the money coming into the state from the Interior Department and the largest allocation announced is $164 million for the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. An additional $2 million in separate funds will also go toward operation and maintenance on the project.

Aquafornia news KTLA - Los Angeles

Assistance available for residents who need to keep the water on

Californians who need help paying their water bills can benefit from a state-administered program. The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program, which is administered by the state Department of Community Service and Development, is available to both renters and homeowners. “Many low-income residents behind on their water or sewer bills have received hundreds or even thousands of dollars in financial support to help pay their bills,” California CSD said on its website. Through March or until federal funding runs out, Californians can apply for one-time help to “pay past due or current residential water and sewer bills ​and keep their water on,” state officials added.

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Blog: Despite veto threat, House passes spending bill terminating CVPIA environmental restoration program

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives just passed an odious spending bill, H.R. 4821, that terminates the environmental restoration provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) that made fish and wildlife a purpose of the Central Valley Project for the first time in history. … Buried in the 100-page bill are eight lines written by Representative David Valadao (R-CA-22) and co-sponsored by eleven other California Republicans, including Speaker Johnson’s  predecessor, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20), the Tribe reported. They order the Secretary of the Interior to “deem complete the fish, wildlife, and habitat mitigation and restoration actions” required by the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act (PL-102-575 Title XXXIV) signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. 

Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

Pasadena watering restrictions change Nov. 1

Pasadena’s Winter Watering Schedule goes into effect on Wednesday, Nov. 1, and reduces outdoor watering to just one day a week through March. This change marks a reduction from the two-day-per-week limit in place from April through October. Watering days are determined by property address. Odd-numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays and Fridays, while even-numbered addresses may water on Mondays and Thursdays. All watering must occur before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

What the fed’s new proposal for management of Colorado River reservoirs means

Last week, the Bureau of Reclamation released an updated proposal for the near-term management of Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Its revised draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) includes a proposal crafted by the Lower Colorado River Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada — that commits to conserving 3 million acre-feet of water through the end of 2026. The new plan comes after a period of relative optimism thanks to last winter’s record snow year, a wet summer in parts of the Rockies and increased water-conservation efforts across the region. But while federal officials and state leaders celebrated the new cuts and sunnier short-term water projections, environmental groups warned against minimizing the gravity of the crisis.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Judge orders Bakersfield to keep water in the Kern River

In what one attorney called a “moment of truth” for the City of Bakersfield, a judge ordered the city to keep enough water in the normally dry Kern River to protect fish populations. The 21-page preliminary injunction was issued by Kern County Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp Monday afternoon. Colin Pearce, who represents the city on Kern River issues, declined to comment saying the city is still reviewing the order. It’s unclear if the city, or other Kern River interests, will appeal the injunction.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Californians with past-due water bills can get help. Here’s how

Low-income Los Angeles County residents who are behind on their utility payments have a chance at keeping the water on, with a federally funded program that has been extended through March. The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program, administered by the California Department of Community Services and Development, was established by Congress in December 2020 as a one-time support to help low-income Californians pay past-due or current bills for water, sewer or both services. Through the program, eligible applicants can receive up to $15,000 in assistance. The program kicked off in 2021 with an estimated $5 million funding …

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California tells Sacramento Valley to fix their groundwater plans

California regulators have told local agencies in western portions of the Sacramento Valley that their plans to combat groundwater overpumping need fixing, giving them six months to revise their plans before the state agency makes a final determination. The Department of Water Resources said Thursday that officials determined that local groundwater plans are incomplete in areas of the Sacramento Valley where prolonged drought and heavy agricultural pumping drew down aquifers and left residential wells dry. … This step marks the first of two approval opportunities for Sacramento Valley agencies. Groundwater sustainability plans deemed incomplete include Colusa, Corning, Antelope, Los Molinos and Red Bluff — located in the west and northern reaches of the valley.

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Aquafornia news U. S. Attorney's Office

News release: Project manager admits to submitting fake permit for fill of wetlands

Fiona Skye McKenna, a project manager for a firm developing properties in the Otay Mesa area [of San Diego], pleaded guilty in federal court [Monday], admitting that she falsified permits that led to the illegal discharge of pollutants in connection with a project known as the International Industrial Park. In pleading guilty, McKenna admitted that she forged permits purportedly issued by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place fill dirt, rock and sand into Johnson Canyon Creek at the International Industrial Park site. McKenna falsified the permits by cutting and pasting from permits the firm had obtained for work at another site. … The wetlands area of Johnson Creek flows into the Otay River, which flows into San Diego Bay.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California’s young ‘water buffalo’ JB Hamby spurs united Colorado River rescue, for now

It was a rough debut. JB Hamby, 26 years old, had rocketed to the innermost circle of state and federal officials charged with saving the Colorado River from collapse. In mid-January, he was elected to chair California’s river board, representing Imperial Irrigation District, by far the biggest recipient of the overused river’s supply. Federal officials had bluntly threatened to impose mandatory cuts across the region if huge voluntary reductions weren’t made. But 12 days later, after contentious closed-door talks, he watched in dismay as media outlets across the U.S. published stories about six states releasing a joint plan to save the river, with only his state, California, refusing to sign on. It was a baptism by near drowning for the youngest “water buffalo,” as negotiators of Colorado River agreements have historically called themselves.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Draft California Water Plan update 2023 – a brief overview

Every five years, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) prepares the California Water Plan, a statutorily mandated strategic plan to guide the management and control of the state’s water resources. The main purpose of the 2023 California Water Plan (2023 Water Plan) is to outline the status and trends of California’s water supplies, water-dependent natural resources, and agricultural, urban, and environmental water demands while also reflecting the current legislative and administrative priorities for water resources. Ultimately, the 2023 Water Plan will serve as a planning and policy roadmap that will guide DWR in the proceeding five-year period.

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Commentary: San Joaquin Valley farmers owe some gratitude to Joe Biden

Food grows where water flows. So goes the saying on signs I have seen in farmlands in Fresno, Tulare, Merced and Kings counties since I moved to the San Joaquin Valley 10 years ago. The signs, and others like them, are protests against cuts to water deliveries to growers in those regions. More often than not, farmers were angry with whoever was California’s governor. Since the Republican party has been stuck in super minority status, California’s governors have been Democrats, namely Jerry Brown and now Gavin Newsom. Despite persistent droughts, they often get blamed for whatever water cuts are happening, along with Fresno congressman Jim Costa and his colleague from San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi. They also are Democrats.
-Written by Tad Weber, the Fresno Bee’s opinion editor.

Aquafornia news Fresnoland

Millions on the line in Resnick’s lawsuit in Fresno County

Four years ago, two of the biggest farmers in California sent messages to each other regarding the biggest farmer in America: Stewart Resnick. What the messages made clear is that Resnick’s personal relationship had started to fray with Farid Assemi, a pistachio grower and home builder who had immense acres on the west side of Fresno County. Who was stepping in as peacemaker: it was none other than John Vidovich, the second biggest grower in the state, who had a reputation for feuding over land and water with other big growers.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Water fights inspire new judge trainings, jobs in US West

Water disputes have become so pervasive in Utah that the state Judicial Council established a new program last year that designates and trains judges to handle these cases. “It was inspired by panic,” says Senior Judge Kate Appleby. … In Colorado a water court has been in place for decades; the judges there work on water cases full time. Utah’s law mandates that at least three district court judges specialize in water disputes in addition to handling other cases. Because of overwhelming interest, the state has 10 water judges. Nevada is following suit.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

After long wait, House OKs Valadao’s water reforms for Central Valley

The House voted to approve H.R. 4394, which includes Rep. David Valadao’s Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act, a measure focusing on ensuring access to clean and reliable water supply in the Central Valley. The bill aims to address water shortage issues by providing funding eligibility for the Shasta Dam project and bringing accountability to water management. It requires the Central Valley Project and State Water Project to be operated consistent with the 2019 Biological Opinions, which inform long-term operations plans and have been a source of uncertainty for Valley farmers.

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Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: California Water Service Group announces election of Jeffrey Kightlinger to board of directors

California Water Service Group (Group) (NYSE: CWT) today announced the election of Jeffrey Kightlinger, 63, to the Group’s Board of Directors, effective Nov. 1, 2023. Kightlinger has the distinction of having been the longest serving Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the largest municipal water supplier in the nation. In this capacity, he oversaw the agency’s $1.8 billion budget along with water and power operations serving 19 million residents in Southern California. During his tenure, he negotiated strategic agreements on the Colorado River and the 50-year renewal of Hoover Dam hydroelectric power.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

SLO County gets grant to study desalination and water reuse

This month, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that San Luis Obispo County was among 31 Western U.S. planning projects to receive $28.9 million in funding to support potential new water reuse and desalination projects. SLO County was awarded $550,000 in matching funds to start a feasibility, technology and project location study to take advantage of our over 80 miles of ocean frontage that could help transform seawater into drinking water. With the prospect of future droughts due to global warming, “this renewable, almost inexhaustible resource would not be diminished by climate change, insufficient rainfall, or water conservation efforts,” says Angela Ford, SLO DESAL (Desalination Executable Solution and Logistics) Plan manager and supervising water resources engineer with the county.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Arrowhead bottled water company sues to continue piping from California forest

The company that sells Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water is suing to challenge California regulators’ recent ruling that the company must stop taking much of the water it pipes from the San Bernardino National Forest for bottling. BlueTriton Brands filed the lawsuit this month in Fresno County Superior Court, arguing in its complaint that the State Water Resources Control Board overstepped its authority “far beyond what California law allows.” The board voted unanimously in September to order the company to halt its “unauthorized diversions” of water from springs in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Commentary: Turning MMWD around will take years, but process is underway

Last year, three new directors were elected to the five-member Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors. They are a big part of the effort pushing for a turnaround already underway. Consumers can’t declare victory until new sources of water and increased storage facilities are up and running. As voters demanded, the agency that supplies water to 191,000 southern and central Marin residents is moving in the right direction. The prior MMWD board majority was slammed for excessive reliance on conservation while failing to develop new, dependable water sources.
-Written by columnist Dick Spotswood.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee – a decade of progress and partnerships with more to come

On November 7, leaders from 18 of the state and federal agencies charged with implementing California’s long-term management plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – the Delta Plan – will gather to focus on two critically important efforts to advance and improve the way we all manage the Delta: integrated modeling and climate change adaptation strategies. A key focus for the discussions will be on how the committee can collectively strengthen the partnerships needed to move these efforts forward in support of the coequal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem health for the Delta. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Crowfoot: We need to cut water use like it’s energy

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot ruffled some feathers with local water districts Wednesday when he said the state needs to conserve water like it has with energy. He made his comments at the Water Education Foundation’s annual Water Summit.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Board tightens rules for testing water discharged from Santa Susana Field Lab site

Officials with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board have voted to require Boeing to better monitor water discharged from Santa Susana Field Lab that is tucked in the hills between San Fernando and Simi valleys. The board unanimously voted last week to approve a new five-year permit that requires Boeing, which along with the federal government owns the Santa Susana site, to perform a more precise level of testing of water discharged from the site. … The vote came a few weeks after the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, released a report showing that two highly toxic chemicals are not being monitored at the Santa Susana Field lab and potentially could leak into the Los Angeles River.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Water watchdog releases plan to shore up the Great Salt Lake

The Utah Rivers Council has released a 12-part plan to bring the struggling Great Salt Lake back to a sustainable elevation. The nonprofit unveiled the 4,200 Project Wednesday, which outlines several policy changes to bring the lake to an elevation of 4,200 feet above sea level. This “Goldilocks zone” means the lake’s dust hot spots are covered. Islands become islands again. Salinity levels are optimal for supporting brine shrimp, brine flies, and the millions of migrating shorebirds and waterfowl that depend on them. But it’s going to take a lot of time and water to get there — the Great Salt Lake currently sits at 4,192 feet in the south half and 4,189 feet in the north. The Great Salt Lake’s current record low, set last November, is 4,188.5 feet.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Western States’ planned water cuts are enough to avert a Colorado River crisis, for now

California, Nevada and Arizona’s historic pact to cut their use of the Colorado River’s overtapped supplies should be enough to keep the basin’s massive reservoirs from hitting dangerously low levels — for now, a federal analysis reported [Wednesday]. With the release of its revised environmental assessment today, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is poised to move forward with the three-state plan to give up about 13% of water they receive from the Colorado River through the end of 2026. … It’s a major milestone for fraught negotiations that began in the summer of 2022, as a megadrought parched the already-overdrafted Colorado River and federal officials called for massive cuts to water use.  

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Why conservatives hate the Endangered Species Act

The removal of a species from the government’s endangered species list is often a cause for celebration, as it means a plant or animal variety has somehow beaten the odds and recovered from its parlous condition. That’s not the case for 21 animal species just delisted from the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They’re being taken off the list because they have moved in the opposite direction. They’ve gone extinct. … Conservatives and business lobbyists commonly dismiss concern about the fate of ostensibly unimportant species as pointy-headed liberal hand-wringing. A good example is the disdain shown by Central Valley farmers and their political mouthpieces for the unassuming delta smelt, a tiny endangered fish they blame for mandated diversions of the water they use for irrigation into rivers and streams to preserve the ecosystem.
-Written by LA Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik.​

Aquafornia news Irrigation & Lighting

California irrigation bills 50/50 for signature into law

For California, a mixed bag of results on irrigation regulation has occurred with the signature of Assembly Bill 1572 into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom, while Assembly Bill 1573 was ordered to the inactive file by the state’s Senate.  The two bills each had different aims to address conservation measures in California and targeted various irrigation methods as a means of advancing that effort.   AB1573 was ordered to inactive file at the request of Sen. Henry Stern, D-California, in early September. The Irrigation Association, Fairfax, Virginia, published a letter in June that expressed deep concern with the bill.   The legislation would have prohibited the use of traditional overhead sprinklers, defined as including ”spray sprinkler nozzles with application rate greater than 1.0 inch per hour,” in new or rehabilitated landscapes.

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Aquafornia news Cision

News release: Cadiz signs agreement with El Paso natural gas for long-term power supply

Cadiz, Inc announced today that the Company has entered into a long-term contract with El Paso Natural Gas Company, L.L.C. (“EPNG”) to install a tap on their natural gas pipeline, which runs through the Cadiz Ranch property in the California eastern Mojave Desert. The gas tap will allow Cadiz to replace diesel engines with natural gas engines to power the Company’s groundwater wellfield, pump stations and related facilities for its agriculture operations and the Cadiz Water Conservation, Supply and Storage Project (“Cadiz Project”). The high efficiency gas engines are expected to be integrated into solar-hybrid microgrids able to reduce energy costs, cut carbon emissions, and provide 100% uptime reliability for the Company’s water supply and storage operations. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Biologist can’t stop flood releases to protect california salmon

A fisheries biologist’s bid to protect multiple endangered California salmon species by blocking flood control releases authorized by the US Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service failed after a federal court denied an injunction. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled Monday that even though Sean White would likely succeed on the merits of his Endangered Species Act claim, he failed to show the “serious or extreme” harm required for an injunction or how that injunction would remedy his alleged harms. White lives downstream of Coyote Valley Dam …

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: Water security through consolidation

Providing affordable, safe and reliable water service in California is becoming increasingly challenging. Water service providers must deal with aging infrastructure, increasingly stringent water quality regulations and the threat of more frequent and extreme weather events, such as fires, drought and flooding, due to climate change. Smaller water service providers may struggle with adapting their operations to comply with changes in water quality requirements. These systems, which often rely on a single water source, are less resilient in dealing with contamination or natural disasters. Additionally, due to their smaller customer bases, it can be difficult for these systems to charge rates that cover necessary long-term improvements while maintaining affordability.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency receives $2M for groundwater monitoring

The San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency (SGPWA) received state funding of more than $2 million for a project to install four nested casing monitoring wells in the San Gorgonio Pass Subbasin. The project will expand the SGPS GSA groundwater observation network to fill data holes that are key to supporting sustainability of the subbasin, which encompasses approximately 35,965 acres. … The San Gorgonio Pass Subbasin serves disadvantaged communities, including the City of Banning, Banning Heights, Cabazon and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Who will champion CA parks and water as Dianne Feinstein did?

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein … who died last month at age 90 [helped] make extraordinary places throughout the Mojave Desert off-limits to development. Three national parks and three national monuments stretching over 12 million acres of inland Southern California bear witness to her 30 years of work to preserve these rugged landscapes from plunder. … But as any park ranger or biologist would caution, park designation is not the ultimate safeguard. The underground water that replenishes the pools at Big Morongo feeds other springs in the Mojave. For more than 30 years, a major Mojave aquifer had been targeted for pumping and piping out by a private company, Cadiz Inc. It sought to drain the groundwater and sell it off for profit. Standing in their way implacably was Feinstein …
-Written by Hans Johnson, president of Progressive Victory. He helped pass California laws to ban throwaway plastic bags and to protect desert water.​

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: Supreme Court’s Sackett vs. EPA ruling restores reasonable state control over water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that changes to its “Waters of the United States” rule (otherwise known as WOTUS) that regulates “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act became final September 8, 2023. Those changes are based on the recent Sackett v EPA decision at the Supreme Court.  The decision provides “clarity for protecting our nation’s waters consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision while advancing infrastructure projects, economic opportunities, and agricultural activities.” The Biden Administration expressed disappointment with the court ruling, but they recognized their obligation to change the rules.

Charles T. “Chuck” Gibson serves as an elected Director on the Board of the Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD).​

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Environment report: What water bill relief could look like for San Diego

Let’s call it what it is – San Diego has a cost of water crisis.   All the things San Diego built to get water and keep it here is pushing up the price of this key molecule with little sign of it dropping. The Escondido City Council just OK’d an 8 percent increase in January, triggering outrage from locals, reports KPBS. The city of San Diego jacked up rates almost 20 percent through 2025. The conductor of this breakaway train is the San Diego County Water Authority, which brings in water from big sources and sells it to places like Escondido and San Diego. It recently passed on a 9.5 percent price mark-up to its 24 customer water districts. A couple of those districts are so peeved, they’re hoping to leave San Diego entirely for cheaper water elsewhere.

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Aquafornia news Politico

Chuck Bonham on what’s upstream for California salmon

Due to low numbers of adult salmon returning to California’s rivers because of previous droughts, officials this year banned recreational and commercial salmon fishing for only the third time in state history. So few Chinook salmon swam up their last remaining strongholds in the Sacramento Valley — Butte, Deer and Mill Creeks near Chico — that scientists this month began capturing then bringing juvenile fish to an emergency hatchery at University of California, Davis. Chuck Bonham, the director of California’s Fish and Wildlife Department, oversaw the effort with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and called the hatchery a “Noah’s Ark.”

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Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Protecting West Slope water: Coalition eyes pricy purchase of Colorado River water rights

The Colorado River District is leading a coalition in what would be a history-making purchase involving historic water rights that are pivotal to Colorado River flows and water uses in western Colorado. The district and others in the Western Slope coalition are proposing spending potentially $98.5 million to acquire the rights from Xcel Energy for operation of the Shoshone hydroelectric power plant in Glenwood Canyon. According to the river district, Shoshone holds the most senior major water rights on the river, dating back to the early 1900s and totaling 1,408 cubic feet per second.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA program will help residents pay their water bill

The California Department of Community Services and Development is extending its program to help low-income residents pay their current or past-due water and sewer bills. The federally funded Low Income Household Water Assistance Program was originally set to end in the fall, but will remain open through March 2024 — or until funds last. Here’s how to apply for one-time support paying your water and sewer bill, and who qualifies …

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: Governor Newsom signs SB 389 into law

On October 8, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 389 (“SB 389”), which amended § 1051 of the Water Code to expand the investigatory authority of the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”). The bill was introduced by Senator Ben Allen of Santa Monica. While the bill imbues the Water Board with additional investigatory authority to ascertain whether or not a water right is valid, it does not alter the statutory scheme for enforcement should the Water Board determine as part of an investigation that a particular diversion or use of water was not supported by a requisite water right.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Monday Top of the Scroll: Feds OK plans for major expansion of San Luis Reservoir

California is getting its first major water storage project in a dozen years, expanding an existing reservoir through federal funding.  Friday, the Department of the Interior and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority improved plans to implement the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project.  The big picture: The project will create an additional 130,000 acre-feet of storage space in the San Luis Reservoir.  Once completed, it is expected to deliver additional water for two million people, over one million acres of farmland and 135,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands.

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Aquafornia news NPR

California homeowners will face new rules for where they can plant shrubs

In most neighborhoods, houses are hugged by greenery – flowers surround the front steps, large shrubs screen the windows. But in wildfire-prone places, such as California, fire experts say this typical suburban template needs to drastically change as human-driven climate change makes intense wildfires more frequent. California has long had the strongest defensible space rules in the country. Now, it’s drafting rules that would make it the first state to limit the vegetation directly next to buildings. In areas at high risk of wildfire, plants within five feet of a house would be strictly limited. The new rules are not expected to go over well.

Aquafornia news US EPA

News release: EPA seeks additional public engagement on proposal to protect U.S. waters from incidental discharges from vessels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a supplemental proposed rule to reduce the spread of invasive species that occurs with normal operation of large marine vessels. Following public input on EPA’s 2020 proposed rule—including meetings with states, Tribes, and other stakeholders—the agency is now issuing a Supplemental Notice to share new data and control options raised by stakeholders. This supplemental proposal will bolster the development of a final rule to stem the spread of invasive species and better protect our nation’s aquatic ecosystems. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

‘Forever chemical’ bans face hard truth: many can’t be replaced

As lawmakers around the world weigh bans of cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” many manufacturers are pushing back, saying there often is no substitute for the compounds.  Minnesota and Maine have passed legislation to effectively outlaw the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in nearly all products by the early 2030s. Dozens of other states are also considering curbing their use. And the European Union’s Chemical Agency has proposed a widespread ban.  In response, Ford Motor Co. warned Maine state officials in May that “there is no commercially available technology that exists in the world today” that can replace a PFAS-containing thermoplastic used for electric vehicle batteries. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

U.S. Forest Service faults Denver Water over Gross Dam expansion

Denver Water is cutting down too many trees on federal land at the major expansion of Gross Dam and Reservoir in Boulder County, and must conduct more environmental impact work if it wants to expand a quarry used for the project onto U.S. Forest Service property, according to a notice from the agency. The Forest Service letter dated Tuesday faults Denver Water for “unauthorized timber removal,” and said the utility’s proposed onsite quarry expansion “would require a new and separate National Environmental Policy Act analysis.”  Denver Water hasn’t been giving the Forest Service, whose land surrounds Gross Reservoir in western Boulder County, enough lead time to evaluate change requests on cooperative agreements, the letter said. 

Aquafornia news Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

News release: Draft EIS for the South Feather Power Project

Commission staff prepared a draft supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that supplements the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), issued June 4, 2009, for the proposed relicensing of South Feather Water and Power Agency’s (South Feather) existing 117.3-megawatt South Feather Power Project No. 2088 (project).  On March 26, 2007, South Feather filed an application for a new license to continue to operate and maintain its water supply and power project that consists of four hydroelectric developments:  Sly Creek, Woodleaf, Forbestown, and Kelly Ridge.  The project is located on the South Fork Feather River, Lost Creek, and Slate Creek, in Butte, Yuba, and Plumas Counties, California.  

Aquafornia news KPIC - Roseburg, OR

Disaster funds available from 2018-2020 Chinook salmon fishery

With the 2024 Chinook salmon season underway, lawmakers including Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced on October 13 that the 2018-2020 Chinook salmon fishery has been declared a disaster by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The announcement allows local fishermen to apply for disaster assistance funds to help recover from low fishing returns during those years. … ”I might argue that it’s not necessarily a decline on the salmon population period. It’s on projected returns on two different rivers in California. One, the Klamath River and the other the Sacramento River,” said [Jeff Reeves, chairman of the Oregon Salmon Commission].

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

US sets new Colorado River drought plan to take effect in 2027

A new plan for water shortages in the Colorado River Basin will take effect by 2027, replacing 20 year-old guidelines, the Interior Department announced Thursday. A draft of an environmental review of possible ways to manage the Colorado River in 2027 and beyond will be published by the end of 2024, the Bureau of Reclamation said. The review will be supported by a scoping report published Thursday. The Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people between Denver and Los Angeles, had been severely drought-stricken for more than 20 years until heavy rain and snow dampened the dry …

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Earthjustice

Blog: Clean Water Act bill is big step forward, needs to eliminate loophole to truly restore protections

This week, several lawmakers in the House of Representatives lead by Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Representative Grace Napolitano (CA-31) introduced the Clean Water Act of 2023. This proposed legislation sends an important signal that over 100 Democratic members of Congress recognize the grave problems the Supreme Court created with its ruling in Sackett v. EPA, and are urgently working towards a solution. This bill is an important first step towards undoing the chaos and environmental destruction unleashed upon our waters and communities, when the right-wing Supreme Court radically narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act, gutting protections for well over half of the country’s wetlands and likely a significant number of rivers and streams.  

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Groundwater court disputes will consider environmental justice in new law signed by Gavin Newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law last week that will incorporate environmental justice principles in legal disputes that stands to impact future groundwater use decisions across California’s agriculture dominated regions. The law, AB 779, will require state courts to consider water use by small farmers and disadvantaged communities when settling those disputes, which historically skew in favor of larger agricultural businesses. California is implementing the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which aims to address groundwater depletion across the state. Solving disputes through adjudication in the courts costs millions of dollars in legal fees and takes years.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Navajo officials ask lawmakers to work harder to secure water supplies

Navajo Nation Speaker Crystalyne Curley told a U.S. Senate committee that many Navajo citizens still struggle to find clean drinking water, and joined other officials seeking help to secure reliable supplies. … The hearing was a chance to examine the ongoing challenge of clean water access for tribal communities, said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, the committee’s chairperson. It also offered an opportunity to hear testimony not only from Curley but from other tribal leaders, experts and federal partners on how the investments made by the bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act has assisted in these communities.

Aquafornia news KQED - San Francisco

California mandates coastal cities plan for future sea-level rise

For the first time in California history, all coastal cities, including those in the Bay Area, must plan for sea-level rise, a looming climate impact yet to be fully experienced. The new law — SB 272 — requires big cities like San Francisco and small towns like Strawberry along Richardson Bay to develop strategies and recommend projects to address future sea-level rise by 2034. While seas have risen only about 8 inches since the 1880s, the ocean and the bay could rise by about a foot by midcentury — thanks mainly to human-caused climate change. … [The Bay Conservation Development Commission] plans to follow up with all local governments around the region to ensure they are on board so the Bay Area of tomorrow isn’t overwhelmed by water.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CNN

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water usage on the Colorado River is way down as the West begins planning for a future with less

As the Biden administration kicks off a years-long negotiation process to divvy up the shrinking water supply of the Colorado River, there are finally some signs of optimism after several bleak years. A record-breaking winter snowpack last year halted a precipitous downward spiral on the river and raised water levels at the nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lakes Mead and Powell. But something else is also at play this year – farmers, cities and Native tribes are simply using less. Arizona, California and Nevada’s usage of Colorado River water has hit new lows … On Thursday, the US Bureau of Reclamation released a report detailing the factors it will consider when negotiating with states, tribes and other water users over exactly how much water the river can provide to the ever-growing West in the coming decades.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Solano County residents voice concerns over ‘California Forever’ development

California Forever’s previously promised “listening tour” continued Monday afternoon in Fairfield, as Paradise Valley Estates held a forum for its residents to ask questions of community and business leaders on the proposed new city in eastern Solano County. Jan Sramek, CEO of California Forever, joined state Sen. Bill Dodd, Solano County Supervisor Mitch Mashburn and retired Travis AFB pilot Steve Vancil for a panel discussion regarding the company’s proposed developments on the 50,000-plus acres they have purchased over the last five years. … But Sramek pushed back, criticizing the state of water quality that comes to Solano County from the North Bay Aqueduct, which he said has some of the most polluted water in the state, as well as other issues that face the county. He also said the same polling mentioned above indicated that almost half of the county thinks the proposed project is a good idea.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Rice growers grapple with water quality problems

Brief spikes in pesticide detections have triggered new actions, while others in the Sacramento Valley are dealing with nitrates.

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Redding city council opposes new state water regulations, argues for local consideration

On Tuesday night, the Redding City Council unanimously voted to sign a letter of opposition regarding water regulations that have been approved for the state of California. City council voted to take a stand against “Making Conservation A Way Of Life” a strategy approved by the State Water Board in early 2023 and now officially in effect. … The “Making Conservation A Way Of Life“ main goal is to reduce urban water use by more than 400,000 acres by 2030. … City officials say this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t take varying natural resources into account.

Related article: 

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.

Foundation Event

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

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

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop held on Feb. 20, 2020 covered the latest on the most compelling issues in California water. 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

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.

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
One-day workshop included optional groundwater tour

One of our most popular events, our annual Water 101 Workshop details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop on Feb. 7 gave attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resources.

 Optional Groundwater Tour

On Feb. 8, we jumped aboard a bus to explore groundwater, a key resource in California. Led by Foundation staff and groundwater experts Thomas Harter and Carl Hauge, retired DWR chief hydrogeologist, the tour visited cities and farms using groundwater, examined a subsidence measuring station and provided the latest updates on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
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. 

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Event included optional Delta Tour

One of our most popular events, Water 101 details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.

McGeorge School of Law
3285 5th Ave, Classroom C
Sacramento, CA 95817

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 the supply of water is not unlimited.

Drought is the most common motivator of increased water conservation but the gradual drying of the West as a result of 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.

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.