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 Zocalo

Opinion: California’s next water war is starting underground, in the Mojave Desert

Can California regions regulate groundwater without destroying their businesses and communities? That’s the question being posed as regions and localities implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law that brought regulation to California’s diminishing groundwater supplies.
–Written by columnist Joe Matthews

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

IID files response to Abatti’s Supreme Court case

The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its initial response to Imperial Valley grower, landowner and former elected official Michael Abatti’s U.S. Supreme Court case. … Abatti is seeking to overturn a previous appellate court ruling that asserts Imperial Irrigation District is the “sole owner” of water rights in the Valley, and farmers do “not (have) an appurtenant water right” but rather are entitled merely to “water service” that is subject to modification by the district at its discretion.

Aquafornia news KCRW

Opinion: Joe Mathews on the fight over groundwater rights in the California desert

Can California regulate groundwater without destroying its own communities? That’s the question being posed as regions implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law regulating California’s diminishing groundwater supplies. Groundwater is buried in aquifers, underground spaces between rocks, soils, and sand. Layers of aquifers are called groundwater basins. California has hundreds of them. Eight-five percent of Californians depend on groundwater …

-Written by Joe Mathews, who writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. 

Aquafornia news KDRV

Siskiyou County water ordinances spark claims of racial profiling and discrimination

Following recent ordinances from Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors that prohibit the transfer of water along certain county roads without a permit, ripple effects have been seen throughout the community. The emergency ordinances were passed in an effort to crack down on illegal marijuana grow operations. … [The conflict] has fanned the flames of racism, saying they are seeing community members racially profile Asian Americans in the community because the Shasta Vista subdivision is known to have a large Asian American population.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for California’s water system

The state’s extensive water system supplies cities and farms; prevents pollution of lakes, rivers, and coastlines; protects against floods; and supports freshwater ecosystems and the forested headwaters that are a major source of water supply. Many local, state, and federal agencies oversee this system and raise revenues from a variety of sources. California spends about $37 billion annually, with the lion’s share (84%) coming from local water bills and taxes. The balance comes from state (13%) and federal (3%) contributions.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought worsens. What’s ahead for fish, farms, cities

In just a few weeks, California’s water conditions have gone from bad to terrible. Sacramento residents have been asked to cut water usage 10%. Their counterparts on the Russian River are being told to reduce their consumption 20%. Farmers across the Central Valley are letting fields lie fallow and dismantling their orchards. Government agencies are warning of massive fish kills on the Sacramento River. After a warm spring dried up practically the entire Sierra Nevada snowpack — and robbed California of enough water to fill most of Folsom Lake — state and federal officials have been forced to dramatically ramp up their drought response plans.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Asian cannabis growers in CA face water cuts, sheriff raids

Day after day, sheriff’s deputies drive up and down the road outside Steve Griset’s 600-acre farm, pulling over anyone who appears to be hauling water for the thousands of marijuana greenhouses that have taken over the countryside here. Griset has become a target, even though he grows alfalfa. Last year, investigators with the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office raided Griset’s house with a search warrant looking for his business records, and the DA followed up with a lawsuit in civil court. Griset’s alleged transgressions? He was selling water from his well to his pot-farming neighbors, immigrants of Hmong descent …

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Basin roundtables push back on Colorado Water Conservation Board’s proposed code of conduct

The [Colorado] state water board is encouraging all nine basin roundtables to adopt a code of conduct requiring members to communicate in a professional, respectful, truthful and courteous way. But some Western Slope roundtables are pushing back. Over roughly the last month, Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rebecca Mitchell has been visiting the remote roundtable meetings on Zoom, answering questions about the code of conduct and urging the roundtables to adopt it. The goal of the document is to make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking up in meetings. 

Aquafornia news Water Alternatives

Research paper: Disadvantaged unincorporated communities and the struggle for water justice in california

The notion of access to water for drinking and sanitation as being a human right – not a privilege or a commodity to be bought and sold – is based on the understanding that water is essential for life itself and should not be subject to the dictates of the market. This understanding parallels other treatments of vital resources such as housing and healthcare and has been codified in multiple United Nations frameworks. Human rights have been less common as a basis for public policy in the United States, where the more limited concept of civil rights has predominated. This has begun to change, most notably with the passage of California’s 2012 Assembly Bill 685 on the human right to water…

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: CA decides to sacrifice salmon for agribusiness profits

Late Friday the State Water Resources Control Board appeared to tentatively approve a temperature management plan for Shasta Dam that sacrifices salmon and fishing jobs for agribusiness profits this year, violates water quality standards, and leaves California woefully unprepared if next year is also dry.  Specifically, the State Water Board indicated that they would approve a temperature management plan if it achieves 1.25 million acre feet of water in Shasta at the end of September.  As the State Water Board knows, allowing storage to drop that low is estimated to kill more than 50% of the endangered winter run Chinook salmon and … the vast majority of the fall run Chinook …

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border

The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic this week as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

Opinion: Is the non-functional turf ban coming to northern Nevada

The 2021 legislative session is an anomaly. Notwithstanding COVID, the bad water bills died early and the good ones pressed on. That is not the norm. But it appears that more folks are beginning to believe these are not normal times.  Indeed, this year is different. Long-time foes are singing kumbaya in praise of AB356.  The legislation, which passed both chambers, saves 10 billion gallons of water annually in Southern Nevada –– defending the dwindling supply of Colorado River water by mandating the removal of all non-functional turf by 2027 in Southern Nevada.
-Written by Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network.  

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California must prevent another devastating drought

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought. It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state. Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air.
-Written by George Skelton, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost/Humboldt County Sheriff's Office

News release: Around 2,000 cannabis plants eradicated, water diversions observed at unpermitted grow in far east Humboldt County

On May 18, 2021, deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) served one search warrant to investigate illegal cannabis cultivation in the Blake Mountain area of Eastern Humboldt County. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Environmental Health – HazMat Unit, Humboldt County Code Enforcement and the California State Water Resources Control Board assisted in the service of the warrant.

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Aquafornia news Civil Engineering Source

Testing and treating microplastics in water face challenges

The deadline is looming: According to a state law adopted in 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board has until July 1 to adopt a standard methodology for testing drinking water for the presence of microplastics; adopt requirements for four years of testing and reporting of microplastics in drinking water, including public disclosure of the results; and accredit qualified laboratories in California to analyze microplastics. The problem? Testing for microplastics … is not quite ready for prime time. It is not yet precisely clear what effects microplastics have on animals, including humans, and at what levels they may be harmful. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: EPA digs into WOTUS talks with enviros, ag

EPA’s Office of Water is kicking off quarterly meetings with agricultural and environmental groups to discuss the thorny issue of which waterways and wetlands qualify for federal protections.

Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Water district funding 30 new groundwater level monitoring wells

The Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District (EPCWD) has begun creating a groundwater level monitoring network. Initially, the district has begun work to add 30 new groundwater level monitoring sites, using existing wells, throughout the 37,000-acre district. The campaign marks a significant effort in the basin to move toward groundwater sustainability in the Paso Robles Subbasin, according to the EPCWD.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State proposes to add funding for water goals

As more of California sinks into extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the Legislature to appropriate billions of dollars to address critical water needs. In the “May revise”—an update to the budget proposal he initially submitted to the Legislature in January—Newsom proposes to spend nearly $3.5 billion on water supply and resilience projects, with total investment reaching $5.1 billion over multiple years. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Emergency water urged for rural Latino communities before California drought worsens

California lawmakers should take prompt action before drought conditions worsen by sending emergency drinking water to vulnerable communities in parched regions of the state, legislative advisers say. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report last week providing recommendations on how to address increasingly dry conditions throughout the state. Based on an analysis of the state’s previous efforts for the last major drought, from 2012 to 2016, analysts said lawmakers should start sending emergency water supplies to vulnerable communities in the San Joaquin Valley region… 

Aquafornia news Fox KTVU 2

The drought’s assault on California’s $50 billion farm industry

A growing number of drought stricken California farmers are making the painful decision not to plant as much or anything at all for fear of losing it all. It costs a lot of money to put seeds or seedlings into the ground. But if a farmer cannot be reasonably sure of a crop, why do it?

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA conference: The decade of water resilience – Developing solutions for our water future

Last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) held their spring conference virtually.  Keynote speakers included Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.  In his speech, [Crowfoot] discussed the Newsom Administration’s priorities, calling this the ‘decade of resilience’, and giving three principles for going forward.  He also discussed the Voluntary Agreements.  Director Karla Nemeth gave the Thursday morning keynote speech, touching on the Department’s response to drought, SGMA implementation, the Delta Conveyance Project, and the water use efficiency regulations.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

After years of protests, Crystal Geyser abandons bottling facility plans in Siskiyou County

Crystal Geyser bought the nearly 145,000 square foot bottling plant in 2013. Since then, it’s been the target of protests by local activists and members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Opponents say if it ever started operating, it would draw down too much water, and cause air and noise pollution. … They are in the midst of suing the beverage company in an effort to get a new environmental impact report. 

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Zero water allocation pushes Klamath Project farms to the brink

What was already forecasted to be a historically bleak water year in the Klamath Project has quickly become a living nightmare for farms and ranches fighting for survival in the drought-stricken basin. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation shut down the Project’s A Canal for the entire irrigation season May 12 in response to worsening conditions — allotting zero surface water from Upper Klamath Lake for thirsty crops and livestock. It is the first time in more than a century the A Canal will deliver no water. Meanwhile, irrigators are left to wonder how they will pay the bills as fields turn to dust.

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Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

New research: New modeling framework guides managed aquifer recharge under climate change

Current and future climate change effects are intensifying the hydrological cycle, leading to increased variability of both precipitation and runoff. This heightened pattern results in more frequent and severe droughts and floods, as well as more recurrent swings between these two extremes. Harvesting floodwaters using managed aquifer recharge to replenish depleted groundwater aquifers can simultaneously reduce flood and drought risks. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution

A state appeals court has upheld California’s cleanup standards for a cancer-causing chemical that was added to pesticides and has polluted groundwater in the Central Valley, rejecting challenges by manufacturers that may have to pay the costs. The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2017 mandate for removing nearly all TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) from drinking water was contested by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, representing Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil, which included the chemical in worm-killing fumigants widely used by farmers through the 1980s. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Irrigation districts look to transfers as water dwindles

With very little water to spare this drought year, water districts struggling with limited or no supplies look to their counterparts in other districts to negotiate water transfers to add whatever flexibility they can. Districts on the west side of the Central Valley, both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, face the prospect of receiving no water from the Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Lake Shasta is facing its worst season in 44 years. Here’s what that means for those who rely on it.

Lake Shasta this summer is facing possibly its lowest level in at least 44 years, and that could be bad news for the people who rely on it for drinking and irrigation water, as well as endangered salmon that depend on it to survive. Dam operators have to go all the way back to 1977 to compare how bad this year’s water situation is shaping up to be, said Don Bader, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dam. 

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Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Stewardship Council guts independent peer review in the Delta Science Program

The seven members of the Delta Stewardship Council were seated in 2010. The Council appointed ten prominent scientists to the Delta ISB. Over the next decade, the Delta ISB produced over 30 scientific reviews, averaging over 3,000 hours of work per year. But in 2020, the work of the Delta ISB stalled. The Delta Stewardship Council reduced funding for the Delta ISB by over 90%. 

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Blog: Captive breeding of Delta smelt: Worthy experiment or well-intended folly?

Delta smelt have nearly ceased to appear in “pelagic” fish surveys carried out in their narrow geographic range in the upper San Francisco Estuary. As trawl-generated index values for delta smelt have declined over the past quarter century – understand there is no reliable estimate of the size of the delta smelt population — the chorus of voices advocating for captive rearing and releases of the species has grown louder. 

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

A closer look: Why Liberty Utilities’ arguments were favored in Apple Valley’s eminent domain lawsuit

When lawyers for the Town of Apple Valley first presented their arguments in a lawsuit for taking over the water system owned by Liberty Utilities, they leveled a serious charge. According to Kendall MacVey, an attorney with Best Best & Krieger, the firm’s expert who had conducted a three-day inspection of the system discovered nine out of 10 water reservoir tanks to be “seismically unsafe.” Some were perched above homes with no concrete foundation, MacVey said in an October 2019 court hearing.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Silent no more: Klamath Tribes gather to protect fish, homelands

A group of protesters gathered at Sugarman’s Corner in downtown Klamath Falls on Saturday, preparing to welcome a 25-car caravan of mostly Klamath Tribal members calling for solutions to the Klamath Basin’s water crisis. A man walked by the demonstrators, eyeing their signs with statements like “Peace and Healing in the Klamath Basin,” “Water Justice is Social Justice” and “Undam the Klamath.” 

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Aquafornia news CEQA Chronicles

Blog: Poseidon’s desalination plant’s supplemental EIR holds water according to the Court of Appeal

In California Coastkeeper v. State Lands Commission, the Third District Court of Appeal upheld the State Lands Commission’s decision to prepare a supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) for a desalination plant in Huntington Beach, overturning an earlier trial court ruling that invalidated the EIR. Limited changes to a desalination project were proposed in order to comply with desalination-related amendments to the State’s Ocean Plan.  

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil wells

California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 unveiled his May budget revision that allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, many located near low-income residential areas where the majority of residents are Latino and Black. In January 2020, a report by the California Council on Science & Technology revealed that California taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $500 million to plug thousands of “orphan” wells drilled and abandoned by oil and gas companies. .. Plugging all 107,000 oil and wells in California when they become idle would cost more than $9 billion, the report also found.

Aquafornia news Mount Shasta News

Crystal Geyser Water Company pulls out of Mount Shasta plant

After seven years of controversy, Crystal Geyser Water Company announced last week that it has given up on opening its Mount Shasta facility. A representative for the company said Crystal Geyser was “challenged every step of the way” since it purchased the nearly 145,000 square foot facility in 2013.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Environmental testing urged at planned L.A. housing site

Nancy Smith remembered that children had called it “the sick land” — the wedge of property alongside the 110 Freeway where a dry cleaning facility had laundered aprons and uniforms for decades across from a Lincoln Heights elementary school. … Decades after the old Welch’s laundry was shuttered, California regulators worked to clean up the soil and check the groundwater for the chemicals used there — volatile organic compounds such as tetrachloroethylene that could damage the human liver and nervous system and have been tied to an increased risk of cancer. The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversaw a cleanup effort that lasted for years and has continued to monitor groundwater at the site.

Aquafornia news Euronews

Could trading water on the stock market actually be good for the environment?

Last year, for the first time, it became possible to trade water on Wall Street through futures contracts. Normally reserved for commodities like oil or precious metals, water became the latest asset to join the financial market. But how could this practice impact the planet? The trading in the future prices of highly-prized commodities, where buyers agree to purchase an asset at a set date in the future for an agreed price, began in Japan in the seventeenth century with the trading in rice futures. The latest commodity to begin trading in futures is water supplied in American’s most populous state, California.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State plans to order drought restrictions, but it doesn’t have good water data to do it

As California descends deeper into drought, state regulators are planning to do something they’ve done few times in modern history: order thousands of people, farms, and even cities and towns that hold historic water rights to stop drawing water from the rivers, lakes and ponds they rely on. The move is intended to make sure the dwindling flows in California’s waterways are reserved for those with the most senior water rights, as well as for fish and other wildlife. Many of those with lesser rights would have to turn to storage, groundwater or another source, if they have it.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco sues state over bid to restrict its Sierra water supplies

The city of San Francisco is reviving a long-simmering feud with the state over water, filing a lawsuit Friday that charges state regulators with trying to take away the city’s coveted Sierra Nevada water supplies. The suit claims the state water board is demanding the city forfeit too much water from the Tuolumne River as part of a licensing deal for two dams in the faraway basin. State regulators have said the water is needed to maintain proper river flows and support struggling salmon, but city officials contend the demands would leave Bay Area residents and businesses vulnerable to water shortages.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Newsom offers billions to fight climate change, California drought

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to throw $11.8 billion of California’s money at climate change and the hazards it poses to the state. The governor’s gargantuan revised budget proposal, released Friday, includes expenditures to fight and prevent wildfires, combat sea-level rise, put more Californians behind the wheel of an electric vehicle and speed up the transition to a carbon-free electricity grid. Nearly half of his climate change package — $5.1 billion — would go toward easing the effects of California’s newly-declared drought and remedying long-term water supply problems, such as crumbling canals.

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Aquafornia news Law Week Colorado

9th Circuit rebukes U.S. on Native interests in Colorado River rights

A federal appeals court has rebuked the U.S. government for failing to properly consider the interest of Native American nations in developing allocation guidelines for the Colorado River Basin’s waters and ordered it to prioritize obligations assumed when it signed a treaty with the Navajo Nation in 1868. The April 28 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may boost Native American negotiating clout as the basin’s states ponder how to address impacts of ongoing drought in the region.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Wastewater recycling got derailed in L.A. Now it’s back

Twenty years ago, in the 2001 Los Angeles mayoral race, a topic usually seen as dull became the most lurid issue of the campaign. The topic was water recycling, and we are still being hurt by the rhetoric from that election today. Candidate Joel Wachs, a longtime member of the City Council, didn’t even make the runoff that year. But during the primary he alarmed voters across the city by insisting that Los Angeles was furtively planning to pipe recycled sewage to millions of unsuspecting Angelenos — without, according to Wachs, adequate public input or scientific research. The recycling idea became widely known as “toilet to tap” …
-Written by Marc Haefele, a Santa Monica freelance writer.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border

The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. 

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

States ask Biden to trash Trump-era Clean Water Act change

With shrinking reservoir levels and a summer of water shortages impending, drought-ridden California on Wednesday pressed the Biden administration for more control over future infrastructure projects planned in the Golden State. California and a collection of states urged the federal government to drop a Trump-era rule that reduced states’ authority to deny permitting and licensing for things like new water infrastructure, oil pipelines, wastewater plants or development projects in wetland areas. The states claim the rule gives them little say over projects that could ultimately harm water quality and the environment.  

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Report: Drought to hit rural Latino communities hardest

Rural, low-income Latino communities across California were hardest hit by the last drought and could see drinking water shortages again this year as extreme drought spreads across the state, according to a report released Thursday by non-partisan advisors to California’s lawmakers. The report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns state officials to prepare by ramping up monitoring of wells in vulnerable communities and lining up emergency drinking water supplies to send there. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento urged to cut water usage 10% during drought

Sacramento-area residents were urged Thursday to cut water usage by 10% as much of the state has been plunged into another severe drought. Just three days after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared the area officially in a drought, the Sacramento Regional Water Authority asked for voluntary conservation measures as its member agencies scramble to cope with drought conditions that seemingly worsen by the day.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Biden backs disputed Trump contract in court

The Biden administration will defend controversial water delivery contracts to California farmers issued in the Trump era, according to a court filing Wednesday, rejecting pleas from a tribe and environmentalists to rescind them.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Farmers will get zero allocation from Klamath Project in 2021

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that more than 1,000 farmers in the Klamath Basin will not receive any reserved water from Upper Klamath Lake — a devastating prospect for farmers who have already planted fields, hired crews and made plans for the growing season ahead. … Farmers in Klamath, Siskiyou and Modoc counties were already reeling over the prospect of receiving less than 10% of their allotment, or a total of 33,000 acre-feet of water. The latest announcement feels “like a punch to the gut,” farmers said …

Aquafornia news Cronkite News - Arizona PBS

Researchers spelunk the Grand Canyon to document its beautiful, confounding springs

Ben Tobin has questions about the Grand Canyon’s caves. The University of Kentucky geologist started learning about caves as a young man, in part because his mother was a geologist, and a childhood fascination grew over time. … When he was in college, an internship in Arkansas doing cave tours got him hooked, and eventually his work brought him out West, to Grand Canyon National Park. Tobin specializes in what’s known as karst hydrology. These are underground systems made up of soluble rock such as limestone. To Tobin, caves are like another world, with blind animals, fossils and archeological finds. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Lower Colorado River Tour

Only one week remains to register for our May 20 virtual Lower Colorado River Tour where you can hear directly from experts offering a range of perspectives on the most contested and meticulously managed river in the United States. Practically every drop of water in the Colorado River is already allocated, but pressure on the hard-working river continues to grow from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat and climate change.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Service finds salamanders do not warrant Endangered Species Act protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced its finding that three salamander species do not warrant listing as endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service’s announcement follows a court-approved settlement agreement in which the Service agreed to make a 12-month finding for the Shasta salamander (Hydromantes shastae), Samwel salamander (H. samweli), and Wintu salamander (H. wintu). The finding comes despite concerns from some environmental groups that a proposed project to raise the height of the Shasta Dam and enlarge the reservoir would impact the three species due to inundation and loss of habitat.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The Gila River Indian Community innovates for a drought-ridden future

A riverbed that has been parched since the end of the 19th century — a portion of the historic lifeblood of the Gila River Indian Community — is now coursing again with water, luring things like cattails and birds back to its shores. … The revival of this small segment of the 649-mile (1045-kilometer) Gila River, which has served the tribes that make up the Gila River Indian Community — the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) — for roughly 2,000 years, was an added benefit of a grassroots infrastructure overhaul, known as “managed aquifer recharge,” or MAR, which aimed to restore the local groundwater basin. 

Aquafornia news Sonoma Water

News release: Defining groundwater conditions in three local basins

Well owners in Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley are invited to join community meetings on groundwater conditions and sustainable management of this critical water source.  The Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) are nearing completion of major plans that identify issues with current and future groundwater resources and that describe how these challenges will be addressed. 

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Huffman hosts drought summit, water managers ask for aid, presidential emergency

Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, along with prominent North Coast water managers and politicians gathered at a virtual summit yesterday morning to discuss the severe drought facing the North Coast and the entire state. At the summit (a recording of which is available on YouTube), State Senator Mike McGuire stated that the state legislature is moving forward on a several billion dollar drought relief package, which would include $1 billion in grants to help ratepayers and utilities pay off back bills and $500 million to help smaller low income communities develop enhanced drinking water supplies, among other things (read the full list below).

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Drought forces California farmers to destroy crops

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity. Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Fears of a massive salmon die-off this summer in Sacramento River water conflict

An entire run of endangered winter-run chinook salmon, as well as the fall-run salmon that make up the core of the California fishery, are in danger of being wiped out this year if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation keeps diverting water to farmers at its current rate. With state water resources constrained by the extreme drought, that’s the alarm that environmental, fishing and tribal groups are sounding after reports show the Sacramento River will reach dangerous temperatures during spawning season, based on federal scientific scenarios that analyze the bureau’s planned water releases. 

Aquafornia news Press Telegram

3 environmental groups take 3 positions on Poseidon desalination plant

Among attributes of the controversial Poseidon desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach is the $1.5 million or so it would spend annually to keep the tidal inlet open at the Bolsa Chica wetlands, five miles up the coast from the project site. But as much as the money is needed there, the three non-profit groups dedicated to the wetlands’ preservation clash when it comes to support for the desalter plant. The state spent $151 million to create the inlet in 2006, restoring the estuary’s interaction with the ocean and revitalizing the wildlife habitat. The work has been a particular boon to the population and variety of birds.

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Judge makes preliminary ruling against Apple Valley taking over water system

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge has made a ruling against the Town of Apple Valley in its attempt to take over its largest supplier of water. In a tentative decision issued Friday, Judge Donald Alvarez found that Liberty Utilities had “disproved” the town’s arguments that its acquisition of the company’s water system would be in the public’s interest and a necessity. … The town filed its eminent domain lawsuit in January 2016 when the system was owned by Ranchos Water Company in response to what they said was a public outcry over rising water rates.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Gov. Newsom must resolve California and Stanislaus water wars

Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to declare drought in most of California, including here, is no reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the party hats. They know full well that words on a declaration will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and row crops. They also know that a drought declaration could take some power over the water we do have from our locally elected irrigation leaders — who represent institutions guiding us through periodic droughts for more than 100 years — and hand it to nonelected Sacramento bureaucrats.

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Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

County officials applaud new Salton Sea funding

Newly announced state funding for the Salton Sea is expected to maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response and climate resilience proposal, which he announced Monday as part of his $100 billion “California Comeback Plan,” includes $220 million for the Salton Sea. At Tuesday’s Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, District 1 Supervisor Jesus Eduardo Escobar wanted to know what is meant by providing immediate economic relief to the community and how this would occur. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Mining industry, builders sought changes in Arizona water bill

Newly released emails reveal that lawyers and lobbyists for mining companies, developers and the agriculture industry had a hand behind the scenes in shaping Arizona’s newly adopted law on clean-water rules for rivers and streams. The emails show the involvement of these influential groups went beyond their public endorsements of the legislation. Their lawyers and lobbyists were given access to offer input while the final legislation was being drafted, and the emails show they suggested specific language, offered “wordsmithing” tweaks and requested significant changes that state officials incorporated into the bill. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Newsom Proposes $220M for Salton Sea

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response, and climate resilience proposal includes $220 million for the Salton Sea, and Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, applauded the announcement. Garcia, chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, stated in a press release from his office that the funding would maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Drought proclamation and infrastructure plan bring focus to managing water in a dry year

California’s water resources managers are proactively working with our various partners through the harshest dry year we have seen in recent memory….  We are encouraged that the Governor’s drought proclamation will bring important focus on our precious water resources and inspire balanced approaches that will allow water resources managers (state, federal and local) to creatively manage our limited water supplies this year for multiple benefits.   

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation increases flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a plan to increase flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with meeting Delta salinity and outflow requirements. Additional flow releases will begin on the lower Stanislaus River on May 10 and will reach a total flow of 1,000 cubic feet per second and again on May 11 to reach 1,500 cfs. This increased flow of 1,500 cfs will likely occur for an extended duration. During the increased releases, water levels will be higher and currents faster. Visitors should use caution when near or on the Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom declares drought across much of California

Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded his drought emergency declaration to 39 more counties Monday, underscoring the rapid deterioration of California’s water supply in recent weeks. The governor broadened his earlier drought order, which was limited to two counties on the Russian River, to cover most of parched California, which is plunging into its second major drought in less than a decade. The new order covers the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds, the Tulare Lake basin region and the Klamath region in far Northern California. About 30% of the state’s population is now covered by the declarations…

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute Of California

Blog: Is California ready for drought?

California is now in its second year of drought, hard on the heels of the last one in 2012-16. But drought is not an equal-opportunity crisis; it can be more or less disruptive depending on geography, storage, how water supplies are managed—and, of course, precipitation. And some sectors—notably rural water water systems and the environment—are more vulnerable.

Aquafornia news CBS 5 Investigates | azfamily.com

Arizona water users preparing for first-ever cuts to CAP

Arizona cities, towns, farmers and ranchers are preparing for the first-ever cuts to the state’s allotment of Colorado River water. The cuts are the result of a drought that’s lasted 26 years and will likely take effect in 2022. The so-called “Tier 1″ water shortage will affect some water users more severely than others. … Farmers and ranchers in Pinal County are already preparing, but it’s going to be a costly process.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Voluntary agreements are a bad deal for California’s fish and wildlife

On Friday, a coalition of conservation groups, fishing organizations, stakeholders in the Delta, and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe sent this letter to the Biden Administration, urging the Administration not to endorse the so-called “Voluntary Agreements” for the Bay-Delta watershed. Unfortunately, the State of California continues to negotiate backroom deals with the biggest water users in the State that fail to protect and restore water quality in the Bay-Delta, threatening thousands of fishing jobs, farms and communities in the Delta, and the health of this watershed and its native fish and wildlife. 

Aquafornia news Law360

Calif. Appeals Court won’t halt desalination plant project

The California State Lands Commission properly reviewed a stalled desalination planned to be built on the coast south of Los Angeles, a state appeals court says. In a decision filed Saturday, the appeals court affirmed a lower court’s rejection of a challenge to the plant by the environmental group California Coastkeeper Alliance and others. It determined that a 2017 re-review of the planned desalination plant in Huntington Beach adequately complied with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Sonoma County officials to cut pumping from Russian River by 20% amid deepening drought

Sonoma County supervisors are expected to offer their formal support Tuesday for a plan to pump 20% less water than normal from the Russian River for the remainder of the year, preserving dwindling supplies in local reservoirs but making less water available to more than 600,000 consumers in Sonoma …

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Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Los Padres wilderness and rivers bill introduced in Senate

Last week, Senator Alex Padilla (D-Ca) announced the introduction of a bill that will protect special places in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument for their ecological, cultural, and recreational values. The bill also prohibits future oil drilling in certain places, improves equitable access to the outdoors, and benefits local and statewide economies. The bill is a companion to Representative Salud Carbajal’s Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives in February. It … safeguards about 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers.

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Aquafornia news NBC News

‘If you build it, they will come’: California desert cashes in on early cannabis investment

Along a hot, dusty stretch of freeway in California’s Coachella Valley, a green rush is booming that not even the coronavirus pandemic can slow. Desert Hot Springs, once a sleepy retirement community overshadowed by its more glamorous neighbor, Palm Springs, to the south, is transforming into a cannabis-growing capital as businesses lured by tax incentives and a 420-friendly local government pour into the small city. … With constant sun and almost no rain, growing cannabis in the desert requires a mammoth water and power supply to keep indoor operations going when outside temperatures soar.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin water well project challenged by environmentalists

The North Marin Water District failed to adequately study whether there will be enough water for endangered fish in Lagunitas Creek if it builds a new well in West Marin, an environmental group alleges. The well is intended to address worsening saltwater contamination in the water supply. Save Our Seashore, a nonprofit in Inverness, filed an appeal against the project with the Marin County Planning Commission. … The commission is expected to hold a hearing on the issue on May 24. 

Aquafornia news High Country News

How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?

In scale and ambition, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has few parallels. And the work becomes increasingly urgent as the climate crisis makes water shortages increasingly severe. … This emphasis on local expertise points to SGMA’s possibilities — and its potential pitfalls — especially when it comes to deciding what “sustainable” water management means. Each management body has wide discretion to define “sustainability” — and the path to sustainability by 2040 — for its particular basin.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Don’t expect Miracle May this month on the Colorado River

The Colorado River Basin appears to be out of miracles this spring. Five years after a “Miracle May” of record rainfall staved off what had appeared to be the river’s first imminent shortage in water deliveries, the hope for another in 2021 “is fading quickly,” says the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center’s latest report, released Thursday. That’s one more piece of bad news for the Central Arizona Project. A first-time shortage is now likely to slash deliveries of river water to Central Arizona farmers starting in 2022 but won’t affect drinking water supplies for Tucson, Phoenix and other cities, or for tribes and industries that get CAP water.

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Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

Opinion: Abatti and friends knock on the U.S. Supreme Court door

The dispute between Imperial Valley farmer Mike Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District over water rights entered a new chapter last month. Mr. Abatti filed a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the court to review last year’s California appellate court’s ruling in the IID’s favor. Our local Imperial County Farm Bureau and the California Farm Bureau, along with some individual valley farmers, then filed amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Mr. Abatti’s petition for review. Mr.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Hosing down the driveway? Why California has no statewide water wasting rules as it heads into a new drought

Anyone who lived through California’s last big drought from 2012 to 2016 remembers the rules. You couldn’t water your yard so much that the water ran off into the street or sidewalk. Or hose down a driveway. Hotels had to put up signs telling customers they could choose not to have sheets and towels washed every day. Ornamental fountains were prohibited unless they recycled water. Watering landscaping within 48 hours of rain was forbidden. … Now California is entering a new drought with dwindling reservoir levels. But so far, there are no statewide prohibitions against wasting water.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Judge orders McKinleyville firm in water pollution suit to pay $2M in penalties

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered McKinleyville-based construction firm Kernen Construction Co. to pay over $2,087,750 in civil penalties after it was found to have violated the Clean Water Act by discharging contaminated storm water into a nearby tributary creek of the Mad River. The order was issued by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on May 2 after the company was found to have discharged storm water without engaging in pollution control measures mandated by the CWA. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Klamath, Modoc, Siskiyou county leaders throw support behind Basin ag

At a rare joint meeting between all three of their leadership boards, Klamath, Siskiyou and Modoc Counties discussed ways to support agricultural communities during the Klamath Basin’s historic drought this year. Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project will receive 33,000 acre-feet of water, less than 10% of their normal allocation, more than a month later than normal. Irrigators on tributaries to the Lower Klamath River, like the Scott River, are also expecting water deliveries to be curtailed during the summer.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Conveyance and water rights; Considerations for conveyance across the Delta

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, as part of their continuing work on examining the state’s role in financing conveyance projects that could help meet needs in a changing climate, the Commissioners heard from a panel of speakers about state policy considerations for conveyance and the cross-cutting issues of flood-managed aquifer recharge (flood-MAR), green infrastructure, collaborative partnerships and governance, and innovation. … Michael George, Delta Watermaster, … pointed out that it’s physically, ecologically, and economically impossible to squeeze water out of the Delta for export. 

Aquafornia news KTAR.com

Gov. Doug Ducey signs historic water protection legislation

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a landmark water protection bill Wednesday to ensure clean water in nearly 800 Arizona streams, lakes and rivers that are critical for everyday use. The legislation will preserve water quality, list protected Arizona waters and develop management practices that will protect the waterways.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

No bear, but John Cox tells Fresno that he has the ‘beast’ in him to tackle Calif. issues

California gubernatorial candidate John Cox swung through Fresno on Thursday as part of his “Meet the Beast” campaign tour, holding a press conference at Machado Farms. … With the state once again in the midst of another drought, Cox said he would do something that Newsom has so far refused to: declare a state-wide emergency. Instead of a state-wide declaration, Newsom enacted an emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. 

Aquafornia news KOBI-TV NBC5 / KOTI-TV NBC2

Siskiyou County residents protest over new water tank restriction ordinance

Residents in northern California rallied outside of Yreka City Hall Thursday to protest the County’s new ordinance aimed at curtailing illegal marijuana grow. On Tuesday, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors amended Chapter 4 of Title 3 – adding restrictions on water trucks using specific County highways. The restrictions largely target streets in the unincorporated communities of Butte Valley and Big Springs. … Protesters of the affected areas voiced their opposition to the bill – stating the Water Trucks are critical for their survival.   

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: River flows helps CA Delta estuary, fish — not wasted water

It’s that time of drought again. During one of the driest years on record, once again curtailing water deliveries to local farms, Fresno-area lawmakers wasted little time trotting out one of their favorite falsehoods. That every year, including the parched ones like 2021, California “wastes” millions of gallons of water by “flushing it to the ocean.” Central San Joaquin Valley residents have heard this declaration so often and for so long, from the mouths of politicians and parroted on talk radio, that many of us believe it’s true. 

-Written by Marek Warszawski

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Aquafornia news AZ Big Media

Here’s how Arizona is preparing for 1st cuts to Colorado River allocation

Arizona is gearing up for the first-ever “Tier 1” shortage on the Colorado River in 2022, which will trigger significant cuts to the state’s annual allocation from its most important water resource. As daunting as it sounds, the vast majority of citizens and businesses will not be affected, state water leaders said during a Colorado River Preparedness briefing last week. Arizona is also well prepared to weather expected shortages the next few years, and is in the process of developing the next steps to protect and augment the river’s supplies as the drought persists, said the state’s top two water leaders.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County Supervisors approve groundwater monitoring station in Corning

A new groundwater monitoring station is coming to Corning’s public works yard on Gallagher Avenue just across from a warehouse that stores various road signs and equipment. Public Works Flood Control Manager Ryan Teubert presented the project Tuesday to the Tehama County Board of Supervisors. It consists of construction at the yard, which will be funded and performed by the California Department of Water Resources. 

Aquafornia news Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations

News release: Did BOR shift economic burden from water contractors to taxpayers?

On Monday May 3rd, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the West Coast’s largest trade organization of small-scale commercial fishermen and women, signed on to a letter asking Representative Katie Porter (D – Ca 45th) in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations and Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to open an investigation into Reclamation’s manipulation of government cost accounting standards and its own longstanding criteria for allocating costs owed by Central Valley Project water and power contractors (Contractors).

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: Entire Bay Area has gone from ’severe’ to ‘extreme’ drought levels in just 2 weeks

The drought situation in the Bay Area has officially gone from bad to worse. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire Bay Area is now in the “extreme” drought category, along with nearly three-quarters of California. According to the latest summary, precipitation in the state for the water year that began Oct. 1 is well below normal, in the bottom 10th percentile, and the greater Bay Area is “experiencing record or near-record dryness.” 

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Crisis on the Klamath

The federal government is strictly curtailing irrigation this year in an attempt to protect endangered fish important to Indigenous tribes. Farmers say this will make it all but impossible to farm, while tribal groups say the plan doesn’t go far enough to save their fisheries. In mid-April, a farming region in southern Oregon began to release water from the Klamath River into its irrigation canals. … [A]ccording to the federal government, it was an illegal maneuver that could further jeopardize the survival of multiple endangered species and food sources important to Indigenous tribes and fisheries in the region.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Reclamation halts water deliveries to Northern California farmers

More than a month after announcing it was suspending water deliveries to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the Bureau of Reclamation delivered equally bad news to farmers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Their water supplies, tabbed at 5 percent of their contracted amount, were not available for delivery via the Central Valley Project due to limited supply. 

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Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Supervisors oppose water district applications

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the California Water Resources Control Board on May 4 formally opposing the Shandon-San Juan Water District’s (SSJWD) two recent applications for water from Lake Nacimiento and Santa Margarita Lake—a move that puts two partners on the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin at odds with one another.

Aquafornia news The Pew Charitable Trusts

Blog: More US rivers deserve outstanding designation

In many American communities, rivers irrigate the farms that feed families, quench people’s thirst—rivers are the source of more than two-thirds of the drinking water in the U.S.—sustain wildlife habitat, and provide an economic boost for communities. Yet only a very small portion of those waterways are protected from threats ranging from pollution to damming, which would wreck the water’s natural flow. … California’s Regional Water Quality Control Boards have authority to designate ONRWs but to date have done so for only two bodies of water: Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake. However, the state did initiate an analysis of the Smith River as an ONRW but has not completed the effort. The Smith is a Pacific salmon stronghold.

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Colorado is examining water speculation, and finding it’s ‘all the problems’ in one

Melting snow and flowing irrigation ditches mean spring has finally arrived at the base of Grand Mesa in western Colorado. Harts Basin Ranch, a 3,400-acre expanse of hayfields and pasture just south of Cedaredge, in Delta County, is coming back to life with the return of water. … The ranch has the No. 1 priority water right — meaning the oldest, which comes with the ability to use the creek’s water first — dating to 1881.  … [The ranch's owners] have been accused of water speculation — which means buying up the ranch just for its senior water rights and hoarding them for a future profit.  

Aquafornia news Water and Wastes Digest

Arizona’s Gov. Ducey calls on Department Of Defense to address groundwater contamination

Gov. Doug Ducey has asked the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to address groundwater contamination near military installations in Arizona. In an Apr. 27 letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Gov. Ducey requested DOD to identify and treat water in Arizona contaminated in the areas surrounding four DOD installations and to prevent additional human exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from other DOD facilities in Arizona, which impact the groundwater. … These bases are located in the two most populous metropolitan areas in Arizona and each is surrounded by thousands of Arizonans who rely on clean groundwater for drinking water purposes.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

IWVGA to discuss Searles nonpayment of replenishment fee

The fate of Searles Valley Minerals may hinge on a special virtual meeting of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority later this week, at least according to SVM’s Camille Anderson. The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday. At it, the IWVGA will discuss how to respond to SVM’s non-payment of the authority’s groundwater replenishment fee. … The groundwater authority was formed in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, which requires all California basins to eventually achieve sustainability. The replenishment fee is part of the IWVGA’s long-term plan to reach sustainability, but has proven wildly controversial for some.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Some rural California residents doubt they’ll ever get clean water

When Ramona Hernandez turns on her kitchen faucet in El Adobe, an unincorporated town just a few miles southeast of Bakersfield, the water that splashes out looks clean and inviting. But she doesn’t dare drink it. … Drinking the tap water in this tiny community of dusty ranches and unpaved roads could expose Hernandez to arsenic. So, for years, she and her husband, Gerardo, have shuttled twice a week to the nearby town of Lamont to load up on bottled water. At a cost of about $80 a month, it’s enough for drinking and cooking. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Today on Big Day of Giving consider supporting your favorite water nonprofit

At the Water Education Foundation, we focus on telling the complex story of water in California and the West because of its critical role in sustaining our lives, growing our food and nourishing our environment. As a nonprofit we rely on the generosity of people who value what we do – enhancing public understanding of our most important natural resource and catalyzing critical conversations to inform collaborative decision-making. Donate here to help us keep doing what we do, and join us for a virtual open house at 4:30 p.m. today.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Endangered species: Feds deny protection for salamanders threatened by dam

The Fish and Wildlife Service said today it will deny federal protections to three salamander species that environmentalists fear could be put in danger by a proposed California dam project. Pressed by a lawsuit to make a decision, the federal agency concluded the Shasta salamander, Samwel Shasta salamander and Wintu Shasta salamander don’t need to be listed under the Endangered Species Act even if plans proceed to expand the Shasta Dam by raising it.

Aquafornia news California Farm Bureau

Blog: President’s message – Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential. During the coming few months, as California struggles through another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed public officials feel the same way. [A]n overarching, long-term problem needs to be solved to make sure farm employees can not just work safely, but can have jobs, period: water supplies.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County leaders pass local drought emergency resolution

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution proclaiming a local drought emergency. The vote on the resolution during Tuesday’s special meeting was unanimous. The resolution comes after Fresno leaders joined officials from three other Central Valley counties on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide. Fresno County Chairman Steve Brandau said the drought “is a crisis that we are putting upon ourselves.” He said he’s not a water expert, but it has been “painful” for him to watch “as water flows out into the ocean unused for human resources.” 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought declaration would trigger war over water supply

Experts say a statewide drought declaration … could bring significant consequences for the regulatory structure governing California’s complicated water-delivery system. Many farmers believe an emergency order could loosen environmental regulations and free up water supplies for them. Environmental groups fear the very same thing – that more of California’s dwindling water supply could be directed to farming at the expense of fish and wildlife.

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Aquafornia news KYMA

Home Grown: Dispute over water rights possibly going to U.S. Supreme Court

In today’s Home Grown, a local lawsuit over ownership of the Colorado River water might be taken higher to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Michael Abatti versus the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) lawsuit has been ongoing in the valley, disputing over whether water rights belong to the landowners or if they are controlled by the IID. … Abatti won the lawsuit in Imperial County Superior Court, but Katie Turner, attorney with Sutherland and Gerber says it didn’t make it to the California Supreme Court.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: How San Diego County’s water supply investments protect our economy and quality of life from drought

Increasingly ominous signs suggest that we are entering another multiyear drought in California. The State Water Project recently reduced projected water deliveries for 2021 from 10 percent of requested supplies to 5 percent, and on April 21, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a regional drought emergency in the Russian River watershed in Northern California. But it’s a different story in San Diego County.

-Written by Gary Croucher, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors.

Aquafornia news White Mountain Independent

Drought intensifies forcing rationing of Colorado River water

The US Bureau of Reclamation last week warned water users to brace for a 500,000 acre-foot cut in water from the Colorado River as a historic drought continues to tighten its grip on the Southwest. The cutback comes on top of a 200,000 acre-foot reduction Arizona water users agreed to last year in an effort to put off this day of reckoning. The Central Arizona Project provides more than a third of the state’s water. The reductions will mostly impact farmers. The sparse snowpack this winter soaked into the ground during the hot, dry spring — producing little runoff.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California could get 600,000 acres of new federally protected wilderness

California could get 600,000 new acres of federally protected wilderness under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate recently. The designation would ensure the lands remain free of development, vehicles and commercial activity. … It would also designate more than 583 miles of river — including 45 miles of San Gabriel River tributaries, as well as Little Rock Creek — as “wild and scenic rivers,” a protection that prohibits dams or new mining.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why California is planning to ban fracking

A little more than a week ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that not only would California effectively ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by 2024, but the state also would work to phase out oil extraction entirely by 2045. … It was — like the governor’s promise last year that the state would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — a sweeping pronouncement meant to show urgency in addressing climate change while the state he leads struggles with many of its most dire effects. But meeting those goals requires complex regulatory maneuvering.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Napa prepares city water use curbs in pursuit of 15% consumption cut after dry California winter

Irrigation curbs, car washing restrictions and the shutoff of fountains may return in the city of Napa amid shrinking water supplies on the tail of a dry California winter. Tuesday night, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a “moderate water shortage” declaration intended to cut consumption by 15%. Approval would mark the return of water-use restrictions last rolled out in the mid-2010s when a six-year drought led California to mandate across-the-board cutbacks statewide. Napa’s actions would follow mandatory cutbacks imposed upvalley by the cities of St. Helena and Calistoga.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Installing solar panels over California’s canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs

Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region’s climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations. … About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the state. Covering these canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation of precious water – one of California’s most critical resources – and help meet the state’s renewable energy goals, while also saving money.

Aquafornia news Brownstein Water

Blog: Bridging intention and outcomes

On March 24, 2021, the Groundwater Resources Association of California and California Groundwater Coalition hosted the virtual 2021 Groundwater Law & Legislation Forum, featuring a keynote address from California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and updates on pending groundwater legislation, DWR’s SGMA implementation, and ACWA’s position on potential bond measures. One panel focused on the intersection of environmental justice, groundwater management and the role the legislative process can play…

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Monday Top of the Scroll: Pandemic lockdown exposes the vulnerability some Californians face keeping up with water bills

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.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Trump-era water rules should be reversed

On the way out the door, the Trump administration committed many environmental and financial scandals. One can cost low-income water users while lining the pockets of one of California’s largest and most powerful water districts. The focus of one scandal was the failure of the Trump administration to collect required fish and wildlife mitigation costs set out in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Passed by Congress in 1992, it established new financing rules.
-Written by Caty Wagner, the Southern California Water Organizer for Sierra Club California, and Brandon Dawson, the acting director of Sierra Club California.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

New report looks into water insecurity in tribal lands across Colorado River Basin

A recent report looked into why Indigenous communities within the Colorado River Basin are struggling to get clean, reliable running water. A household in tribal lands is 19 times more likely than a white household to not have indoor plumbing, and during the pandemic this had catastrophic effects on some Indigenous communities. According a 2019 report outlining the action plan for closing the water access gap throughout the United States, “race is the strongest predictor of water and sanitation access,” and it’s Indigenous people who face this problem most.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Lake Pillsbury, there is no water to waste

Little is said about the role of Lake Pillsbury in our regional water system or the critical water it provides to fill Lake Mendocino. If anything, its importance to understated or not referenced at all in most media articles. Without Lake Pillsbury at the Eel River headwaters to control downstream flows, both the Eel and Russian Rivers and surrounding aquifers will intermittently dry up. … A strong movement is afoot to remove Scott Dam and eliminate Lake Pillsbury…
-Written by Frank Lynch & Carol Cinquini, Directors of the Lake Pillsbury Alliance.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Groundwater monitoring station planned for Tehama County

Water talk will be a big part of Tuesday’s Tehama County Board of Supervisors meeting as plans for a new groundwater monitoring site in Corning are coming to fruition. Tehama County Public Works plans to sign a Permit to Use Land Agreement for a groundwater station in the Corning Public Works yard on Gallagher Avenue, should the board approve the request. Creating and maintaining the station will be a combined effort of Tehama County Public Works, the Flood Control and Water Conservation District and the California Department of Water Resources. According to the related agenda report, the station is expected to be in use for a minimum of 20 years. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Water wonk with Hill, Interior chops to lead Army Corps

President Biden’s pick this week to oversee the Army’s vast natural resources operation would bring to the job decades of water experience at the Interior Department and on Capitol Hill. The president tapped Michael Connor to be the Department of Defense’s assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, which oversees the Army Corps of Engineers and its huge network of dams and other projects. Connor would play a major role in some of the most controversial projects facing the Biden administration in the environmental arena, including the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as Clean Water Act permitting.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Is Newsom making any difference on fracking?

British journalist James Bartholomew is widely credited with creating the phrase “virtue signaling” to describe positioning oneself on the popular side of an issue without actually doing anything about it. Politicians are particularly prone to uttering words or making token efforts on difficult issues to stave off criticism about their failure to act meaningfully. Gov. Gavin Newsom is California’s champion virtue-signaler as he faces a recall election later this year. … There’s no better example than Newsom’s ever-shifting attitude toward hydraulic fracturing to increase petroleum production.
-Written by Dan Walters

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin drought brings echoes of 1976-77 water crisis

Swap this year and the period of Marin County’s worst-ever drought in 1976-77 and it might be hard to tell the difference. Water suppliers restricting use to conserve reservoirs. Ranchers preparing to truck in water as creeks and wells dry up. Talks of a potential water pipeline. And questions about the resiliency of the county’s water supply. During the 1976-77 drought, the Marin Municipal Water District was within 120 days of running out of water. The county’s savior was a 6-mile pipeline over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to pump in water from the East Bay.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Central Valley lawmakers push emergency drought declaration

More than a dozen Central Valley lawmakers and elected officials met on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide. Three state senators and three Assembly members joined the chairs of the boards of supervisors from Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings counties in a bipartisan news conference at Harlan Ranch in Clovis to call for action that the group said is necessary to divert a crisis.

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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.

Aquafornia news Redlands Community News

Valley District wants to increase water storage behind Seven Oaks Dam

San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District supported construction of Seven Oaks Dam because the district believed it would not only provide flood control, but would capture precious drinking water for the benefit of Inland Empire water agencies. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which completed construction of the dam in 2000, has never been officially authorized to use the 550-foot-tall structure for anything other than flood control purposes. This project, which cost the tax payers $450 million in the late 1990s, has the capacity to hold at least 115,000 acre-feet in its reservoir, yet it is only authorized to provide “incidental water conservation.”

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Aquafornia news Tucson.com

Cuts to CAP water called “planned pain”

In a note of consolation for the pain some Arizona water users will feel if Central Arizona Project supplies are cut next year, state water leaders said Thursday: It will be planned pain. Federal officials have said it’s likely Lake Mead at the Nevada border will be low enough at the end of 2021 to trigger the first major cutback in CAP deliveries to the Arizona’s parched midsection. Arizona will lose 512,000 acre-feet of its CAP supply — almost one-third of the $4 billion project’s total supply, according to a 2019 drought contingency plan. 

Aquafornia news Pahrump Valley Times

Legislature approves Southern Nevada non-residential turf removal proposal

The Nevada Assembly voted Thursday to approve a non-residential turf removal proposal brought by Southern Nevada water regulators, who say it will save the water-shy Las Vegas Valley 12 billion gallons of water per year. With little debate from lawmakers, the Assembly voted 30-12 on Assembly Bill 356, sending the proposal to the Senate. Four Republicans — Glen Leavitt, R-Boulder City, Heidi Kasama, R-Las Vegas, Melissa Hardy, R-Henderson, and Jill Tolles, R-Reno — crossed party lines to vote with the 26 Democrats.

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Aquafornia news The Argonaut Newsweekly

In the weeds of controversy

Disagreement over restoring the Ballona Wetlands still remains high. Walter Lamb, president of the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, recently held a webinar to discuss why the current restoration plans are inadequate. The Land Trust disagrees with the assertions of organizations such as Friends of Ballona Wetlands, as they aren’t supported by available facts. Lamb based his talking points around Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order made on October 7, 2020, of protecting biodiversity and an announcement phasing out fossil fuels from September 23, 2020. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

KDD diversion continues, Reclamation could release more lake water in response

While most irrigators in the Upper Klamath Basin are enduring a spring without surface water, canals in Klamath Drainage District have been flowing since the middle of April. And KDD says no laws were broken to make deliveries to its customers. KDD opened the Ady and North canals on April 15, diverting water from the Klamath River to serve its patrons. The Bureau of Reclamation, whose operations plan for 2021 emphasized that no water deliveries be made to the Klamath Project prior to May 15, sent a letter to KDD asking them to immediately cease the diversions.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula water district files complaint against Cal Am

Attorneys for the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District filed a complaint with state regulators Tuesday asking that California American Water Co. be forced to purchase water from the expansion of a recycling project because Cal Am is failing to meet a deadline for its part in increasing the local water supply, according to language in the complaint. Any decision by regulators is important because it will affect the ability of the Monterey Peninsula to generate an alternative water source. Cal Am in 2009 was hit with a state cease-and-desist order to stop over-pumping from the Carmel River basin.

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Aquafornia news Brownstein Water

Blog: CEQA can’t stop, won’t stop regional board permit

Does CEQA prevent a Regional Water Quality Control Board from issuing its own permit under state water quality law? In Santa Clara Valley Water District v. San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (2020) 59 Cal.App.5th 199, the First Appellate District answered “no,” holding that CEQA does not bar a regional board from imposing additional requirements on a flood control project, even after the project’s final environmental impact report (FEIR) was certified.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom promises while the Delta dies

The West Coast’s most important estuary is dying, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has hastened its demise. As he took office two years ago, Newsom promised to generate voluntary agreements among farmers, environmentalists and government officials on the rules for allocating water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … [C]onditions in the delta have grown so dire that in March the National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that high water temperatures could kill 90% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River this year.
-Written by Jacques Leslie.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Federal dollars available for California farmers, ranchers facing drought

Federal dollars are on the table to help farmers and ranchers during the drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a drought disaster in 50 California counties last month. Advertisement Grants are now available to help with costs associated with the dry conditions. After a winter with little rain and snow, California is dry. … Nicole Montna Van Vleck walked between two rice fields on Wednesday. One was newly planted and covered in water. The other was bone-dry.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Supreme Court tells IID to respond to Michael Abatti

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday instructed the Imperial Irrigation District to submit a response to California farmer Michael Abatti’s request that their longstanding legal battle be taken up by the nation’s highest court. Scott Harris, clerk of the Supreme Court, wrote to Jennifer Meeker, an attorney for the water and power district, to say that even though IID didn’t feel the need to answer Abatti’s petition, ”the Court nevertheless has directed this office to request that a response be filed.” This comes two weeks after Frank Oswalt, IID’s general counsel, said the district didn’t need to submit a response …

Aquafornia news The Counter

Amid severe drought, Oregon farming region illegally diverts water from the Klamath River

In mid-April, a farming region in southern Oregon began to release water from the Klamath River into its irrigation canals. According to the local water authority, this was a standard move to jumpstart the farming season during one of the driest seasons in recent memory. But according to the federal government, it was an illegal maneuver that could further jeopardize the survival of multiple endangered species and food sources important to Indigenous tribes and fisheries in the region.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Cutbacks in water for central AZ farmers expected

Arizona may be facing its first official declaration of water shortage next year, a move that would trigger water cutbacks of 512,000 acre-feet — almost 20% of Arizona’s Colorado River entitlement — affecting mainly agricultural users.  The 24-Month Study on the Colorado River system, released this month by the Bureau of Reclamation, projects that in June water levels in Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet for the first time, which would put the state in a Tier 1 shortage.

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Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

County to host septic and water permit townhall for fire survivors

CZU Lightning Complex fire survivors who are rebuilding their homes, are invited to join the Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience on Saturday for a townhall on the septic and water permitting process. … Attendees can expect to learn about septic and water system permitting requirements, but also county and state-level regulations that apply to their properties. … The Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience works with fire survivors on an individual-basis, to help them understand what is needed to ultimately, get a rebuild permit. 

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought – Bay Area water agencies ask – but don’t yet require – public to conserve more water

After back-to-back dry winters, two of the Bay Area’s biggest water agencies on Tuesday moved forward with plans to urge the public to reduce water use to avoid shortages this year. But for now, they are using a carrot rather than a stick, saying they have enough water to get by without resorting to fines, water cops and strict rules. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, based in San Jose, voted Tuesday night to double the amount of money it pays homeowners to replace their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping, from $1 a square foot to $2, and to expand the maximum amount it will pay per household from $2,000 to $3,000 under the conservation program.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Competing fish needs spark Klamath legal dispute

The competing needs of different protected fish species are pitting the Klamath Tribes against the federal government in a court battle with legal implications for Oregon irrigators. The Klamath Tribes are seeking an injunction to scale back how much water the federal government can release from Upper Klamath Lake to the detriment of endangered sucker species that inhabit it. … The bureau has prioritized flows in the Klamath river to benefit threatened coho salmon, jeopardizing the survival of the suckers by allowing the lake to fall below levels needed to sustain them…

Aquafornia news The Hill

California pushes to ban fracking and oil extraction

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled a new initiative to ban new and future permits for hydraulic fracking beginning in 2024. The ban is part of California’s effort to move away from oil extraction to source fuel, focusing on developing renewable sources such as wind and solar. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the sourcing of oil from deep subterranean rocks, using a high-pressured water mixture drilled into the earth that releases natural gas and oil. 

Aquafornia news Law.com/The Recorder

Blog: Water Board issues PFAS investigative orders to refineries and bulk fuel storage terminals

The State Water Resources Control Board issued investigative orders on March 11 to over 160 refineries and bulk fuel storage terminals in over 30 California counties, requiring environmental investigation and sampling for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “PFAS.” This most recent wave of PFAS investigation orders is consistent with California’s increasingly aggressive approach to regulating and investigating PFAS in everything from soil, groundwater, food packaging, and consumer products. 

Aquafornia news CBS Los Angeles

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: ‘Historic’ drought forces water restrictions in NorCal, but restrictions could soon extend statewide

The Marin Municipal Water District on April 20 enacted a series of water conservation rules, including banning home car washes, no watering of outdoor lawns between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., and no refilling decorative pools or fountains. A day later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for the Russian River watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Marin County borders Sonoma. Newsom chose to make the declaration in those two counties only, rather than statewide, as some officials and farmers in the agricultural-rich Central Valley had hoped. But Newsom said a broader drought declaration could come as conditions change.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Drought-hit California orders Nestlé to stop pumping millions of gallons of water

California water officials have moved to stop Nestlé from siphoning millions of gallons of water out of California’s San Bernardino forest, which it bottles and sells as Arrowhead brand water, as drought conditions worsen across the state. The draft cease-and-desist order, which still requires approval from the California Water Resources Control Board, is the latest development in a protracted battle between the bottled water company and local environmentalists, who for years have accused Nestlé of draining water supplies at the expense of local communities and ecosystems.

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Aquafornia news Vice Magazine

‘Everyone Loses’: The government is rationing water at the California-Oregon Border

Along the Oregon-California border, the Klamath River Basin is a crucial water source for Indigenous tribes, endangered species, and farmers. This year, though, there is simply not enough to go around.  The Western US is enduring another major drought, and the Klamath River Basin is at a historic low. This resulted in different groups being forced to compete and make their case for why water, now precious and scarce, should be diverted to their needs. It’s a stark reminder of the tough, no-win decisions that citizens will continue to face amid the worsening climate crisis. 

Aquafornia news Prescott eNews

Blog: Arizona groundwater explained

News of drought and climate change impacts on Arizona’s water supplies has become more alarming with the release of each new study. To prepare for a drier future, Arizona will need an informed public. For help in understanding the state’s water management situation, a brief new reference work is now available from the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As drought deepens, California farmers see grim future

As yet another season of drought returns to California, the mood has grown increasingly grim across the vast and fertile San Joaquin Valley. Renowned for its bounty of dairies, row crops, grapes, almonds, pistachios and fruit trees, this agricultural heartland is still reeling from the effects of the last punishing drought, which left the region geologically depressed and mentally traumatized. Now, as the valley braces for another dry spell of undetermined duration, some are openly questioning the future of farming here, even as legislative representatives call on Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a drought emergency.

Aquafornia news KMTR

The fight for water around the Colorado River basin

The Colorado River cuts through the Grand Canyon, providing water for about 40 million people and 5 and a half million acres of farmland. To some, the water is as valuable as oil. In 1922, the seven U.S. states through which the river flows signed onto the Colorado River Compact, a water-sharing agreement that divvies up the river’s annual flow. The water must be shared equally between Upper Basin states: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico; and the Lower Basin: California, Arizona and Nevada. There’s been infighting ever since.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Coastal Commission cosigns federal plan to kill native elk

On Earth Day, the California Coastal Commission conditionally approved a general management plan for a 28,700-acre federally owned park in the San Francisco Bay Area — a plan vehemently opposed by conservationists because it calls for killing native tule elk in an area where thousands of acres of federal land are leased to small dairy and cattle beef farmers. … Last year, an estimated one-third of one the tule elk herds died due to malnutrition, likely exacerbated by drought conditions which decimated the animals’ foraging habitat at Point Reyes. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: Wildlife Conservation Board funds stream flow enhancement projects

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) has approved approximately $33.5 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams throughout California. A total of 30 stream flow enhancement projects were approved for funding at its April 22 meeting. The approved projects will provide or lead to a direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or quality of water in streams for anadromous fish or special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species, or to provide resilience to climate change.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR awards $26 million in grants to support critically overdrafted groundwater basins

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $26 million in grant funding for capital project investments to improve water supply security, water quality and the reliability of domestic wells – advancing access to safe, affordable drinking water.   This funding provides important assistance for successful local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which establishes a framework for managing the state’s groundwater resources and will help California be better prepared for longer, more severe droughts.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Newsom orders halt to new fracking in California starting in 2024 – and wants to end all drilling by 2045

Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the state Friday to stop issuing permits for the oil extraction method known as fracking by January 2024 and to draw up plans to end all fossil-fuel drilling in California by 2045 — the most sweeping declaration of its kind in the nation. … Eliminating all extraction would have far-reaching consequences in California, the nation’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil… [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Nestlé doesn’t have valid rights to water it’s been bottling, California officials say

California water officials on Friday issued a draft order telling Nestlé to ”cease and desist” taking much of the millions of gallons of water it pipes out of the San Bernardino National Forest to sell as Arrowhead brand bottled water. The order, which must be approved by the California Water Resources Control Board, caps years of regulatory probes and a public outcry over the company’s water pipeline in the San Bernardino Mountains, where opponents argue that siphoning away water harms spring-fed Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Colorado River shortage looms amid scant snow and shrinking flows

The water level of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, has dropped more than 130 feet since the beginning of 2000, when the lake’s surface lapped at the spillway gates on Hoover Dam. Twenty-one years later, with the Colorado River consistently yielding less water as the climate has grown warmer and drier, the reservoir near Las Vegas sits at just 39% of capacity. … The river’s reservoirs are shrinking as the Southwest endures an especially severe bout of dryness within a two-decade drought intensified by climate change, one of the driest periods in centuries that shows no sign of letting up.

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Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

Feds rev up push to fix widespread PFAS pollution

The Biden administration and Congress are stepping up efforts to control the release and cleanup of poly and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water sources and elsewhere, joining states that have expanded scrutiny of the chemicals, which are used widely in manufacturing and are extremely persistent in the environment. EPA’s current “advisory” limit on PFAS in drinking water is 70 parts per trillion, but some states have set or proposed required levels from 6.5 to 20 ppt, including California … 

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Will desalination come to Huntington Beach? A water board hearing happens today

Questions have been raised over California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political maneuvers to push a controversial seawater desalination plant proposed for the Huntington Beach coastline. Critics say their concerns about the actual need for the project and its potential environmental effects remain. The company pushing it, Poseidon Water, remains steadfast in its intent to build a plant that would suck in 100 million gallons of seawater daily and make half of it drinkable….[The Regional Water Quality Control] board’s next hearing is scheduled for [Friday] April 23. If the board approves the permits, the project then goes for a final say from the state Coastal Commission. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought brings threat of dry wells in San Joaquin Valley

Thousands of wells that bring water to San Joaquin Valley homes are at risk of drying up this summer, leaving families without running water for drinking, cleaning and bathing. While no one knows the extent of the threat from this second year of drought conditions, Jonathan Nelson with the Community Water Center says “the alarm bells are sounding.” Homes, farms and entire communities that rely on shallow wells as their only source of water are vulnerable to declining groundwater levels from dry conditions and agricultural pumping.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join us May 6 for a fun virtual open house on Big Day of Giving

Join us May 6 for a virtual open house where you can test your water trivia knowledge, win prizes and meet the people behind our programs that foster a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource – water. The Foundation’s open house runs from 4:30–5:30 p.m., when you will be able to bounce among chatrooms to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and join a fast and fun trivia contest hosted by our Programs Director Nick Gray.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: MID board should raise farm irrigation pricing

After two dry winters, the April 1 snowpack measurement, which is typically the deepest and highest in water concentration, is far below average at 59% according to the Department of Water Resources. … [T]o substantially decrease water demands the Central Valley needs to address agricultural water usage. The main problem with agricultural water use is pricing. … [It's] cheaper for farmers to use more water than it is for them to invest in water-efficient technologies. 
-Written by Caitlin Perkey, a masters of public administration student at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock.

Aquafornia news Santa Monica Observer

Opinion: California quietly slides into a drought while officials say to build for 1.34 million more thirsty residents

Los Angeles is currently at only 46% of average rainfall for the Water Year according to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). … Drought is a condition to be expected a large percent of the time. So why did California’s State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) decide that the Southern California region should plan for an additional 1.34 million residents over the next nine years?
-Written by Alyssa Erdley.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Program will provide clean water to Turlockers impacted by nitrate-laden wells

Turlock residents impacted by nitrate groundwater contamination will soon be supplied with safe drinking water as the state seeks out more permanent solutions. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is leading the charge on a program which will provide bottled water deliveries or bottle-filling kiosks to six geographic zones deemed to have the most-serious groundwater contamination issues. The Turlock Subbasin has been identified as a Priority 1 zone by the board and is one of the two largest zones included in the program. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The Sacramento River – Ridgetop to river mouth multi-benefit water management

The dry year and reduced flows in the Sacramento River System are challenging the ability for water resources managers to serve water for cities and rural communities, farms, wildlife refuges, fish and recreation. Part of the challenge has been the inordinate focus on temperature management in the upper part of the river below Shasta Lake. As we have all seen countless times before, a focus on one species or in this case one aspect (temperature) of water management is not a path forward for the long-term, successful recovery of salmon…

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Citing potential water waste, court sides with California dam operators

A federal court has ruled that Best Best & Krieger LLP client City of Santa Maria and others are correctly not releasing more water from a dam above the City, as doing so would be in conflict with the dam’s Congressional purpose. … The lawsuit claims the defendants are violating the Endangered Species Act by not releasing enough water from Twitchell Dam on the Cuyama River, thereby not providing sufficient water for federal law-protected Southern California Steelhead trout to spawn.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Trump-era Clean Water Act rule takes effect in Colorado on April 23, 2021, while Colorado public officials renew efforts to craft a state-level dredge-and-fill permitting program

Following a temporary delay in Colorado federal court, the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) will now take effect in Colorado on April 23, 2021.  Under the NWPR, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers will no longer require permits for operations affecting certain categories of streams and wetland areas previously subject to the Clean Water Act.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom declares drought emergency – but only for Sonoma and Mendocino counties

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a drought emergency for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, but resisted calls to issue a statewide proclamation — at least for now. Newsom’s emergency order primarily affects communities and water districts in the Russian River watershed, which includes the cities of Santa Rosa, Ukiah and Sebastopol. Some 360,000 people live in the area. 

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Two sources of U.S.-Mexico sewage flows are fighting for one pot of money

If the San Diego-Tijuana region were a human body, it’d have the stomach flu: Bad stuff is coming out of both ends. But instead of tackling the complicated source of the infection, the border towns are fighting over where to put a Band-Aid. Six miles from the U.S.-Mexico border lie three giant ponds full of really old poo that regularly flush into the Pacific Ocean and flow north along the Southern California coast during summer tourist season. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought spreads water shortages throughout state​

The 2020-21 California drought has led to significant water cutbacks, compelling farmers to fallow ground and public officials to respond with legislation intended to address the state’s chronic water shortages. Farmers in more parts of the state have learned in recent days just how little water they will have available to them this summer, as water suppliers from the Oregon border to the North Coast to the San Joaquin Valley announced low allocations.

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Aquafornia news Vox

This stunning timelapse shows the megadrought’s toll on the West’s largest reservoir

Just how bad is the drought in the Western US? The shrinking of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, is a troubling indicator. The massive man-made lake, which straddles the border of Arizona and Nevada, is now only at 39 percent of its full capacity, down from 44 percent in April 2020. That’s equivalent to a 10-foot drop in the water level, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Reclamation. Which means mandatory restrictions on the amount of water surrounding states draw from Lake Mead could be triggered in the next few months.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: The Bay-Delta salmon crisis that didn’t have to be

The state and federal agencies tasked with protecting our fish, wildlife, and natural resources are once again scrambling to avoid wiping out this year’s cohort of chinook salmon that spawn below Shasta Dam. If this sounds familiar, it is because this scenario is a repeat of attempts to “manage” Shasta operations in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in over 75% of the eggs and fry of endangered winter run chinook salmon being destroyed in both of those years, solely from the lack of sufficient cold water being released from Shasta Dam …

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last call to learn from leading water policy and legal experts at Water 101 workshop

Time is running out to register for this week’s Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on California’s water history, laws, geography and politics. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23. California’s water basics will be covered by some of the state’s leading policy and legal experts, and participants will have an opportunity to engage with the guest speakers individually during live Q&A in breakout rooms.

Aquafornia news Nevada Current

Drought, demands on groundwater making water law even more contentious

Water law adjudication, already a complicated field, will only become more so because of the climate crisis, extended droughts, and increasing demand for groundwater in Nevada, the Supreme Court was told last week. The court Friday held its first meeting for the newly created commission to study the adjudication of water law cases. Members of the commission range from ranchers to conservationists to mining industry representatives and scientists. 

Aquafornia news Law360

Blog: Judge says species protection not among dam purposes

A California federal judge rejected environmental groups’ suit aimed at securing more water releases from a dam near Santa Maria for protected trout’s benefit, deciding that species conservation was not among the purposes Congress included in the project’s authorization. 

Aquafornia news Good Day Sacramento

Free bottled water coming to thousands of homes with contaminated water

People in some Stanislaus and Merced counties are being warned if their water comes from groundwater wells, it could be contaminated with harmful amounts of nitrate. Now those homes could be receiving free bottled water as a solution. Some have already been buying bottles for years, to avoid getting sick. … At his Salida home with a water fountain flowing in his front yard, Jose Olagues can’t drink from the faucet in his own home. … Bottled water keeps him from becoming sick.

Aquafornia news Village News

Rainbow MWD places $1.3M in reserves

The San Diego County Water Authority was successful in its rate lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the SDCWA provided a check to the Rainbow Municipal Water District for Rainbow’s share of the settlement. On March 23, the Rainbow board voted 5-0 to place the money into the district’s reserves rather than to attempt to provide refunds to each individual ratepayer.

Aquafornia news Orange County Water Association

Report: The role of asset management in support of OC Sanitation’s mission

Publicly owned treatment works in California have been observing a trend of permit requirements issued by EPA Region 9 and the State to develop and utilize an Asset Management Program as part of their NPDES/Wastewater Discharge Order. In the case of OC San, an Asset Management Plan has already been in place; however, with many of its major assets aging, the development of a more robust AMP became a priority for the agency.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma County calls for sewage pipeline study

In a potential solution to a two-decade-old problem, Sonoma County’s water agency has commissioned a $156,000 study of a potential pipeline carrying Occidental’s wastewater to a treatment plant in neighboring Graton.  A pipeline between the two west county hamlets would resolve the dilemma dating back to a 1997 state order banning Occidental from discharging effluent into a tributary of the Russian River.  Since 2018, the Occidental wastewater system — one of eight managed by Sonoma Water — has been trucking raw sewage 18 miles through Graton to a county treatment plant at the airport, an expensive program seen as a stopgap measure.

Aquafornia news Red, Green, and Blue

Blog: Yurok and Karuk Tribes respond to Klamath Operations plan during severe drought

The Klamath River Basin is in a dire situation this year. The plan curtails irrigation diversions to less than 10% of demand while failing to meet the biological needs of salmon and other fisheries downstream. … Reclamation also announced $15 million in immediate aid to the Klamath Project through the Klamath Project Drought Relief Agency, an additional $3 million in technical assistance to Tribes for ecosystem activities in the basin, as well as funding for groundwater monitoring in the basin.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Changes to Shasta water release designed to protect salmon

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin releasing warmer water from the upper layers of the Shasta Reservoir directly into the Sacramento River to maintain flows, while saving colder water for the winter-run Chinook salmon migration.

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Aquafornia news YES! Magazine

The Yurok Tribe is using California’s carbon offset program to buy back its land

The Yurok Tribe has long faced state and federal policies meant to eliminate its land base. Before American colonization and conquest, the tribal territory stretched along what is now the Northern California coast and inland within the Klamath River watershed. The gold rush in the 1840s drew white settlers West, where they killed tens of thousands of Native people through forced displacement, enslavement, and disease. In the 20th century, the Yurok continued to be denied access to their land and water, leading to decades of legal battles over fishing rights. 

Aquafornia news KUNC

With first-ever Colorado River shortage almost certain, states stare down mandatory cutbacks

The Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs are likely to drop to historically low levels later this year, prompting mandatory conservation by some of the river’s heaviest users. The latest Bureau of Reclamation reservoir projections, which take into account river flows in a given year, show a likelihood that Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada stateline will dip below the critical threshold of 1,075 feet in elevation in May and remain below that level for the foreseeable future. A first-ever official shortage declaration from the Department of the Interior is almost certain later this year.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation adjusts Sacramento River operations to benefit salmon amid drought conditions

Reclamation announced today that spring-time operations at Shasta Dam will adjust to benefit endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River during this critically dry water year. … No additional water from Shasta Reservoir will be released during this temporary adjustment—only the withdrawal elevation and timing of water releases will change.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Where are the lead pipes? Finding them may prove tough for EPA

Incomplete local record-keeping may stymie EPA efforts to locate the nation’s lead pipes to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of replacing them and improving drinking water quality, authorities say. A better way to reduce lead contamination in the nation’s drinking water, a former Environmental Protection Agency water chief says, is by enforcing an existing rule requiring utilities to replace some of their lead pipes every year. The Biden administration’s infrastructure plan, released March 31, calls for replacing all lead drinking water pipes throughout the U.S. to avoid lead contamination drinking water …

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Tiny Borrego Springs inks major water deal to guarantee its survival

Borrego Springs, the small desert town at the entrance to California’s sprawling Anza-Borrego State Park, has won a judge’s approval for an agreement under which large  farmers, resort owners and its own water district will slash water use by 74% by 2040. Officials say the cuts are needed to keep the town of 3,000 alive.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Imperial Beach shoreline closed again after being blasted for weeks by Tijuana sewage

San Diegans will undoubtedly head to the ocean this weekend as temperatures warm — but not in Imperial Beach. Sewage spilling over from Tijuana forced officials on Friday to completely close the city’s shoreline yet again. The move comes less than a week after Baja officials said repairs were completed to a broken water pump in the Tijuana River, which had allowed tens of millions of gallons of sewage-tainted water to escape capture starting in late March.

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Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Air district dings IID over Red Hill Bay

In what one board member called a hearing that isn’t going to be topped, the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board voted 4-0 to issue an order of abatement against the Imperial Irrigation District over the Red Hill Bay project site at the Salton Sea. … The Red Hill Bay project is aimed at creating hundreds of acres of shallow marine wetlands to provide aquatic bird habitat and reduce airborne dust from playa exposed due to a shrinking Salton Sea. 

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Water Authority fears Santa Barbara county at disadvantage by failing to approve amendments

Leaders of the Central Coast Water Authority fear that Santa Barbara County is at a disadvantage in obtaining state water because of the county’s failure to adopt an amendment to the State Water Project that allows local water districts to buy and sell water supplies outside the county. The CCWA is an umbrella organization for all of the State Water Project members in Santa Barbara County. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Central Coast Water Board approves Ag Order 4.0

General Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands, simply known as Ag Order 4.0, will officially begin to be implemented. Just prior to the deadline, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the measure Thursday evening. There has been unease among farmers throughout the lengthy development process as to how the rule will affect production. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Richardson Bay agency considers eelgrass protection anchorage

The Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency is exploring a plan that would create a designated anchoring zone to protect eelgrass beds. Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, a biologist with Coastal Policy Solutions consulting firm, presented a draft eelgrass protection and management plan to the agency board on April 8. Schwartz Lesberg said the plan would not change the 72-hour anchor limit. It would create a designated anchoring zone in deeper water, closer to Belvedere and the mouth of Richardson Bay, where eelgrass does not grow.

Aquafornia news KRCR

Yurok Tribe: Klamath River salmon stock conditions dire, fishery canceled for 5th year

The Yurok Tribe said it’s sounding the alarm as culturally invaluable salmon edge closer to extinction. The Yurok also said it is canceling its commercial fishery for the fifth time this year. Tribal officials said past water management decisions and climate change have put Klamath river salmon stocks at risk. The tribe said it’s gravely concerned about the rapidly declining salmon stocks in the Klamath River Basin … Tribal officials said [Reclamation's] plan provides bare-minimum flows for imperiled Klamath salmon and sucker fish populations.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

OID and SSJID cancel large water sale to thirsty West Side

The worsening drought has canceled a large water sale to West Side farmers by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts. They announced Wednesday that their own customers will need the water, which had been declared surplus in early March. A revised forecast of Stanislaus River runoff scuttled the sale, which could have brought up to $25 million to the sellers.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Releases on the Trinity River to significantly increase flow this week

Restoration flows will begin tomorrow, April 16, on the Trinity River to help improve conditions after another critically dry water year. A flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River is brought forward by the Trinity Management Council each year. This week’s two-day schedule is slated to increase daily average flows from 300 cubic feet per second to 1,300 cubic feet per second.

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

While high-profile surface-water initiatives like WaterFix and the Delta Conveyance Project grab most of the headlines pertaining to water management in the state, efforts to make significant changes to the way groundwater is utilized have been underway since 2014. Now, the state and the local water agencies are seeking public comment on documents related to the management of groundwater. In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a three-bill legislative package collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to better manage groundwater supplies over the long term.  

Aquafornia news University of California

Blog: A path toward clean drinking water for all Californians

California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water that meets those criteria. A new study published by the California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Judge tells Monterey County to go back to the drawing board on Cal Am desal approval

Monterey County must rescind all approvals of California American Water’s proposed desalination project, per an order from a Monterey County Superior Court judge who earlier this year found the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the project without identifying a water source. The ruling was handed down April 3 by Judge Lydia Villarreal, who on Jan. 21 granted in part—and denied in part—a writ requested by the Marina Coast Water District regarding the 2019 approvals of the desal plant component of Cal Am’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.

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Aquafornia news AgNet West

Down to the wire: Ag order 4.0 adoption deadline this Friday

A final decision on the pending Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program known as Ag Order 4.0 is expected by Friday, April 16. Producers have anxiously been monitoring the development of the program from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Stakeholders have repeatedly provided feedback on the proposal, detailing the challenges it would create within agriculture. As the adoption deadline quickly approaches, industry members still have concerns about multiple provisions of the measure.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath Project to receive historically low water allocation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation delivered a gut-punch to Klamath Project irrigators Wednesday, announcing a historically low water allocation as the basin struggles with extreme drought. Farms and ranches in the Project will receive an initial allocation of just 33,000 acre-feet — the lowest total since the shutdown of 2001 and barely 8% of historical demand. That is dramatically lower than the bureau’s original estimate of 130,000 acre-feet based on hydrological conditions at the beginning of March.

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Aquafornia news Politico

Q&A with Radhika Fox, acting head of EPA’s water office

Radhika Fox, a former executive for a nonprofit water advocacy group and water utility official, is leading the Biden administration’s work to incorporate environmental justice into EPA’s water work and chart a course to reverse a litany of Trump-era rollbacks. She comes to the role with a deep history in equity work and water infrastructure advocacy — a focus that she’s already brought to bear in helping to shape President Joe Biden’s call to remove all lead piping from drinking water systems under his massive infrastructure proposal, and in launching a review of the Trump administration’s overhaul of the regulation governing lead levels in drinking water. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Biden picks energy lawyer Tommy Beaudreau as Interior Department’s No. 2 official

President Biden announced Wednesday that he will nominate Tommy Beaudreau to be deputy secretary of the Interior Department, ending a standoff between the White House and senators from fossil-fuel-rich states who derailed the president’s first choice. The selection of Beaudreau, an energy lawyer who was an Obama administration official, came after Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W. V.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) objected to Elizabeth Klein because of her past stance against fossil fuels.