Topic: Regulations — California and Federal

Overview

Regulations — California and Federal

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

PFAS in Tucson: EPA orders cleanup by US Air Force, Air National Guard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is demanding the U.S. Air Force and Arizona National Guard take action as concentrations of toxic “forever chemicals” are increasing in the groundwater in a historically contaminated area on Tucson’s south side. The EPA found the pollution came from the nearby military properties and ordered them to clean up the contamination. High concentrations of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, were detected in Tucson’s groundwater near the Tucson International Airport at the National Guard base and at a property owned by the U.S. Air Force. The contaminants threaten the groundwater extracted at a water treatment run by Tucson Water in the Tucson Airport Remediation Project area, known as TARP. That water was intended for drinking, the EPA said in its May 29 order.

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Aquafornia news Bay City News

Report shows some progress on groundwater storage

The good news is that the San Joaquin Valley has managed to store a little more groundwater since the drought of 2016. The bad news is that it is hard to keep account of what’s working and what’s not. On Tuesday, the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonprofit policy research organization, released an update report on the replenishment of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the areas of the state that is heavily dependent on groundwater. The report also identified those basins best suited to accept water recharge operations, with the highest number being in the eastern and southern regions of the valley. 

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Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Building a climate-resilient and drought-prepared future with Assembly Bill 1272

… Last year, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) introduced a pivotal piece of legislation to enhance drought preparedness and climate resiliency for North Coast watersheds. Supported by a coalition of organizations and Tribal Nations, and co-sponsored by CalTrout, AB 1272 promises a better future for North Coast communities and the iconic species that live there.  North Coast communities are deeply connected to salmon populations and rivers. Declining salmon numbers due to severe droughts and water management challenges have led to the closure of salmon fishing in 2023 and again this year.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State allegedly ghosted Merced’s attempts to get permission to clear creeks for months before the floods

Evidence is stacking up against the state in one of multiple lawsuits over last year’s devastating floods in Merced County. One of the most stunning new pieces of evidence is a string of 12 emails from Merced County staff that went ignored by the state for more than four months before last year’s floods. The lawsuit was filed against the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on behalf of the City of Merced, a local elementary school and 12 agricultural groups. All the plaintiffs took significant damage from flooding after water backed up in clogged waterways and broke through, or overtopped creek banks and levees. The flooding came primarily from Bear Creek and Black Rascal Creek, both of which have flooded before. Flooding from Miles Creek also damaged nearly every home in the small, rural town of Planada.

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Aquafornia news The North Bay Business Journal

‘California Forever’ measure qualifies for November ballot

The billionaire proponents of a brand-new city that would rise from the rolling prairie northeast of the San Francisco Bay cleared their first big hurdle Tuesday, when the Solano County Registrar of Voters certified the group had enough signatures to put its proposal before local voters in November. The group backing the measure, called California Forever, must now convince voters to get behind the audacious idea of erecting a walkable and environmentally friendly community with tens of thousands of homes, along with a sports center, parks, bike lanes, open space and a giant solar farm on what is now pastureland. … But the proposal faces opposition from some local leaders, along with environmental groups concerned about the loss of natural habitat. Project opponents said a recent poll they conducted found that 70% of the people surveyed were skeptical.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Irrigators clash with US government and Yurok Tribe over Klamath water rights at Ninth Circuit

The Klamath Water Users Association, along with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other plaintiff appellants asked a Ninth Circuit appeals panel Wednesday morning to reverse summary judgment from a case that confirmed the bureau and other actors must comply with the Endangered Species Act when operating the Klamath Irrigation Project. Managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Klamath Irrigation Project supplies water to over 225,000 acres of farmland and two wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin along the Oregon-California border. The project, however, decimated the local Chinook and Coho salmon population, which the Yurok tribe rely on to survive. Dams are currently being removed from the upper Klamath Basin, allowing the river to flow freely for the first time in 100 years. In a victory for the fish and the tribe, U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled in 2023 that the federal government must follow its own laws, such as the Endangered Species Act…

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Struggling Angelenos get $253M in relief to pay late DWP and garbage bills

Some $253 million helped Angelenos pay back utility bills from March 2020 through December 2022, city officials announced on Wednesday, June 12. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, Councilmember Heather Hutt, state Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Yana Garcia, Water Resources Control Board Chair Joaquin Esquivel, and officials with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and L.A. Environment and Sanitation celebrated the distribution of federal funding at a news conference. Officials said the aid was automatically applied to about 204,500 DWP customer accounts. The California Water and Wastewater Arrearage Payment Program was the source of the funds, administered by the state water board using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: CA voters to decide if clean air, water are human right

In the Golden State, we pride ourselves on our future-facing environmental values and our climate leadership. At the same time, nearly 1 million residents, primarily in disadvantaged communities, are without access to clean drinking water, and California cities such as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Fresno are burdened year after year by some of the dirtiest, most polluted air in the nation. This glaring duality underscores the failure of our current legal framework to ensure the fundamental rights of all Californians to clean air, water and a healthy environment. It’s time for a change. It’s time for California to enshrine this right into our state constitution. The inalienable rights of life, liberty, safety and happiness guaranteed in the state constitution are under threat by a climate crisis that negatively impacts the health and well-being of all Californians.
-Written by Terry Tamminen and James Strock, former secretaries of the California Environmental Protection Agency. Alan Lloyd, who also contributed to this piece, is also a former secretary of the California EPA.​

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Petition asks California’s highest court to wade into Kern River legal fracas

Plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit over the Kern River filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review an order that tossed out an injunction many had anticipated would guarantee a flowing river through Bakersfield. Specifically, the petition asks the Supreme Court to direct the 5th District Court of Appeal to explain why it stayed the injunction that had required enough water in the river to keep fish in good condition. The Supreme Court petition was filed June 11. The 5th District issued what’s known as a “writ of supersedeas” May 3 setting aside the injunction and staying all legal actions surrounding the injunction, which had been issued by Kern County Superior Court Judge Gregory Pulskamp last fall.

Aquafornia news E&E News

California lawmaker drops plan to regulate senior water rights holders

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is killing her proposal to increase state regulators’ authority over the owners of California’s oldest, most senior water rights amid intense opposition from water agencies, farmers and business groups. Wicks’ legislative director Zak Castillo-Krings confirmed Tuesday that she was pulling the bill, A.B. 1337, which passed the Assembly last year but has been awaiting a hearing in the Senate. The decision comes after water users reached a deal last week with Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan on a bill, A.B. 460, to increase fines for water theft. Both bills emerged last year after three years of historic drought exposed the state’s limits in overseeing water use.

Aquafornia news Politico

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s largest water agency to consider firing general manager

The board of the agency that delivers water to nearly half of Californians will consider firing its top leader over claims of retaliation, harassment and cultivating a toxic work environment at a special meeting Thursday morning, according to an agenda and three people with knowledge.The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California plans to consider whether to discipline or dismiss its general manager and CEO, Adel Hagekhalil, at a Thursday morning board meeting, according to an agenda posted Tuesday. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tribal officials: Colorado River talks ‘nowhere near sufficient’

Native American tribal leaders with a stake in the Colorado River Basin have regular meetings with top Interior Department officials, can claim progress toward major water rights settlements, and often appear on panels at key conferences with federal and state leaders. It’s a significant improvement compared to decades of exclusion of Indigenous people on decisions over the 1,450-mile-long river that supports 40 million people across seven states. But it’s also not enough, according to officials from some of those tribes — who argue their role still falls short of equal footing with states.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Grand jury report faults San Francisco climate threat plans

As climate change unleashes ever-more powerful storms, worsening floods and rising sea levels, San Francisco remains woefully unprepared for inundation, a civil grand jury determined in a report this week. The critical assessment — written by 19 San Franciscans selected by the Superior Court — found that the city and county lacked a comprehensive funding plan for climate adaptation and that existing sewer systems cannot handle worsening floods. Among other concerns, the report also concluded that efforts toward making improvements have been hampered by agency silos and a lack of transparency. Members of the volunteer jury serve yearlong terms and are tasked with investigating city and county government by reviewing documents and interviewing public officials, experts and private individuals.

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Aquafornia news Popular Science

California’s billionaire utopia may not be as eco-friendly as advertised

Silicon Valley billionaires are still aggressively moving forward with their attempt to create a utopian, sustainable “city of yesterday” near San Francisco atop what they describe as “non-prime farmland.” However, an accredited land trust now claims California Forever’s East Solano Plan is intentionally misleading local residents about the “detrimental harm” it will cause ecosystems, as well as its potential to “destroy some of the most self-reliant farmland and ranchland” in the state. … [A]s CBS Sacramento first reported on June 7, Solano Land Trust’s executive director Nicole Braddock contends California Forever’s aim “really goes against our mission of protecting working farms, natural areas, land and water Solano County.” Additionally, the influx of as many as 400,000 new residents would result in “a detrimental impact on Solano County’s water resources, air quality, traffic, farmland, and natural environment,” according to the trust’s board of directors.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

HAF+WRCF launches new fund for Klamath Basin as dams come down

Amid the historic removal of dams on the Klamath River, the Humboldt Area Foundation and Wild Rivers Community Foundation announced the launch of a new fund to support projects in the drastically changing Klamath Basin. According to a Tuesday news release, the fund will support “grantmaking to bolster community healing, Tribal self-determination, science and restoration, storytelling, climate resilience, regenerative agriculture, environmental stewardship, and more.” Starting with $10 million, the foundations aim to support the health and restoration of the basin and the communities that live in it. At least 60% must go to tribes or Indigenous-led organizations, according to the release, with a focus on climate resilience and restorative justice projects.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: California and tribal partners secure critical water supply to support Native American farmers

Working together to support local Tribal farmers, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe have expedited two water transfers to meet immediate water supply needs and to address long-term demands north of the Tulare Lake area. Working with the Tulare Lake Irrigation District, DWR and the Tachi Yokut Tribe entered into a contractual agreement to institute both a temporary and permanent transfer of water resulting in over 600-acre feet of additional water for the area. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Requiring water users to pay for ecological damage: A conversation with environmental lawyer Karrigan Börk

Water diversions can harm aquatic ecosystems, riparian habitat, and beaches fed by river sediment. But the people who use water don’t bear the cost of this ecological damage. “The public pays for it,” says Karrigan Börk, a University of California, Davis law professor who has a PhD in ecology. He is also Co-Director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center and an Associate Director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. Börk presents a new solution to this problem in a recent Harvard Environmental Law Review paper. His idea was sparked by the fact that developers are required to help pay for the burden that new housing imposes on municipal services. To likewise link water infrastructure and diversions with their costs to society, Börk proposes requiring water users to pay towards mitigating the environmental harm they cause. … …One example is in the upper basin of the Colorado River, where water users pay for their environmental impacts.   

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Chemical makers sue over rule to rid water of ‘forever chemicals’

Chemical and manufacturing groups sued the federal government late Monday over a landmark drinking-water standard that would require cleanup of so-called forever chemicals linked to cancer and other health risks. The industry groups said that the government was exceeding its authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act by requiring that municipal water systems all but remove six synthetic chemicals, known by the acronym PFAS, that are present in the tap water of hundreds of millions of Americans. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that the new standard, put in place in April, will prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Sparks fly as Tulare County agency is accused of being “unable and unwilling” to curb over pumping

Fireworks were already popping between board members of a key Tulare County groundwater agency recently over an 11th hour attempt to rein in pumping in the severely overdrafted area. The main issue at the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) meeting June 6 was whether to require farmers in subsidence prone areas to install meters and report their extractions to the agency, which is being blamed for almost single handedly putting the entire subbasin in jeopardy of a state takeover. … In the end, the Eastern Tule board voted 6-0 to require all landowners in the subsidence management area along the canal to meter their wells and report extractions by January 1.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Should clean air and water be the right of every Californian?

A contentious proposal to amend California’s Constitution to enshrine environmental rights for all citizens has been delayed for at least another year after it failed to gain traction ahead of a looming deadline. ACA 16, also known as the green amendment, sought to add a line to the state Constitution’s Declaration of Rights affirming that all people “shall have a right to clean air and water and a healthy environment.” The single sentence sounds straightforward enough, but by the start of this week, the proposal had not yet made it through the state Assembly or moved into the state Senate. Both houses would need to pass the proposal by June 27 in order to get it on voter ballots this fall. … The [Chamber of Commerce] said compliance costs could lead to economic impacts for businesses, communities and local governments. …”

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: A brazen California water heist revealed, prosecuted & punished

Recently, former Panoche Drainage District general manager Dennis Falaschi pled guilty in federal district court in Fresno to having conspired to steal  millions of gallons of publicly-owned water from California’s Central Valley Project (CVP) for private gain. This surreptitious water theft apparently had been going on for well over two decades before Falaschi was finally brought to justice. … Unfortunately, the Falaschi case and conviction are not isolated incidents.  To the contrary, illegal diversion, use and black market sales of the public’s finite and precious water supplies have quite likely gone on for decades, if not centuries. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera farmers and groundwater agency in limbo waiting for court decision on fees

The end of a two-year legal fight over who should pay, and how much, to replenish the groundwater beneath Madera County could be in sight. A motion to dismiss the lawsuit by a group of farmers against the county is set to be heard June 18.  The outcome could determine whether Madera County, which acts as the groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) for hundreds of thousands of acres across three water subbasins, can finally move forward on a host of projects to improve the water table per the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). From the farmers’ point of view, the outcome of this case could make or break their farms, some that have been in their families for generations.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Environmental group concerned draft application for dam removal delay will slow project

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has requested a roughly six-month extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the process of decommissioning two dams on the Eel River. Friends of the Eel River, a conservation non-profit founded to advocate for the dams’ removal, is concerned about the impact this delay will have on the timeline of getting the Eel undammed. The final draft of the decommissioning plan would come out in June of 2025 rather than January of that year. Alicia Hamann, executive director of the Friends, said “a delay of six months could mean another year of those really dangerous conditions for native fish,” when reached by phone Monday. She noted the dangerous conditions were created by variances in the way the dams release water. PG&E has to get approval for the water it releases every year from FERC, and in 2023 the approval was delayed to the point that no cold water was there for fish by the time it was worked out, said Hamman. She said this impacted fish on the river.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California escalates legal battle against oil companies

California Attorney General Rob Bonta intensified his legal fight against five of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies Monday, filing an amended complaint that accuses Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and the American Petroleum Institute of engaging in a prolonged campaign of deception about the realities of climate change and the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels. In the amended complaint, filed Monday afternoon in San Francisco County Superior Court, the attorney general introduces new evidence of false advertising and greenwashing by the companies and seeks the disgorgement remedy provided by Assembly Bill 1366, which was enacted earlier this year. The remedy would require the defendants to surrender profits obtained through their alleged illegal activities, with the funds being directed to the newly established Victims of Consumer Fraud Restitution Fund. Related article:

Aquafornia news Newsweek

California water warning as ‘critical’ tech has ‘concerning gaps’

California’s water supply could be in trouble, as a new study has found that the state’s rivers and streams are severely under monitored, posing serious risks to effective water management. The study, published in Nature Sustainability, stresses that while the state relies heavily on its rivers and streams for water supply, flood control, biodiversity conservation and hydropower generation, only 8 percent of California’s rivers and streams are monitored by stream gauges, devices used to measure water flow. The lack of monitoring not only makes it difficult to manage water resources efficiently but also hinders the ability to understand the effects of climate change and conserve freshwater biodiversity. … The study found that only 9 percent of California’s large dams had stream gauges upstream or downstream to measure water flow. The lack of monitoring hampers the ability to manage water supply and control floods effectively, the researchers said.

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Aquafornia news Wine Industry Advisor

Drip drop: California’s water supply is replenishing — but unevenly

… All might be well in Lodi, but some other regions reported cuts in their 2024 water supply. In the Westlands Water District, which manages the water supply on the westside of Fresno and Kings counties, a Westlands spokeswoman said the agency was allocated less water than it had contracted for: “[It’s] an incredibly disappointing and unjustifiably low allocation for our district water users,” she said.  How is this possible, given the state’s historic rain and snow in the 2023 water year and optimistic forecasts for the 2024 water year? As of May 31, precipitation stood at 104% of normal for the state, while major reservoirs are at 118% of normal, according to figures compiled by California Water Watch.

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Aquafornia news The Willits News

Federal officials give update on Two-Basin Solution during visit to Ukiah

In the form of a grant described as coming from a “brand-new” source of infrastructure funding, the group hoping to continue diversions from the Eel River to the Russian River in Mendocino County has received $2 million from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, federal officials announced during a visit to Ukiah Friday. “Your success is reclamation’s success, and we are committed to that,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner M. Camille Calimlim Touton told the group gathered at Coyote Valley Dam along Lake Mendocino June 7 to hear Rep. Jared Huffman (D – San Rafael) announce the award of $2 million to the Eel-Russian River Authority to help the group of regional stakeholders study how best to approach the possible continued diversion of Eel River water to the Russian River once the dams created for the Potter Valley Project have been removed, a plan being called the Two-Basin Solution.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield, Cal Water lift 5-day-old water advisory

The city of Bakersfield and California Water Service Co. on Sunday lifted the do-not-drink, do-not-use advisory issued Tuesday to 42 commercial customers south of Lake Truxtun after an oil company reportedly allowed pressurized natural gas and crude oil into the municipal water system.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Mitigating PFAS is going to be expensive – very expensive. Water systems can seek funds from the companies responsible

Now that the EPA has finalized the first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standards to protect communities from six widespread PFAS compounds, public water systems will be facing significant implications. According to the new National Primary Drinking Water Regulation, initial monitoring for these PFAS must be completed by 2027 (and followed by ongoing monitoring), and by 2029, systems must mitigate these PFAS if drinking water levels exceed the federal maximum contaminant levels (MCLs).

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

The future of the Colorado River won’t be decided soon, states say

The future of the Colorado River is in the hands of seven people. They rarely appear together in public. [Last week], they did just that – speaking on stage at a water law conference at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The solution to the Colorado River’s supply-demand imbalance will be complicated. Their message in Boulder was simple: These things take time. “We’re 30 months out,” said John Entsminger, Nevada’s top water negotiator. “We’re very much in the second or third inning of this baseball game that we’re playing here.” The audience was mostly comprised of the people who will feel the impact of their decisions most sharply – leaders from some of the 30 Native American tribes that use Colorado River water, nonprofit groups that advocate for the plants and animals living along its banks, and managers of cities and farms that depend on its flows.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Napa Valley has lush vineyards and wineries – and a pollution problem

Famous for its lush vineyards and cherished local wineries, Napa Valley is where people go to escape their problems. … What the more than 3 million annual tourists don’t see, however, is that California’s wine country has a brewing problem – one that has spurred multiple ongoing government investigations and created deep divisions. Some residents and business owners fear it poses a risk to the region’s reputation and environment. At the heart of the fear is the decades-old Clover Flat Landfill (CFL), perched on the northern edge of the valley atop the edge of a rugged mountain range. Two streams run adjacent to the landfill as tributaries to the Napa River. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Amid budget shortfall, lobbyists push for multibillion-dollar climate bond

Dozens of environmental groups, renewable energy companies, labor unions, water agencies and social justice advocates are lobbying state lawmakers to place a multibillion dollar climate bond on the November ballot. Sacramento lawmakers have been bombarded with ads and pitches in support of a ballot proposal that would have the state borrow as much as $10 billion to fund projects related to the environment and climate change. “Time to GO ALL IN on a Climate Bond,” says the ad from WateReuse California, a trade association advocating for projects that would recycle treated sewage and storm runoff into drinking water. … Negotiations are ongoing in closed-door meetings, but details emerged recently when two spreadsheets of the proposed spending, one for an Assembly bill known as AB 1567 and the other for the Senate’s SB 867, were obtained by the news organization Politico. The two plans, which would be combined into a single ballot measure, include money for wildlife and land protection, safe drinking water, shoring up the coast from erosion and wildfire prevention.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Cost of drinking water, wastewater services to increase for some San Jose residents and businesses

The San Jose City Council yesterday approved increased costs for drinking water and wastewater services for some local residents and businesses. The cost of drinking water will increase $10-$11 per month for customers of the San Jose Municipal Water System living in North San Jose, Alviso, Evergreen and Edenvale. Services for wastewater management will also increase by 9% per month. The changes are expected to go into effect on July 1. San Jose Municipal Water System provides drinking water to 12% of residents in the city, according to the city. It is one of three drinking-water suppliers in San Jose, along with San Jose Water Company and Great Oaks Water Company, which are both privately owned. City councilmembers voted 10-1 in favor of increasing rates for wastewater management services and 8-2 in support of raising rates on drinking water.

Aquafornia news E&E News

California lawmaker, water agencies reach deal on water-theft fines

California Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan this week removed the most controversial parts of her bill to expand the state’s ability to fine illegal water diverters, resolving a yearslong fight with public water agencies and farmers. What happened: After Monday’s amendments, Bauer-Kahan’s AB 460 (23R) would still increase the penalties for those who steal water or exceed their allotted share during times of drought. But it no longer expands the Water Resources Control Board’s overall power to investigate and punish what it sees as violations of water rights, which business and water groups said last year would have robbed them of due process. Water users have already begun dropping their opposition. 

Aquafornia news Western Water

New scientific strategy helps make case for holistic management of California rivers

Of California’s many tough water challenges, few are more intractable than regulating how much water must be kept in rivers and streams to protect the environment. … But now, a new strategy developed by scientists to end the stalemate is gaining momentum. … Gov. Gavin Newsom has already made the blueprint a key element of his plans to recover salmon populations and build climate resilience in California’s water systems. Known as the California Environmental Flows Framework, the scientists’ strategy shifts the focus of environmental water management from single species to entire ecosystems. … The blueprint is already being used for rivers that wind through California’s famed vineyards and ancient redwood groves, and streams that feed a Northern California lake of cultural importance to Native American tribes.

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Aquafornia news Fresh Water News

Colorado wetlands protections national leader

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court removed federal regulations protecting wetlands and streams from development pressures in its Sackett v. the EPA decision, Colorado is the first state in the nation to pass legislation replacing those regulations, according to a new national report. The report, by the Clean Water For All coalition and Lawyers for Good Government, shows that eight other states have taken action to restore some level of protection or are trying; five launched failed attempts to impose further cutbacks; and one state, Indiana, rolled back protections further. Thirty-five states have taken no action. Environmentalists say the spotty response is a clear indication that Congress must intervene to create consistent, clearly defined protections that work for all states, and which protect rivers and wetlands that cross state boundaries.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Utah lithium drilling: Water rights debate on the Green River may stop project

The state engineer recently approved water rights for lithium drilling on the Green River. She is now reconsidering her decision. Lithium extraction requires a lot of water. An Australian company promises that a new method uses virtually no water to draw out the metal, which is a fundamental element for rechargeable batteries used in phones, computers, cameras — and especially electric vehicles. The Biden administration considers lithium vital to the nation’s transition to cleaner, renewable energy, and in her approval, Utah State Engineer Teresa Wilhelmsen cited a growing demand for lithium and batteries. But a group of farmers, residents and environmentalists said that using water from the drought-plagued Colorado River system for an unproven project opens a dangerous door.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Solano County will determine this month if California Forever project qualifies for the November ballot

Solano County has announced next steps for the controversial California Forever development.  The proposal, backed by tech and finance billionaires, would build a new city of up to 400,000 people between Fairfield and Rio Vista.  Officials will announce by June 12 whether the project gained enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Bill Emlen, Solano County Administrator, said there’s not a lot of information yet about how this new city could impact roadways and water supplies. 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Lawsuits targeting plastic pollution pile up as frustrated citizens and states seek accountability

 … [I]n California, a two-year-old investigation by Attorney General Rob Bonta into the plastics industry and its claims about recycling shows signs of concluding, potentially resulting in a case pitting the largest state in the nation against one of the largest plastic makers in the world, ExxonMobil, and powerful industry trade associations such as the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Plastics Industry Association (PIA). 

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colorado

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Negotiators from all 7 Colorado River states gather for conference

The people who decide the fate of the Colorado River are gathering in Boulder this week for an annual conference. Their meeting comes at a pivotal time for negotiations on the river’s future. Negotiators from all seven states that use the river will be speaking publicly at the two-day conference. They’re in the middle of tense talks about how to cut back on demand as climate change is shrinking water supplies. They’ve got to come up with new rules for sharing the river before the current guidelines expire in 2026. … This week’s conference will also feature speakers from tribes, cities and farm districts.

Related Colorado basin water supply articles: 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Commentary: California’s salmon are in trouble from many human causes

… California and the life cycle of salmon have been linked for centuries, beginning when only indigenous people lived in the state. California’s rivers and streams benefit from the nutrients salmon bring with them from the ocean. Salmon create jobs. Salmon are our shared living heritage. … [S]almon are on the brink despite California having some of the strictest environmental laws on the planet. The government’s ability to regulate this species to safety is dubious at best. Consider that the state’s primary plan to protect the Delta by balancing the uses of water has not been updated by the State Water Resources Control Board since Bill Clinton was in office. It’s a telling example of water’s political and regulatory paralysis. There is no shared sense of responsibility to save the salmon because we have devised such self-centered regulatory systems.
-Written by Tom Philp, reporter with the Sacramento Bee. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Commentary: How can California overcome water wars to create a resilient supply?

California is a semi-arid state in which the availability of water determines land use, and in turn shapes the economy. That, in a nutshell, explains why Californians have been jousting over water for the state’s entire 174-year history. The decades of what some have dubbed “water wars” may be approaching a climactic point as climate change, economic evolution, stagnant population growth and environmental consciousness compel decisions on California’s water future. A new study, conducted by researchers at three University of California campuses, projects that a combination of factors will reduce California’s water supply by up to 9 million acre-feet a year – roughly the equivalent of all non-agricultural human use.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

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Aquafornia news Mendo Fever - Mendocino County News

News release: PG&E’s extension request sparks worry among Eel River preservationists

PG&E announced on Friday, May 31 late last week that it will request a 7-month extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in decommissioning the Eel River dams. Stakeholders were expecting the utility to file its Draft Surrender Application plan with FERC this month, with a final version due in January 2025. PG&E now says it will file the draft plan in January 2025 and the final version in June 2025. In announcing the delay, PG&E expresses support for the still vague proposal for the New Eel-Russian Facility. This proposal would see a dam-free diversion from the Eel River to the Russian River constructed and managed by the newly formed Eel Russian Joint Powers Authority. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Commentary: Navajo and Hopi water deal has a (Capitol) Hill to climb

Navajo and Hopi are hardly friends. Yet they have unanimously agreed to a deal that could finally bring running water to thousands of tribal homes that lack it in northeastern Arizona. The wide-reaching settlement would resolve a slew of tribal water claims in Arizona, not just those for the Little Colorado River that have been tied up in court for generations. As a result, Navajo and Hopi would be entitled to water from the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River, as well as to the effluent they produce and the groundwater that lies beneath their lands. The deal also carves out a permanent homeland for the San Juan Southern Paiute tribe and quantifies water rights for use on those lands. That’s huge. The closest Arizona ever got to a settlement was more than a decade ago, when some tribal members balked at the last minute and the deal fell apart under its own weight.
-Written by columnist Joanna Allhands. 

Aquafornia news United Nations

Blog: Leaders at World Water Forum urged to prioritize drought resilience

Drought is a hazard, but it needn’t be a disaster. That is, provided all communities are adequately equipped before it strikes. At the 10th World Water Forum, held in Bali from 18 to 25 May, experts urged decision-makers to prioritize drought resilience in the face of climate change, drawing inspiration from success cases around the globe. Representatives from the scientific, non-profit, and technical sectors made the case for building resilience to the world’s costliest and deadliest hazard at an event featuring partners of the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA.) … “Drought and desertification are not just problems for the Sahel region of Africa and for developing countries,” said UNCCD policy officer Daniel Tsegai before an international audience. “We already see impacts in highly productive and populated parts of the developed world like California, Spain, and Australia.”

Related global drought articles: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Revealed: a century-old water war is leaving this rural California county in disrepair

Two rural California airports that are crucial to local air ambulance services, firefighting efforts and search and rescue operations are unable to perform critical repairs, blocked by an agency 300 miles away: the city of Los Angeles. The airports are two of several major pieces of infrastructure in California’s Owens valley left in disrepair because of LA policies, an investigation by AfroLA, the Sheet and the Guardian reveals. Los Angeles has owned large swaths of Inyo county, where the Owens valley is located, for more than a century. With ownership of the land comes rights to its water – water that is key to servicing the thirsty metropolis of 3.8 million people. Aqueducts carrying water from Inyo and neighbouring Mono county to LA provided 73% of the city’s water supply last year.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Jared Huffman calls for last year’s salmon relief funds to be expedited

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman co-sent a letter to federal administrators on Tuesday calling for disaster relief funding to be allocated quicker for the state’s salmon fishery closure in 2023. A year later and no disaster funds have been distributed, and fishermen face another closed season. … Historically, federal disaster aid for fishing disasters has taken years to reach the pockets of fishermen. The season was closed this year, the fourth in California’s history, for largely the same conditions in 2023: low salmon counts. In press releases, the Golden State Salmon Association cited the failure of water management to keep fish eggs in 2021 and 2020 cool, while the California Department of Fish and Wildlife pointed to the multi-year drought conditions the now adult fish were reared under.

Related salmon articles:

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: A California case of stealing water comes up nearly empty

It’s not every day that a former source gets indicted. So when a San Joaquin Valley water manager was charged by federal prosecutors two years ago with allegedly stealing millions of dollars worth of water for lavish personal gain, it stopped me cold. It simply did not square with the person that I thought I knew. Former general manager Dennis Falaschi of the Panoche Water District ended up agreeing to a plea deal last week, acknowledging that he stole some water and falsified some income on a tax return. But upon any objective examination, the deal is far more of a black eye to federal prosecutors than to Falaschi himself because the feds had accused him of stealing $25 million worth of water – more water than some California cities use annually. The government utterly failed to prove anything close to its original case.
-Written by columnist Tom Philp. 

Aquafornia news Earthjustice

Blog: Klamath River dam removal is a victory for tribes

This year, engineers in California and Oregon are carrying out the largest dam removal project in history. For decades, salmon and trout in the Klamath River have struggled to survive in the unhealthy water conditions created by four dams and diversions of water for irrigation. And for more than 20 years, Indigenous Tribes that depend on the fish have been fighting for dam removal. In late 2022, after many rounds of litigation to keep water flowing and the fish alive, federal regulators finally approved a dam removal plan. As the dams on the Klamath come down, members of the Yurok, a Tribe whose reservation sits at the mouth of the river, say they are feeling hopeful about the Klamath’s future.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Money available for wetland owners, applications closing soon

There’s a new opportunity for private wetland owners to make money from their land. The BirdReturns program pays wetland owners to flood their land and provide habitat for birds in the Central Valley. The program offers seasonal participation and is currently accepting applications for fall participation. Applications close on June 9.  The program is funded through a $15 million grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife which will keep the program running through 2026.  The program, “aims to fill in all the other gaps throughout the rest of the year when, in the natural cycle, there would be habitat for birds,” said Ashley Seufzer, senior project coordinator for Audubon California.  This is the second year of the fall program. In the past, there have been participating landowners in the San Joaquin Valley but the number changes every season, said Seufzer. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Counting groundwater: The devil is in the details

A lengthy complaint alleging secretive, self-dealing on the part of a prominent farmer and board member on a key Tulare County groundwater agency slogged through a Fair Political Practices Commission investigation over the past four years resulting in, essentially, a slap on the wrist late last month. Eric L. Borba, former chair of the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency, was found in violation of the state’s disclosure rules at the Commission’s April 25 meeting for not listing his ownership in several ditch companies including the value of those water assets. He was ordered to revamp his Form 700s, which public board members and executives must file each year, and pay a $5,400 fine. The Form 700s now list Borba’s ownership, through a variety of entities, in five area ditch companies. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley, Albany to test parks for evidence of radioactive waste

Officials in Berkeley and Albany are moving forward with plans to test two popular bayside parks — César Chávez and the Albany Bulb — for evidence of radioactive material possibly dumped decades ago by the former Stauffer Chemical Co. plant in Richmond.  Richmond has been dealing with radioactive material and other hazardous waste left by Stauffer for decades, but Berkeley and Albany officials were warned only this year that the company may have also discarded tons of industrial waste into landfills that have since been covered over and converted to the bayshore parks. The planned testing in both cities will include uranium, thorium and the banned pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), on the advice of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, according to reports from both cities. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

First female GM resigns at Turlock CA Irrigation District

Michelle Reimers is resigning as general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District after four years in the job. The water and power utility announced the decision, effective June 21, in a news release Friday. Reimers was its first female GM and had started there as a public information officer in 2006. “She does not have anything specific that she is moving to right away and is looking forward to exploring new ways in which she can impact the water and power industries,” said an email from Constance Anderson, communications division manager.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Living on Earth

Listen: US-Mexico Water Treaty

Amid extreme drought affecting Rio Grande tributaries, Mexico is struggling to make water deliveries to Texas as required by an 80-year old treaty. Martha Pskowski is a reporter with Inside Climate News and spoke with Living on Earth’s Paloma Beltran about how the situation is linked to climate change and farmer livelihoods in both the US and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

US high court to weigh San Francisco water pollutant limits challenge

The nation’s high court has agreed to hear a water quality case next year that will examine U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authority to impose new wastewater discharge requirements on utilities that are based on conditions without specific numeric limits.  San Francisco wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review a July 2023 opinion by judges from the federal appeals court in San Francisco that affirmed agency authority to include broad language prohibiting the pollution and placing conditions on the city’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Those conditions included requiring the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to update its long-term control plan for managing combined-sewer overflows. 

Aquafornia news Active NorCal

College students could face disciplinary action after trashing Shasta Lake

Forest Service officials reported that it took six hours and 17 trash bags to clear the mess left by approximately 3,000 students from both UC Davis and the University of Oregon. The students are accused of littering the beaches and surrounding areas of the popular lake with cups, drink cans, pool floats, and other items, despite being asked to clean up after themselves. Deborah Carlisi, a detailed recreation staff officer for Shasta-Trinity National Forest, stated that staff had provided trash bags and requested that the students pack out whatever they brought in. “Some students used them. Some students didn’t,” Carlisi said. She noted that the worst part is the trash that has sunk to the bottom of the lake, which cannot be cleaned up until water levels drop later in the summer. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Woodward’s water vision

The completion of Woodward Reservoir 114 years ago has been a godsend to South San Joaquin Irrigation District as well as the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy. It has played a key role as an in-district safety net to help SSJID to weather droughts in much better shape than many other water purveyors in California including Tri-Dam Project partner, the Oakdale Irrigation District. The reservoir that holds 36,000 acre feet of water or enough for just over three complete districtwide irrigation runs is off stream as opposed to Tri-Dam reservoirs at Goodwin, Tulloch, Beardsley, and Donnells as well as the Bureau of Reclamation’s New Melones Reservior. New Melones  holds up to 600,000 acre feet for OID and SSJID as the result of the original Melones Reservoir built by the two districts  being inundated to build it.
-Written by Manteca Bulletin editor Dennis Wyatt.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Water decision by Los Angeles expected to help Mono Lake

City leaders in Los Angeles have announced plans to take a limited amount of water from creeks that feed Mono Lake this year, a step that environmentalists say will help build on a recent rise in the lake’s level over the last year. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said it plans to export 4,500 acre-feet of water from the Mono Basin during the current runoff year, the same amount that was diverted the previous year, and enough to supply about 18,000 households for a year. Under the current rules, the city could take much more — up to 16,000 acre-feet this year. But environmental advocates had recently urged Mayor Karen Bass not to increase water diversions to help preserve recent gains and begin to boost the long-depleted lake toward healthier levels. They praised the decision by city leaders as an important step.

Related Sierra Nevada watershed stories: 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

U.S. EPA orders California water company to comply with safe drinking water law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to the Havasu Water Company [in Southern California by the Colorado River] to take a series of steps to prevent further violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA specifically cited the company’s failure to adhere to the Act’s drinking water regulations.This included violation of the maximum allowable level for total trihalomethanes. Trihalomethanes are the byproducts that may form during the disinfection process and may threaten human health through long-term exposure at levels above federal limits.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Audubon Magazine

Tricolored blackbirds once faced extinction—here’s what’s behind their exciting comeback

… The vast majority of Tricolored Blackbirds spend their whole lives in California. A handful breed in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Baja California, and at least 20 of the birds were spotted last year in Idaho. Most, however, nest in the San Joaquin Valley, and many are known to breed a second time in the early summer months—often 50 to 100 miles north in the wetlands and willows of the Sacramento Valley. It’s here, too, that the birds feed on rice in the fall. They often browse the paddies alongside other blackbirds—including the very similar Red-winged Blackbird—that farmers can legally cull as pests. This has inevitably led to losses of Tricolors over the years.      Although the species’ native nesting habitat has been almost entirely removed from California, they’ve adapted with varying success to shifting land use. Where vineyards and orchards have replaced grassland and marsh, the blackbirds have mostly disappeared.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Modesto supplier gets few takers for excess river water

Above-average storms have allowed the Modesto Irrigation District to offer Tuolumne River water to nearby farmers who normally tap wells. It is getting few takers. The program is designed to boost the stressed aquifer generally east of Waterford, just outside MID boundaries. The district board on Tuesday debated whether to drop the price to spur interest, but a majority voted to leave it unchanged. The discussion came amid a state mandate to make groundwater use sustainable by about 2040. MID does not have a major problem within its territory, which stretches west to the San Joaquin River. But it is part of a regional effort to comply with the 2014 law. This includes out-of-district sales of Tuolumne water in years when MID’s own farmers have plenty. That was the case in 2023, one of the wettest years on record, and this year thanks to storage in Don Pedro Reservoir.

Related groundwater article: 

Aquafornia news 8 News - Las Vegas

Cold shot fired in battle over Colorado River invaders

The federal government has released a 584-page document detailing possible solutions to an invasive species that poses “an unacceptable risk” to another fish that’s listed as threatened. When it’s all said and done, officials want to give smallmouth bass a cold shower — or a cool bath, anyway — to discourage them from reproducing. Make no mistake, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s plan is a detailed “Cool Mix” strategy on how to reduce the threat to the humpback chub in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam. Smallmouth bass are voracious predators, and they’ve started to establish populations below the dam where the chub is struggling to survive. Biologists say the bass will feed on the chub, their eggs, and pretty much anything else that will fit in its mouth.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news KJZZ - Tempe, AZ

Navajo president: Failing to pass tribal water rights settlement would be ‘another form of genocide’

The president of the Navajo Nation has signed the resolution approving the historic Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement. In doing so, he joined officials from the Hopi and San Juan Paiute tribes. Before the historic signing, Navajo speaker Crystalyne Curley pointed out how many Navajo live off 10 to 30 gallons of water a day, a fraction of the average American home.  “Just even having the efficiency, the convenience of turning on a faucet of water, that’s something that’s going to change the livelihoods of many of our Navajo people,” she said. Navajo president Buu Nygren said the tribes need the agreement to survive. “Through COVID, through all the national news over the last several years, people truly understand the need for water on Navajo,” Nygren said. But Nygren warned: If we don’t settle the water rights for the Navajo Nation, the Hopi tribe and the San Juan Paiute, it’s just another form of genocide.”

Aquafornia news Surfrider

Blog: Plastic pellets spilled along Southern California coast

“Have you ever heard of nurdles?” I have posed this question countless times while tabling at events and giving talks across San Diego County.  “They are pre-production plastic pellets,” I explain while pouring a few out of a jar into the palm of my hand, adding, “Just about everything made out of plastic starts with nurdles. They are melted down and poured into molds to create plastic cutlery, beach toys, milk jugs…you name it!” I then reveal that I collected the nurdles on display from North County San Diego beaches, emphasizing that ”they easily escape during manufacturing and can also be lost when transported in trucks, shipping containers, and freight trains.” Despite sharing this information with people of all ages for years, it hadn’t occurred to me that the nurdles I find might originate from the rail corridor that transects the beach communities that I frequent in Northern San Diego. 

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Groundwater accounting platform offers data-driven solution for the American West

As the American West faces intensifying water challenges, water managers, landowners, and water users are increasingly turning to the Groundwater Accounting Platform as a data-driven tool that enables them to track water availability and usage with user-friendly dashboards and workflows. This critical tool is now available throughout California to support sustainable groundwater management practices. Unsustainable groundwater pumping across much of the West has endangered long-term water supplies and lead to millions of dollars of infrastructure damage from sinking land. The Groundwater Accounting Platform empowers users to manage long-term, and helps communities avoid undesirable outcomes and maintain clean water supplies at lower costs. Additionally, this critical functionality supports Groundwater Sustainability Agencies as they manage resources in priority basins under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Warm water temperature in Lower Sacramento River in May 2024

In the third week of May 2024, the water temperatures in the lower Sacramento River recorded at Wilkins Slough increased to 72oF, well above the 68oF water quality standard (Figure 1). These warm water temperatures occurred in a wet spring of an Above Normal water year that is following a Wet water year. The water temperature spike occurred between prescribed pulse flow releases from Shasta Dam in May (Figure 1).  Three pulse flows were prescribed this spring to promote and assist migration of juvenile salmon into the lower Sacramento River and the Delta. After the second pulse in early May, the lower river flow was allowed to drop to a drought-level 5000 cfs, causing the high water temperatures.  Shasta Reservoir was virtually full at 4.3 MAF during all of May. The Central Valley Basin Plan’s water quality objective for the lower Sacramento River is 68oF maximum “during periods when temperature increases will be detrimental to the fishery.” (P. 3-14).

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Opinion: Is climate action on extreme heat a human right?

Is climate action on extreme heat a human right? It was a provocative opening question that I posed to the science education graduate students in my climate justice course at San José State University. Put another way: Is a government’s failure to take action on the climate crisis a violation of human rights? The question of human rights, climate justice, and vulnerable groups recently emerged in the news in two different cases an ocean apart, with drastically different outcomes. However, they were connected by an ever-pressing issue: extreme heat and human health. In one case, a group of women known as the Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection argued before the European Court of Human Rights that by failing to meet climate sustainability goals and create accountability measures, the Swiss government had violated their human rights.
-Written by Tammie Visintainer, an assistant professor of science education at San José State University.

Aquafornia news California Water Institute

News release: California Water Institute interim director Laura Ramos appointed to state advisory group on wastewater

California Water Institute Interim Director Laura Ramos has been appointed to the California State Water Board’s Wastewater Needs Assessment (WWNA) Advisory Group. The WWNA is a four-year assessment project, that began in July 2023, to provide information on and strategies to address California’s water-related sanitation system needs. This first-of-its-kind study has two phases:   • Phase I, understanding baseline conditions of California’s wastewater infrastructure and   • Phase II, identifying wastewater systems of concern and potential solution  As part of the Advisory Group, Ramos will advise the WWNA project team to develop a statewide assessment for Californians’ equal and human right to sanitation and safe wastewater management and critical wastewater infrastructure needs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

California legislators advance bills aimed at toxic chemicals, pesticides, lead

Los Angeles area legislators are leading the charge to combat chemicals connected to leukemia, ADHD, hearing loss and breast cancer — and more — through a series of proposed environmental laws. … [L]egislators are also trying to do better by California’s kids, whose developing brains and immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals. … Assemblymember Holden wants to see a crackdown against the state’s longtime enemy of lead in drinking water — a potent neurotoxin that can cause irreversible damage to children’s intellectual development, hearing and ability to concentrate. In 2018, Holden authored a law requiring licensed child care centers in the state to test their tap water for lead contamination. The results came out last year and found that one in four centers had lead levels above the allowable threshold.

Aquafornia news Mono Lake Committee

Blog: Los Angeles chooses to preserve Mono Lake level gains—will not increase diversions this year

“Planned export is 4,500 acre-feet”—that is the much-anticipated decision from Los Angeles on water diversions from the Mono Basin this year. This means Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) diversions will not increase from last year, even though existing rules would allow DWP to quadruple their exports from the Mono Basin. This is good news for Mono Lake, because the decision will help preserve the five feet of recent wet year lake level gains. Thanks and credit for this decision go to Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass for her leadership, city council and agency leaders, community leaders for speaking up for environmental sustainability, and citywide investment in water resilience such as stormwater capture and other local water conservation measures. It follows a request by the Mono Lake Committee and a diverse coalition of supporters in March to not increase diversions. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Damages from PFAS lawsuits could surpass asbestos, industry lawyers warn

The defense lawyer minced no words as he addressed a room full of plastic-industry executives. Prepare for a wave of lawsuits​ with​ potentially “astronomical” costs​. Speaking at a conference earlier this year, the lawyer, Brian Gross, said the coming litigation could “dwarf anything related to asbestos,” one of the most sprawling corporate-liability battles in United States history. Mr. Gross was referring to PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that have emerged as one of the major pollution issues of our time. Used for decades in countless everyday objects — cosmetics, takeout containers, frying pans — PFAS have been linked to serious health risks including cancer. Last month the federal government said several types of PFAS must be removed from the drinking water of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Related PFAS article:

Aquafornia news Downey Brand

Blog: Ninth Circuit hands major victory to senior water right holders on the Sacramento River

On May 23, 2024, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a published opinion in Natural Resources Defense Council et al. v. Debra Haaland et al. (Case No. 21-15163) (“NRDC v. Haaland”) rejecting the plaintiffs’ challenges to the federal environmental review of certain long-term water supply contracts for the Central Valley Project (“CVP”). Specifically, the Ninth Circuit held that the Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”), Fish & Wildlife Service (“FWS”), and National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) complied with the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) in evaluating the effects of executing and implementing these contracts on listed species. The opinion is the latest development in a nearly 20-year-old case that is in its second round of review by the Ninth Circuit. The Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (“Settlement Contractors”) are agricultural, municipal, and industrial water users who hold senior water rights to the Sacramento River. Downey Brand represents a large group of Settlement Contractors in this case.

Related water rights articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Powerful Kern water agency paid more than $600,000 to oust its longtime attorney

A settlement agreement obtained by SJV Water shows the longtime attorney for the Kern County Water Agency was paid $640,000 when she was fired in March. The agency voted to fire Attorney Amelia Minaberrigarai after a March 18 special meeting. She had just three months left on her contract. The agency stated she was not fired for cause, which meant she was entitled to be paid for the remaining months on her contract, or about $80,000. Instead, she received $640,000 in exchange for not suing the agency, according to the settlement agreement. The agency also agreed to treat Minaberrigarai as a “retiring employee,” meaning she was also paid for any sick or vacation time she had banked.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Climate-smart tools to protect California’s freshwater biodiversity

California’s freshwater ecosystems—and the native plants and animals that rely on them—have been in decline for decades. Roughly half of California’s native freshwater species are highly vulnerable to extinction within this century. But efforts to protect and recover native species now face an additional serious threat: climate change, which is accelerating and compounding the impacts of past and current land and water management issues. Simply working harder, using the same insufficient approaches to conservation, is unlikely to be successful. New approaches, including some that are experimental or highly controversial, are urgently needed. Although California has recently made important strides in setting goals for salmon, the state lacks a comprehensive approach to protecting native biodiversity in the face of climate change. We have identified a portfolio of actions that can help California rise to this urgent challenge.

Related river ecosystem articles: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Conspiracy plea deepens mystery in long-running California water heist

The former general manager of a San Joaquin Valley water district, accused by federal prosecutors of carrying out one of the most audacious and long-running water heists in California history, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a version of the crime far more muted than what prosecutors had laid out in their original indictment. As part of a plea agreement negotiated with prosecutors, Dennis Falaschi, 78, former longtime head of the Panoche Water District, appeared in a Fresno federal courtroom and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to steal water from the government and one count of filing a false tax return. The plea deal is a jarring twist in a case that has captivated farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. In 2022, prosecutors accused Falaschi of masterminding the theft of more than $25 million worth of water out of a federal irrigation canal over the course of two decades and selling it to farmers and other water districts.

Related water theft articles: 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Water right exactions

Water right exactions are a proposed tool to mitigate costs associated with water rights and water infrastructure that would also help users make better decisions about how much water to use. But first, what are exactions? Exactions are a land use permitting tool used by cities and other permitting agencies to ensure developers bear some of the public costs of new development, like increased traffic, a need for more parks, or increased sewage from new residents. Technically, an exaction is property (money or other property) given by a developer in exchange for a discretionary permit (i.e., a permit that the permitting entity can decide whether or not to issue).

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Rehearing on Kern River rejected by appellate court. Next step could be the California Supreme Court

The 5th District Court of Appeal denied a petition Friday to rehear the court’s earlier decision to put a hold on a Kern County court’s order that had required the City of Bakersfield keep enough water in the Kern River for fish to survive. Both plaintiffs in the action have said they will likely petition the California Supreme Court to review the 5th District’s ruling. … Keeping enough water in the river for fish, Keats noted, would be more cost effective. Bakersfield does want water in the river, said its attorney Colin Pearce. But it only has so much to give. “The city has been trying to get water in the river for decades,” Pearce said. “The fight is really between the water districts, who have more water than the city, and the plaintiffs, who want more water in the river.”

Aquafornia news Newsweek

California city to see water bills spike

Healdsburg, California, residents can expect their water and sewer bills to go up by 21 percent beginning in August after a rate hike was approved this week by the Healdsburg City Council. According to the city’s Water and Wastewater Cost of Service and Rate Design Study, this could amount to as much as $34 per month for some residents in the Northern California community. … The city said the revenue will help improve and maintain its water system, including fixing bursting pipes.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Opinion: With half of the $99 million secured for prized Shoshone water rights on Colorado River, now the feds need to pitch in

Hey, Congress: Colorado is doing its part, now we need you to do yours.  As someone who was raised on the Western Slope, I have always felt a deep connection to water. Whether it is snow on the slopes, rapids in the river or irrigation on our fields, water is the common thread that weaves together the future of our communities across geographic, political and socio-economic divides. Now, as the state senator who represents the headwaters of the Colorado River, addressing my constituents means prioritizing our state’s water interests, which is becoming increasingly important. 
-Written by Dylan Roberts, a Democratic state senator for District 8.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

The other border dispute is over an 80-year-old water treaty

Maria-Elena Giner faced a room full of farmers, irrigation managers and residents in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas on April 2.  The local agricultural community was reeling. Reservoirs on the Rio Grande were near record lows and the state had already warned that water cutbacks would be necessary. The last sugar mill in the region closed in February, citing the lack of water. But Mexico still wasn’t sending water to the U.S. from its Rio Grande tributaries, as a 1944 treaty requires the country to do in five-year intervals. … The IBWC, based in El Paso, implements the boundary and water treaties between the two countries. Giner’s team had spent 2023 working to reach an agreement with Mexico to ensure more reliable water deliveries on the Rio Grande. In December, she was confident the U.S. and Mexico would sign a new agreement, known as a minute. But at the final hour Mexico declined to sign. 

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Opinion: California’s water rights system still needs fixing

I’ve spent years writing about California water policy and my thoughts on water rights can be summarized simply: the current system is inequitable and must be modernized if the state has any hope of staving off the worst impacts of the climate crisis. It is only a matter of time before we are in another major drought and our water supply becomes even more scarce. … The bills are currently making their way through the committee process and it is vital they pass. The Coachella Valley’s water future depends on it. AB 1337 (Wicks) gives the State Water Resources Control Board – the agency charged with protecting water use during droughts and times of scarcity – the ability to oversee the amount of water used by all water rights holders when there is a shortage.
-Written by Amanda Fencl, a Western States Senior Climate Scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Aquafornia news E&E News

California mulls expanded water storage to combat drought

…Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is looking for new places to store water and preparing to prevent saltwater from creeping into California’s main water hub as part of long-term drought planning outlined in a report published Thursday. The report was prompted in part by last year’s state audit that determined that the state Department of Water Resources did not adequately factor climate change into its forecasts. It lists several ongoing efforts to revamp the State Water Project but does not propose any significant changes in operations … Climate change is likely to further constrict deliveries by the State Water Project, the state-run system of pipes, pumps and reservoirs that provides water to 27 million Californians and irrigates 750,000 acres of farmland.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A new challenge targets Arrowhead bottled water pipeline

Environmental activists have opened a new front in their long-running fight against a company that pipes water from the San Bernardino Mountains and bottles it for sale as Arrowhead brand bottled water. In a petition to the state, several environmental groups and local activists called for an investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, arguing that the company BlueTriton Brands is harming wildlife habitat and species by extracting water that would otherwise flow in Strawberry Creek. Those who oppose the taking of water from San Bernardino National Forest want the state agency to assess the environmental effects and uphold protections under state law, said Rachel Doughty, a lawyer for the environmental nonprofit Story of Stuff Project.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Greens lose case to protect fish in California water fight

Federal agencies and California farmers fended off a challenge by environmentalists seeking greater protections for several vulnerable fish species, as an appeals court Thursday upheld the handling of long-disputed irrigation water contracts. In the latest round of a fight that’s dragged on for decades and isn’t over yet, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the Biden administration properly considered the impact of the irrigation water deliveries on the delta smelt and Chinook salmon. Both species are protected by the Endangered Species Act.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Within the heart of the Navajo Nation and in the shadow of the sandstone arch that is the namesake of the tribal capital, a simple greeting and big smiles were shared over and over again Friday as tribal officials gathered: “Yá‘át’ééh abíní!” It was a good morning, indeed, for Navajo President Buu Nygren as he signed legislation in Window Rock, Arizona, outlining a proposed settlement to ensure three Native American tribes have water rights from the Colorado River and other sources — and drought-stricken Arizona has more security in its supply. The signature came a day after the Navajo Nation Council voted unanimously in favor of the measure. The San Juan Southern Paiute and Hopi tribes also approved the settlement this week.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

Mexico front-runner Sheinbaum aims to reform water-heavy agriculture sector

Claudia Sheinbaum, front-runner in Mexico’s presidential race, aims to overhaul water governance in the agriculture sector, the top user of the country’s scarce supply, with a potential investment of 20 billion pesos ($1.2 billion) per year. Julio Berdegue, a member of Sheinbaum’s campaign team focused on water and the agricultural sector, told Reuters the candidate’s six-year plan will review existing water concessions, crack down on illegal use, update irrigation technology and revamp national water entity CONAGUA. He cautioned the plan, details of which have not previously been reported, was still in development and could change. Sheinbaum has said she plans to reform the National Water Law and develop a strategy to confront pervasive issues in Mexico, which is suffering from crippling drought, widespread water shortages, and heat waves in recent days so severe that howler monkeys are dropping dead from trees.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Water bill aims to bolster protections for electric utilities, others

Lawmakers aim to amp up protections for water used by Colorado’s largest electric utilities with a broadly supported bill based on recommendations from water experts around the state. Senate Bill 197 would help electric utilities hold onto water rights that could otherwise be declared “abandoned” as the state transitions to clean energy. It would also enhance protections for environmental and agricultural water, and ease access to funding for tribes. The bill grew out of water policy recommendations developed by the Colorado River Drought Task Force in 2023. The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, is the legislature’s main effort this year to address those recommendations — and to help Colorado address its uncertain water future. Polis has until June 7 to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his endorsement or veto it.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

California river salmon fishing season closed due to dramatic declines

July 16 has been, for many years, the day that Chinook salmon fishing opens to recreational anglers on the Sacramento, American, Feather and Mokelumne rivers. One of the most popular salmon fishing spots is the mouth of the American River at Discovery Park in Sacramento, where dozens of boats and bank anglers line up in the predawn darkness hoping for the chance to hook a beautiful, ocean-bright salmon. But this year, just like last year, the rivers will be closed to salmon fishing. On May 15, the California Fish and Game Commission unanimously adopted emergency regulations for Chinook salmon fishing closures in the Central Valley and Klamath River Basins, due to dramatic population declines.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kings County Farm Bureau blames one local water board for state intervention; demands heads roll

The fallout and recriminations in Kings County continue over the state Water Resources Control Board’s historic decision to place the Tulare Lake subbasin on probation for failing to come up with a cohesive plan to protect the region’s groundwater. The Kings County Farm Bureau, which has already sued the Water Board over the probationary designation, is now demanding the resignations of the manager and entire board of directors of one local water board, saying they are at fault for putting the region in jeopardy with the Water Board. The Farm Bureau is seeking to oust Kings County Water District General Manager Dennis Mills and all of the district’s board members. Mills and three of those board members also sit on the Mid-Kings River Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District looks to update grey water rules

Installing drought-tolerant landscaping or using recycled water for irrigation could become substitutes for grey water systems under a proposal from the Marin Municipal Water District. The district’s communications and water efficiency committee has endorsed a proposal that will overhaul the grey water ordinance that was adopted in 2016. Grey water is wastewater from bathtubs, showers, bathroom sinks and clothes washers. The existing ordinance states that applicants seeking new water service, and projects requesting expanded water service for large residential or commercial remodels, must install a grey water recycling system for landscape irrigation. However, the district allowed customers to self-certify whether a grey water system was feasible, resulting in many owners of eligible sites exempting their properties, staff said.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

CDFA wants to streamline reporting regs

California’s agriculture agency has released a concept paper proposing ways to streamline ag-related food safety and water quality reporting requirements. The paper is part of a regulatory alignment study led by the state Department of Food and Agriculture in coordination with the California Environmental Protection Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board. Officials said the objective is to reduce paperwork for farmers and ranchers. Informed by a broad range of interviews and feedback, the proposals presented in the concept paper serve as a foundation and are not final recommendations.

Aquafornia news Aspen Daily News

The ‘academic proposal’ for the Colorado River

Two groups of states submitted conflicting proposals in March describing how federal officials should manage reservoirs on the Colorado River after 2026. Former Colorado River Water Conservation District General Manager Eric Kuhn, along with two other water experts, have their own idea to pitch. Kuhn and his co-authors, University of New Mexico professor John Fleck and Utah State University professor Jack Schmidt want to add more flexibility to dam operations to address environmental and recreation concerns in the Grand Canyon below Glen Canyon Dam (the dam that forms Lake Powell). Kuhn presented what has been called the “academic proposal” during a Colorado Basin Roundtable meeting in Glenwood Springs on Monday. He said the document is not a “proposal” akin to the states’ proposals, describing it as more of an “approach” that can be incorporated with other proposals.

Related Colorado River stories: 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Water agencies, feds agree to new drought resilience program

Major Central Valley water agencies have signed an agreement with the federal government to establish a new drought resiliency framework.  The partnership is funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. The big picture: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Friant Water Authority, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority all signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday to establish a South of Delta Drought Resiliency Framework. The MOU establishes an approach to implement drought resiliency projects and framework, which includes a drought plan that allows the agencies to conserve and store or exchange a portion of their water deliveries for use in future years with lower supplies.

Related Central Valley water infrastructure articles:  

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water officials mostly cleared in drought-related water rights saga

Three California companies pushing back against state emergency regulations and water curtailment orders saw most of their claims dismissed by a federal judge Tuesday. Los Molinos Mutual Water Company, Stanford Vina Ranch Irrigation Company and Peyton Pacific Properties LLC challenged the restrictions, which were in response to 2021 and 2022 drought conditions. … However [U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd] kept intact the Endangered Species Act claim against water board members and staff while tossing all claims against the [state] Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Aquafornia news Holland & Knight

Blog: The FDA’s new pre-harvest agricultural water rule – impacts on PFAS-contaminated groundwater?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – acting under its Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), as amended, 21 U.S.C. § 2201 et seq., to address the safety of all FMSA-covered produce other than sprouts (Covered Produce) – on May 6, 2024, issued a final rule that amended its 2015 rule on the safety of produce. With certain exceptions for growers of Covered Produce, the FDA’s new rule requires pre-harvest agricultural water assessments for hazard identification and risk management decision-making purposes. Requirements for harvest and post-harvest use of agricultural water have not changed. The FDA regulated sprouts specifically in an earlier pre-harvest agricultural water regulation that remains applicable to that produce.

Aquafornia news Law360

Calif. atty denies role in Flint water PR stunt

A California attorney representing a public relations firm told a Michigan federal judge on Monday that she had nothing to do with the firm’s campaign attacking a lawyer suing one of its clients connected to the Flint water crisis.  . . .

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Sebastopol looks to hike water, sewer rates as city workers seethe

Sebastopol residents could pay an average of $43 more per month for water and sewer services beginning July 1. The proposed increase, to be discussed by city leaders on Tuesday and be voted on by the Sebastopol City Council in June, is meant to cover the cost of much needed maintenance and replacements on the city’s aging system. The city has dipped into reserves for the past five years, depleting its “rainy day” account. According to city documents, the city expects its water fund to have just $13,000-plus on the books at the end of the 2023-24 fiscal year, while its wastewater fund will be in the hole by more than $1 million. … To backfill the loss, the city plans to raise water rates by 50%. It could then follow one of two recommended plans: raise rates by 16% in year two, then two percent for the next three years. Or, in the second plan, the city could raise rates by 11% in the second year, then 9% for the next three years.

Aquafornia news E&E News by POLITICO

Biden admin advances groundwater permitting policy

The Biden administration is moving forward with new permitting guidance to curb pollution that moves through groundwater in response to a landmark Supreme Court ruling. In a decision praised by environmental advocates, the high court ruled in 2020 that wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities must obtain federal permits for groundwater pollution that affects major bodies of water. Since then, however, questions have emerged over how to interpret and apply the ruling, which said that permits are necessary if groundwater pollution has the “functional equivalent” of directly contaminating a lake, river or other surface water. The Trump administration issued its own interpretation of the ruling in January 2021, which EPA under President Joe Biden scrapped months later.

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Aquafornia news Representative Josh Harder

News release: Harder slams new Delta Tunnel report after Sacramento admits the project would irreparably harm Delta communities

Today, Rep. Harder called out Sacramento politicians and the California Department of Water Resources for trying to ship the Central Valley’s water south while causing “significant and unavoidable” impacts on Delta communities. In a benefit-cost analysis released yesterday, the state admits the cost of the project has grown to over $20 billion and would devastate Delta communities with $167 million in damages. The project would be a disaster for Delta communities by destroying farmland and worsening air quality. “This new analysis acknowledges what we’ve known all along: the Delta Tunnel is meant to benefit Beverly Hills and leave Delta communities out to dry,” said Rep. Harder. “This $20 billion boondoggle project wouldn’t create a single new gallon of water for anyone. I’m sick and tired of politicians in Sacramento ignoring our Valley voices and I will do everything in my power to stop them from stealing our water.” 

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Oroville considers lifting fluoride requirement

Time has passed, but tension once ran deep between Oroville and Cal Water, when the utility company refused the city’s request to add fluoride to its water supply in 1954. In fact, Oroville complained to the California Public Utilities Commission in 1955, asking it to order Cal Water to obtain its fluoridation permit. Its case with the CPUC met a petition with the California Supreme Court in 1957, but Cal Water ultimately applied for and received its permit from the state Department of Health by the end of that year. It was said to be the first request of its kind in the United States to a state regulatory body like the CPUC, according to the March 1, 1955 Oroville Mercury-Register. But that’s all history, now that the Oroville City Council will consider Tuesday whether to require Cal Water add fluoride to the domestic water supply in city limits.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Couple sues Newport Beach after same water main breaks twice

The trial dates for two related lawsuits filed against the city of Newport Beach accusing it of negligence in the maintenance of a water main that burst and flooded a local home twice has been set for this fall, according to attorney Jesse Creed. Amy and Marshall Senk have owned their home on Evening Canyon Road in Corona del Mar since 2002 and, after remodeling it, began living there in August 2006. In October 2020, a water main owned and operated by the city failed and burst, which led to “catastrophic” flooding of the property with 500,000 gallons of water, according to a complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court in April 2023 by the Senks’ attorneys from Panish|Shea|Ravipudi LLP. The damage left in the wake of the failure made the house uninhabitable.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Government coalition opposes Dolores monument

A coalition of Northwest Colorado governments has come out in opposition to designating the Dolores Canyon region as a national monument. The board of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado this week approved a resolution urging “President Biden, federal agencies and legislative bodies to consider the adverse impacts such designation would have on local governance, economy, access, and national security.” The board’s action came the same week Mesa County commissioners passed a resolution opposing the monument designation. … [The AGNC] worries about potential impacts to things such as farming/ranching and recreational access, and to potential mining of uranium and lithium in the region that “represents a critical matter of national security, particularly considering the current state of global affairs.”

Related land use and conservation article: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kings County Farm Bureau sues state for placing the region on probation because of groundwater woes

The Kings County Farm Bureau and two of its farmer members have filed suit against the state Water Resources Control Board, claiming the board exceeded its jurisdiction when it placed the Tulare Lake groundwater subbasin on probation April 16. A writ of mandate was filed May 15 in Kings County Superior Court. A writ is an order asking a governmental body, in this case the Water Board, to cease an action. The farm bureau is asking the board to vacate the resolution, which was passed unanimously. “The board’s decision to place the (Tulare Lake Subbasin) on probation violated the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and expanded the board’s authority beyond its jurisdiction,” a Kings County Farm Bureau press release states.  The filing asks for declaratory and injunctive relief, and cites eight causes of action under the writ that the “probationary designation is arbitrary, capricious, and lacking in evidentiary support.” 

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Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Glenwood $2 million pledge pushes Shoshone campaign over halfway mark

A Western Slope fundraising effort to buy the historic Shoshone hydroelectric plant water rights is now more than half of the way toward succeeding thanks to a $2 million contribution by the City of Glenwood Springs, just downstream of the Glenwood Canyon facility. Glenwood’s City Council unanimously approved the funding Thursday. The city’s recreation-based economy relies in part on reliable Colorado River flows through the canyon, which the plant’s water rights help assure by virtue of their seniority. 

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Aquafornia news Grist

Bottled water is full of microplastics. Is it still ‘natural’?

Is bottled water really “natural” if it’s contaminated with microplastics? A series of lawsuits recently filed against six bottled water brands claim that it’s deceptive to use labels like “100 percent mountain spring water” and “natural spring water” — not because of the water’s provenance, but because it is likely tainted with tiny plastic fragments. Reasonable consumers, the suits allege, would read those labels and assume bottled water to be totally free of contaminants; if they knew the truth, they might not have bought it. … Experts aren’t sure it’s a winning legal strategy, but it’s a creative new approach for consumers hoping to protect themselves against the ubiquity of microplastics. Research over the past several years has identified these particles — fragments of plastic less than 5 millimeters in diameter — just about everywhere, in nature and in people’s bodies. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California tribe reclaims stolen land

When the Wilton Rancheria tribe restored its control over a 77-acre parcel outside Sacramento recently, tribal Chairman Jesus Tarango Jr. couldn’t stop smiling. … For years, Tarango’s elders had fought to remain on their ancestral territory in the Sacramento Valley, only to have the U.S. government repeatedly renege on promises: Officials sold their land to private buyers and even canceled their status as a federally recognized tribe. … “Home” means something different if you happen to be a descendant of the Miwok and Nisenan tribes that lived on and watched over this part of Northern California only to watch it fall into the hands of outsiders, Tarango said. He describes his tribe as “a river people.” They view the Cosumnes River and the many creeks that rush over boulders and wind past wooded banks in their homeland as sacred givers of life and sources of power. Those waters flow through them too.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Water right enforcement in California

In August 2022, amidst a severe drought, the State Water Board ordered ranchers and farmers in Siskiyou County to cease irrigation.  Initially facing fines starting at $500 per day, escalating to $10,000 after 20 days or a hearing, they chose to continue irrigating due to economic pressures.  This decision led to a significant reduction in the Shasta River’s flow, endangering local salmon populations. The incident underscored the State Water Board’s limited enforcement capabilities and the minor penalties for water rights violations compared to water quality infringements.  As a result, there is now proposed legislation aimed at empowering the State Water Board to enforce water rights more effectively and impose deterrent fines for violations. Navigating California’s complex water rights landscape has always been contentious. 

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Corcoran has sunk nearly 5 feet

Land subsidence remains the biggest issue in the new state regulation of groundwater. The state Water Board reports that subsidence measured as much as 7 feet just east of Corcoran between June 2015 and January 2024. Groundwater pumping west of Highway 99 has caused the land to sink at least 4 to 5 feet according to a DWR database. The worry here is the collapse of water delivering infrastructure. Tulare Lake farmers have been asked to install metering on their pumps 90 days after the decision to put the GSA on probation which was made April 16. That means by mid-July pumpers must install metering as well as begin reporting how much water they are extracting.

Aquafornia news Tehachapi News

Legal issues between city, water district remain unresolved

As of Tuesday morning, there was no news from Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto on a dispute over the city’s approval of the proposed Sage Ranch subdivision. The issue is whether the city of Tehachapi violated state law when it approved a 995-unit residential project on 138 acres near Tehachapi High School in September 2021. The long-awaited hearing on the first through third causes of action of the case, Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District vs. City of Tehachapi, took about three hours on May 3, with Acquisto questioning attorneys about case law and water.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Opinion: Cowabunga – Irrigated farms, ranches good for critters

Taking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at its word to employ a “robust public engagement process”, a coalition of over a dozen national and state farm and water organizations have engaged the agency on its proposal to list the northwestern and southwestern pond turtles under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The litigious Center for Biological Diversity has been pushing for stronger protection for the pond turtles for over a decade. The proposed listing of the turtle could potentially impact producers and water managers in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. … For example, millions of acre-feet of stored water in the past decade have been directed away from farmland and flushed out to the sea to “protect” delta smelt in California and coho salmon on the Klamath River.
-Written by Dan Keppen is executive director of the Family Farm Alliance.

Aquafornia news Food and Environment Reporting Network

In California, a native people fight to recover their stolen waters

When Noah Williams was about a year old, his parents took him on a fateful drive through the endless desert sagebrush of the Owens Valley—which the Nüümü call Payahuunadü—in California’s Eastern Sierra. Noah was strapped into his car seat behind his mother, Teri Red Owl, and his father, Harry Williams, a Nüümü tribal elder who loved a teachable moment. “Hey look—that’s our water!” he liked to tell Noah whenever they drove past the riffling cascades of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. … In a state shaped by water grabs, drought emergencies, and “pray for rain” billboards, Payahuunadü is the locus of California’s most infamous water war—the fight between Payahuunadü residents and the city of Los Angeles, over 200 miles away. … Around 1904, Los Angeles city officials came up with a plan to take the valley’s water for themselves.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

The biggest water measures passed by Colorado lawmakers this year

Colorado lawmakers gave the thumbs-up to 10 water measures this year that will bring millions of dollars in new funding to help protect streams, bring oversight to construction activities in wetlands and rivers, make commercial rainwater harvesting easier and support efforts to restore the clarity of Grand Lake. Money for water conservation, planning and projects was a big winner, with some $50 million approved, including $20 million to purchase the Shoshone water rights on the Colorado River. Sen. Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco, chair of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, expressed gratitude for the legislature’s focus on water issues and for funding the Shoshone purchase.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California bans salmon fishing on rivers for a second year

California regulators have decided to ban fishing for chinook salmon on the state’s rivers for a second year in a row, in effort to help the species recover from major population declines. The unanimous vote by the California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday follows a similar decision last month to prohibit salmon fishing along the California coast this year. The decision will shut down the recreational salmon fishing season along the Sacramento, American, Feather, Mokulumne, Klamath and Trinity rivers, among others. State officials have said salmon are struggling because of factors such as reduced river flows during the severe drought from 2020-2022, the effects of climate change, harmful algae blooms, and shifts in the species’ ocean diet. Fishing advocates blamed Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration, arguing that the state has been sending too much water to farms and cities, and depriving rivers of the cold flows salmon need to survive.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Colorado River: Bill would allow killing of rare species to get deal done

Imperial Irrigation District officials have figured out how to surmount a key hurdle to complete a Colorado River conservation deal worth nearly $800 million: pushing to have California legislators quickly pass a bill that would immediately give them the power to kill endangered fish and birds. District staff, the bill’s sponsor and environmentalists say that likely wouldn’t occur, thanks to funding to create habitat elsewhere, and due to backstop federal species protections that are actually stronger than the state’s. But it is a counter-intuitive piece of lawmaking that has upset one longtime critic. What’s driving the legislation are a tiny desert pupfish and two types of birds, all nearing extinction, which have found unlikely refuge in the Imperial Valley’s concrete drainage channels and marshy areas by the fast-drying Salton Sea.

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Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton council authorizes issuance of $19M in water revenue bonds

The Pleasanton City Council unanimously approved finance documents to allow the city to issue water revenue bonds with a principal maximum amount of $19 million, which will help pay for water system improvement projects and the first phase and design work for drilling new wells as part of the city’s Water Supply Alternative Project. Following the council decision to authorize the bond issuance during the May 7 council meeting, staff said pricing and interest rates for the bonds will be established on May 20 or May 21 with the goal of having the city receive the bond proceeds on June 4. “This is similar to buying a house. You don’t just get it from your salary, sometimes you have to go into debt and pay it back over time,” Mayor Karla Brown said during the meeting. “But this will be a big shift in this city.” 

Aquafornia news Sustainable Conservation

Report: Multi-disciplinary committee jointly publishes report on the intersection of SGMA and cover crop water use in California’s Central Valley

A multi-disciplinary authorship group of over 30 individuals has published a report comprised of literature review, policy analysis, and recommendations pertaining to the water impacts of cover crop practices in California’s Central Valley under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The report, entitled “Cover Cropping in the SGMA Era,” is the product of a convening process jointly developed by the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), Natural Resources Conservation Service of California (NRCS-CA), and University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and assembled by Sustainable Conservation.

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Aquafornia news ABC News

US dedicates $60 million to saving water along the Rio Grande as flows shrink and demands grow

The U.S. government is dedicating $60 million over the next few years to projects along the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and West Texas to make the river more resilient in the face of climate change and growing demands. The funding announced Friday by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland marks the first disbursement from the Inflation Reduction Act for a basin outside of the Colorado River system. While pressures on the Colorado River have dominated headlines, Haaland and others acknowledged that other communities in the West — from Native American reservations to growing cities and agricultural strongholds — are experiencing the effects of unprecedented drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. City Council backs plan to double sewer fees

Many Los Angeles residents will see their sewer fees double over the next four years, with the City Council approving the increases Tuesday over the objections of business groups concerned that landlords will be disproportionately affected. The council voted 11 to 4 for the rate hikes, with Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez, Kevin de León, Imelda Padilla and Heather Hutt dissenting. The increases are needed to fund the rising cost of construction and materials, officials with the Bureau of Sanitation said. The officials said that labor costs will rise 24% over the next five years because of a recent salary package for city workers backed by Mayor Karen Bass and the council.

Aquafornia news Law360

California city sues Dow, Shell over TCP-tainted water

Dow Chemical and Shell USA are facing a negligence suit in California federal court by the city of Pomona, alleging the companies are responsible for manufacturing commercial products containing the toxic 1,2,3-trichloropropane that has migrated into the city’s water supply and seeking to recoup costs over response efforts. …

Aquafornia news Pacific Sun

Have SF water policies led to salmon collapse?

[Tuolumne River Trust's policy director Peter] Drekmeier’s beef with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission goes back years and rests on the premise that the agency stores far more water than it needs in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, on the upper Tuolumne, at the expense of the river downstream. The commission’s water management plan is based on the unlikely possibility of an 8.5-year drought—a theoretical disaster dubbed the “design drought” that critics consider overkill. … Environmentalists insist the agency could take a more fish-friendly approach, releasing more water through O’Shaughnessy Dam into the Tuolumne River while still providing adequate supplies for its 2.7 million customers.

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Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: Judge’s ruling muddies North Coast water plans

A federal judge just added yet another layer to planning a sustainable future for the region’s water resources. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers violates the Endangered Species Act with water released from Coyote Valley Dam into the Russian River. Because of the way the 66-year-old dam is designed, a lot of sediment gets mixed with the water and clouds the Russian River. Salmon and other fish are accustomed to some natural turbidity in the water, as the clouding is called, but not that much. The good news is that the Corps of Engineers has a few months to come up with at least a temporary plan to address the judge’s concerns. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Revelations of possible radioactive dumping around Bay Area trigger testing

Beyond a chain-link fence topped with spiraled barbed wire, swaying coastal grasses conceal a cache of buried radioactive waste and toxic pesticides from a bygone chemical plant. Warning signs along the Richmond, Calif., site’s perimeter attempt to discourage trespassers from breaching the locked gates, where soil testing has detected cancer-causing gamma radiation more than 60 times higher than background levels in some places. For most of the 20th century, the former Stauffer Chemical Co. disposed of thousands of tons of industrial waste near its factory grounds along Richmond’s southeast shoreline. … In a January letter to Albany and Berkeley city officials, [the State Water Board] wrote that the landfills “may have accepted industrial waste materials that could present a risk to water quality, human health, and the environment.”

Aquafornia news NBC News

San Francisco poised to ban ‘forever chemicals’ in firefighter gear

San Francisco is poised to become the first city in the country to issue a ban on firefighter clothing manufactured with so-called forever chemicals.  Local lawmakers are expected to pass an ordinance on Tuesday prohibiting the use of protective equipment made with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The long-lasting compounds do not break down, allowing them to linger almost permanently in the environment. PFAS can be ingested or absorbed into the skin and have been linked to harmful health effects, including decreased fertility, low-birth weight and developmental delays in children, a higher risk of certain cancers and increased cholesterol levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern agencies prepare to submit third groundwater plan in hopes it’s the charm that wards off state pumping takeover

In an effort to avoid the fate of their neighbors to the north, Kern County water managers are putting the finishing touches on a new groundwater plan they hope will stave off probation in order to keep state bureaucrats from taking over local pumping. The county’s 20 groundwater agency boards began approving final changes to the plan, which is actually six identical plans, last week in expectation of submitting them to the state Water Resources Control Board by May 28. The goal is to stay out of probation, which is where the Tulare Lake subbasin ended up after a hearing before the Water Board on April 16. Tulare Lake covers almost all of Kings County. Now, under probation, most Kings County growers will have to register their wells at $300 each and report extractions starting July 15.

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Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: In-stream flows set to expire for Klamath tributaries. What’s next?

The Scott and Shasta Rivers were once salmon strongholds, but over-allocation of water has made these rivers nearly uninhabitable for coho and chinook. The State Water Resources Control Board established emergency regulations that set minimum streamflows during the most recent drought. But those will likely expire soon. Without new permanent instream flows, both rivers could run dry. A coalition of tribal governments, fishermen and environmental nonprofits are asking the State Board for new permanent instream flow dedications. And new legislation, if passed, will strengthen the ability of the state to protect those instream flows. Karuk Vice-Chairman Kenneth Brink, Cody Phillips of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, and Klamath advocate Craig Tucker join the EcoNews to talk about what’s needed to save California’s salmon.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River combatants sent to their respective corners – for now

Further legal action on the Kern River was put on pause Thursday morning following an order by the 5th District Court of Appeal that stayed a local injunction mandating enough water be kept in the river for fish. … The underlying lawsuit was filed in 2022 by Bring Back the Kern and several other public interest groups along with Water Audit California, against the City of Bakersfield for dewatering the river. … That 2022 lawsuit demands the city study the impacts of its river operations on recreation and the ecosystem under the Public Trust doctrine, which states all natural resources are held in trust by the state for the greatest beneficial use by the public. That was once automatically considered to be farming, industry and municipal uses. But in recent years, recreation, aesthetics and the environment have gained equal footing.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Here’s what you need to know about proposals to save the Colorado River

The Colorado River is in trouble. More than two decades of megadrought fueled by climate change have sapped its supplies, and those who use the river’s water are struggling to rein in demand. Now, with current rules for river sharing set to expire in 2026, policymakers have a rare opportunity to rework how Western water is managed. 

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Nederland repeals rights of nature to make way for dam project

The effort to grant “rights of nature” to Boulder Creek through Nederland as a legacy for generations to come lasted less than three years. The human guardians appointed to voice those rights lasted less than five months. The Nederland town board voted unanimously late Tuesday to repeal a 2021 rights of nature resolution meant to give a policy voice to watershed environmental protections, in clearly stated pique at a nonprofit group opposing a dam the town wants to build on the creek’s middle branch.   Nederland board members claimed they were misled by Save the World’s Rivers and its leader Gary Wockner to bolster river protections, only to have the group file formal objections in water court to Nederland’s plan for a new reservoir on Middle Boulder Creek.

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Aquafornia news Undark Magazine

In millions of homes, high fluoride in tap water may be a concern

The town of Seagraves sits on the high plains of West Texas, not far from the New Mexico border. Nearby, water pumped from the Ogallala Aquifer irrigates fields of peanuts and cotton. Dissolved in that West Texas water are copious amounts of fluoride. The tap water in Seagraves contains levels of the mineral that many experts believe could have neurotoxic effects, lowering children’s IQs. The science on that effect is unsettled, and most experts say better research is needed. But nearly everyone agrees that at some point, high fluoride levels ought to be a matter of greater concern — even if they don’t always agree on what that point is. Many cities add low levels of fluoride to drinking water in a bid to prevent tooth decay, but the policy has long been controversial. Lost in that debate are the roughly 3 million Americans whose water naturally contains higher concentrations of fluoride — often at levels that even some fluoridation advocates now acknowledge could have neurodevelopmental effects.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Coastal Commission approves Humboldt Bay seawater intake system upgrades needed for Nordic Aquafarms project

After more than an hour of discussion, which included the addition of some new conditions of approval by staff as well as public comments both in opposition and support, the California Coastal Commission unanimously approved the project. In granting the Harbor District’s permit application, the commission cleared away one of the last remaining administrative hurdles for Nordic Aquafarms’ proposed fish-production factory on the Samoa Peninsula. The coastal development permit will allow the Harbor District to upgrade its seawater intake infrastructure in Humboldt Bay, install new underground water pipelines along the bay, perform a variety of environmental mitigation activities and, eventually, withdraw up to 11.8 million gallons of water per day for tenants in the future National Marine Research and Innovation Park.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Opinion: Tough PFAS drinking water standards add major compliance burden

Businesses should start preparing for more regulatory notification and reporting, recordkeeping obligations, and potential liability now that the Environmental Protection Agency has issued its first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking-water standards for “forever chemicals.” The EPA has set near-zero maximum contaminant levels, or MCLs, for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and we expect this development to broadly impact PFAS regulation. Water systems operating under state drinking water standards for PFAS will have to comply with the more stringent MCLs. The costs to treat PFAS in drinking water to meet the MCLs will cost billions of dollars.
-Written by Jeffrey Dintzer and Gregory Berlin of the Alston & Bird law firm.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Hundreds sue city over floods, say it ‘failed’ on stormwater

After yearslong battles with the city of San Diego over crumbling stormwater infrastructure in their southeastern San Diego neighborhoods, hundreds of people whose homes and businesses were damaged by flash flood waters in January are now suing the city. The $100 million mass tort lawsuit has nearly 300 plaintiffs — homeowners and renters as well as business owners in the communities of Southcrest, Logan Heights and others along the Chollas Creek watershed. The lawsuit contends that city leaders have known for years that the creek and stormwater infrastructure around it are in urgent need of attention.

Related flooding articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Third San Joaquin Valley groundwater basin recommended for state probation

Subsidence has reared its head again as a key factor cited by state Water Resources Control Board staff for recommending that the Kaweah groundwater subbasin be placed on probation – the first step toward possible state takeover of groundwater pumping. The recommendation was contained in a draft report released May 6, which set Nov. 5 for Kaweah’s hearing before the Water Board. Subsidence was listed as a major factor in similar staff reports for the Tulare Lake and Tule subbasins. Tulare Lake was, indeed, placed on probation by the Water Board April 16 and the Tule subbasin comes before the board Sept. 17. The Kaweah  report  identified additional challenges for water managers in the subbasin, which covers the northern half of Tulare County’s valley portion into the eastern fringes of Kings County.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water utilities ask state’s top court to reverse elimination of surcharges

Two California water utilities went before the state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday to argue that the Public Utilities Commission cut corners when it decided to discontinue the use of surcharges to compensate the utilities for sales shortfalls from water conservation efforts. The Golden State Water Co. and the California-American Water Co. claim that the commission made the decision to eliminate the so-called decoupling mechanisms without giving them adequate notice that it was considering this option as part of a yearslong rulemaking procedure. As a result, the utilities argue, they had no opportunity to provide evidence to support their case that these mechanisms — which allow them to impose a surcharge on their customers when they face a revenue shortfall because of California’s efforts to conserve water in drought-plagued years — were serving their purpose.

Related wastewater article: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Friant lawsuit over sinking canal altered but moving forward

One of multiple charges in a lawsuit that pins blame for the perpetually sinking Friant-Kern Canal on a single Tulare County groundwater agency was recently removed. The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) hailed the move as vindication. But plaintiffs, the Friant Water Authority and Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, said the change was simply meant to narrow the complaint in order to get faster action against Eastern Tule. The stakes could not be higher as the entire Tule subbasin, which covers the southern half of Tulare’s valley portion, is looking down the barrel of a possible pumping takeover by the state Water Resources Control Board.  The Water Board, the enforcement arm of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, has scheduled a “probationary hearing” for the subbasin Sept. 17.

Aquafornia news Ojai Valley News

Judge in major water lawsuit delays ‘pulling the ripcord’

The judge in the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper case has ordered a further six-month stay in the litigation so that structured mediation can continue. …  Eleven major parties involved in the mediation process, including newcomers to the negotiations the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, had jointly asked the court to continue the stay to Jan. 31, “to allow the structured mediation a realistic period of time to reach its conclusion.” … The case dates back to 2014, when Santa Barbara Channelkeeper sued the city of Ventura and the State Water Resources Control Board for taking too much water from the Ventura River, in turn harming endangered Southern California steelhead trout.

Related Central Coast watershed article: 

Aquafornia news Law360

Microplastics at the crossroads of regulation and litigation

Rising alarm over microplastics as pollutants has sparked significant attention, stirring public concern and regulatory scrutiny … 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Northern California dam flood control operations found to harm endangered salmon

A federal judge ruled Monday afternoon that a California dam harms endangered salmon when it conducts flood control operations. Coyote Valley Dam, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, protects the city of Ukiah from flooding from nearby Lake Mendocino. In 2022, fisheries biologist Sean White sued the Corps claiming the dam’s flood control operations kick up sediment in the water, increasing turbidity and harming endangered Central California coast steelhead, coho and Chinook salmon. White’s previous requests for injunctive relief were denied in 2023, yet he was granted summary judgment on his claims on Monday after providing more data. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, a Joe Biden appointee, wrote in her 18-page opinion that it was beyond dispute that the dam’s operations harm the fish.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Opposing views of Monterey Peninsula water supply filed with regulator

Roughly a half-dozen agencies, governments and a nonprofit group have filed briefs with a state regulator that could determine whether or not California American Water Co. gets the OK for its years-long effort to build a desalination plant on the Monterey Peninsula. The issue comes down to whether the peninsula will have enough water to meet the demand for the next three decades by tapping into recycled water, or whether a desal plant will be needed. Administrative Law Judge Robert Haga will examine the April 30 filings, render an up-or-down proposed ruling and ship it off to the five-member California Public Utilities Commission to vote on. In late 2022, Cal Am won the hearts of the California Coastal Commission when the 12-member appointed body approved a permit allowing Cal Am, an investor-owned utility, to move forward with the desal plant in Marina. But for Cal Am, it was a double-edged sword.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California groundwater levels got a huge bump from 2023’s wet weather

Diminished by decades of over-pumping, California’s groundwater reserves saw a huge influx of water last year, in some places the most in modern times, according to state data that offers the first detailed look at how aquifers fared during the state’s historically wet 2023. The bump was driven, in part, by deliberate efforts to recharge aquifers — the porous underground rock that holds water and accounts for about 40% of the state’s total water supply. The intentional water banking, or managed recharge, resulted in at least 4.1 million acre-feet of water pushed underground, nearly equivalent to what California’s largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, can hold. About 90% of that recharge occurred in the San Joaquin Valley, the state’s agricultural heartland, where aquifers have been heavily taxed by pumping. 

Related groundwater articles: 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Commissioner Giner’s mission: remove the obstacles keeping San Diego from resolving the border sewage crisis

Bureaucratic blunders, mismanagement, partisan politics, cross-border politics, understaffing, equipment failures. The list of reasons for the longstanding sewage crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is long. At the center is the International Boundary and Water Commission, the binational agency responsible for preventing water pollution in the Tijuana River and southern San Diego County shorelines. It has been severely handicapped in its task. The result: beach closures due to contaminated ocean water, economic losses and growing concerns about the long-term health impacts caused by breathing, smelling and touching sewage-tainted water. Each country is represented by a commissioner appointed by their respective presidents. Commissioner Maria-Elena Giner, appointed by President Joe Biden in 2021, inherited the broken system. She’s been trying to steer the federal agency in the right direction ever since.

Aquafornia news North Bay Bohemian

Salmon fishing about to be banned again off Sonoma coast

[T]here’s an undercurrent of doom these days in the North Bay fisher community that might dampen the celebration. That’s because federal officials are reportedly about to declare that no one will be allowed to catch any salmon off the California coast this year, for the second year in a row. … Local salmon populations are in the pits right now, due to years of drought and low flows in local waterways — made worse, of course, by human diversions and dams. … On the upside: Many hundreds of millions more state dollars are being invested right now into restoring salmon habitats across California. There are also huge American-Indian efforts underway to introduce more salmon back into rotation, especially up north in the Klamath River area.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California Water Board revises conservation proposal

The state legislature has mandated that water conservation become “a California way of life.” This may sound simple, but converting these words into reality — with tailored local reduction targets for over 400 water agencies that deliver water to most Californians each and every year — is proving to be hard work for regulators. Getting this right, even if it takes some extra time, is what matters. … As designed, however, our analysis showed that the water savings would be modest while the costs would be high. And, most troubling, we found that the proposed regulations would hit low-income, inland communities the hardest. That’s why we suggested that the State Water Board revisit these rules.
-Written by Ellen Hanak and David Mitchell with the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

Related water conservation article: 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

101-year-old family dairy closes in Sonoma County after costly court fight with environmental group

For the past 101 years, the cows on [the Mulas Dairy farm] near San Pablo Bay were milked twice a day. In recent years, that meant you’d hear the loud hum of vacuum pumps running from midnight to 7 a.m. and again from noon to 7 p.m. … [Farm president Mike] Mulas was standing near a drainage ditch on the east side of his 800-acre Schellville property. The shallow stormwater trench runs through part of the farm and empties into a field, not far from a network of creeks that flow into San Pablo Bay. It was a major point of contention in a lawsuit filed over alleged water quality violations in early 2023. … For the North Bay’s struggling dairy industry, it could also be read as another signpost of the new era. In an age where some environmental groups take to the courts in higher numbers, going after farms they allege are polluting surrounding watersheds, many struggling family farms simply can’t put up a fight anymore.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Tribes are submitting Colorado River ideas so they’re at the table, not “on the menu”

Tribes that use the Colorado River want a say in negotiations that will reshape how the river’s water is shared. Eighteen of those tribes signed on to a letter sent to the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that will finalize new rules for managing the river after 2026, when the current guidelines expire. In the memo, tribal leaders urge the federal government to protect their access to water and uphold long-standing legal responsibilities. … The tribes’ letter aims to make sure that Indigenous people, who used the Colorado River before white settlers ever occupied the Western U.S., are not left behind as Reclamation considers those proposals. “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu,” Jay Weiner, a water lawyer for the Quechan Indian Tribe, said. Weiner, who helped craft the letter, said it aims to answer the complicated question: What do tribes want?

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.

Related articles: 

Headwaters Tour 2024
Field Trip - July 24-25

FILLING UP QUICKLY - Click here to register!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

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

The Resource

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Announcement

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

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

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

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

Dear Western Water readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2018

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

Headwaters tour participants on a hike in the Sierra Nevada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Jenn Bowles Jennifer Bowles

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2019
Field Trip - June 27-28

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

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

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

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

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

Water Conservation

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

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

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

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater

Wastewater Treatment Process in California

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

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

Aquapedia background Colorado River Basin Map

Salton Sea

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

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

Aquapedia background

Safe Drinking Water Act

Safe Drinking Water Act

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

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

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

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

Dams

Folsom Dam on the American River east of Sacramento

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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